Coke Studio: Mixing Classical with Contemporary

I’ve been listening to two songs A LOT recently:

Both are productions of Coke Studio, a Pakistani television series that provides a venue for classical, folk and various other musical influences in Pakistan to fuse with contemporary popular music.

I am torn over this sort of music. One side of me says that traditional classical and folk music should be left untouched. Another side says that trying to preserve things undermines the dynamic ability of those things to change and adapt, and that experimentation in art is important for self expression. If I agree with the latter, than do I also agree with globalization and modernization, which can be seen as forms of experimentation that often force traditions to change?

What matters to me is whether the change supplements the tradition with something new or replaces it with something new. There is an important distinction between supplementing something, e.g., what Coke Studio does, versus replacing it, e.g., the Jersey cow replacing yaks in Ladakh and Spiti. Globalization and modernization currently work by replacing the old tradition with a new mono-culture. In this process, we lose valuable things worth cherishing, such as Arif Lohar and Fareed Ayaz from the above songs.

The old is the foundation for the new. So, by replacing the old with the new, we weaken our own foundation. Finding unique, creative and organic ways to supplement the old with the new can produce beautiful things. Just listen to the above two songs if you disagree 🙂

Coke Studio has a YouTube channelthat is worth checking out. Enjoy.


About Ranjodh Singh
I'm currently an Ally in the Public Allies New York Apprenticeship ( Through the apprenticeship, I'm partnered with NYCRx (, a nonprofit organization that improves the health of New Yorkers using public health interventions. I'm excited to continue serving, but doing so closer to health and medicine. I'm also enjoying NYC, which I find to be an enriching environment.

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