Music is therapy, one which can never be explained in words. It is just something so soothing that one can’t help but want to listen to it to cure yourself. And ironically, there are times when one is sad and they want to listen to a specific kind of music, and then there are times when one is feeling depressed or listening, and then one wants to listen to a different genre of music altogether when they are happy. It is just like that for some unknown reason. But there is one specific instrument that makes you feel like you are witnessing your heartbreak and your love all at the same time – Tanpura.
This is more specifically a Balochi instrument and is often played there in the evenings when a group of men gather and let the music take them to a serene world only, they know of. But unfortunately, the culture is slowly dying and for this reason men like Shiaan Bugti, 54-year-old men have been playing this instrument for decades to keep the culture alive.
Shiaan, who dresses in traditional Balochi dress and wears a pagri (turban) on his head is from the Dera Bugti district near the border with Punjab. He started playing this instrument as a child, following in his family’s legacy, and also performed Folk and Traditional Heritage (Lok Virsa) in 1989.
Shiaan continues to follow the tradition of continuing the instrument but he does not have an earning through his art because he does not have any smartphone to record or watch videos or have any education on how to properly take his art forward in a way that the world knows him and the beautiful instrument that he plays.
‘’The art of tambura is deeply rooted in Pakistani culture, but the instrument is losing its audience,’’ Shiaan said. He then added, ‘’This is making it difficult for tambura musicians to survive. At one point, the government of Balochistan was compensating musicians Rs. 30,000 per month to help them keep the tradition alive, but Shiaan said those payments have stopped coming in. Performing tambura doesn’t bring in enough money to pay expenses, so musicians take up farming and other manual jobs to make a living.’’
Keeping all of this in mind, we think it is high time that we start to take an interest in our musicians, and give them the respect that they are due.