PAKISTAN is a land of great singers, such as Mehdi Hasan, Noor Jahan, Farida Khanum, Abida Parveen and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, to name but a few. The same is true of the specific field of Qawwali, which is a Sufi devotional singing mostly sung along with an ensemble of co-singers. Gems like Ghulam Fareed Sabri, Aziz Mian and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan left their indelible footprints in the field which is now led by the duo of Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammad.

More famous in Punjab and Sindh, Qawwali is a fluid style of singing like shifting sands, and improvisation plays an indispensable part in it. Usually, singers follow the rhythm of background melody, but Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammad perform slightly differently as they move beyond that rhythm. Listening to their remarkable singing induces a hypnotic trance and makes the world around melt away, giving new meanings to words and even concepts.

For me, Kangna is a rendition that is second to none and deserves a complete case study based on a 10-count pattern. The way they performed the melodious variations with remarkable precision and ingenuity is beyond description or praise.

Unfortunately, the rising trend of fusion or downright Western style of singing is taking the shine off this beautiful genre of music. We should rethink our choices which may get us back to the world of devotional singing and mystical melodies for which we were known around the world.

Abdul Musawir
Ghotki

Published in Dawn, October 24th, 2021

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