Coke Studio Explorer: Musical Discovery in Pakistan

The music scene in Pakistan is huge. The sheer amount of raw talent, skill, enthusiasm and love for music across the country is second to none. A resurgence of the craft has taken centre stage in recent years following decades of stamping down by previous leadership on what was considered "un-Islamic" in this largely Muslim country. 

Putting that to one side however, Pakistan is today enjoying exploring its roots in sound, from the melodious sounds of Mehdi Hassan to the legend that was Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. (NFAK is perhaps single-handedly responsible for bringing the sound of Qawaali, a devotional musical art of the Sufi's, to the world at large.)

Today, music has become mainstream once again with a focus on rediscovering old favourites and elevating emerging new talent and perhaps nowhere has this been clearer, than with the popularity of Coke Studio. 

Where It All Started...

The Coke Studio sessions are now in their 7th season and have undergone a new iteration with Coke Studio Explorer. The original sessions were quite literally put together as "jamming sessions" for artists of different backgrounds and experience, drawing on old and new across different musical styles and genres. 

Set within a studio sponsored by Coca Cola, the sessions proved insanely popular with the TV audiences who kept coming back for more. I've included some of my favourite acts below:

...And then came Coke Studio Explorer

Coke Studio Explorer has taken flight in season 11 of Coke Studio and unlike Coke Studio which involved a variety of artists coming into the studio to jam with producers and create outstanding sound, Explorer turns this on its head so that the producers head out of the studio and across Pakistan to discover fresh, regional talent, mainly focused on local, traditional music, unique to each area.

The series only started this month so it has a way to go as we discover new artists and forms of music. What was perhaps the most surprising to me, was that, as someone of Pakistani heritage, I had always felt that I knew a lot about my culture and history and the art of Pakistan in all its forms. 

I learnt that I don't know anything at all. See for yourself...