How Music Keeps Us Alive

Why it is needed more than ever, in times of Lockdown

By: Fatima Humayun

We can all think of at least one song, when we hear it, how it triggers a heartfelt memory. It might be a dance at one of your favorite parties, songs on your wedding or a tune that helps you to remember a troublesome separation or loss of a friend or family member.

Music is embedded in our mind and soul, even though they are mere vibrations with different patterns, but then every other sound is produced by vibrations, so what’s the difference? Well, we  don’t exactly overcome emotions by a sound of a jackhammer now, do we? It’s music that propels us towards so many feelings. Nothing binds people together like music does.

It’s interesting that every era has its own anthology of music through which they find peace, through which they unitedly face any obstacle coming their way. Songs of hope written by Allama Iqbal or of poetic defiance by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, patriotic fervour in Noor Jahan’s songs – they touched everyone’s hearts, for different reasons. They still resonate today.

Music creates a sense of affiliation and involvement, it is a cure to the developing feeling of estrangement and disconnection in public when all is said and done – considerably more so now we are being asked to effectively practice social distancing.

Often in the times of crisis people do turn to music.  Individuals sang as blazes tore through the top of the memorable Notre Dame Cathedral last April, when Parisians could do nothing else to save the darling symbol. This unconstrained response appeared to mirror the need of Parisians to promise each other that, despite the fact that the cathedral was being decimated before their eyes, they would carry on. The music likewise appeared to be offered to the building itself – consolation that she was being upheld by her people in the time of need.

Likewise in today’s situation, Italy and Spain with highest death toll till date refusing to let go of the positive vibes – Italians making music in their balconies everyday with whatever instruments they have showing solidarity, people of Spain doing the same. People of Wuhan chanting and singing patriotic songs to fight against the virus with integrity. Because that’s how it helps ease angst and fear. Music gets you through tough times without you even realizing it.

For a few, this may have started with attempting to not lose their minds being locked up at home. Others plainly wished to help their people in one of the main ways they had left accessible to them – by making music.

In Pakistan, as all the concerts have been cancelled as they should be,  singers/musicians are going live from their social media accounts and streaming live concerts to kill boredom amid the outbreak. Ali Sethi, Bilal Maqsood and Faisal Kapadia from Strings, Ali Noor and Ali Hamza, Dino and Natasha, Osama Com Laude, Adil Omer and many others are doing it almost regularly. They not only play songs on requests of their fans but share some of their life stories and also engage with the audience by asking them to join the live session and share how they are spending their quarantine. Many people find these ‘virtual concerts’ therapeutic. It has become a routine – people actually wait for 8pm, get done with their work and find whatever artist they can to get through the lockdown.

It is evident that music in Pakistan like the rest of the world, does not sit back, no matter what. In fact, it remains an active participant in our lives.