DW Baig: Tunes from the Pamir mountains

Published: April 7, 2012

Hailing from Hunza, DW Baig is on a mission to revive the Wakhi language through his music. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Hailing from Hunza, DW Baig is on a mission to revive the Wakhi language through his music. PHOTO: PUBLICITY Hailing from Hunza, DW Baig is on a mission to revive the Wakhi language through his music. PHOTO: PUBLICITY
ISLAMABAD: 

Research suggests that there are approximately more than 69 languages spoken in Pakistan. Many of these languages are indigenous and are fast becoming extinct as people now tend to mix Urdu and sometimes even English with their local language. And since ‘music is the universal language of all mankind’, the best way of garnering interest towards a certain language is through melody. That’s exactly what DW Baig set out to do when he started singing in the Wakhi language.

Baig, born in Gojal Hunza, found his calling in music, at a very young age. Inspired by his father, who used to play the sitar and rubab at home, Baig did not take very long to master these instruments and right after completing his studies, he and his cousin Kashif formed the band Zil. Their first Urdu single “Woh Yaadein” gained considerable recognition on the radio and on social networking websites like YouTube. Although, Kashif later left the band, Baig changed the name of his band to Sada-i-Pamir or Pamir’s Voice and decided to carry on. This time he hoped to sing only in his native Wakhi language, which is included in the United Nations Red Book of Endangered Languages as one of the oldest Indo-European language in the branch of Eastern-Iranian language family.

Keeping it alive

Although there are various folk songs in Wakhi, no one had ever professionally composed and recorded songs in the dying language. So, for Baig’s first album Noyofth, which means precious, he made sure that the songs were carefully penned down in Wakhi without diluting the language by fusing it with other languages; “I fused the local language with southern beats yet somehow managed to keep the tune and feel of the songs very northern, maybe that’s why my songs became instantly famous in Hunza as the locals there finally got something that they could listen and relate to,” states Baig. Some of his more famous songs such as “Khuzg Nan” (a tribute to mothers) and “Lurilai Lurilai Zu Dur Ya” (a lullaby for children) have become household names in the valleys. Apart from bringing about a revolution in the music of the valleys, Baig also introduced the first-ever female singer from the Wakhi belt, who has sung some of the songs of the album.

Meanwhile, in his recently-released second album, Gulipokiza, Baig sings about the majestic beauty of the mountains and valleys of the Pamir region as well as some romantic ballads. He collaborates with Afzal Karim, a local from the Gojal valley, who is now living in Canada. They decided to introduce classical phrases and words that have been long forgotten by the locals themselves; “I want to recreate awareness and the magic of the language,” says Baig. “Wuzam Ba Khoyeem”, a sad, romantic number from the album, has became an instant hit among youngsters of the Gojal area.

A hint of the Persian dialect, with soft instrumental beats, reflects the patience and resilience with which Baig has composed his album. Although, choosing to sing in a dying language might not be the savviest commercial move Baig’s sense of contentment and pride is visible. “It’s my love for my birth land that drives me to create songs in Wakhi and I will continue with my mission regardless of whether my songs become popular or not,” he firmly concludes.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 8th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • GS@Y
    Apr 7, 2012 - 9:58PM

    Good stuff… I just listened to some of it on Youtube.

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  • Mr. Toojik
    Apr 7, 2012 - 10:36PM

    —-Dear Baig—-

    —–Very impressive combination of Wakhix and tunes and pitches of the traditional and new musicale instruments. GECA is the organization whom provided the base to build the forts, must appreciate.

    On behalf of GECA we already congrats you and once again congratulation YOU—- for the new album “GULIPUKEZA” in Wakhix the PURE flowers or clean flowers.Recommend

  • geeko
    Apr 8, 2012 - 3:59AM

    Refreshing stuff!

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  • Baig
    Apr 8, 2012 - 9:37AM

    A little correction here ….Kashif has not left and he is very much part of the band.

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  • Maxxx Hardcore
    Apr 8, 2012 - 10:50AM

    Mr. BaigGood job, much success to you. Recommend

  • Darjat
    Apr 8, 2012 - 12:58PM

    Baig: I guess all ! but I truly enjoy the Gulipokiza at Lok Versa event. Well done and keep it up. Kashif was not around but good to see his picture here. A very positive contribution from these two young men to the society.

    Darjat

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  • F.Ali
    Apr 10, 2012 - 11:15AM

    For the first time I have heard such a beautiful sync of songs with original awesome music and voice from the serene and secluded mountains of Pamir in Wakhi language.

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  • ARBAB BHELLAR
    Apr 10, 2012 - 11:22AM

    It is your right to keep alive your language.

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  • Pamirfalcon
    Apr 10, 2012 - 10:51PM

    Very soul soothing music. keep it up Afzal and Baig

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  • Baig
    Apr 12, 2012 - 10:53AM

    Thank you all for appreciating my our work.

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  • Baig
    Apr 12, 2012 - 7:47PM

    and my special thanx to Express Tribune for the support and encouragement..

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  • Sameer Awan
    Apr 13, 2012 - 7:06AM

    A sad state of affairs in Pakistan that after the independence of Pakistan in 1947 one language hegemony policies have led to the extinction of many languages. Our forceful one language formula in Pakistan is destroying our culture and our languages are dying out slowly for the so called greater interest of Pakistan. Pakistaniat should not be connected with Urdu at all. The need of hour is to protect the local languages and make major languages of Pakistan as National language and give all endangered languages of Pakistan a state Protection. The Urdu Love affair must be ended to save indigenous languages and culture.

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  • Fairy
    May 7, 2012 - 10:09PM

    really awesome song kzn… keep it up:)

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