Ustad Naseeruddin Saami is one of the foremost representatives of Surti: a microtonal, pre-Islamic, multilingual form of music. With the invitation to his home in Saddar town, the oldest part of the city, we also made aquaintance with Karachi’s Qawwal Gali.
Nightdrive through Saddar passing the Empress Market
Qawwal Gali is the name of the street where many qawwal clans live. Their style may be described as a devotional music that originates from a Sufi Islamic tradition. Cosmopolit Naseeruddin Saami, though, has worked with musicians all over the world and has just recently released the album „God is not a terrorist“, produced by Grammy award winner Ian Brennan.
The very intimate workshop-like concert, performed with three of his sons, took place at his home. This went along together with a lovely traditional meal served by his sons – prepared by the women of the house – in every sense a family business.
Drizzle is the name of the instrument from 1580 which has been in Ustad Saami’s familiy ever since then. Its sound is bhadon (light).
Saami’s son plays the Tempest – the twin brother of Drizzle –sawan (strong).
Whilst playing Ustad Saami offered a narrative envisioning his goal to spread this music beyond Pakistan to contribute to its growth in the world and his duty to pass this musical knowledge onto his sons and students. One of his most prominent scholars, Ayla Reza, was the one to accompany us to Ustad Saami’s house. The architect, daughter of the former president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharaf, organizes and promotes classical music concerts.
The seventy-six year old musician took us all on a journey to an entirely new musical cosmos created out of belief and devotion. „To sing is to listen“, is his message. A challange we faced, one that must be understood by all, is to open the mind and soul to an attitude – the end and beginning to a most inspiring inside-night-out in Karachi.