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Origines Des Music: Qawwali
With the rise of collaborations from artists around the world, the boundaries of global music are more blurred than they have ever been. From rock to reggae and folk to flamenco, musical genres are blending to create tunes that are unique yet universal, adding a whole new dimension to the landscape of sound. Musique Originale takes you behind the music as we hear it today to the very origins of genres from across the world, bridging the old and the new and delving into the history of music.

Qawwali, meaning ‘utterance’ in Persian, is a spiritual form of music that is on a constant mission to spread the message of metaphysical love between man and God.

This music form began with the birth of Muhammad in the 10th century, when the earliest Islamic scholars discussed the spiritual effects of music. However all this only got refined and documented at the time of Al-Ghazali (A.D. 1085-1111) and was then expanded by the Chisti School of Sufism. The Chisti School, established by Khwaj Moinuddin Hasan Chisti, influenced many saintly men. This music form of Qawwali travelled to India and Pakistan and was usually sung in Persian and later Urdu. It also was sung in Parsi and Punjabi.

One of the most important individuals who essentially contributed to the development and innovations of Qawwali was the disciple of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya and the advisor to the 11th rulers of Delhi, Amir Khusrau (A.D. 1254-1324). Khusrau, being the son of a Turk, is said to have had a perfect blend of various musical elements from different territorial regions like Turkey, greater Persia and India. Interestingly this form has an impeccable blend of Persian moqquams with the Indian ragas, which was later realised in the latter part of the Mughal Empire.

Historians say of Qawwali: “The music is a meltdown of thousands of years of myriad cultures. No single country owns it and no single group can honestly claim to its creation. It will spread like a wild fire. It is the eternal Flame of Zoroaster.”

Renowned for its high energy, Qawwali is meant to elevate the spirit and unite both the performer and listener to God. The main goal is to touch the listeners’ mind and soul, enabling them to attain a stateless state ~ Marifat.

Qawwali is simple to sing and follow; it essentially begins with an instrumental prelude on the harmonium, outlining the melody, and as the Qawwal sings the introductory verse, his chorus joins him to reinforce the message. Here in the music the phrases are re-emphasised by constantly repeating a phrase, embellishing and emphasising it. As the piece progresses, both the tempo and volume gradually increase, thus elevating the listeners to a higher state of self. The Qawwals insist on sitting on the ground rather than on seats, as that would bring them closer to God. Ideally the group comprises of two lead singers, five secondary singers followed by a choral response and vigorous handclasps, two harmonium players and a table player.

If you haven’t been exposed to this genre of music, as a music lover I can guarantee that it will be an entirely new experience. Qawwali will not only make your love for music grow deeper, but will also help you love yourself and the divine. When you listen to the soulful voice of the Qawwals, the echoing sound of the claps against the backdrop of a combination of the tabla and harmonium, the constant rush in life seems to take a backseat. You reach a state where all you want is to find yourself and the truth that exists in you. The daily chores, the minuscule problems in life all seem to be insignificant. All that matters is the truth within you and the love for your creator.

Qawwali has been performed by a number of great musicians. To get a feel of the music, one could listen to the great maestro the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Abida Parveen, The Sabri Brothers, The Wadali Brothers, etc. To get the real essence of the music, visit a Dargah near your place and transcend.

Goaree soawaiy seji purra, mukha ourra daareiy kaiys;
Chull Khusrau ghurr appuney, reiyn bhuyee chahoun deys

Amir Khusrau

(The fair one is asleep on the bed and her hair covers her face; O Khusrao! Wend your way home, for the world has become dark.)











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