British Council - Connecting Futures

British Council - Connecting Futures

Music Masti

December 2005

The focus of the British Council Music Masti (meaning fun) student programme was to provide a platform for music students or young musicians from Pakistan and the UK to express their identity through music.

The British Council brief on Music Masti states that:

"The concept of the Music Masti programme is to focus on the cultural and personal elements of identity, using music as a vehicle for debate and discussion. The shared language - both through personal and cultural expression through music, through academic discourse of musical form and through the language of music as self expression, will allow a deep, detailed and informed debate on identity issues with this group.

The breadth of the conversation based on music covered a wide range of issues:

  • The impact of religion and belief on musical development and current composition
  • Examining lyric writing and it’s importance and limitations for personal expression and what different musical traditions affect the individual expression through lyrics
  • Discussing rhythmical form, the distinctions and similarities between those used in both cultures, why these have evolved and what impact they have on the listener
  • Fusion - the impact of Eastern music on the West, and visa versa, and what these say about changes in both societies in terms of integration, assimilation and valuing diversity
  • The impact of music on other art forms such as dance and street culture
  • What impact does ethnic / traditional music have on contemporary music
  • Role of music in shaping and forming contemporary / mainstream / popular culture
  • Discovering how contemporary music impacts young adults socially - both individually and in groups

Most importantly by sharing the music that the students are working on, and discussing these in terms of their personal values, why they make this music, what it means to them, and how it reflects their world, the young people will develop relationships with each other. They will learn about their respective societies, and will gain a better understanding of their shared experiences.

Through the discussions, use of websites, live video conferencing sessions and electronic media we will create opportunities for the young people to share their work, and to influence each other. There will be creative tasks set during the process. These would involve the young musicians in direct collaborative musical processes. Throughout the programme the young people will be working together musically, and ultimately a small group of the Pakistani young people will visit the UK and work directly with the UK students. The efforts of the collaborative work, both at a distance and during the visit will be cut to a CD, and this will be distributed to the widest possible audience along with possibilities of coverage on FM radio stations and TV channels."

Boys singing and dancing traditional melodies, while girls look on and applaude, Chitral Pakistan, September 2007Chitral, NWFP, Pakistan. September 2007.
Boys singing and dancing traditional melodies, while girls look on and applaud.

The four young musicians from Pakistan who visited the University of Glasgow 8th to 13th December 2005 were:

  • Mr Tadeel Kamran (private candidate at Peshawar University - tabla, piano, vocalist)
  • Mr Muhammad Salman Adil (Pakistan Television Corporation - flutist)
  • Mr Rakae Rehman Jamil (student at National College of Arts Lahore - sitar) 
  • Mr Jaffar Ali Zaidi (member of the music band Kavish - keyboard and vocalist)

During their visit they interacted with students from the Department of Music at Glasgow University, and attended workshops and concerts. They also performed examples of Pakistani music. As part of the Music Masti programme the Pakistan participants also visited Trinity College of Music London, Warwick University and the University of Edinburgh.

The programme would not have been possible without the outstanding advice and help we have received from the British Council staff in Islamabad, Pakistan. We would especially like to acknowledge the continued help of Ms Shezreen Shah and Mr Muhammad Tehseen Sherwani. We are also most grateful for advice and guidance from Professor William Sweeney and Dr Nick Fells of the Department of Music, University of Glasgow. Our special thanks go to Ms Claire Docherty, postgraduate in the Music Department, University of Glasgow, for her interest and support during the video conferencing and for ensuring the success of the visit of the four young Pakistani musicians to the University.

Azra Meadows and Peter Meadows.
Faculty of Biomedical and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow.