Umarah Naushad Ali: Music is a form of meditation

Umarah Naushad Ali, who is the granddaughter of legendary music composer Naushad Ali, says music helps her bring her creative side out. Speaking on the occasion of World Music Day, which is observed on June 21, she said, “Music always helps me focus when I am working or cooking or doing anything creative.”   

“It’s a form of meditation. So it’s really helpful for me, and it always has been. Even when I was a kid, when I used to paint, I used to always have music on and just flow with it,” she added.   She agrees that music has a huge impact on her mood and her day. She added, “When I’m feeling frustrated, I just turn on some rock music, which helps me to vent out or just let out any negative energy and i definitely feel better in sometime and it definitely helps me improve my mood. It is music therapy, basically.“   

Umarah says the wavelengths of music can affect health by influencing brainwaves and neurotransmitters. “Music can impact brain activity in several ways and it definitely helps in relaxing, helps sleeping , it can also reduce anxiety and if you start your day with nice music, which has a lot of energy, that also, I think, helps you feel energetic. When I used to work out, I used to definitely have the kind of music that would motivate me and push me to work out a little extra,” she said.   

Sharing her personal experience, she said that she is an introvert, and as a child, it was difficult for her to speak and express herself. So every time she felt low or depressed, she would just lock herself in her room, listen to music, and be there for hours. She added, “And that has always helped me, and I think it has helped me cope with a lot of lows in my life. So yes, it has definitely helped my mental health.”   

Umarah has a vast range when it comes to the genre of music. She can go from Sufi and a really calm instrumental to heavy metal. And thus, her mood changes too. “I can connect with all kinds of music and different kinds of artists, but mostly music for the soul, as I’ve grown older, is Sufi music and ghazals. Old music, which, as a kid, I never appreciated or never connected to as I grew up I learnt to appreciate it and understand it. But my grandfather’s music, of course, has a different feel; it has a different calmness. It has a different soulfulness to it. So, yeah, that’s my all-time favorite kind of genre. And at different moods, it’s a different kind of music,” she said.   Favourite singer? “In today’s time, it is Ali Sethi. I really love his songs, mostly because there are a lot of famous poets whose poetry he has sung. And he’s done a lot of covers. He’s done a cover of “Ranjish hi sahi” sung by the lengend mehndi hassan sir, which is one of my favorite ghazals, “Dil Ki Khair” by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, “Khabar-e-Tahayyur-e-Ishq” by Siraj Aurangabadi and many more such amazing songs/ghazals. He’s obviously more famously known as the Pasoori singer. But for me, I have known and loved him for a different kind of music altogether. I was introduced to his song by my younger cousins. And I have been so thankful to them for that. And with time, I have just grown to like more and more of his work,” she said.   

She likes to listen to songs that have a deep meaning, whether they’re in English or Urdu. She likes to understand them and feel their music. She said, “There are songs; one is a kawali, which is “Aadam” by Hazrat Amir Khusrow, which I am hooked on to. I just love it because it is a classic and it is so brilliantly composed. The song, the music, the whole energy, and the feel of that song are all beautiful. Then there are artists like Abi Sampa, her song “Ghar aa”, or “Man Kunto Maula”, I just love these kinds of songs, and I can just keep hearing them again and again, not just because of the lyrics but because of the way the music makes you feel, it makes you feel whole, it makes you feel amazing, and it touches your soul. You can literally feel it, it is food for your soul”.

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