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, November 1, 2012

...Of The Klaseeki Angg and the Punjabi Rungg

Over the last decade or so, Qawwali in Pakistan has undergone many changes. The death of most of the leading Qawwals of the last century left a vacuum that hasn't been filled by their successors. The overarching influence of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan has led to a large number of Qawwals adopting - or trying unsuccessfully to adopt - his style while neglecting their own gharana-specific traditional andaaz. Another change that has ocurred has that Qawwals in Pakistan have become divided into two broad groups ; the Punjabi Qawwals and the "Karachi walay" Qawwals as they are known. The first group consists of the successors of the Fateh Ali-Mubarak Ali clan, the Fareedi group of Qawwals, stalwarts like Mehr Ali Sher Ali Qawwals etc and their subsequent shagirds while the latter group comprises of the members of the Qawwal Bacchay gharana, the Khurja Noharbani gharana and others who migrated to Karachi around partition. Although there are many stylistic differences between these two groups - and many stylistic overlaps too for that matter - the main difference is the adherence of most of the Karachi-walay qawwals to a traditional classical-based andaaz, contrasted with the Punjabi qawwals' preference for a more bombastic, dhamaal based qawwali style.

This wasn't always the case however; as past generations of Punjabi Qawwals remained true to the classical roots of qawwali while still being faithful to the sights, sounds and moods of their native land. Qawwals like the Sabri Brothers bridged the divide between the traditional Punjabi and the classical styles of the migrant artists. The current generation of Punjabi performers, with one or two exceptions, has overlooked the importance of rooting their performance in the fertile soil of the Hindustani classical musical tradition. In contrast, their forbears ensured the inclusion of Raag based arrangements, and in many cases, specific khayal based items in their performances. As a result, they created a wonderful amalgam of Classical and traditional music.

The following are a group of recordings from some of the pre-eminent Punjabi qawwals of the last century as they perform Khayaal based on classical North-Indian Raags. It is no coincidence perhaps that they all come from a single scholastic lineage in that they are all shagirds of Ustads Fateh Ali-Mubarak Ali Qawwals. The influence of their traditional Punjabi backgrounds is clearly evident here, as is their respect for, and adherence to the pure classical idiom. It is a real shame that such performances aren't being heard anymore from the current crop of Punjabi Qawwals.

1.Bakhshi Salamat Qawwal - Piya Ka Darshan Main Kaise Paoon Gi, Raag Bhairon

2.Ustad Ameer Ali Murkianvale Qawwal - Piya More Aaye Re Mandarva, Raag Khambavati

3.Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Party - Dhan Dhan Bhaag Hamaro, Raag Gawati

4.Agha Rasheed Ahmad Fareedi Qawwal - Ab Na Rahe Gi Peerr, Raag Hameer ( This is an excerpt from a one hour performance that is among my most favorite Qawwali performances by any qawwal)

5.Ustad Fateh Ali-Mubarak Ali Qawwal - Classical Bandish -Live In Karachi 1961 (This is a Khayal performance taken from a mehfil recording, however I am not sure about the raag being performed).


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  2. I watched a recent interview of Rizwan-Muazzam and they made a point to say that their families lineage and style in deeply rooted in classical music. Rizwan commented that Fateh Ali Khan would bring the dhrupad style and Mubarak Ali Khan would bring khyal gayaki into the performances, the meeting of both was a sight to behold I can only imagine. http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6D102E5F4F51C2D0 this playlist of some of Nusrat's classical pieces is a daily listen of mine.

  3. The fifth track is Raag Bihag. Same Bandish has been sung by Ustad Amir Khan, you may find it on Youtube.

    And much thanks for sharing this hidden treasure.