Saturday, October 2, 2010

思捷 (Sijie) does World Music 1: Qawwali

A friend recommended that I post my musical interests as he found them interesting , I believe my writing skills are inadequate for critiquing and am no real authority on world music. So the purposes of posting these entries are to introduce possible readers to just a small part of my musical tastes and just a little bit of information on the genres discussed.

I've been into so called world music for a long while now, I'm not really sure how it came about, but I've had a passion for languages for as long as I can remember and so I guess music correlates with that somewhat. I simply love listening to music from other cultures in other languages besides English. I'll give any genre a listen, and I'd say from personal experience, I've mostly been rewarded. In this entry, I'll just give short introduction to a genre called Qawwali, however to my knowledge it is also called Sufiana.

Qawwali is a form of music that is most popular in Southern Pakistan and Northern India. Qawwali is usually a large group effort, with a few singers and instrument players. Instruments used in Qawwali to accompany the group of singers include the tabla, dholak (a low pitch drum) and the harmonium, handclapping is also used to achieve some rhythmic effect. It is said that it's steadily building percussive and melodic layers have a somewhat hypnotic effect and can induce euphoria in listeners. Personally, the longest Qawwali song I've listened to is around 15 minutes long and though I wasn't exactly euphoric, it was quite a pleasant listening experience.

The vocals are usually in Punjabi, Hindi or Urdu, however other languages are occasionally used. I've only heard Qawwali in the former three languages. Qawwali historically was introduced to the Indian subcontinent by travelling sufis (Islamic missionaries) from the Middle East. As such, a lot of Qawwali has strong Islamic flavour often including poetry, quranic verses and the such. However a significant amount of songs also have secular lyrics, many being devotional love songs. Though from what I've read, some of these devotional love songs can be re-interpreted as being devotional to Islam.

As I'm not a muslim nor do I have a working knowledge of Hindi/Urdu, I usually listen to Qawwali for pure listening pleasure's sake. Personally I just love the melodies, percussive elements and strong vocals . I'm really fond of Hindi/Urdu poetry and lyrics, to me they possess a lovely aesthetic. I personally don't know many artists at all, my favourite is Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who sadly passed away in 1997. In a sense, it can be said his musical legacy has been carried on by his nephew Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, whose music I also enjoy, though I haven't had the real opportunity of being exposed to much of it.

If anyone out there has more artists to recommend for me, I gladly appreciate it. I'd really like to expand my collection for Qawwali/Sufiana.

Below I've posted two songs, just to give you a taste of what the genre is like.

Allah Hoo- Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Long Version Part 1

Long Version Part 2

Short Version (I prefer this one)

Aaya Tere Dar Par from the Veer Zaara soundtrack- Ahmed Hussain, Mohd. Hussain, Mohd. Vakil, Javed Hussain (A longer 7 minute edition is available on the Veer-Zaara soundtrack)

^This one has English subtitles, so that you can know more about the lyrics.

Enjoy and feel free to offer feedback!

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