Pakistan is a country consisting of four provinces that include Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with neighbouring countries such as India, Iran and Afghanistan that create a variety of cultural and musical elements in our existing culture that has eventually given birth to the concept of folk music. Today the Fynch brings light to the musical culture of Pakistan.
Folk music in Pakistan can also be categorized by regions: Sindhi music, Kashmiri music, Balochi music, Punjabi music, Potohari music, Siraiki music, Hindko music and Pashto music. The music is all about telling folk stories, love stories and includes Qawwali as well. Since it is categorized by the regions, the music differs in languages and musical story telling as each regions has a different story to tell. Musical instruments that accompany these stories are Dholak, Duff, Harmonium, Idiophones, Sarangi, Surna, Rabab and the Tabla.
There has been a recent trend in hosting Qawwali nights in Pakistan. People dress up and attend a memorable night filled with Sufism embedded melodies that soothe the soul. Renowned names such as Abida Parveen, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan are globally recognized for their performances in this genre but what are the origins of this concept of Qawwali that is enjoyed by the masses of the subcontinent and people around the world?
Qawwali is one such genre of folk music that is considered to the voice of Divine power. It conveys messages of Sufism and brings the individual listening to it closer to Allah (God). The sole purpose of Qawwali is to get the artist and audience closer to Allah by repeating the trance-like phrases to the point where everyone gets exhausted but only the form remains. In the beginning, when Qawwali was introduced in the subcontinent, the lyrics were in Persian since Qawwali was a concept borrowed from Iran. However, now the verses and lyrics are in Urdu as well for better understanding for the masses in Pakistan.
Another genre in folk music is Ghazal, an Arabic word that means talking to women. These are poetic love songs in Urdu accompanied with melodies from musical instruments such as the sitar, harmonium and the tabla (twin hand drums). These songs were originally in Persian and later translated into Urdu for better understanding. Initially the concept of Ghazal came into being during the Mughal era, when these songs were brought from the now Iranian region. The poetry in Ghazals also has roots in Arabic classical poetry. A treat for the ears.