NAPA - National Academy of Performing Arts
learning of vocal or instrumental music in our part of the world has always been a one-to-one process. The teacher, the Ustad, in addition to being a music teacher and expert in the discipline of music, was also the arbiter of the musical taste of the pupil. The transmission has always been oral. The Ustad sang or played an instrument and the Shagird (the pupil) learned by listening and repeating the phrases. The pupil heard various renditions of a particular raga. He was initiated and instructed over a number of years into the rules of a particular raga, and was not allowed to move on until he had ‘absorbed’ the raga to the satisfaction of the Ustad.
great "Gharanas" of music are no longer intact. Also, due to socio-economic reasons, the hereditary system has given way to a more democratic transmission. Family allegiances, traditionally inviolable, have been sidelined. Today the learning of music of any “Gharana” is not restrictive. “Gharanas” are now discussed and proclaimed as indicators of musical and performing styles. It is not uncommon these days for the learner of music to mix various styles, a practice once considered sacrilegious. (Oddly enough, this does not denigrate the value of music). Radio, television, CDs and other sources have also provided us with an extended scope for music learning and appreciation.
an institutional set-up the extent of exposure available to a student of music is much wider than in the traditional one-to-one teacher student relationship. In NAPA the students of music derive benefit from being taught by a faculty comprising practicing musicians, musicologists and visiting maestros. They also have the opportunity to enrich their repertoire of compositions and styles by tutelage under many teachers. Today NAPA, in its sixth year of existence, has become the pioneer in setting the foundation of a new method of musical training in Pakistan.

is wrong to assume that the lone singer, squatting on the floor and entertaining an audience with Ghazals and Geets has been overshadowed by the glamorously dressed pop singers, who strut upon the stage. The Ghazal Gayaki, enriched, beyond compare, by the peerless Mehdi Hasan, has now become enshrined as Pakistani music. It has its adherents everywhere. It cannot be cast aside; the tradition must be carried forward.

may be born with a spark, but the sparkle you require to excel in your work can only be achieved by learning your craft. Not everyone strumming a guitar can become a pop star. The shelf-life of many of our pop stars is short because they are not equipped with the grounding needed to sustain their musical career. At NAPA students who wish to take up ‘pop’ music have the benefit of occasionally being coached by some of the most experienced ‘pop’ stars.

is foolish and myopic to condemn ‘pop’ music as an insidious Western plot to corrupt our youth. Some of the best ‘pop’ numbers our musicians have created are a delightful blend of traditional and folk melodies set to electronic instruments, which have now become a part of our musical ensemble. We cannot discard them any more than we can discard pizza or burger from our diet.

to the development of other areas in the various disciplines of our classical music, orchestration, as we know it, is a latecomer. In Pakistan it was, primarily, film music, which necessitated the use of orchestra and large ensembles. To begin with, only the violin and the piano were included as necessary accompanying instruments, followed by the clarinet and some brass instruments. The idea was to provide “richness” to the otherwise plaintive background score. The practice that emerged was that traditional instruments, supported by violins, accompanied the tragic songs and brass and cymbals backed light-hearted or hortative numbers.

, in the West, has now become a most sophisticated and intricate art. It is also a highly individual art, depending greatly on the taste and the prejudice of the conductor or orchestrator. Students who wish to study orchestration need to acquaint themselves with the technique of writing for each instrument.

NAPA, special emphasis is put on the orchestral instruments commonly used in Pakistan. However, students are also introduced to some of the other instruments used today in a modern symphony orchestra.