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Indian, Pakistani Musicians Unite for ‘Dosti Music’ Project, Aim to Transcend Political, Cultural Barriers

The cultures of India and Pakistan are deeply interconnected, yet creating opportunities for people-to-people contact can be challenging. But music can play a pivotal role in bridging that gap.

Combining Appalachian fiddle tunes with Karachi minimalist electronica and sarangi accompanied with classical Urdu poetics, a new album, “Travelers: Dosti Music Project,” features both original compositions and reinvented traditional tunes, highlighting a common musical heritage across that cultural divide.

“Travelers: Dosti Music Project,” the first ever release from New-York based artist collective Found Sound Nation’s newly formed label, will be released May 26.

Found Sound Nation’s unique initiative, Dosti Music Project, has twice in the past brought together a group of 20 young musicians from Pakistan, India, and the U.S. for a month-long collaborative residency, in 2015 and 2016, in partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan, during which the artists worked to overcome nationalist disparities and find a common voice through music.

The project brings together musicians from a wide variety of traditions, ranging from Sufi singing to beat making to avant-garde jazz, to collaboratively writing, recording, and performing original music, reinventing traditional music, and developing initiatives that will make a positive impact on communities locally and internationally.

By providing musicians from India and Pakistan the infrastructure for collaboration and integration, Dosti Music Project intends to create a unique opportunity to reconnect musical traditions and re-link the politically fractured South Asian subcontinent. And by facilitating the project in the U.S. and including American musicians – the U.S. participates as capacity-builders and as equal partners – it seeks to establish a model of cultural interaction that can positively impact diplomatic and political discourses.

“It’s hard to describe the moment when strangers meet and immediately lapse into a space of camaraderie,” said Nandi Rose Plunkett, Dosti programs coordinator and artistic collaborator. “There’s an easy shift in energy, an opening of the spirit that defies words. It happened before my eyes many times during the Dosti Music Project, when it became clear just how much the people of India and Pakistan share – a strong commonality of history, language, and music.”

Plunkett added that the music tells the story of a new kind of place, one that isn’t stymied by political history or social expectations. “It exists as a testament to the power of a deeper kind of human connection,” she said.