London-based, Pakistani Sufi Opera
star Saira Peter has been preparing to release a new National song
(Milli Naghma) “Aye Sar Zameen” on occasion of 70th Independence Day
on August 14.
‘Aye Sar Zameen’ is certainly a top quality find! Saira Peter
recorded her song earlier this summer, but the concept had been
deepening in her spirit for years.
Saira had completed composing the lyrics and music but she
invested several more years carefully crafting the song.
Drawing on her extensive Western classical training, she
gradually enhanced the melody, introduced harmony and built up the
The song was beginning to glow and shine in its own right. To
her mind, it had to reflect the vast array of beauty and complexity
of her motherland.
Over the past few years, the various incarnations of Saira’s
vocal recordings speak for themselves about how rigorously she has
invested in this project.
Working at London’s Soup Studios, she completed early versions
of the track with the help of seasoned recording engineer Andy Rugg
(whose clients include Beyonce, Radiohead et al).
Later, takes were engineered by Dan Blackett, but she called
in lead engineer Giles Barrett for final mixing and mastering on
Soup’s vintage 1980’s Soundtracs CM4400 console.
It was worth the effort! Against a backdrop of pulsing
strings, relentless drums and sparkling piano, Saira’s unique voice
paints a soundscape as varied as Pakistan itself. Like a glorious
eagle, her coloratura-like inflections wing their way over roaring
ocean, windswept desert, verdant farmland. Her powerful voice roars
into motion as she reaches the phrase “Shad baad rahey mera
Pakistan!” (“May my Pakistan always rejoice!”). But the song is not
As the climax approaches, Saira’s voice, now a swirl of layers
and octaves expressed through her expansive 52-note vocal range,
As she sustains and repeats the phrase “Aye Sar Zameen” (“O My
Land”) at ever higher increments, she seems to soar above K2 itself.
With its perfect balance of rhythm and harmony, Aye Sar Zameen
is a jubilant musical proclamation sealed by a triumphant gong
In terms of lyrical content Aye Sar Zameen is first of all
Saira’s heartfelt entreaty that God would remain forever in the
land, bring Pakistan peace and prosperity, fill her inhabitants with
At the same time, the song proclaims a majestic announcement
to everyone everywhere. Pakistan’s precious destiny as a “golden and
silvery land” is to shine for all whole world to see.
This week, work began on the production. Like the song, the
video will feature the brand new ideas of a Pakistani girl who lives