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Qaul’ or Qawwali is a style of music that has evolved over the last 700 years. Part of the Sufi...

Qaul’ or Qawwali is a style of music that has evolved over the last 700 years. Part of the Sufi devotional music tradition, Qawwali has become a genre that is widespread across South Asia and can be found in Punjab and the rest of North India. Qaul is an Arabic word that translates to ‘promise’. Qawwali- a spiritual genre is a statement of the promise, devotion and love one feels for the almighty/ beloved/ muse/ Guru- all of which are referred to in a rendition and such is the potency of the metaphor that clear lines can rarely be drawn. Each one sings with their own meaning, the listeners understand in their own ways as well. Qawwalis can range in length from a few minutes to even as long as half an hour. They usually begin with an instrumental introduction that gently opens the piece and creates an ambiance. It is followed by the lead singer performing a few alaps (improvised unmetered melodies) that conform to the raag (traditional scale) of the song. After the alaps the lead singer performs a few verses which do not form part of the main song. He is mirrored by the accompanying singers who may add their own improvisations to the verses as they go along. Lastly, begins the main verses. These are usually sung in a traditional style and no improvisation is made on either the tempo or the lyrics. Throughout this process, there is a gradual increase in energy from the gentle beginnings of the piece to a powerful, uptempo, energetic end. This facilitates a creation of a hypnotic state within the performers and the audience alike and is believed to aid in connecting with the Almighty. This album presents Qawwali and Sufi performances of Punjab by Gurmej Raja, Shaukat Ali, Saida Begum and Akhtar Ali.