An Interview with Pakistani Music Maestro: Baqir Abbas


“Music is my soul, I breathe it”, says BAQIR ABBAS

Baqir Abbas the flute player of Pakistan

Baqir Abbas, a name with greatness hooked to it, is the musical maestro and brains behind countless melodies, innumerable compositions and myriads of instrumentals. He is genuinely the backbone of the Pakistan music industry for over two decades. From lending his voice of flute to the king of qawaali, Ustaad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to creating the beats of Shehenshah-e-ghazal, Mehdi Hassan; from the music of Malika-e-tarannum Noor Jehan to the melodies of the legendary Asha Bhosley and from the exceedingly gifted Ustaad Salamat Ali coming down to the highly acclaimed Adnan Sami, Baqir Abbas leaves no stone unturned in creating a name having no counter part.

Baqir Abbas instigated his career of music as early as 1987. As he converses about his career and the beginning, he claims with a note of gratitude and honour in his attitude, “I am lucky enough to be a student of Ghulam Shabbir Khan and feel immense pleasure in being the son of one of the patrons of the music industry”.

He is the architect of oodles of background scores for both television and cinema. His most recent ventures include Background score and Music arrangement for Shoaib Mansoor’s recent flick Bol. He quotes his experience in words

“I have created music for innumerable television dramas and countless movies including Shekhar Kapoor’s Benedict Queen but it was indeed an excellent experience to work on the background score and music of Bol. This was my first venture with veteran Shoaib Mansoor but without doubt he is the pride of Pakistan. Working music with him was different and enjoyable because I had complete liberty over what I was assigned and that played a role big enough to create the score”.

Baqir Abbas playing Live Flute in a ConcertTo him there is no differentiation of genres in music. When asked what genre is signature of Baqir Abbas, he comments in a relaxed yet considerate attitude “There is neither boundary nor any genre in music. It is present in nature and it can not be classified into eastern or western. Music is the voice from within. I have created eastern classical, western classical, jazz, pop, rock, Sufi etc but never felt the real difference or boundary between the genres. Music is in my soul and I breathe it”.

His strength lies in the instrument of flute yet he is also proficient in violin, guitar and several other instruments. He is among the handful musical maestros who have kept the instrument of flute alive in modern times. When asked why choosing flute as his foremost pick and not the contemporary instruments, he replies with a chuckle,

“In my perspective, there really is no modern or ancient music as I said earlier. Music has been in nature since inception of universe, it is us who procrastinated in understanding and perceiving the voice of nature. As it comes to opting for flute, the instrument has been the voice of nature since prehistoric times. It’s a voice that can be acquainted with every civilization that ever existed and also has the closest link with nature”.

Be it the International Music Festival in Norway or the jazz festivals in New Orleans or Cape Town or be it the pop sensation of late 80s Vital Signs or Rock icon of the day, Ali Azmat, Baqir Abbas has lent his flute and compositions to every big and small name. His work can be well perceived in the musical journey of Hadiqa Kiyani and Ali Zafar who owe a part of their success to this ensemble of humility, simplicity and silence known as Baqir Abbas.

Baqir AbbasHaving worked with limitless musicians, vocalists and maestros, and having created music for hundreds of albums and artists, when asked about his personal favourite experience, Baqir Abbas says, “I have enjoyed doing music with musicians and vocalists of all categories; Ustaad Nusrat Fateh Ali, Mehdi Hassan, Tufail Niazi, Arif Lohar, Junaid Jamshed to name just a few, but the recent experience that I enjoyed the most was working with Rohail Hayatt.

Among various other recent projects that Baqir Abbas played a pivotal role in are Coke Studio Seasons and the Standard Chartered Priority Nights that too owe a part of their success story to this music maestro.

However, even with a success story as his, and appreciation in musical fraternity of his caliber, Baqir Abbas remains unknown to masses about which he comments with a chuckle and least disappointment,

“we are musicians and our soul remains dedicated to producing good music. Be it appreciation or criticism from local or foreign audience, we continue producing the best of us and leave the rest on Almighty. We neither expect nor demand appreciation locally because it is merely deficiency of awareness and civilization among masses. Internationally, it is the musicians recognized better than the performers and our work speaks of our respect.”

He now plans to launch an instrumental album soon. Baqir tells us My solo flute album is in the pipe line. Its creation is inspired by the ancient Harrappan Civilization that existed about 6000 years ago in the heart of Punjab. The album speaks of the nights and days and festivities of those civilizations with a blend of evolution of life to date.”

With colossal success at his disposal, when asked about the defining moment of his career, Baqir Abbas says with deep modesty,

“The ultimate satisfactory moment is yet to come. I think there is still some way ahead of me to reach that defining instant”.

This Exclusive Interview is conducted for By Sameen Hassan with co-ordination of Abbas (Sunny)

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