I've been maintaining this blog (for better or for worse) over the last eight years. Over these years, its natural evolution has led it into becoming something of a niche place for discussion of music in general and Qawwali in particular. Rather than trying to return my existing blog to its pre-Qawwali eclectic roots, I decided I’d start anew on Tumblr. So if you’re interested in music, Qawwali and subcontinental culture, keep reading/listening/watching/commenting here. For all of the above and everything else under the sun, head on over to my Tumblr page .

Thursday, July 12, 2012

...Of A Diamond In The Rough

Qawwali has been blessed with many unique voices. Some of them, like Nusrat's, Munshi Raziuddin's or Ghulam Fareed Sabri's,  are justifiably well known. Others, like Murli Qawwal's, Mubarak Ali-Niaz Ali Qawwal's or Rasheed Ahmed Fareedi Qawwal's , are probably not as widely acclaimed as they ought to be. One of the most unique voices in Qawwali was that of Maulvi Ahmed Hassan Akhter Bheranwale Qawwal. Emotive, raspy, mellifluous, with the ability to elicit tons of feeling out of a few notes. He performed mainly in the '70s and 80's with his father - who I'm 90% sure was named Maulvi Akhtar Hassan Qawwal, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong - and his younger brother Maulvi Haider Hassan Qawwal, who currently performs with the remaining members of his elder brother's Qawwali party..

Maulvi Ahmed Hassan quit performing in the late 1980s, which is a real shame because he had a voice and a performance style that was second to none. Performing traditional sufi Kalam in Urdu and Farsi with the same verve and vigour as his Punjabi performances, Maulvi Ahmed Hassan was a true representative of the Punjabi school of Qawwali; imparting a distinctly earthy feel to whatever he sang. The studio recordings he made for OSA are brilliant, with my only gripe being the fact that the recordists didn't place a microphone in front of Maulvi Akhter Hassan, with the result that we can barely hear the senior Qawwal's voice in most of them. Below are some of the recordings of the Maulvi Ahmed Hassan Akhtar Bheranwale Qawwal party that I've managed to accumulate, and they display the group's wonderful command on Urdu/Farsi kalam. The credit for sharing some of these recordings goes to Arif Ali Khan Sb and my dear friend Pedro Ferrari

Main Nazar Se Pi Raha Hoon, Yeh Samaa Badal Na Jaye
A languid mood pervades this very melodious ghazal.

Na Woh Iltefaat-e-Awwal, Na Nigah Main Barhami Hai
A stately start, with a wonderful shift in tempo and some beautiful girahs make this recording stand out.


Dikhla Ke Jhalak Tum Chup Hi Gaye
Sounding almost like a Punjabi 'Jhol', this recording features brilliant takraars and girahs.

Aamada Ba Qatle Man
The Qawwals perform Khusrau in this crusty but brilliant mehfil recording, imparting a Punjabi flavor to the Farsi kalam.

Kahoon Kaise Sakhi Ri Mohe Laaj Lage
Another wonderful prelude and a beautifully sustained takraar are the highlights of this PTV performance.

Dil Burd Az Man Di-Roz Shaamay
 Adopting a more measured andaz, the qawwals start off this wonderful Farsi kalam with a beautiful preamble.

Finally, I'd like to share something really special. This is probably among my Top 5 most favorite Qawwali performances ever. If anyone ever wondered whether a Qawwali performance could "swing", this should dispel their doubts. The following performance perfectly encapsulates the Punjabi 'Ang' of Qawwali; a wonderful beat, vigorous taali, taans and alaaps that are imbued with the feel of the land, emphatic yet nuanced singing and a brilliant use of takraar and girah. I have to thank Pedro Ferrari for sharing this video with me and I'm immensely proud to share probably the only complete version of this remarkable performance available on the internet.

Aaja Hun Aaja Arabi Dholna

Some more of Maulvi Ahmed Hassan Bheranwale Qawwal's wonderful performances can be found Here, Here and Here.


  1. Indeed Maulvi Ahmad Sahib's raspy and broken voice had no other parallel.

    This is one of the best naats sang by him:

    Ishq ki ibtida bhi tum

  2. You've been tagged for the Liebster Blog Award. Follow the link:


  3. Sayaa na thha ... sayaa to thhaa - there is no more purely Punjabi line than their "bas Siallkot dey barder toon..."

  4. Though I had been a frequent visitor to your blog but for last 6-8 months I got entangled with classical western music and had almost forgotten your blog and one more beautiful blog Washerman's Dog. But fortunately for me, I had bookmarked both blogs. Yesterday I was cleaning my bookmarks and I was delighted to find you are still doing wonderful job. This time you took away my breath by your postings. For first time in my life I broke my rule and recommended your blog to people for not only music but also for the language... Theory of relativity and its application in music that too coming from Doctor...
    Doctor Saheb my only complaint with you is , this time you have posted on NaadSaagar .. It is not to possible to download from this site.. Unfortunately I am using usb sound card which does not allow me to record streaming music... Pls post these recording on site from downloading is easier... I want to share these quwalies with my father who is not interested in seeing things online....
    Saint tyagi