At lunch at a close friend’s home in Lahore, I reconnected with Sarah Zaman after several decades. Music inevitably cropped up during the conversation, and Sarah mentioned her experience of hearing children from a madrassa sing naat and hamd in perfect harmony, in melodies composed from traditional raagas at a television contest. This overlap between classical music, a genre typically disapproved of by the religious section of society, and devotional music, interested me.
Over a year later, when Covid had somewhat subsided, we arranged to meet. During an extended afternoon, we talked at length in her drawing room with its muted murals of cypress trees and calligraphically rendered poetry, surrounded by family photographs and a lifetime’s collection of ornaments. Our discussion ranged from her career as a performer and educationist, as well as insights into her understanding of subcontinental music and the contemporary music scene.
Sarah has a beautifully modulated, melodious voice, her enunciation clear in several languages, slipping seamlessly from English to Punjabi and Urdu, and quoting poetry in Farsi. She considers every action as an act of worship, a remembrance of God. There is a wonderful grace and humility about her, and a delicate fluidity in the movements of her hands, which she uses as much while talking as singing. As someone who knew her as a young woman, I still glimpse traces of the idealistic, green-grey eyed girl I knew at college.
In conversation, she swings from the sublime to the secular, from the domestic to the professional. Her talk is heavily punctuated with poetry, with memories dating from her parents’ youth before Partition, and from her own childhood. Both parents and their numerous siblings were musically gifted and transmitted a strong aesthetic sense to their two daughters. She says, “Our family was always religious…a strange combination of mysticism and music. Nowadays Sufism has become a fad but in those times it was different, there was no public show of faith.”
Married in her late teens, she spent her early years steeped in classical music, training in khayal gaiki. An unusual choice, but she and her sister were earmarked early, Sarah for voice training, and Naila for classical dance. Their early years were spent in the Karachi of the nineteen sixties, where their father was posted as an air force base Commandant. This was a period of communal harmony, with easy interaction between communities of different faiths, and knowledge of music and the arts didn’t have the negative connotations that came a decade later. Later, in Lahore in the seventies, she and her sister trained at the Alhamra with legendary musicians and teachers, Naila under the tutelage of Maharaj Ghulam Hussain Kathak, and Sarah with Ustad Feroze Nizami of the Kirana Gharana, Ustad Chhotey Ghulam Ali Khan of the Qawwal Bacha Gharana, and Mian Mohammad Tufail Narowal of the Punjab Gharana.
Early after her marriage, she realized that the most educated among her upper middle class social milieu had little knowledge or appreciation of sub-continental music. But her sense of conviction led her to decide to continue working with her ustads, and to deepen her knowledge of the genre. Although her career has included appearances on television programmes, her focus has been on classical singing. Over the years she has sung khayal at the All Pakistan Music Conference concerts and the Lahore Arts Forum, and performed regularly for the Women’s Action Forum and other women’s organisations during the years of protest to combat the Zia regime’s regressive policies, particularly towards women. She and her sister Naila gave formal recitals at the Pakistan Pavilion during the groundbreaking Toronto Caravan Festival, organized to celebrate its multiple ethnic communities, in 1988. This being Zia’s time, the event, during which they performed for ten consecutive days, went unreported in the local Pakistani news.
Although the trajectory of her singing career did not unfold like that of professional singers in the way of constant public and private performances, Sarah Zaman has used her achievements and expertise in the field of classical music in Pakistan to sing at motivational events, and has made key contributions to formal music studies at the National College of Arts in Lahore.
IY: Let’s begin with what you said when we met at lunch in early 2020… about madrassa children singing naat and hamd using melodies composed and derived from classical ragas.
SZ: You can’t suppress something that is part of your cultural tradition, a part of you. You can’t put music away somewhere. When people started sending their children to madrassas, they learned sanaa goi (singing praise), as in hamd or hamd o Sanaa, in praise of our Prophet (Peace be upon Him). You must have noticed that with the drive to Islamise the nation from the eighties, so many Eid Milaadsand Ijtemaa began to take place, all over the country. Tablighi ijtemaa existed before that but God knows how many groups sprang up and organized Ijtemaa… there were posters pasted on the backs of rickshaws of men with long beards, advertising these programmes. So somehow music found a channel there.
Voice culture is important for our qari or naat khwaan. The naat khwaan, too, have a tradition of apprenticeship to a music master. You will notice when I talk that I constantly use the words ilm and aloom. Because qirat karna, or prosody, is ilm. It is the method with which you enunciate your vowels, consonants, and words in Arabic, what time values one follows, how one draws out the words and metre. They are all elements of the study of sound. The melodic elements come from the traditional ragas. There is a proper training for them. And this is acceptable because it represents a remembrance of God, which we regard as pure, and uses words that express only this theme.
IY: Let’s talk about what happened when Zia came to power.
SZ: The television programme called Paayal was withdrawn, all music performances were cancelled or banned. It was so strange, something I couldn’t understand at all, that agar barq girti hai, (if lightning strikes, it has to be on the poor classical artists. Kathak dance, classical music… slowly the 45-minute slot on radio and on PTV was totally withdrawn.
Now, when you create a void, something moves in to fill it. In places like Alhamra, where classical kathak was banned, after theatre closing hours, mujra took its place. That was acceptable. Music changed and classical artists were left by the wayside or pushed into private spaces.
This is not to say that all manner of music suffered a death-blow. Film music and ghazal gaaiki were sustained and taken to new heights by titans like Madam Ji (Noor Jahan) and Iqbal Bano. They managed to maintain music during these dictatorships by singing the kalaam (oeuvre) of revolutionary poets like Faiz and Jalib, at private concerts .
And singers like Abida Parveen found their way into the mainstream… people who previously performed at melas, who were part of adabi mehfils, who sang theSufyaana kalaam, the mystic poets… they were promoted. Because of kafi gaiki and sanaa goi, qawwali came into vogue, it came out of the dargahs(shrines) into the cities. Qawwali is a rich genre in which you can travel between many poets who express a similar idea, in various languages, sung in a single composition: in Punjabi, Urdu, Persian, Arabic…
IY: What about your career during Zia’s time? You were a young mother, living in a joint family. Was there any resistance to a musical career?
SZ: My own passion was to learn and sing the khayal genre of classical music, and in this there was no resistance from the family. My ustads, Chhotey Ghulam Ali Khan, Sufi Khuda Bakhsh and Baba Tufail Narowal, came to my house and I practiced daily. And there was no objection to my performing on Pakistan Television… although it wasn’t all right for me because I wasn’t pursuing what I wanted to. I wanted to sing classical music, but I was on a programme called Komal in which I sang compositions in Raag Bhairavi, with well-known composers like Khalil Sahib. But having said this, it was a huge honour for me to sing G A Chishti Sahib’s Woh Khwaab Suhaana Toot Gaya with a full orchestra conducted by none other than Chishti Sahib, as part of a special programme on him.
I performed yearly on stage at the All Pakistan Music Conference, and for Muzaffar Ghaffar’s Lahore Arts Forum (LEAF)… for these I had my husband Hamid’s support. This helped me to sustain my involvement with them, something I cherished because they gave me the opportunity to sing khayal.
Meanwhile I had the good fortune that WAF was born. I would sing for them in front of the jail, at park protests, in front of and in press clubs. Revolutionary poetry. Neelum Hussain, of WAF and Simorgh, was a huge support. She gave me the poem, which was earmarked as the anthem for the movement, penned specially for it by Habib Jalib.
Ab deher mein be-yaar o madad gaar nahin hum
pehlay ki tarhay be-kass o laachaar nahin hum
In this world we aren’t helpless, friendless any more
Unlike before we aren’t without ways and means
Tum zulm karo, aur Khuda bhi raho apnay
saathi hain baraabar kay, paristaar nahin hum
Keep up your tyranny, keep playing God
We are your equals, we don’t idolize you any more
I said, Neelum, do you want me to compose the melody? She said yes, compose it. And then sing it, there’s a jalsa coming up. When I read the poem I thought to myself, this is not about a rebel woman, it’s a woman who has understood and recognized herself. Saathi hain baraabar, paristaar nahin hum. Meaning that we are your equal partners, not your subjects.
sab jor o sitam lutf o karam pesh nazar hain,
yeh vehem tumhara hai kay bay daar nahin hum…
some you reward, some you punish—all is self-evident
delude yourself thinking we are too dull to notice
aata hai humain apnay muqaddar ko banana,
taqdeer pay shakir pas e deewar nahin hum.
We know how to shape our fate, our future
We’re not content to be fatalist any more
Very powerful, actually (her voice breaks at the memory). So, I composed it in Raag Deshkaar. Alhamdollilah. I sang it over and over, on many occasions.
… the best transference of knowledge is through apprenticeship—master and apprentice, one to one, which has been our tradition for centuries, because the nuances and intricacies of time and space cannot be notated
IY: Are there recordings of these?
SZ: There are recordings of me singing motivational songs for women’s rights at Women’s Action Forum get-togethers—at the ASR museum, which Nighat Saeed set up in Gulberg for the Biennale, to celebrate women’s activism. I believe the museum was later to be moved to Islamabad, where they had found a space. And there are motivational songs for human rights and the Girl Child Project of Dr. Atiya Inayatullah; beautiful poetry by Sarmad Sehbai, composed by Mian Shehryar. Dr. Atiya had asked a company to organize the latter recording, and learned only later that the voice was mine… ironical because we are related!
IY: Did you choose the poetry for these songs?
SZ: Yes, sometimes. For instance, I chose Amrita Pritam’s Aj Aakhan Waris Shah Nu, tu qabraan wichhon bol (Today I ask you, Waris Shah, to speak from your grave). In the year 2000 I was part of a Women’s Initiative for Peace in South Asia delegation of fifty-five women from all backgrounds led by the late Asma Jahangir. I asked to meet Amrita Pritam. That happened, and I sang her poetry…it was very emotional, we both cried! (She laughs, with tears in her eyes at the memory). I was most honoured that I was able to meet her. Her poetry is so powerful.
aj kitab e ishq da koi nawaan agla warqa phol
Ik royi si dhee Punjab di tu likh likh maaray vehn
Aj lakhan dheean rondeean tenoon waris shah nu kehn.
Today, turn a new page in the book of love…
Once, a daughter of Punjab cried,
And you wrote reams of laments
Today, thousands of daughters cry
Invoking you, Waris Shah
Everywhere we went in Delhi, Asma asked me to sing. The Muslims there were very oppressed, and she would ask me to sing this as well as Jalib’s poetry. I used these and the poetry of Faiz and the great Sufis, and sang for all the oppressed, on both sides of the border
So… these occasions became the avenue for my music.
All during these unfortunate times of terrorism and religious strife, Faiz and our other poets have stayed relevant… later, in the nineties, I chose the dua of Faiz to teach the children at Lahore Grammar School.
aiyay haath utthaaein hum bhi,
hum jinhein rasm e dua yaad nahin,
hum jinhein soz e mohabbat kay siwaa
koi butt koi khuda yaad nahin.
Come, let us raise our hands, as well— We, the ones who do not remember the ritual of prayer We, the ones who [do not remember] anything other than the warmth of love, do not know of any idol, nor any God
And we are still in this same place! Each year it feels worse—intolerance, terrorism, this ever-deepening sectarianism.
IY: Let’s move to your career in teaching music…
SZ: Our elite private schools aren’t progressive enough to introduce music and dance into the mainstream curricula. It’s always as an accessory. I wanted music to be a part of the teacher-training programme and included in the mainstream programme.
So when I joined Grammar School to teach music in the mid nineteen nineties, I told the director, Mrs Yawar Ali, that I would design my own curriculum. You will have to give me space to do as I please, I said. So I taught them Sufyana kalam in Punjabi, Bazurgon ka kalaam in Punjabi, Allama Iqbal aur Faiz ka kalaam, bandishein from our tradition rather than English nursery rhymes. And I would discuss the philosophy behind all these. With live instrumental music. My endeavour at the school was to give the children a sense of their identity, their music, and to be proud of it.
I left the school eventually because I wasn’t well, I had a spinal problem…
IY: Later, you were part of the founding faculty of the Musicology Department at NCA.
SZ: There is a little background here. In 1996 there was an international symposium on music in Lahore, at the Alhamra. It was organized by the Director General of the PNCA, Kishwar Naheed, and the panel was presided over by the chairperson of UNESCO. Kishwar Sahiba asked me to write a paper on the status of traditional artists. During my research, I was so sad to discover that the first school for music in the subcontinent was established in 1901. And it was right here! In 1901, Pandit Paluskar and his wife set up Gandharma Mahavidyala in Lahore and it functioned for 12 years. Then it moved to Delhi. There was an eight- year diploma course and a twelve- year degree course. It was next to the Old Ravi, which has since dried up, where the huge overpasses are now… the building was demolished when they were being built. After the school moved, a tradition of tuition grew to fill the gap. But the saddest thing is, since the founding of the Mahavidyala, no other degree-awarding institute dedicated to traditional music was founded in Pakistan.
In my research paper on traditional artists I had concluded that until places like Punjab University and NCA establish music departments, music and dance won’t be acknowledged as disciplines in themselves. Our prejudices will remain.
Coincidentally, I met Sajida Vandal at a dinner in the late nineties. She mentioned starting a diploma in carpet weaving at the NCA. When I suggested music, she said, you take it on. I said, I’m not qualified, how can I do it. It was similar to when Kishwar Naheed asked me to write my paper on traditional artists and I baulked. She said, then forget it, who will write it—so I wrote it. So, I was kind of pushed into this.
IY: How did the project evolve? It must have been very intensive.
SZ: It was nothing short of a miracle that this department came into being; it was almost as if the universe was conspiring to make it happen. So many things fell into place and so many people contributed to its genesis, that it’s difficult to condense and explain the entire process of evolution. We all drew on our personal experience of being lifelong students, guided by Najam Hosain Syed, Reza Kazim and Rashid Malik. Along with Samina Hosain Syed, who had studied music with me at Alhamra, we pulled out our experience and compiled it with Najam Hosain Syed. I had no training in designing curriculum but basing it on my own training and my colleagues’ experiences, our collective input—Noor Zehra and myself would sit together picking one another’s brains—we found our way. There were so many elements to consider… the historic perspective, the socio-cultural angles and so on… and we had to decide whether it would be a diploma or a degree course.
For the first seven years I worked gratis as a consultant in setting up the department, and we were there throughout the day till evening, working out the evaluation methodology, the faculty and resources, monitoring classes in the first year. There was such passion! I would arrive at 7 am, learning to do paperwork, for which I was entirely untrained.
In 2000, I went to India and brought back eighty books on music from Manohar Lal as well as cassettes and CDs for the department. I also interviewed the recently retired head of the music department at the University in Delhi, Debu Chaudhuri… it was an in-depth interview to draw information on their practices. In our brainstorming sessions on my return, Reza Karim aptly said, “this is a very good opportunity to start afresh. We need not mirror what they have done, because our conditions are different. They are very insistent on the importance of mythology etc.”We preferred to focus on the study of musicology.
Reza Karim left after the first three years, as did Noor Zehra, Beena and Farrukh Bashir. Then I brought in Sarwat Ali as a resource, and Dr. Arifa Syeda. Kausar Sheikh came to teach them English because the students’ English was so poor. Students from Agha Khan-sponsored schools in the north speak fluent English but those from the interior of Baluchistan or Sindh had no such skills.
Sub-continental music has complex mathematical permutations. You go into fractions of time
IY: How is the curriculum designed?
SZ: It’s a full four-year degree programme. The students learn musicology and theory as well as vocal or instrumental music. I was one of the few in the group who was a practitioner as well as a theorist, whereas most of the others were theorists, teaching philosophy or theory or the science or history of music or aesthetics… and this was the first time that subcontinental aesthetics was being taught at NCA. But eventually we all felt that an equal balance between theory and practice was crucial in training well-rounded individuals. Now there are classes on the philosophy or music, the history of music, the physics of sound and the theory of aesthetics. And classes in notation and tuning, voice training, learning how to tune and play the tanpura, the sitar and the tabla, are mandatory. I designed a course to bridge the gap between theory and practice, called Music Analysis/Analytical Listening, which I have taught there for the last fourteen years.
Now it has come full circle and the current head of department is from our first batch. And I have great hope from my graduates. Asfar Hussain, who is from the Northern Areas, is now a faculty member. He won the Pepsi Battle of the Bands.
I have stayed on because I felt very responsible for making it work. Vision is an elusive bird. You can be very well-qualified but lack vision. It may not be the very best institution. But one sees that in due course it will develop into something finer. It is now affiliated with the Higher Education Commission, and it is in the semester system so you get credits.
Before the department was founded, I remember a young woman who went to study musicology in California. In her first summer break when she returned to Pakistan she rang to tell me that the department had asked: “present your musical tradition. And I didn’t know it, and I was so ashamed.”
IY: You mentioned something about training under a mentor when we began talking about your teaching career…
SZ: My friend Huma Safdar offered me a research paper written by a Harvard student. The conclusion was that the best transference of knowledge is through apprenticeship—master and apprentice, one to one, which has been our tradition for centuries, because the nuances and intricacies of time and space cannot be notated. The fact that we don’t have notation is not because we lack expertise or sophistication. We do have historical evidence of simple notation on leaves dating back 3000 years, well before church music notation. But this was only for reciting the Ved. It involved a lot of gesticulation. All the Brahmins in the south taught their pupils this way, through elocution, emphasis on vowels or consonants, and gesticulation.
Mentorship—and incidentally conservatories in the west function on the model of mentor to student—lasts for longer than the duration of a degree. Even a four- year degree is not enough for a serious student to master the craft. An apprentice needs to work closely with a mentor/teacher for much longer to fine hone his/her skills.
IY: I wanted you to talk about bands that perform for Coke Studio or Pepsi Battle of the Bands or Nescafe Basement. Are they coming back to traditional music because they have to?
SZ: I think that when they go looking, they realise that if they want to have voice quality, it will come from the classical tradition. I won’t downplay Coke Studio or Pepsi Battle of the Bands or Nescafe. I am thankful that these platforms are there for the youth to express themselves, because colleges don’t have music or performing arts in their curricula. It’s not ideal. Ideal would be to have a parallel channel or channels that showcase our musical essence, from folk to classical. Coke Studio has an imposed structure, fusion. But for fusion to work, you need to be an accomplished performer and composer, you can’t just cobble things together. Nusrat Fateh Ali made it work because of his knowledge of raag daari. If he put in the saxophone or worked with Peter Gabriel, it’s because they were each very accomplished artists. When you have excelled in it or have a vision for it, only then can you create excellence. That’s when both traditions can resonate with each other. That is true fusion. It’s not about accent or inflection in English, overlaid with Punjabi. That is a very shallow fusion of eastern and western sensibilities. Having said this, Coke Studio has produced some excellent recordings. When Amjad Farid Sabri Sahib sang Rang for Coke Studio, why was it so powerful? Or when Shafqat Amanat Ali sang Allah Hu for Coke Studio with Ahmed Jahanzeb, kya kamaal ka (what a wonderful!) presentation! Also Humaira Channa… Because these are trained musicians who have excelled in their own traditions, and know how to make one resonate with the other.
IY: You look at both sides of each development in our brief musical ‘history’ and have faith in it...
SZ: In the early 2000s radio channels had mushroomed. There were ‘pop’ bands coming up… all sorts of tuneless people came to competitions. It occurred to me then, though I was horrified at the quality, that in order to survive, singers would have to go back to classical music. The knowledge is there, and people will go looking for it again, because they will need voice culture, and for different melodic compositions they will need references to the raagas. So I understood that in the coming years things would improve.
And there is enormous talent. In the early 2000s Samaa TV started a programme called samaa (samaad means to hear, and samaa is the kind of recitation which is melodic praise). Little children, only seven or eight, sang beautifully—difficult compositions based on raag melodies.
So much is happening… but we need to respect truth and purity. You have to be one with nature, and when you lend yourself to it, everything becomes a beautiful dance. But it needs to be well thought out and trained. And that comes through sustained endeavour, which forces you to introspection, to seek the world within and the world without, to disconnect and to look at yourself. Once you can communicate with yourself, you can communicate that idea to others. And in seeking the purity of the note, staying with the note, there are no shortcuts. There must be a spirit of humility.
Jaisay Maulana Rum kehtay hain, (as Maulana Rumi says),
kay bansari jo hai, ro rahi hai jab say kati hai,
apnay asal say juda hui
Listen to the story of the reed
As it laments the pain of separation:
Whenever you try to evoke that yearning in the soul, your audience will respond…whatever their faith. Because you are calling to their inner self.
IY: How would you look back on your experience?
SZ: When you are following something, and you believe in it and are practicing it without any thought of ambition, just for the love of it—and in my case I sustained it all along—Allah makes provision for you. My mentors then and now—I feel as if they were sent to me. I didn’t go looking for them. And I have been so fortunate that my ustads have been mystics as well as musicians.
When I was young I was asked why I was wasting my time on classical music. But I had a strong sense of conviction that after fifteen or twenty years, things might change, and if I took another path I might regret not holding on to what I believed in.
In the early years of my marriage I had four boys in five years. It was difficult for me to keep my head above water. But I also knew that I had only that time to continue working with my ustads, who were then in their seventies. It used to hurt me that educated people thought it was a brainless activity, when the reality is that our music is a complex exploration of space and time. You have to keep to the time of the composition, on the pakhaawaj or the tabla. The sounds made by these are onomatopoeic… ghin na, ghin na, ghey ghey… It’s not a straightforward march in ¾ or 4/4 timing as in western music, because subcontinental music has complex mathematical permutations… you can compare it in a way to jazz, in which the musician improvises on a melody. You go into fractions of time. You have to keep to the composition and arrive at the initiating point at the end because it’s a cyclical movement. There is, of course, a standard tempo. If you call a maatra a standard unit of that tempo, of that composition, each unit of that movement has a universe within it. And there are fractions of durations, which you can learn or train yourself to keep time with, to create different measures and balances.
Incidentally, these concepts are inherent in language too. And in tilaawat, the recitation of the Holy Quran. You keep the measure of the word and how long you sound it… the aspirated sounds.
We conclude the extended interview on this abrupt note: we could talk more about the intricacies of music, but it is time for Sarah’s music practice with Munni Khatoon Sahiba, her current Ustad. Throughout our conversation, her eloquent passion for music and musicians, persistently ignored by state and society, shines through.
Notes:  Religious educational institution.  Naat, sung poetry in praise of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH); Hamd, sung poetry in praise of God.  Form of subcontinental musical composition. Raag means ‘to tinge with colour.’ (Sarah Zaman’s words)  Major form of subcontinental vocal classical music which demands great technical expertise and expression. From the Persian/Arabic word meaning imagination. (source: Wikipedia)  The surname ‘Kathak’ is used here to denote Maharaj’s expertise in the kathak style of dance.  Ustad: music title given to male master performers and teachers; the female term is Begum.  In subcontinental music, a gharana is a system of social organization linking musicians of dancers by lineage or apprenticeship, and more importantly by adherence to a particular musical style (source, Wikipedia)  Hamd, hamd o Sanaa: eulogy; in praise of God.  Eid Milaad: religious gathering during Islamic festivals.  Ijtemaa and Tablighi Ijtemaa: religious gatherings at which religious debate as well as musical praise of God are a prominent feature.  Qari: a person who recites the Quran with the proper rules of recitation. Naat khwaan: a person who recites naat.  Ilm, aloom: knowledge, learning, study.  The original verse was from Allama Iqbal: barq girti hai to bechaaray Mussulmanon pey. If lightning crashes, it is on the poor Muslims.  Mujra is a form of dance originally performed by courtesans. It incorporates elements of classical dance but over the decades and with social changes, it declined in quality. Mujra are currently performed by prostitutes as well as more socially elevated call girls. Semi classical vocal music  Melas: folk festivals, usually at the shrines of local saints  Poetic oeuvre of the Sufi poets set to music  Kafi gaiki: classical form of devotional music  Qawwali: form of semi classical vocal devotional music performed by a group of singers.  Famous Pakistani composer, specializing in film music.  ‘That beautiful dream has broken’  Women’s Action Forum, an organization formed under the Zia regime to challenge the Hudood Ordinance of 1979, and promote and protect women’s rights.  English translations by Naveed Alam  demonstration  Translation by Naveed Alam  Translation by Naveed Alam  prayer  Translation courtesy of http://writtenencounters.blogspot.com/2012/08/a-poem-for-this-eid-faizs-dua-or-prayer.html  Traditional melodies  melodies  Pakistan National Council of the Arts  Kishwar Naheed is a key feminist poet and a government official.  Former principal of the National College of the Arts.  Najam Hosain Syed, well known Punjabi poet and writer.  Lawyer, philosopher, and politician. Also the inventor of the instrument called sagar veena.  Musicologist and writer.  Singer and music teacher.  Noor Zehra Kazim, musician  Musician and television producer for Pakistan Television.  Culture critic writing extensively on subcontinental music and musicians.  Educationist, expert in the Urdu language.  Educationist and expert in the English language.  Long necked four- stringed plucked instrument used as a melodic accompaniment to vocal music.  Long necked plucked instrument used for instrumental compositions. it has several played strings as well as sympathetic strings used to evoke a mood at the beginning of a raaga.  Pair of twin hand drums played solo or as an accompaniment to vocal or instrumental music.  Rig Veda, ancient collection of Sanskrit hymns (source, Wikipedia)  Renowned musician and exponent of Qawwali  Barrel shaped, two headed drum  a maatra is a beat, the smallest rhythmic sub-unit of a tala—the musical meter. (source, Wikipedia)
Notes on the photographs:
(a) From an acknowledgment made to Sarah by ASR Resource Center for her work in the women's movement. This was a museum exhibition set up by ASR for a month where Sarah's work, including concerts and video archives, was shared along with the work of other activists and artists. The exhibition was entitled In the present lies the past: feminist excavations.
(b) At the WAF (Women's Action Forum) reciting Abh Deher mai bai yar o madadgar nahi hum, a ghazal by Habib Jalib, which he wrote for the women's rights activists during the repressive Zia regime era. This work was written in protest of the infamous ordinance of the "Qanoon-e-Shahadat".
(c) At the Caravan Festival Toronto 1988, representing Pakistan at the Pakistan Pavilion in Toronto. Eight days of classical and semi-classical performance were dedicated to this event. The genres of khayaal, thumri dadra and ghazal were performed. Faiz's poetry was incorporated in the dadra. Accompanying Sarah is her mentor/musicologist on the tabla Mian Tufail Narowal (Punjab Gharana—disciple of the legendary Mian Fateh din Khan Sahib). Also accompanying on harmonium is musicologist/writer Ustad Pervaiz Paras and Muhammad Bakhsh Sahib from the Delhi Gharana on the surmandal.
All photos are courtesy of Sarah Zaman.