Qawwali

About Qawwali
Strong voices and explosive hand-clapping characterize the devotional music known as Qawwali. An ensemble of usually twelve male performers convey a religious message through music and song based on mystic poetry by Sufi masters. The texts usually deal with divine love (‘ishq), the sorrow of separation (hijr,firaq) and the union (visal), these concepts being symbolically reinforced and illustrated by the music. Qawwali blends Iranian and Central Asian poetic, philosophical and musical elements into a North Indian base, combining popular music with classical traditions. Following the same pattern of combination and blending, the texts cover Arabic and Persian, but the main text body is usually in a simple idiom form of Indian languages: Urdu, Hindi, Purbi and Punjabi. Qawwali is derived form an Arabic word qaul, meaning ‘belief” or “credo.” Qawwali is spiritual in essence; it is the devotional music of the Sufis to attain trance and mystical experience -- originating in the 10th century and blossoming into its present form from the 13th century onwards.
Qawwali is inseparable from the name of a Persian court musician, composer, poet and mystic of that period: Amir Khusrau (1254-1325). Amir Khusrau experimented with musical forms, combining the Indian and the Persian, the Hindu Bhakti and the Muslim Sufi to produce the present form of qawwali.
Qawwali thus became a popular expression of Muslim devotion open to all faiths throughout Northern India . This form of music rapidly became a vehicle for the Islamic missionary movement in India , while at the same time reinforcing the faith of the Muslims. In many cases, the original Persian mystical text is followed by a translation in the local idiom sung in the same manner as the original. While the orthodoxy continues to reject what they perceive as a blasphemous mixture of music and religion, qawwali remains an expanding form of music enjoying universal popularity in South Asia .
An even more energetic form of qawwali developed around the 16th century in the middle Indus at the crossroads between Iran , Central Asia and India. This form called the Punjabi Ang, presents the crystal-clear and profound texts of Punjabi Sufi poetry and folk songs woven into attractive melodies and powerful rhythms. Both Meher Ali and Sher All belong to this branch of qawwali, as did the late Nusrat Fateh All Khan. This is the only party who is keeping the Qawwali in its original form.


Qawwali Settings            Qawwali Music            Instruments of Qawwali


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