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Are there similarities between Aboriginal and South Asian music?

An Aboriginal man plays a didgeridoo during Australia Day in Sydney, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. (Inset - Musician Mahmood Khan) .(AP Photo/Rob Griffith) Source: AP

Pakistani Australian music artist Mahmood Khan says the music of both places have similar sounds and vocals.

“It is connected with everything around us” is how Pakistani Australian music artist Mahmood Khan describes Aboriginal music.

The local music singer has recently released new songs in collaboration with a symphony orchestra in Sydney with elements from aboriginal music.

Mahmood has travelled to various places around Australia to learn about the aboriginal music and culture and its similarities with other types of music.

Talking to SBS Urdu, Mahmood says that the sounds and vocals of famous South Asian musicians and the styles they used are quite similar to the aboriginal music.

“Aboriginal music is based on the sounds of the trees, earth and every thing in it. Even the music instruments are made from the trees.

“This is quite similar to the classical or early music styles we had in South Asia.”


Mahmood’s single ‘Like the river’ topped the ARIA pop hit charts in October 2009.


Quoting the example of one of the most famous music maestros in South Asia, Tansen, Mahmood says that the 16th century musician was known for his engagement with nature.

“Tansen, the genius musician was famous for both his vocals and music. But he also knew how to play with the voices of animals and birds or engage with nature. I find a similar pattern in what makes aboriginal music.

The local artist shares his experience with one of the famous singers in Pakistan and India, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

“Every day Nusrat used to do ‘riyaz’ in the morning [meaning music practice to hone vocals].

“The sounds he used to make are very similar to what we hear in aboriginal music.”

Music artist Mahmood Khan performing with the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra and Gambirra Mob in Sydney
Music artist Mahmood Khan performing with the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra and Gambirra Mob in Sydney (Screenshot: YouTube/BeatViral)
BeatViral

Respecting Aboriginal Culture

Mahmood says he is inspired by the traditional music in aboriginal culture as it relates to his own music.

“For me, aboriginal music is very grounded and earthly. There is stillness in it.

“It has something that people seek around the world; you might find it in the sounds and music of monks in Tibet.

His curiousity led him to several aboriginal communities where he met the local singers and vocalists.

“What is interesting about Australia is that the more your travel inside Australia, the more the colours of the environment change. You see a lot of orange and red and the shades keep on changing when you travel further in the outback.

So the more I travelled to seek knowledge about aboriginal music, the more I was able to learn about their people and their culture.

Mahmood says that it is important to pay respect to their traditions in order to be part of them.

“It took some time to find people who can share the true stories and concepts behind their music.

“You have to show a lot of respect to gain their respect which is a major part of their culture.”

A 40 cent stamp featuring artwork by Aboriginal rock artist Wamud Namok, Nov 17, 1982.
A 40 cent stamp featuring artwork by Aboriginal rock artist Wamud Namok, Nov 17, 1982. (credit: AAP Image/Australia Post
AAP


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