Music of Pakistan
By far the most dynamic and popular music of Pakistan is
qawwali, which has been internationally popularized by stars like Nusrat Ali
Khan. Qawwali, in multiple forms, is widespread throughout Pakistan
and Northern India.
Qawwali refers to both the performance and the genre of music.
Qawwals typically consist of a lead vocalist, two back-up vocalists and any
number of percussionists. Qawwalis are traditionally led by a sheikh and are
meant to help the audience realize the mystical ideals of Sufi Islam. Amir
Khusrau is said to have invented qawwali in the 13th century; the
legendary poet and composer is also said to have invented the tabla and
sitar. The idea of music (sama) inspiring an understanding and love for the
divine and communication with spiritual guides is known from at least the
9th century. Orthodox Muslims sometimes criticize qawwali for its erotic
imagery and sometimes frank sensuality.
Qawwali is similar to Hindustani musical genres; it has three components: a
rhythm (traditionally played on the dholak), the melodic line of the vocals,
and the pitch of the melody which is reinforced on harmonium. Poetic verses
are usually mixed with a chorus and instrumental passages. Traditional
languages used include Persian and an ancient form of Hindi called braj
bhasha, as well as Punjabi, Urdu and Arabic.
The ancient tradition of tarana, a rhythmic series of nonsensical
syllables with meaning only to the singers, if anyone, has helped lead a
fusion with qawwali and jazz, due to the parallel practice of scat singing.
Qawwali fusion with filmi and Western pop music have achieved some
popularity, with attendant criticism from purists for allegedly watering
down the sacred sound of qawwali. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Sabri Brothers and
Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali Group have become especially popular, especially
after Nusrat's collaborations with Michael Brook (a Canadian producer),
resulting in the unexpected hit of "Mustt Mustt", remixed by
Massive Attack and popularized by its use in a Coca-Cola television