On a sweltering summer day, Raza Kazim is busy producing music at his home in Lahore. A cigarette in hand, he is manning a chunky, analogue mixer connected to high-fidelity speakers placed near the screen door of his cozy listening room. His fascination with sound is such that he has fashioned his own amplifiers and speakers in a workshop two rooms away from the listening room.
He plays back what he has just recorded. The room is suddenly filled with the notes of the Sagar Veena played by his daughter, Noor Zehra. The sound seems so real, it is as if she is playing the instrument sitting right there in the room. The listener can hear the nuances of the recording — every interval in the instrument’s sound, even the faint whirring of the spools, is audible.
Kazim, the octogenarian founder of Sanjan Nagar Institute of Philosophy and Arts in Lahore, has a passion for music production. A lawyer by profession and an activist by inclination, he is also a musicologist, instrument maker and music connoisseur. Music libraries at his institute are brimming with unreleased recordings of Iqbal Bano, Noor Jahan, Pathanay Khan and Reshma, all recorded by Kazim himself.
He says he not only provides a suitable intellectual and emotional space to the musicians he records, but also remains actively engaged in all aspects of the production process. He is also one of a handful of people who still record music using only analogue mixers. Most others have shifted to digital ones.
Changes have taken place at the other end of the musical spectrum too — in how music is accessed and consumed. Consumers have moved from vinyl records to cassettes to compact discs (CDs) to MP3s and back, in the last four decades.