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Published on 11 Oct 2009 | over 8 years ago

Produced by: Sudev Sheth
Edited by: Ani Gupta
First published by: Underscore Records, Pvt. Ltd. (Delhi, India), 2006
Produced and published with written permission from the artistes.

December 10, 2006:
"Episode 5 of the Underscore Records Podcast is now ready for you at podcasts.underscorerecords.info . This time we have a very special videocast for you featuring excerpts from a recent qawwali performance in Delhi by well known Pakistani qawwal Fareed Ayaz and party. Sons of the acclaimed scholar and musician Munshi Raziuddin, Fareed Ayaz and his brother Abu Mohammad render qawwali in a style that is greatly influenced by classical music. We are sure you will greatly enjoy their music as well as short extracts from interviews with them.

It gives us great pleasure to inform you that this videocast is a contribution to the Underscore Records Podcasts from two young music lovers Sudev Sheth and Ani Gupta. Sudev Sheth is a student of tabla and lives in the United States of America, but is currently in Delhi as an exchange student from the University of California, Berkeley. Ani Gupta heads Metaphorm, his multimedia and graphics design company in Delhi, and is a part of the Underscore Records core team. We are extremely grateful to both Sudev and Ani for generously making this videocast available to music lovers through the Underscore Records Podcasts."

Written by: Sudev J Sheth (www.sudevsheth.com)

Hailing from a family of musicians now based in Karachi (Pakistan), Fareed Ayaz belongs to the group of hereditary performers of qawwali at Nizamuddin Auliyas shrine in Delhi. Qawwali can be categorized as a song genre of Hindustani semi-classical music that is set to mystical Sufi poetry in Farsi, Hindi, Persian, Punjabi, and Urdu. Historically, this type of music was performed in smaller assemblies at the dargahs, or shrines, of the respected Sufi leaders. Since the early eighties, however, the likes of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Sabri Brothers have brought qawwali to the masses by performing outside of the dargah. It is important to note that as a genre, qawwali is marked by its vast internal variation in musical and lyrical understanding, performance, and repertoire. Different musicians performing the same song can and do sound very different. More importantly, a troupe will change their presentation of the same song depending on variable factors such as time, audience, place, and setting.

This video, recorded at a public concert in New Delhi, presents a medley of different sounds that characterize qawwali as taught by the Late Munshi Raziuddin. Munshi Raziuddin was a respected musician and scholar who diligently taught his sons Fareed Ayaz (video right) and Abu-Muhammad (video left) until his death at the age of 93. In the first piece, Fareed Ayaz presents his interpretation of an encounter that he believes took place between two iconic figures in South Asian musical history-Gopal Nayak and Amir Khusrau. Legend has it that a music competition in a kings court had come down to the two aforementioned finalists. Gopal Nayak sang a song in Sanskrit hoping to baffle Khusrau. Khusrau replied by singing a similar melody with Persian vocalic syllables as Sanskrit substitutes. These Persian vocalic syllables came to be later known as tarana. Fareed Ayaz sings both versions commenting that Khusraus response was prized because it was limited in words and was able to be reproduced by the young musicians, or the qawwal bacche, of the time.

Having trained in Hindustani classical music, Fareed Ayazs music also includes features of khayal singing. This is especially true in the interludes between verses. For example, the second piece begins with a short aalaap and tarana in Raag Bihag before moving back into the main medley. The main song is a stanza from Khusraus famous poem Chhapa Tilak Sab Cheeni. This particular poem was written in reverence to Khusraus spiritual guide (peer) Nizamuddin Auliya. The verse sung here is:

Bal Bal Jaaon Mein Toray Rang Rajwa
Apnisee Rang Leeni Ray Mosay Naina Milaikay

The last item of the video is the popular dhamaal. This ritual is characterized by ecstatic and uncontrolled swirling of the head and body accompanied by strong punctuations in the rhythm. This type of dance and rhythmic trance is characteristic of the music at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. In this segment of the clip, Fareed Ayazs younger brother and son are on the tabla and dholak, respectively, and conclude the recital with variations in the qawwali thekha, or the metric pattern of eight beats (4 + 4).
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