Alliance Francaise hosts launch of book on Indian classical music, 'Sampurna'

Tina Sani, Sheema Kermani laud services of author Saffia Saleem Beyg for the arts


Saffia Saleem Beyg's book Sampurna attempts to explain foundations of Indian classical music in an easy style to the beginners. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN

KARACHI: Sampurna has been written after thorough research on more than 20 books dealing extensively with Indian classical music.

Author, Saffia Saleem Beyg, said this at the launching ceremony of the revised edition of her book at Alliance Francaise on Saturday evening.

Sampurna literally means seven notes of music which constitute raags. Beyg's book is an attempt to explain the basics of Indian classical music after her lifelong research in an easy-to-understand format. The author hopes that her book would effectively introduce the fundamentals of classical music tradition to amateur music aficionados.

"When I was growing up, I developed a strong passion for classical music and was tutored by Ustaad Hamid Hussain for two years," said the author. She added that after the death of her tutor she continued learning classical music through self-tutoring and research.

Book's author Saffia Saleem Beyg. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN Book's author Saffia Saleem Beyg. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN

Beyg, who has drunk deep from the sources of classical music and other art forms, has been a teacher of the arts and an ardent supporter of the promotion of various art forms in the country. She opened an academy for performing arts back in 1983 and in 1999 opened Sampurna - a non-profit organisation to promote classical music, musicians and instruments believing them to be our cultural heritage, said her students through video messages.

Speaking at the event, one of the admirers of Beyg, Dr Nighat, praised the book and also informed the audience about Beyg's activism during General Ziaul Haq's era. "Around 30 years ago, a dainty looking woman was fighting Zia and, today, Zia has gone while aapa [Beyg] is here," Dr Nighat said, adding that history proved that Beyg and women like her won and Zia, the dictator, lost. The speaker, however, claimed that Zia's legacy was still continuing in the country. The damage which Zia inflicted to the country is still bleeding like an ulcer, she said.

"Brains of people who enjoy classical music are special," Dr Nighat said while quoting a British paper published last month. She added that Pakistani people should benefit from living legends like Beyg. Dr Nighat also called for the revival of Sampurna - Beyg's second academy whose name is the same as that of her book and which has been on halt for some years now.

Many music lovers attended the book launch at Alliance Francaise. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN Many music lovers attended the book launch at Alliance Francaise. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN

"We won't see so much violence and trouble in the cities of our country if we start teaching music in our schools," Dr Nighat said, adding that music makes one a better person as it helps in controlling emotions and channeling them in a positive manner. Music activates the limbic system in our brain which is responsible for emotions, she maintained.

In his foreword for the book, Indian musicologist Deepak Raja has praised Beyg's efforts, stating that her book is an admirable contribution to the classical music. Raja writes, "to her role as guide to aspiring students of Hindustani music, she brings a mature musical mind and the ability to harness a variety of perspectives related to the cultural process."

Ghazal singer Tina Sani also showered praises on Beyg. "I owe so much of my music to people like aapa [Beyg]," she said acknowledging the services of Beyg in the field of classical music.

Tina Sani praised Saffia Beyg stating that she owed much of her music to people like her. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN Tina Sani praised Saffia Beyg stating that she owed much of her music to people like her. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN

Sani added that classical music has always had a limited listenership worldwide. "However limited the number of listeners of classical music is in Pakistan, we need to support Sampurna [academy] and revive it," she resolved.

Speaking to The Express Tribune on the occasion, acclaimed dancer Sheema Kermani said, "It's very important to have a role of guru in any art form which we unfortunately have lost". Calling Beyg a guru, Kermani commented that gurus like Beyg who are well-versed in various art forms do not teach one art form but impart a holistic education about all arts and their relationship with human beings and universe.

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