Qawwali – The Song of Love

Had the pleasure to be a part of this great seminar “Qawwali the Song of Love” held at Alliance française de Karachi last night, hosted by Ally Adnan.

Qawwali although has been linked to Sufism form of expression but it predates that by a good century. While growing up we got to hear various versions of it in stage shows, Bollywood films and concerts. I would have to admit, for someone who grew up listening to Backstreet Boys progressing onto Sufi Music is a major hyperbole. However, there is significant complexity involved in the later, so perhaps in order to truly appreciate it one needs to comprehend it to some level. And that I did with this Seminar! Just the tip of the iceberg but a start perhaps.

According to Mr. Ally Adnan, “Qawaali is not unstructured!” There are limitations to which one can improvise in this form of music. From the selection of words, rhyming, format, tone and rhythm… everything is governed by a set of laws. The predominant form popular in the Subcontinent was introduced by Ameer Khusro, many years ago and that is the refined form of qawwali as we know today.

I had the pleasure of listening to the 17th generation of performers from the original deciple of Allauhddin Khilji the “Ghayoor- Moiz- Mustafa Qawwal & Party”. I was new to a lot of music they recited but since they were designed along the principles of original qawwali- all were exquisitely melodious.

I personally love the version by Abida Perveen but this version measures up well too. The words recited in this qawwali were elaborated by the orator for the evening Ally Adnan. “I prepared so well to meet my beloved, but when I confronted them I forgot everything, my preparation seemed insufficient.

Chaap Tilak, qawaali version by Ghayoor- Moiz- Mustafa Qawaal Party

The show is still in progress for one more night, so please head on over to appreciate this exquisite form of expression. I for one, will never treat qawwali the same way. I’m a changed person.

Note: Credits for the image in the picture also go to Alliance française de Karachi.

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