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NAME  OF  AUTHOR  Regula  Burckhardt  Qureshi 

TITLE  OF  THESIS  Qawwal i :  Sound,  Context  and  Meaning  in  Indo-Muslim 

Sufi  Music 


Permission  is  hereby  granted  to  THE  UNIVERSITY  OF  ALBERTA 
LIBRARY  to  reproduce  single  copies  of  this  thesis  and  to  lend  or 
sell  such  copies  for  private,  scholarly  or  scientific  research 
purposes  only. 

The  author  reserves  other  publication  rights,  and  neither 
the  thesis  nor  extensive  extracts  from  it  may  be  printed  or 
otherwise  reproduced  without  the  author's  written  permission. 









SPRING,  1981 



The  undersigned  certify  that  they  have  read,  and  recommend 
to  the  Faculty  of  Graduate  Studies  and  Research,  for  acceptance, 
a  thesis  entitled  Qawwali:  Sound,  Context,  and  Meaning  in  Indo- 
Muslim  Sufi  Music,  submitted  by  Regula  Burckhardt  Qureshi . 


This  thesis  develops  an  approach  to  the  analysis  of  music  which 
incorporates  the  dimension  of  context  into  the  analysis  of  musical  sound. 
The  aim  is  to  account  for  the  programming  of  music  in  performance. 
Focussing  on  the  process  of  music  production  in  performance,  the 
assumption  is  tested  that  musical  sound  will  vary  with  variations  in  the 
context  of  its  performance.  An  analytical  model  is  built  on  the  basis  of 
anthropol ogy ,  Western  musicology  and  Indian  musicology  to  deal  on  one 
side  with  the  musical  sound  structure  and  on  the  other  with  the  structure 
of  the  performance  occasion  so  that  ultimately  the  contextual  input  into 
the  music  can  be  assessed  in  an  analysis  of  the  performance  process. 

The  musical  tradition  analysed  is  Qawwali  which  has  both  a  verbalized 
music  theory  and  a  clearly  defined  context  of  performance,  the  Sufi 
assembly.  The  analysis  begins  in  Section  I  with  a  consideration  of  the 
Qawwali  musical  idiom,  based  on  the  perfomer's  own  conceptions  of  the 
music  but  "translated"  into  an  analytical  framework  derived  from  Western 
musicology  with  reference  to  North  Indian  musical  theory.  Structurally , 
Qawwaly  music  is  seen  as  an  idiom  of  North  Indian  music,  characterized  by 
distinctive  musical  features  derived  from  its  religious  function.  A 
Qawwali  song  model  is  outlined  but  it  lacks  the  dynamic  of  programming 
which  only  the  performance  process  can  account  for. 

As  a  preliminary  step  to  analysing  the  performance  process  Section  II 
deals  with  the  Performance  context,  starting  with  a  consideration  of  the 
background  dimensions  which  inform  it:  Sufi  ideology,  Sufi  poetry,  the 




socio-economic  setting  of  Sufism  and  the  social  and  professional  identity 
of  the  performer.  An  outline  of  the  occurrence  and  features  of  Qawwal i 
assemblies  leads  into  a  detailed  analysis  of  the  structure  of  a  Qawwal i 
occasion  in  terms  of  concepts,  setting  and  procedure. 

This  information,  together  with  the  music  analysis,  provides  the 
frame  of  reference  for  what  constitutes  the  core  of  the  study:  the 
analysis  of  Qawwal i  music  in  performance.  Carried  out  in  Section  III, 
this  analysis  is  first  presented  in  terms  of  a  descriptive  outline  of  a 
performance,  followed  by  an  analytical  examination  of  the  interactional 
principles,  or  semantic  referents,  which  link  context  and  music  during 
this  process,  as  generated  by  the  maker  of  the  music,  the  performer.  The 
final  step  in  the  analysis  is  to  build  these  semantic  referents  into  the 
musical  structure  and  to  consider  the  result  in  the  light  of  the  initial 
hypothesis,  followed  by  an  assessment  of  the  implications  of  the  analysis 
of  other  music  traditions. 

A  comprehensive  Ethnographic  Section--in  the  form  of  a  capsule 
ethnography  of  Qawwal i  at  the  Nizamuddin  Shrine  in  Del hi--provides 
concrete  exemplification  for  the  entire  argument.  The  ethnographic 
evidence  is  thus  kept  separate  from  the  main  text,  in  the  interest  of 
making  the  already  complex  analytical  procedure  as  clear  as  possible. 




The  intention  of  this  study  is  to  develop  for  Qawwali  a  musical 
grammar  which  includes  programming  Qawwali  in  performance,  i.e.  a  context 
sensitive  grammar  that  should  enable  a  musically  literate  reader  to 
understand  how  variation  in  the  performance  of  Qawwali  is  generated  or 
how,  abstractly,  he  could  generate  such  variation  himself,  at  least  in 
his  own  mind  if  not  actually  in  performance. 

In  substance,  this  intention  conforms  to  one  of  the  major  aims 
pursued  by  anthropologists,  namely  to  focus  on  systems  of  communication 
as  cultural  knowledge  used  and  realized  in  behavioural  application.  This 
anthropological  approach  is  best  exemplified  by  studies  of  verbally 
articulated  cultural  categorizations,  e.g.  of  disease  (Frake  1961)  or  of 
colours  (Conklin  1955),  which  draw  on  linguistic  models  as  introduced  by 
ethnoscience  (Sturtevant  1964). 

Here,  however,  this  anthropological  aim  is  directed  at  music,  a 
system  of  sound  communication  with  very  special  properties  which  require 
equally  special  analytical  procedures.  Such  procedures  have  been 
developed  and  applied  to  music  by  musicologists.  Musicology,  therefore, 
is  the  proper  starting  point  for  introducing  an  anthropological 
perspective  to  the  analysis  of  musical  sound. 

The  first  step  is  to  assess  how  far  musicol ogical  analysis  can  take 
the  investigator  of  Qawwali  music  toward  the  goal  of  developing  a 
context-sensitive  musical  grammar.  Musicol ogical  analysis  is  founded  in 
Western  musical  parameters  and  concepts,  analytical  methods,  terminology 



and  notation.  This  western-centric  framework  has  been  adapted  in 
applications  to  non-Western  music  and  expanded  in  response  to  other 
analytical  approaches,  particularly  the  use  of  indigenous  music  theory. 
The  result  is  a  flexible  tool  for  representing  musical  structures  in 
terms  of  Western  parameters. 

Indigenous  music  theory  exists  in  its  most  developed  form  in  Indian 
musicology  which  is  based  on  Indian  classical  music  and  provides  an 
analytical  framework  for  Indian  musical  idioms.  The  compatibility 
between  the  Indian  and  Western  musical  systems  has  facilitated 
interchange  between  Indian  and  Western  musicology  as  well  as  input  from 
other  Western  disciplines,  leading  to  more  refined  analyses  of  Indian 
musical  structure.  These  range  from  a  musicol ogical  model  for  generating 
the  units  and  rules  of  Indian  raga  music  (Powers  1958,  1977,  ms),  to  an 
approach  toward  mapping  out  other  North  Indian  musical  idioms  on  the 
basis  of  distinctive  features  related  to  their  function  (Qureshi,  1969, 
1980,  1981). 

Using  a  western  musicol  ogical  base  sensitized  to  Indian  music  by 
Indian  musicology,  it  is  now  possible  to  analyse  an  Indian  musical  idiom 
such  as  Qawwali  in  terms  of  categories  appropriate  to  the  musical 
structure.  Such  an  analysis  will  enable  the  reader  to  identify  Qawwali 
music  as  to  its  musical  framework,  units  and  rules,  and  to  distinguish  it 
from  other  musical  idioms  on  the  basis  of  distinctive  musical  features. 

What  this  musicological  analysis  will  not  do,  however,  is  to  motivate 
the  sequencing  of  the  musical  structure,  i.e.  to  generate  or  even  account 
for  the  process  of  producing  Qawwali  music  in  performance.  Yet 
variability  in  performance  is  one  of  the  identifying  features  of  this 

vi  i 

I  2 

music  and  crucial  to  its  very  function.  Clearly,  the  musicol ogical  model 
is  inadequate  to  this  task,  inasmuch  as  it  cannot  account  for  non-musical 
or  contextual  input  into  the  musical  process. 

At  this  poiint  the  alternative  presents  itself  to  analyse  contextual 
input  separately  from  musical  structure.  As  examplified  by  Merriam 
(1967),  such  studies  invariably  beg  the  question  of  how  those  contextual 
features  are  to  be  related  to  the  music  itself.  The  answer  to  that 
question  lies  in  approaching  contextual  input  as  a  part  of  the  total 
music-making  process.  The  core  of  that  process  is  musical  sound; 
therefore  the  most  logical  approach  for  including  contextual  input  into  a 
musical  analysis  is  to  incorporate  it  into  the  musicol ogical  model 
itsel  f . 

The  next  step,  then,  is  to  expand  the  musicol ogical  model  so  that  it 
can  account  analytically  for  all  the  contextual  features  relevant  to  the 
performance  process  of  Qawwali  music.  To  do  this  requires  tools  which 
only  anthropology  can  supply;  indeed,  the  entire  perspective  of  such  a 
model  is,  epistemologically  speaking,  an  anthropological  one,  founded 
mainly  on  ethnoscience  and  situational  analysis,  and  informed  by  a 
political  economy  approach. 

Carrying  out  the  analysis  constitutes  the  remainder  of  the  study. 
Starting  with  an  analysis  of  Qawwali  musical  structure,  it  will  proceed 
to  show  how  this  structure  is  operationalized  in  performance  in  response 
to  contextual  factors.  Finally,  it  will  conclude  with  a  proposal  for 
integrating  contextual  variation  into  an  analytical  model  of  Qawwali  that 
acounts  for  musical  process. 

In  sum,  the  goal  of  this  thesis  is  theoretical,  namely  to  solve  a 

vn  i 




'  ;  ** 


problem  in  music  analysis.  At  the  same  time,  the  process  leading  to  this 
goal  entails  applying  a  theoretical  model  to  an  ethnographic  domain,  the 
Indo-Muslim  Qawwal i .  Throughout  the  analysis  the  Qawwali  tradition  is 
dealt  with  at  a  generalized  level,  whether  as  an  abstraction  from,  or  as 
a  composite  of,  particular  cases.  However,  I  consider  it  essential  to 
validate  with  concrete  evidence  what  is  thus  presented  in  the  abstract. 
This  evidence  is  provided  in  the  Ethnographic  Section  that  follows  the 
analysis  and  serves  as  a  point  of  reference  throughout.  Structured  to 
constitute  an  ethnographic  outline  of  Qawwali  at  one  major  Sufi  centre, 
the  Etnographic  Section  also  serves  to  introduce  this  musical  tradition 
ethnographical ly  and  may  be  read  first  for  that  purpose. 

The  following  capsule  description  of  Qawwali  is  to  provide  the  reader 
with  a  preliminary  introduction  to  the  musical  tradition  which 
constitutes  the  subject  of  this  analysis: 

Qawwali  is  a  recognized  musical  genre  in  the  Indian  subcontinent.  It 
shares  general  traits  with  the  light  classical  music  of  North  India  and 
Pakistan  but  has  unique  characteri sties  related  to  its  religious 
function.  The  term  Qawwali  itself  applies  both  to  the  musical  genre  and 
to  the  occasion  of  its  performance,  the  devotional  assembly  of  Islamic 
mysticims--or  Sufism--  in  India  and  Pakistan.  The  practice  of  Qawwali 
extends  throughout  Muslim  centres  of  the  Indian  subcontinent,  but  its 
roots  are  North  Indian. 

Qawwali  considered  as  music  is  a  group  song  performed  by  qawwal s, 
professional  musicians  who  perform  in  groups  led  by  one  or  two  solo 
singers.  Qawwal s  present  mystical  poetry  in  Farsi,  Hindi  and  Urdu  in  a 
fluid  style  of  alternating  solo  and  group  passages  characterized  by 



■  I 

repetition  and  improvisation.  The  vigorous  drum  accompaniment  on  the 
barrel -shaped  dhol ak  is  reinforced  by  handclapping  while  the  small 
portable  harmonium,  usually  in  the  hands  of  the  lead  singer,  underscores 
the  song  melody.  A  Qawwali  song  normally  begins  with  an  instrumental 
prelude  on  the  harmonium;  then  an  introductory  verse  is  sung  as  a  solo 
recitative  without  drums,  leading  directly  into  the  song  proper:  a 
mystical  poem  set  to  a  strophic  tune  and  performed  by  the  entire  group  of 
qawwal s . 

Qawwali  considered  as  an  occasion  is  a  gathering  for  the  purpose  of 
realizing  ideals  of  Islamic  mysticism  through  the  ritual  of  "listening  to 
music"  ( sama 1 ) .  By  enhancing  the  message  of  mystical  poetry  and  by 
providing  a  powerful  rhythm  suggesting  the  ceaseless  repetition  of  God's 
name  (zikr) ,  the  music  of  Qawwali  serves  a  religious  function:  to  arouse 
mystical  love,  even  divine  ecstasy,  the  core  experience  of  Sufism.  The 
Qawwali  assembly  is  held  under  the  guidance  of  a  spiritual  leader  and  is 
attended  by  Sufi  devotees  through  usually  open  to  all  comers.  In 
listening  to  the  songs,  devotees  respond  individually  and  spontaneously, 
but  in  accordance  with  social  and  religious  convention,  expressing  states 
of  mystical  love.  The  musicians,  on  their  part,  structure  their 
performance  to  activate  and  reinforce  these  emotions,  adapting  it  to  the 
changing  needs  of  their  listeners. 

To  the  Sufi  participant,  Qawwali  is  "a  method  of  worship"  and  "a 
means  of  spiritual  advancement";  it  is  also  "a  feast  for  the  soul".  To 
the  performer  it  is  mainly  a  musical  genre  "with  its  distinct  character 
among  other  genres;"  he  also  defines  it  as  "a  branch  of  vocal  music,  used 
for  worship."  To  the  observer,  finally,  Qawwali  is  above  all  music 




"music  in 

very  obviously  with  continual 
context"  par  excellence. 

reference  to 

its  context;  it  is 




Anthropology  is  a  discipline  which  seeks  to  uncover  and  to  relate 
(Murphy  1979,  I),  and  even  the  most  particular  inquiry  in  anthropology  is 
invariably  characterized  by  a  perspective  that  encompasses  broad 
theoretical  or  ethnographic  dimensions,  often  crossing  disciplinary 
boundaries.  In  this  field,  therefore--more  than  in  the  more  conventional 
discipl ines--the  author  assumes  the  onus  of  defining  the  terms  for  his 
study,  both  theoretically  and  procedural ly.  Formally  speaking,  this  task 
belongs  in  the  body  of  the  study  itself.  But  the  thinking  and  observing 
of  the  analyst,  no  less  than  that  of  his  informants,  is  conditioned  by 
underlying  assumptions  specific  to  his  cultural  background  and  his 
disciplinary  training.  To  account  for  these  is  a  first  step  toward 
making  as  clear  as  possible  the  premises  on  which  an  anthropological 
study  is  built,  especially  when  it  has  a  cross-cultural  dimension. 

In  a  sense,  then,  this  study  represents  an  attempted  synthesis  of  one 
person's  anthropological  thinking,  applied  towards  the  understanding  of 
music.  Because  of  this,  and  particularly  because  of  the  multiple 
research  dimensions  involved,  it  is  appropriate  to  preface  it  with  a 
brief  consideration  of  what  has  gone  into  its  making,  by  clarifying 
background  and  training  and  acknowledging  influences,  contributions  and 
dues . 

The  musical  thinking  and  perceptions  underlying  this  thesis  derive 
initially  from  a  background  in  Western  art  music,  comprising  both  profes¬ 
sional  performance  and  musicology.  This  has  been  augmented  by  the  study 



of  North  Indian  art  musio-i ncl  udi ng  both  performance  and  theory--and  of 
non-classical  music  of  that  region,  especially  Muslim  religious  music, 

poetic  chant,  and  folk  music  (see  Qureshi  1967,  1969,  1972,  1973,  1974, 
1975,  1980a,  1980b,  1981).  An  integrating  musi col ogical  framework  for 

my  Indian  music  comes  from  the  work  of  Harold  Powers;  who  also  generously 
contributed  to  the  final  editing  of  this  thesis. 

At  the  base  of  the  ethnography  of  Qawwali  lies  a  thorough 
acquaintance--based  on  study  and  participant  observations--of  North 
Indian  social  structure  and  Indo-Muslim  culture.  This  includes  fluency 
and  literacy  in  Urdu  and  Hindi,  as  well  as  a  good  knowledge  of  Urdu 
poetry.  For  this  study,  a  basic  course  in  Farsi  was  pursued  early  on  in 
the  field  research.  Also  relevant  is  my  background  knowledge  of  Islam 
and  its  practice  in  South  Asia. 

As  for  anthropology,  starting  from  my  first  introduction  to  cultural 
anthropology  of  Sally  Schneider,  the  Anthropology  department  at  the 
University  of  Alberta  has  over  the  years  provided  sound  training  and 
continuous  intellectual  stimulation  (as  well  as  good  fellowship),  all  of 
which  has  equipped  me  with  an  anthropological  tool  kit  and  the  skill  to 
use  it  far  beyond  mysic  and  context  in  Qawwali.  More  specifically,  I  owe 
much  of  my  training  in  ethnomusicol ogy  to  Michael  Asch,  in  communication 
and  performance  to  Regna  Darnell,  David  Young,  and  Michael  Asch,  and  in 
Social  Organization  and  Political  Economy  to  Michael  Asch  and  Henry 
Lewis.  As  members  of  my  original  and  present  Committee  they  all  have 
provided  much  insight  and  advice  for  thi s  thesi s  for  which  I  am  grateful. 
Most  of  al 1  I  owe  an  intellectual  debt  of  thanks  to  Michal  Asch  who 
supervised  this  thesis  and  never  failed  to  invoke  theoretical  clarity  and 
consistency  on  this  mul ti -dimensional  opus. 

XI  1  1 




The  field  study  of  Qawwali  became  possible  through  the  generous  and 
meaningful  contributions  of  so  many  that  their  names  alone  would  fill 
pages--I  remember  everyone  with  fondness  and  extend  to  all  my  sincere 
gratitude.  Specific  acknowledgement  is  due,  first  of  all,  to  the 
hospitality  of  India's  Sufi  saints,  extended  to  me  most  generously  by 
their  descendants  and  their  affiliated  performers.  Nizamuddin  Auliya,  my 
"home"  shrine,  stands  at  the  centre  and  will  always  remain  my  link 
( ta 1 al  1  uq)  with  Sufism.  Others  are  Ajmer  Sharif,  Gulbarga  Sharif,  Kakori 
Sharif,  Shah  Mina,  Sheikh  Salim  Chishti,  Shah  Khamosh;  my  thanks  go  to 
all . 

Those  who  taught  me  most  about  Qawwali  are  two  performers  of 
Nizamuddin  Auliya:  most  of  all  Meraj  Ahmad  Nizami  who  gave  of  his 
knowledge  sincerely  and  without  reservation,  and  Nasiruddin  Khan  Gore  who 
added  a  historical  and  personal  dimension  to  that.  I  also  learned  from 
Inam  Ahmad  and  Hayat  Ahmad  of  the  same  shrine  and  from  Musharraf  Hussain 
of  Kakori  Sharif.  Their  generosity  in  sharing  professional  knowledge  is 
much  appreciated. 

Outstanding  among  my  Sufi  teachers  are  the  two  leading 
representatives  of  Nizamuddin  Auliya:  Khwaja  Hasan  Sani  and  Pir  Zamin 
Nizami;  two  leading  representatives  of  Ajmer  Sharif:  Syed  Fazlul  Matin 
and  Syed  Haleem  Chishty;  and  Baba  Zahin  Shah,  leading  Sheikh  of  Karachi, 
Pakistan.  I  gratefully  acknowledge  their  manifold  contribution  to  this 

Of  special  value  to  my  inquiry  was  the  input  from  knowledgeable  and 
open-minded  lay  participants  in  Qawwali  assemblies;  I  must  single  out  and 
give  special  thanks  to  Iftekhar  Ahmad  Khan  Adni  of  Karachi;  Ausaf  Al  i , 


Director  of  the  Indian  Institute  of  Islamic  Research;  Masud  Husain  Khan, 
Vice  Chancellor  and  Zia-ul-Haq  Faruqi ,  Principal,  both  of  Jamia  Mill i a 
Islamia;  and  Saeed  Ahmad  Qureshi  of  Lucknow.  Shabi  Ahmad  of  the  Indian 
Institute  of  Historical  Research  contributed  both  as  an  untiring  mediator 
and  assistant,  and  as  a  devoted  friend;  I  deeply  value  his  contribution. 

Behind  this  study  lies  the  generous  support  of  the  following 
institutions:  The  Kill  am  Foundation  gave  me  an  Award  for  Doctoral 
Studies  from  1973-75;  the  Social  Sciences  and  Humanities  Research  Council 
supported  my  fieldwork  in  India  and  subsequent  study  with  a  Doctoral 
Fellowship  from  1975-78;  also,  the  Social  Sciences  Research  Council 
(U.S.)  awarded  me  a  Dissertation  Research  Fellowship  in  1975.  The 
Shastri  Indo-Canadian  Institute  (whose  scholarship  I  was  unable  to 
accept)  provided  liaison  with  the  Indian  Government  and  valuable 
expertise  in  managing  life  in  India,  while  the  Jamia  Mill i a  Islamia  in 
Delhi  gave  me  University  affiliation  in  India  under  the  guidance  of 
Professor  Zafar  Ansari .  I  am  very  grateful  for  all  this  institutional 

Finally,  there  is  one  person  without  whom  this  study  could  literally 
not  have  been  thinkable:  my  husband  Saleem  M.M.  Qureshi.  Not  only  did 
he  make  his  constant  support  of  the  field  research  his  contribution  to 
the  International  Year  of  Women  (1975),  but  his  vast  knowledge  and 
insight  into  people  and  things  Indo-Muslim  continued  to  be  a  constant 
reference  point  throughout  the  project.  In  addition,  he  and  our  two 
children,  Sabina  and  Ad i  1 ,  have  stood  the  test  of  living  with  a  thesis 
writer;  I  thank  them  for  their  constant  encouragement  and  good  humour. 


!  ^ 



CHAPTER  1  The  Theoretical  Approach  .  1 

A  Frame  of  Reference  .  1 

B  Methodological  Considerations  . .  6 

C  Proposed  Model  .  23 

D  Ethnographic  Procedure  .  29 



CHAPTER  2  Analytical  Vantage  Point  .  37 

CHAPTER  3  The  Qawwal i  Musical  Idiom  .  44 

A  Musical  Frame  of  Reference  .  44 

B  Distinctive  Features  .  65 

C  Qawwal  i  Song  Model  .  78 

D  Evaluation  .  89 



CHAPTER  4  Analytical  Vantage  Point  .  94 

CHAPTER  5  Background  Dimensions  .  98 

A  Sufi  Ideology  .  98 

B  Sufi  Poetry  .  106 

C  Socio-Economic  Reality  of  Sufism  .  116 

D  Social  and  Professional  Identity  of  the  Performer  .  125 

CHAPTER  6  The  Qawwal i  Occasion  -  Overview  .  131 



CHAPTER  7  The  Qawwali  Occasion  -  Structure  .  138 

A  Concept  .  142 

B  Setting  .  147 

C  Procedure  .  160 

D  Social  and  Economic  Dimensions  .  186 



CHAPTER  8  Analytical  Vantage  Point  .  195 

A  Introduction  .  195 

B  Performer's  Vantage  Point  .  202 

CHAPTER  9  The  Performance  Process  -  Outline  .  213 

A  Setting  Assessment  .  214 

B  Situational  Assessment  .  224 

C  The  Performance  .  227 

CHAPTER  10  The  Performance  Process  -  Analysis  .  251 

A  Structural  Dimension  .  254 

B  Process  Dimension  .  266 

C  Summary  .  289 

CHAPTER  11  Conclusions  and  Implications  .  293 

XVI  1 



A  The  Shrine  and  its  Performers  .  306 

B  The  Music  .  314 

The  Qawwal  Bachche  Repertoire  .  314 

The  Music  Examples  .  320 

Ex.  1-7  Qawwal  i  Songs  .  320 

Ex.  8-11  Adjunct  Units  .  356 

C  Qawwal i  Performances  .  371 

The  Performance  Occasions  at  Nizamuddin  Auliya  ....  371 

Performance  1.  The  Chill  a  Mahfil  .  376 

Performance  2.  Ecstatic  Arousal  .  443 

Musical  Transcriptions  .  462 

FOOTNOTES  .  465 

DATA  .  467 


xvi  1 1 




Table  1  Analytical  Model  .  27 

Table  2  Musical  Categories  .  46 

Appendix  (to  Table)  2 

Musical  Categories  .  47 

Table  3  Pitch  Analysis  .  50 

Appendix  3  Pitch  Concepts  .  51 

Table  4  Durational  Analysis  .  56 

Appendix  4  Durational  Concepts  .  57 

Table  5  Formal  Structure  Analysis  .  60 

Appendix  5  Concepts  of  Formal  Structure  .  61 

Table  6  Functional  Constraints  and  Distinctive  Features  ...  67 

Table  7  Standard  Model:  Qawwali  Song  -  Units  .  79 

Table  8  Standard  Model:  Qawwali  Song  -  Sequencing  Rules  ..  80 

Table  9  Standard  Model:  Adjunct  Items  -  Units  .  81 

Table  10  Standard  Model:  Adjunct  Items  -  Sequencing  Rules  .  82 

Table  11  Standard  Model:  Prelude  .  83 

Appendix  11  Qawwali  Song  Units  and  Sequencing  Principles  .  84 

Table  12  Hierarchy  of  Sufism  .  101 

Table  13  Qawwali  Poetic  Form  . 112 

Table  14  Qawwali  Poetic  Meter  .  115 

Table  15  Categories  of  Participants  .  148 

Appendix  15  Concepts  of  Participants  .  149 

Table  16  Setting  Categories  .  154 

Table  17  Layout  Plan  and  Seating  Arrangement  .  157 

Table  18  Standard  Performance  Format  .  161 

Table  19  Framework  of  Spiritual  Arousal  .  167 

Appendix  19  Concepts  of  Spiritual  Arousal  .  168 

Table  20  Categories  of  Expressive  Responses  .  172 

Appendix  20  Concepts  of  Expressive  Responses  .  173 



Table  21  Categories  of  Link  Responses  .  177 

Appendix  21  Concepts  of  Link  Responses  .  178 

Table  22  Framework  of  Responses  and  Spiritual  State  .  181 

Appendix  22  Concepts  of  Spiritual  States  and  Their 

Manifestations  .  182 

Table  23  Performer's  Earning  Process  .  207 

Table  24  Setting  Affecting  Choice  of  Performance  Medium  ....  215 

Table  25  Music  Variables  as  Affected  by  Setting  Variables  ..  228 

Table  26  Performance  Process  in  Outline  .  235 

Table  27  Status  and  Identity  Referents-Eval uation  of  Context  255 

Table  28  Status  Identification:  Audience  Categories  .  256 

Table  29  Status  Identification:  Individual  Listener  .  257 

Table  30  Status  and  Identity  Referents:  Expression  in  Music  260 

Table  31  Application  of  Semantic  Referent  1:  Status  .  262 

Table  32  Application  of  Semantic  Referent  2:  Identity  .  263 

Table  33  Spiritual  State  Referent:  Evaluation  of  Context  ..  271 

Table  34  Spiritual  State  Referent:  Evaluation  of  Context  in 

Time-Space  Perspective  .  272 

Table  35  Spiritual  State  Referent:  Expression  in  Music 

Through  Intensification  Principle  .  274 

Table  36  Repeat  Unit  Identification:  Evaluation  of  Context  280 

Table  37  Repeat  Unit  Identification:  Expression  in  Music  ..  282 

Table  38  Selective  Focus  Referent:  Evaluation  of  Context  ..  287 

Table  39  Performance  Model  Qawwal i  Song:  Context  Input  ....  290 

Table  40  Performance  Process  Qawwal i  Song:  Context  Input  ..  291 






Ex.  1  Qaul  (Man  kunto  Maul  a)  .  320 

Ex.  2  Chashm-e-maste  'ajabe  .  326 

Ex.  3  Tori  surat  ke  balhirT  .  331 

Ex.  4  MasnavT  (Mufl isanem/Idgah-e-ma  gharTbaii)  .  336 

Ex.  5  Kachh  jagmag  jagmag  howat  hai  .  341 

Ex.  6  Batufai 1 -e-daman-eTMurtaza  .  346 

Ex.  7  Ki si  ko  kuchh  nahTn  milta  .  352 


Ex.  8  Instrumental  Prelude  (naghma)  .  356 

Ex.  9  Introductory  Verse  (ruba'i):  Shud  dilam  shefta  ...  358 

Ex.  10  Insert  (girah):  Sansar  har  ko  pu j e  .  363 

Ex.  11  Insert  (girah):  Man  tura  dTdam  .  368 

PERFORMANCE  1:  The  Chilla  Mahfil 

Song  1  Qaul  (see  ex.  1)  .  389 

Song  2  Rang  .  392 

Song  3  MasnavT  (see  ex.  4)  .  397 

Song  4  TorT  surat  ke  balharT  (see  ex.  3)  .  418 

PERFORMANCE  2:  Ecstatic  Arousal 

Song  5  Kachh  jagmag  jagmag  howat  hai  (see  ex.  5)  .  443 


Song  4  Ton  surat  ke  balharT  (see  ex.  3)  .  462 


Song  5  Kachh  jagmag  jagmag  howat  hai  (see  ex.  5)  .  463 




Since  this  thesis  makes  use  of  a  variety  of  terminological  idioms,  I 
have  attempted  as  far  as  possible  to  achieve  semantic  and  orthographic 
consistency  between  them.  In  terms  of  usage,  that  consistency  flows 
mainly  from  the  fact  that  the  Qawwali  participant  is  always  the  primary 
source  of  terminology,  unless  specifically  indicated  otherwise.  Terms 
denoting  Sufi  concepts  are  therefore  presented  in  accordance  with  Indian 
Sufi  usage  and  pronounciation;  this  includes  standard  Islamic  terms  and 
refers  particularly  to  Persian  forms  of  Arabic  words.  Likewise,  Indian 
musical  terminology  derives  from  usage  among  Qawwali  performers  or,  where 
otherwise  indicated,  accords  with  standard  Indian  usage  in  English. 
Consistency  in  transl i teration  is  based  on  the  use  of  a  single 
comprehensive  reference  source  which  covers  vocabulary  of  both 
Perso-Arabic  and  Hindi-Sanskrit  derivation:  Platt's  Dictionary  of  Urdu 
and  Classical  Hindi  (1970). 

The  translations  of  Qawwali  texts  were  made  in  collaboration  with 
Saleem  M.M.  Qureshi ;  however,  I  assume  full  responsibility  for  them. 
Musical  notation,  finally,  follows  standard  Western  usage;  the  few 
additional  symbols  are  listed  in  the  Legend  and  explained  where  they 
first  occur. 



Symbol : 

Expl anation: 

Staff  notation  scheme 

Middle  c 



A,  B, 

Al,  A2 

All,  A2i 
Aim,  A2m 
Alf ,  A2f 

Aalt,  Alalt,  Alialt 

At,  Alt,  Alit 

Aft,  A# 



Ael ,  Ae2 



IA,  IB 

Pitch  and  durational  units 
corresponding  to  Western  notation 

Systems  tonic 

Handel aps 

Drum  beats 

Section  of  tune  (asthayT/antara) 

First/Second  half  of  section 

Initial  motive  of  half  section 
Medial  motive  of  half  section 
Final  motive  of  half  section 

Alternate  version  of  section/half 
section/initial  motive  of  half 

Upward  adjustment  of  ending  of 
section/hal f  section/initial 

Alternative  upward  adjustments  of 
ending,  in  order  of  increasing 
pi tch  1 evel . 

Delayed  upward  adjustment  of 
preceding  section  modifies 
beginning  of  present  section 

Extension  of  A 

First/Second  part  of  extension 

Final  descending  line  of  Adjunct 
Item,  leading  back  to  Song 

Penultimate  line,  leading  up  to 
final  line  (F)  in  Adjunct  Item 

Insert  ( gi rah) 

AsthayT/antara  Section  of  Insert 

xxi  1 1 



A  Frame  of  Reference 

This  thesis  is  concerned  with  music  as  a  system  of  sound 
communication  with  a  social  use  and  cultural  context.  Such  a  system  can 
be  analysed  in  terms  of  its  sound  structure  and  the  results  may  either 
point  to  universal  features  of  music,  or  identify  characteristics 
particular  to  cultural  regions,  or  both.  They  may  even  lead  to 
inferences  about  semantic  meaning  at  the  level  of  structure,  i.e. 
relational  meaning.  But  what  analysing  music  in  purely  abstract 
structural  terms  does  not  provide  is  an  understanding  of  the  dynamic  that 
motivates  the  production  of  music,  i.e.  the  meaning  of  significance  of 
the  sound  system  in  terms  of  the  social  use  and  cultural  context  -- 
referential  meaning  in  the  widest  sense  of  the  word.  In  order  to  arrive 
at  that  dimension  of  musical  sound  communication  it  must  be  analysed  in 
terms  of  the  culturally  sensitive  basis  of  music  production. 

This  position  has  been  recognized  as  the  only  valid  position  by 
anthropologists,  but  so  far  in  their  applications  they  have  failed  to 
deal  satisfactorily  with  musical  sound,  either  limiting  its  analysis  to 
the  grossest  features  or  relying  uncritically  on  traditional  western 
music  description,  or  ignoring  it  altogether. 

At  the  same  time,  musicologists,  having  recognized  the  limitations 
of  the  western  musicological  framework,  are  expanding  that  framework  by 
introducing  into  their  descriptions  of  the  rules  of  music  sound 



perceptions  of  members  of  the  particular  culture.  This  is  especially 
true  of  music  in  cultures  were  an  indigenous  musicol ogical  tradition 
already  exists,  such  as  in  India.  This  approach  adds  a  welcome  dimension 
to  ethnomusicol ogy ,  and  it  is  now  up  to  the  anthropologists  to  place  this 
pioneering  work  into  a  wider  soci o-cul tural  perspective,  by  expanding  the 
analysis  of  musical  sound  to  include  more  of  its  contextual  basis,  thus 
moving  closed  to  an  understanding  of  the  soci o-cul tural  dynamic  or 
"meaning"  of  music. 

Clearly,  the  area  where  such  an  expansion  is  most  immediately 
required  is  the  area  of  performance,  for  the  central  issue  of  performance 
is  how  the  musical  sounds  which  musicologists  can  set  out  as  abstract 
rules  are  communicated  in  practice.  Thus  the  next  step,  it  seems  to  me, 
is  to  generate  a  kind  of  analysis  which  allows  us  to  better  understand 
the  process  of  production:  that  is,  how  the  ideal  is  shaped  by  the 
actual.  It  is  this  concrete  aspect  of  musical  analysis  I  wish  to  address 
here . 

In  order  to  proceed  in  this  direction,  i.e.  to  analyse  musical  sound 
in  relation  to  tis  soci o-cul tural  context  or  milieu,  two  key  questions 
must  be  considered: 

1)  How  to  deal  analytically  with  music  sound  as  a  self-contained 
rule  system,  and 

2)  How  and  at  what  level  to  relate  context  to  the  music  sound 

Because  these  two  questions  have  generally  been  approached  from 
different,  if  not  incompatible  perspectives,  a  duality  has  resulted  in 



the  products  of  ethnomusicol ogical  research.  Though  acclaimed,  I 
consider  this  duality  within  ethnomusicol ogy  fallacious  and  resulting 
only  from  the  inappropriate  juxtaposition  of  the  two  approaches. 

If  the  relationship  of  context  with  music  is  to  be  demonstrated, 
this  can  logically  be  done  through  one  overall  theoretical  perspective 
and  analytical  approach  which  can  serve  both  musical  and  contextual 
analysis  and  therefore  would  allow  handling  both  questions  1)  and  2)  in  a 
mutually  compatible  way.  One  such  perspective  comes  from  anthropological 
theory,  and  here  I  propose  to  use  such  a  framework  for  my  analysis. 
However,  unlike  early  models  (e.g.  Merriam  1964),  it  specifically 
includes  the  means  to  analyse  musical  sound.  For,  I  argue,  music  is  a 
system  of  sound  generation  no  less  complex  than  language,  hence  it  also 
requires  a  specialized  analytical  procedure  compatible  with  the 
particular  features  of  musical  sound. 

The  solution  is  clear:  On  the  one  hand  music  is  a  culturally 
derived  abstract  system  of  sound  relationships.  As  such  it  must  be 
analysed  as  a  self-contained  unit.  On  the  other  hand,  sound  is  only 
produced  within  a  specific  performance  context.  Hence  it  is  only  in 
performance  that  the  competence  can  be  tested.  Yet  a  performance  context 
itself  is  not  an  unchanging  unit.  As  Merriam  (1964)  and  later  Herndon 
(1974)  and  Asch  (1972,  1975)  demonstrate,  performance  contexts  vary  as  to 
content  and  meaning.  As  well,  as  Asch  (1975)  point  outs,  even  within 
performance  contexts  such  as  occasions,  variations  can  occur.  Hence,  in 
order  to  understand  how  music  sound  is  being  realized  in  a  particular 
context,  it  is  necessary  to  understand  variation  within  context:  that 
is,  to  have  an  emically  derived  --  or  culture-specific  --  basis  for 





variation  in  meaning  within  a  performance  situation. 

Thus,  to  make  the  next  step  in  the  analysis  it  is  necessary  to 
overcome  the  idea  that  questions  1)  and  2)  above  are  opposed  and  to 
assert  rather  than  they  form  a  continuum  of  analysis.  To  be  specific, 
what  is  needed  is  an  analysis  that  includes  on  one  side  the  musical 
structure  --  consisting  basically  of  musical  units  and  rules  for  their 
combination  --  and  on  the  other  the  structure  of  the  performance  occasion 
of  which  the  behavioral  units  and  rules  for  audience  response  form  an 
essential  part. 

But  this  is  not  enough;  for  events  are  not  abstract  units,  rather 
they  are  bound  by  the  cultural  systems  within  which  they  are  found. 

Hence,  to  understand  the  dynamics  of  the  behavioral  realization  of  these 
concepts  or  structures  --  i.e.  the  dynamics  of  operationalization 
governing  both  musical  and  non-musical  behavior  in  a  performance 
situation  --  requires  a  consideration  of  at  least  two  additional 
dimensions:  One  is  the  ideology  that  generates  and  governs  the  musical 
event  (i.e.  a  set  of  cultural  rules),  the  other  the  social  reality  that 
underlies  it.  In  short,  it  is  only  on  the  basis  of  all  this  information 
that  the  interaction  between  music  and  performance  context  (and  more 
specifically,  between  musician  and  audience)  may  then  be  traced  and 
decoded,  and  the  shaping  of  music  by  context  be  properly  assessed. 

When  considering  this  approach  in  terms  of  its  ethnographic 
application  two  specific  questions  need  to  be  dealt  with  regarding  music 
sound  and  performance  context  respectively.  The  crucial  question  in 
music  analysis  has  been  how  to  arrive  at  the  functional  conceptions 
underlying  any  musical  idiom  in  order  to  analyse  its  behavioral  unfolding 



in  performance,  particularly  where  verbalized  conceptualizations  are  not 
available.  The  second  question  concerns  the  identification  of  a 
performance  context  that  represents  a  clearly  defined  and  bounded  domain 
of  which  music  is  an  intergral  part,  so  that  the  context  is  accessible  to 
analysis  with  reference  to  the  music. 

Taken  independently,  each  of  these  questions  can  easily  be  answered 
as  regards  an  ethnographic  perspective.  There  are  musical  traditions 
with  a  verbalized  theory  literally  available  for  the  asking  --  best  known 
among  them  the  art  music  traditions  of  the  Near  East  and  of  Asia. 

Equally,  there  are  musical  performance  contexts  which  are  clearly  defined 
and  in  which  the  role  or  function  of  music  can  be  clearly  identified. 

But  a  musical  tradition  that  has  both  of  these  attributes  is  not  as  easy 
to  come  by,  since  art  music  tends  to  be  more  abstracted  from  its  context 
of  performance,  while  music  which  is  functionally  integrated  in  its 
performance  context  in  most  societies  is  not  singled  out  by  a  verbalized 

Given  the  pioneering  nature  of  the  analysis  to  be  undertaken,  I 
strongly  feel  the  need  to  minimize  the  problems  that  arise  from 
inadequate  access  to  indigenous  conceptualizations,  particularly 
regarding  musical  sound.  I  have  therefore  taken  care  to  choose  a  musical 
genre  from  within  a  musical  tradition  that  has  a  verbalized  musical 
theory.  The  music  of  India  represents  one  such  domain.  Here,  the  fully 
developed  discipline  of  Indian  musicology  has  promoted  the  analysis  of 
musical  structure  in  terms  of  indigenous  conceptualizations.  At  the  same 
time,  culturally  and  socially  well-defined  performance  contexts  are 
character!* Stic  throughout  Indian  society,  where  the  "cultural 



performance"  is  a  typical  setting  for  music  making  (Singer  1972:70  ff, 

148  f f ) .  Among  such  performance  traditions  are  the  devotional  assemblies 
of  all  major  religions  of  India.  For  this  thesis  I  have  chosen  to 
analyse  the  musical  idiom  particular  to  one  such  assembly,  the  Sufi 
Qawwali.  It  will  be  my  aim  to  investigate  to  what  extent  variation  in 
individual  utterances  within  this  musical  idiom  are  generated  by 
variation  in  the  performance  situations  that  occur  within  the  performance 
domain  of  Qawwali.  It  is  in  this  concrete  way  that  I  hope  to  show  how 
socio-cul tural  context  shapes  musical  sound. 

While  aiming  to  contribute  to  ethnomusicol ogy  generally,  this  study 
is  also  relevant  to  musical  theory  in  that  it  introduces  the  dimension  of 
performance  into  the  analysis  of  musical  sound  structure.  More 
particularly,  it  is  intended  as  a  contribution  toward  expanding  the  scope 
of  Indian  musicology  which  so  far  has  explored  the  limits  of  musical 
variation  independent  of  context. 

B  Methodological  Considerations 

The  analytical  model  used  in  this  project  was  developed  on  the  basis 
of  a  variety  of  approaches  and  tools  derived  from  three  sources:  Western 
musicology,  Indian  musicology  and  anthropology.  As  I  will  show  below, 
the  first  two,  together,  have  formed  a  means  to  isolate  music  sound  as  a 
self-contained  system;  the  third  has  provided  the  basis  to  derive 
context  variation  for  a  model  to  integrate  it  with  the  music  sound  rule 
system.  To  clarify  my  approach,  let  me  provide  a  background  context  to 
specify  what  I  will  be  referring  to  in  the  development  of  this  model. 


Western  Musicology 

In  the  field  of  ethnomusicol ogy ,  a  Western  discipline,  the  primary 
approaches  to  the  analysis  of  musical  sound  are  based  on  Western  musical 
concepts,  as  regards  perspectives  as  well  its  methods  and  tools. 
Ethnomusicol ogi sts  with  musicological  training  have  proposed  systematic 
applications  of  a  Western  musical  framework  to  non-Western  music  (e.g. 
Nettl  1964).  Indeed,  they  often  elevate  this  framework  to  the  level  of  a 
theoretical  perspective  and  have  even  used  it  as  an  alternative 
theoretical  stance  vis  a  vis  their  anthropologically  oriented  colleagues 
(cf.  debates  in  Ethnomusicol ogy ,  1957-76).  But  even  anthropologists 
dealing  with  music  generally  fall  back  on  the  same  theoretical  framework 
because  it  is  available  and  accessible  to  them,  if  sometimes  only  in  a 
vaguely  intuitive  form.  A  mutual  lack  of  communication  between 
musicologists  and  anthropologists  working  in  ethnomusicol ogy  --  as  well 
as  a  lack  of  musicological  training  among  the  latter  --  have  tended  to 
obscure  the  need  for  anthropologists  in  the  field  to  assess  the 
contribution  of  music  theory  to  ethnomusicology.  The  following  brief 
overview  is  to  lead  to  such  an  assessment  below. 

Western  music  theory  as  developed  by  Western  musicologists  is  based 
on  the  assumption  that  music  is  a  self-contained  system  of  organized 
sound  that  varies  on  its  own  terms.  These  terms  may  be  isolated 
conceptually  into  an  aesthetic,  as  in  art  music.  Even  where  they  are  not 
conceptualized,  scholars  presume  that  such  properties  are  inherent  in  the 
structure  of  the  music  in  question.  It  is  the  aim  of  music  theory  to 
identify  and  analyze  these  structural  properties. 

Traditional  music  theory  has  a  well-established  approach  to  musical 
analysis  based  on  conceptual  conventions  that  developed  within  the 




European  art  music  tradition  over  the  last  several  centuries.  These 
conceptualizations  or  "musical  rudiments"  are  organized  into  a  set  of 
musical  parameters  covering  the  dimensions  of  "melody",  "rhythm", 
"harmony"  and  "form".  Underlying  all  four  are  the  fundamental  concepts 
of  pitch  and  duration.  These  are  derived  from  characteristic  features  of 
European  melody.  As  conceived  of  by  European  musicians,  melody  is  a  set 
of  discrete  pitches  of  specific  duration  which  are  related  to  each  other 
in  terms  of  a  universal  pitch  framework  based  on  a  diatonic  scale 
principle.  Accordingly,  any  unit  of  music  can  be  reduced  to  minimal 
components  of  pitch  and  duration.  Groupings  of  such  pitches  represent 
motives  which  can  be  combined  into  larger  units  of  formal  structure. 
Simultaneous  pitch  occurence  is  conceived  of  as  harmony  and  governed  by 
rules  of  consonance  and  dissonance.  Durational  units  are  related  to  each 
other  in  terms  of  a  rhythmic  framework  which  is  based  on  a  concept  of 
durational  proportional ity  often  called  "divisive"  and  represented  as 
such  in  notation--even  though  it  might  more  appropriately  be  termed 
"mul tipi icative" . 

A  descriptive  system  of  notation  expresses  the  four  musical 
parameters  on  the  basis  of  the  two  fundamental  dimensions,  pitch  and 
duration.  Pitches  are  shown  relative  to  each  other  on  a  keyed  staff 
which  represents  excerpts  of  the  universal  pitch  framework.  The  symbols 
used  to  mark  pitches  on  the  staff  represent  their  durational  value  in 
accordance  with  a  divisive  time  framework  and  its  extensions.  At  higher 
levels  of  organization,  melodic  and  rhythmic  structuring  are  indicated  by 
various  auxiliary  symbols,  as  are  larger  units  of  formal  structure. 
Additional  dimensions  such  as  intensity,  speed,  timbre,  and  articulation 




are  considered  to  be  at  a  secondary  level  of  analysis  and  represented 
notationally  by  a  set  of  terms  and  letter  symbols  that  may  be  added  to 
the  staff  notation. 

This  musical  frame  of  reference  has  long  served  the  traditional 
musical  analysis  of  Western  art  music  compositions  which  concerns  itself 
principally  with  the  formal  organization  of  musical  parameters  in  the 
music  of  different  style  periods.  Summed  up  within  the  term  "musical 
theory",  this  type  of  analysis  has  always  served  a  prescriptive  as  well 
as  descriptive  purpose. 

More  recently,  musicol ogical  analysis  has  focussed  on  discovering 
principles  of  structure  in  traditional  Western  art  music,  using  music 
theory  as  a  framework  of  analysis,  i.e.  the  culture's  own  criteria. 
Notable  examples  are  Schenker  (1954,  1956)  who  first  established  harmonic 
criteria  for  analysing  the  underlying  structure  of  classical 
compositions;  Reti  (1961)  who  developed  thematic  analysis,  and  others 
dealing  with  tonal  music  (e.g.  Walker  1963).  Schenker' s  pioneering 
concept  of  "levels  of  abstraction  ( Schichten  and  Stufen)  and  his  emphasis 
on  fundamental  structure  have  influenced  the  development  of  new 
theoretical  approaches  based  on  more  comprehensive  analytical  criteria 
(see  e.g.  Berry  1976,  Cogan  and  Escott  1976,  Yeston  1977,  Lerdahl  and 
Jackendoff  1977).  In  response,  particul arly ,  to  the  need  for  ddealing 
with  twentieth-century  non-tonal  music,  musical  parameters  are  being 
redefined  and  musical  processes  dealt  with  in  more  abstract  terms. 

Comparative  musicology  has  extended  the  analytical  perspective  of 
Western  musicology  to  non-Western  music  with  the  underlying  assumption 
that  all  music  is  based  on  universal  principles  which  are  accessible  to 



analysis  and  comparison  according  to  criteria  dereived  from  Western 
scholarship.  To  the  extent  that  their  point  of  reference  is  European  art 
music  and  the  methods  used  in  its  study,  resulting  studies  of  non-Western 
music  suffer  from  predictable  ethnocentric  distortions  (e.g.  Sachs  1965). 

A  direct  reaction  to  this  has  been  the  movement  pioneered  by  Seeger 
(1958).  Based  on  the  assumed  universality  of  the  physical  stimulus  of 
musical  sound,  Seeger  attempts  to  objectify  musical  analysis  totally  by 
reducing  it  to  the  study  of  measurable  acoustic  properties  from  which 
universal  categories  are  to  arise.  Comparative  musicology  has  rarely 
addressed  itself  to  the  question  of  such  musical  universal s  in  concrete 
terms,  e.g.  in  the  work  of  Kolinski  (1961,  1962,  1967).  More  promising 
are  attempts  on  the  part  of  some  Western  musical  theorists  to  arrive  at 
musical  universal s  by  expanding  their  explanatory  models  for  Western 
music  (e.g.  Cogan  and  Escott  1976,  Lerdahl  and  Jackendoff  1977). 

Recent  work  on  musical  universal s  has  been  inspired  by  Levi- 
Straussian  structural i sm  and  Jakobson's  earlier  notation  of  the 
universality  of  binary  features:  Taking  as  the  basis  the  structure  of 
music  itself,  this  approach  sees  music  as  a  representation  of  the 
structure  of  the  mind.  The  universal  structural  features  underlying  all 
music  are  to  be  discovered  by  applying  Western  analytic  criteria  within  a 
structural i st  or  generative  model.  Levi  Strauss's  own  analysis  of 
Ravel's  Bolero  (1971)  and  Ruwet's  more  extensive  treatment  of  various 
European  art  music  genres  (1972)  are  examples  which  focus  on  the 
structural  aspect  of  binary  opposition,  but  they  are  ultimately  based  on 
conventional  musicol ogical  analysis,  if  of  a  somewhat  unsophisticated 
kind--Ruwet' s  later  work  (1975)  goes  far  beyond  these  limitations. 

1  . 


however.  A  "generative"  approach  is  developed  by  Lindblom  and  Sundberg 
(1970)  and  by  Lidov  (Lidov  and  Gabura  1972,  Lidov  1975),  who  apply  models 
somewhat  analogous  to  generative  syntactic  analysis  (Chomsky  1957)  to 
European  children's  songs.  In  the  area  of  non-Western  music  Boiles' 
impressive  grammar  of  Tepehua  Thought  Song  (1967)  may  be  considered  a 
special  musical  case  but  with  potential  applicability  for  the  study  of 
thematic  music  elsewhere  (e.g.  Sind,  see  Baloch  1966,  Qureshi  1975).  The 
principal  exponent  of  the  structuralist  analysis  of  music  and  of  musical 
semiology,  Nattiez  (1971,  1972,  1975)  has  yet  to  provide  a  convincing 
application  of  his  theoretical  framework.  These  models  derived  from 
modern  linguistics,  significantly,  have  been  most  successfully  applied  in 
some  kinds  of  Western  music  where  the  authors  could  use  their  native 
intui tion--hence  their  universal  validity  remains  to  be  demonstrated. 

(see  Powers  1980b  for  an  authortative  assessment  of  linguistic 
applications  to  music,  both  Western  and  non-Western.) 

A  different  theoretical  position  on  the  analysis  of  musical  sound 
arose  from  the  trend  toward  the  nintensive  study  of  non-Western  art 
music.  It  postulates  that  music  is  based  on  culture-specific  principles 
and  must  be  analyzed  according  to  the  culture's  own  criteria,  leading  to 
what  amounts  to  indigenous  musicology.  With  few  exceptions,  notably 
Blacking's  study  of  Venda  music  (1967),  applications  of  this  premise  are 
in  the  field  of  art  music  where  musical  parameters  are  conceptualized  and 
verbalized  and  thus  accessible  to  the  analyst.  Most  such  analyses  simply 
represent  exposes  of  indigenous  musical  conceptions  and  their 
application,  presented  in  terms  of  Western  musical  concepts  by  means  of 
Western  terminology.  This  applies  to  studies  by  Western-trained 

,  ,  ,<  [  I  .1  ’  .  V  t  *  v  b  t  ,  (C  ) 


indigenous  scholars  such  as  Khatschi  (1962),  Massoudieh  (1968). 

Jairazbhoy  (1971),  as  well  as  by  Westerners  well -trained  in  non-Western 
musics  whom  Hood  has  called  bimusical  (Hood  1954,  1960). 

Linguistic  models  have  been  adopted  by  some  of  these 
ethnomusicol ogi sts  with  the  aim  of  translating  their  culture-specific 
analysis  into  a  framework  that  allows  replication  and  generalization.  Of 
these,  Powers  (1958,  ms)  presents  a  "grammar"  of  a  music,  in  that  his 
analysis  of  South  Indian  art  music  gives  rules  for  generating  all  sounds, 
from  "minimal  units"  established  on  the  basis  of  phonetic/phonemic 
distinctions  (1958)  to  syntactic  processes  (ms).  Others  like  Becker  and 
Becker  (1979),  Blacking  (1971)  and  Cooper  (1977),  employ  a  generative 
model  mainly  as  a  descriptive  device. 

Where  musicologists  deal  with  the  "semantic"  content  of  music  they 
generally  identify  emotive  content  in  musical  parameters  with  the  help  of 
aesthetic  criteria  readily  available  in  art  music  traditions.  Thus  Meyer 
(1956)  interprets  Western  art  music  in  terms  of  its  own  aesthetic 
criteria.  This  approach  has  been  successfully  extended  to  other  art 
music  tradition,  particularly  those  with  a  semantically  rich  aesthetic. 

Western  musicology  has  provided  what  so  far  is  the  most 
comprehensive  and  practical  framework  for  the  description  of  musical 
sound  in  terms  of  concepts,  categories  and  descriptive  units,  quite  apart 
from  the  fact  that  its  conventions  are  most  widely  and  generally 
disseminated  and  known.  Indeed,  no  other  system  of  musical  theory  has 
had  as  much  de  facto  universality  and  diverse  scholarly  use,  both 
historically  through  the  time  periods  of  European  history,  and 
geographically  across  different  musical  traditions.  Furthermore,  this 



i . 


framework  has  in  recent  times  begun  to  undergo  a  process  of 
"objectification",  in  response  to  the  challenge  of  alternative 
approaches,  be  they  from  other  disciplines  (as  e.g.  linguistics  or 
semiotics)  or  from  other  musical  systems  (as  e.g.  various  Asian  High 
Cultures).  The  resulting  expansion  of  analytical  and  notational 
parameters  renders  Western  musical  conceptions  quite  capable  of  serving 
as  a  descriptive  metalanguage  for  music,  much  like  the  phonetic  alphabet 
and  other  categories  of  Western  linguistics  which  have  been  applied  to 
diverse  languages  for  descriptive  and  comparative  purposes. 

The  problem  remains,  however,  how  to  avoid  the  obvious  pitfalls  of 
imposing  categories  inappropriately .  Apart  from  the  obvious 
insufficiency  of  ethnocentrical ly  applied  Western  musical  categories,  the 
universality  concept  based  on  structural i sm  and  extensively  elucidated  by 
Nattiez  (see  above  p.  11)  must  be  taken  seriously  as  a  solution  offered 
by  the  Western  musicol ogical  tradition.  The  question  is  whether  this 
concept  can  be  trusted  to  provide  categories  of  universal  applicability, 
given  the  present  limited  state  of  knowledge  of  musical  concepts  outside 
of  European  music.  It  is  in  this  context  that  the  use  of  indigenous 
music  theory  may  be  considered  a  significant  alternative.  This  approach 
is  predicated  on  the  assumption  that  a  culture's  own  conceptualizations 
about  music  can  best  serve  to  build  a  framework  for  the  analysis  of 
specific  musical  genres  of  idioms  within  that  culture  area.  By  thus 
using  indigenous  music  theory  as  a  tool  for  arriving  at  "emic",  or 
culturally  relevant  categories,  this  approach  may  also  utlimately 
contribute  to  the  refinement  of  a  method  toward  defining  universal 
categories.  That,  however,  is  a  step  far  removed  from  the  task  on  hand 



which  is  to  put  indigenous,  non-Western  music  theory  to  use  in  analysing 
that  culture's  music.  Furthermore,  this  taks  is  here  undertaken  with  the 
full  awareness  that  the  analyst  can  only  make  informed  assumptions  about 
musical--or  any  other--concepts  which  he  acquires  essentially  from  the 

Indian  Musicology 

India,  no  less  than  Europe,  has  a  centuries-old  tradition  of 
theorizing  about  music.  Indian  musical  theory,  as  codified  in  musical 
treatises  and  other  sources,  extending  from  the  fifth  century  onward  (for 
surveys  see  Gangoly  1935,  Danielou  1954,  Bhatkhande  1972,  Powers  1970  and 
above  all  1980a),  has  established  principles  for  describing  and  analysing 
musical  sound.  In  accord  with  Indian  brahminical  scholarly  tradition, 
successive  reinterpretations  of  such  sources  have  resulted  in  a 
theoretical  edifice  covering  dimensions  of  melody  (pitch  and  pitch 
relationships),  rhythm,  (pulse  and  duration)  and  form  (structure  of 
compositions).  Given  the  primacy  of  the  melodic  line  in  Indian  art 
music,  as  well  as  the  separated  articulation  of  the  thythmic  dimension 
through  drumming,  it  follows  that  Indian  music  theoryhas  primarily 
focussed  on  the  analysis  of  pitch.  Basic  concepts  cover  pitch  classes  as 
constituents  of  an  acoustically  moveable  framework  of  pitch 
relationships,  with  special  emphasis  on  the  classification  and 
articulation  of  these  pitch  relationships.  Duration  is  dealt  with  in 
parallel  terms,  though  with  less  elaboration.  Concepts  of  formal 
structure  are  derived  from  the  units  of  text  structure  and  include 
principles  of  combining  such  units.  Both  melodic  outlines  and  rhythmic 



structures  are  preserved  in  the  form  of  a  rudimentary  system  of  notation 
using  letter  symbols,  but  a  body  of  music  in  notation  is  largely  lacking. 

The  discovery  of  Sanskrit  treatises  by  British  Indologists  around 
1800  (Jones  1962,  Powers  1965,  1980)  was  followed  by  a  response  of 
Western  attempts  to  interpret  them  and  also  to  describe  their  subject, 
Indian  art  music.  As  a  further  response,  Indian  scholars,  too,  began  to 
focus  on  rendering  their  musical  tradition  into  an  English  language 
framework.  The  resulting  effort  by  both  Western  and  Indian  authors 
writing  in  English  led  to  the  development  of  what  is  appropriately  called 
Indian  Musicology.  Predictably,  much  of  this  work  has  been  carried  on 
within  the  Indian  scholastic  traditon  by  drawing  heavily  on  the  body  of 
classical  writings  and  often  addressing  related  problems  such  as  the 
classification  of  melody  types  (e.g.  Bose  1960,  Jairazbhoy  1971),  or  the 
measurement  of  pitch  relationships  (e.g.  Deval  1918,  Clements  1913, 

Sastri  1954).  Within  a  few  notably  exceptions  (day  1974,  Fox-Strangways 
1965),  a  strongly  theoretical  orientation  has  characterized  the  many 
general  works  on  Indian  music  as  well  (e.g.  Gangoly  1935,  Prajnananda 
1960,  Danielou  1949/54). 

The  extension  of  scholarly  analysis  to  musical  practice  was 
hampered  initially  by  the  traditional  separation  of  the  learned  music 
scholar  from  the  unlettered  performing  musician.  However  the  present-day 
Western  concern  with  performance  study  on  one  side,  and  the  Indian 
promotion  of  institutionalized  music  in  the  other  have  led  to  an 
increasing  emphasis  on  musical  practice  resulting  in  collections  of  music 
in  notation--both  Indian  (Bhatkhande,  1953-55,  Patwardhan  1972,  Nawab  A1 i 
Kan  1925)  and  Western  (Powers  1958,  Kuckertz  1970,  Wade  1971)— and,  more 



important,  in  the  description  or  analysis  of  actual  music  in  terms  of  an 
appropriate  theoretical  framework--both  in  English  (Gosvami  1957, 
Sambhamoorthy  1960-1969,  Joshi  1963,  Kaufmann  1968)  and  in  vernacular 
languages  (Bhatkhande  1953-55,  Thakur  1954-62).  As  a  result  of  all  this, 
the  broad  outlines  of  such  an  analytical  framework  have  now  largely  been 
worked  out  for  Indian  classical  music  on  the  basis  of  the  musicians'  own 

verbalized  theory  and  amplified,  as  well  as  standardized,  with  reference 
to  classical  Indian  scholarship.  Still,  certain  problems  remain  to  be 
dealt  with  regarding  the  relationship  between  ancient  and  modern  theory 
as  well  as  between  theory  and  practice,  where  both  are  derived  from 
socio-cul tural ly  divergent  musical  representatives. 

The  input  of  Western  musicology,  apart  from  early  comparisons  with 
Western  scale  theories,  has  in  the  main  been  confined  to  providing 
equivalents  or  amplifications  to  Indian  musical  concepts.  Since  Indian 
musical  parameters  are  highly  compatible  with  those  of  Western  art  music. 
Western-trained  musicol ogists--both  Western  and  Indian--have  been  quite 
successful  at  integrating  both  into  a  flexible  descriptive  framework 
based  on  Indian  music  theory  and,  at  the  same  time,  amenable  to  Western 
analytical  approaches.  With  this  framework,  Indian  musicology  is  now  at 
the  stage  of  tackling  specific  musical  problems  (e.g.  Athavale  et.  al . 
1976,  Deshpande  and  Ratanjankar  1970,  Row  1977,  Wade  1971),  or  specific 
performance  traditions  (e.g.  Qureshi  1969,  1981,  Sharma  1973,  Tewari 
1977)  within  the  domain  of  Indian  music.  Furthermore,  this  frame  of 
reference  allows  the  application  of  new  analytical  approaches  developed 
in  Western  musicology.  Significant  in  this  context  are  the  works  of  Deva 
using  information  theory  to  approach  the  raga  phenomenon  (Deva  1970),  and 


the  pioneering  use  of  linguistic  theory  and  method  made  by  Powers  in  his 
analysis  of  raga  structure  where  he  deals  with  the  tonal  relationships 
within  a  raga,  i.e.  its  internal  structure  (1958),  as  well  as  with  the 
relationship  between  ragas,  i.e.  the  structure  of  the  musical  idiom 
(1977,  ms,  1980a).  Powers'  focus  on  structure  as  the  result  of 
improvi sational  or  compositional  choices  is  particularly  promising  for 
use  in  an  analysis  of  music  in  its  context  of  performance. 

This  fruitful  interaction  should  not  obscure  the  fact  that  Western 
and  Indian  scholars  continue  to  operate--al bei t  not  always  overtly 
so--from  within  their  respective  frameworks  of  musical  conceptions, 
modified  as  these  conceptions  may  be.  To  clear  potential  confusion,  and 
to  make  their  findings  accessible  to  those  outside  their  area,  what  would 
seem  to  be  indicated  at  this  stage  is  a  clarification  of  basic 
musicological  assumptions  by  those  working  in  the  field  of  Indian  music. 

I  propose  to  preface  my  analysis  of  Qawwali  musical  structure  with  such  a 
cl ari fi cation . 

Anthropol ogy 

The  anthropological  focus  on  music  has  as  its  basis  the  assumption 
that  music,  as  part  of  culture,  must  be  analysed  in  relation  to  its 
socio-cul tural  content.  Because  of  its  specialized  requi rements , 
ethnomusicology  has  been  somewhat  peripheral  to  anthropology  and 
therefore  slow  to  follow  theoretical  developments  in  anthropological 
thought.  Early  attempts  to  account  for  the  diversity  of  music  in  both 
kind  and  complexity  were  based  on  a  diffusionist  (e.g.  Nettl  1954)  or  an 
evolutionary  (e.g.  Densmore  1918,  Sachs  1965)  perspective.  But  the 


explicit  theoretical  framework  ethnomusicol ogy  acqui red--once  the  tape 
recorder  made  more  sophisticated  studies  possibl e--was  that  of 
functionalism.  In  the  first  and  only  anthropologically  oriented  work  on 
the  general  scope  of  ethnomusicol ogy ,  The  Anthropology  of  Music  (1964), 
Alan  Merriam,  prime  exponent  of  anthropological  ethnomusicol ogy ,  lays  out 
the  assumptions  that  music  is  a  system  of  culturally  determined  rules, 
its  meaning  is  contained  in  its  function,  and  its  function,  ultimately, 
is  to  serve  the  needs  of  society  (bio-psychological  or  sociological 
needs).  The  musical  sound  system  is  to  be  analyzed  on  the  basis  of  this 
functional  understanding. 

Applications  of  this  approach,  while  going  a  long  way  toward 
integrating  the  study  of  music  into  anthropology  through  its  context, 
have  generally  either  failed  to  incorporate  the  musical  sound  system  into 
the  analytical  scheme  or  else  to  correlate  meaningfully  the  analysis  of 
context  and  music.  The  first  type  of  shortcoming  is  exemplified  by 
McAllester's  excellent  contextual  analysis  of  Navajo  musical  ceremony 
with  merely  appended  transcriptions  (McAllester  1954),  the  second  by 
Merriam's  highly  dichotomous  analysis  of  Flathead  music  where  lack  of 
ethnographic  and  methodological  rigor  result  in  a  lack  of  congruence 
between  musical  and  contextual  analyses.  (Merriam  1967).  Apart  from  a 
theoretical  bias  toward  reducing  specific  uses  and  functions  of  music  to 
the  tenets  of  a  universal ist  biological  functionalism  (e.g.  Waterman 
1955)  the  major  shortcoming--particul arly  of  Merriam's  studies--is  a  lack 
of  conceptual  rigor  in  distinguishing  on  one  hand  between  the  culture's 
and  the  analyst's  categories,  and  on  the  other  between  conceptual  and 
behavioral  levels  of  analysis. 


Recent  theoretical  contributions  have  addressed  themselves  to  these 
problems  from  perspectives  of  cognitive  anthropology  annd  ethnoscience. 
Focussing  on  the  investigation  of  music  as  a  cognitive  system  both 
Blacking  (1967,  1973,  1979)  and  Blum  (1975)  approach  a  society's  musical 
concepts  with  reference  to  socio-cul tural  antecedents.  In  contrast  with 
this  somewhat  phenomenological  orientation  proposed  earlier  by  Schutz 
(1951),  Mcleod  (1971),  Herndon  (1972)  and  Asch  (1975a)  propose 
establishing  a  conceptual  framework  for  music  on  the  basis  of  verbal 
eliciting,  using  methods  derived  from  ethnoscience.  (Sturtevant  1964 
etc . ) 

In  these  and  related  anthropological  approaches  to  ethnomusicol ogy 
linguistic  concepts  figure  prominently,  but  apart  from  the  semantic 
analysis  of  musical  concepts  (as  in  Mcleod  1971,  or  Zemp  1978)  their 
application  is  generally  limited  to  the  description  of  musical  sound 
features  (see  Herndon  1974).  For  anthropologically  oriented  ethno¬ 
musicol  ogi  sts  the  use  of  linguistic  models  has  seen  particularly 
appropriate  to  music  analysis.  But  here,  as  in  musicol ogical ly  oriented 
studies,  applications  have  generally  been  based  on  superficial  analogy. 

In  most  cases,  as  Feld  (1974)  point  and  Powers  (1980b)they  at  best 
represent  a  disciplinary  or  methodological  option  rather  than  a 
theoretical  contribution,  not  unlike  linguistic  applications  to  other 
areas  of  anthropology  (see  Hymes  1970). 

The  central  problem  of  linking  the  conceptual  domain  of  music  with 
the  behavioral  reality  of  musical  context  is  dealt  with  by  Asch  (1972, 
1975)  who  presents  a  model  that  incorporates  both  cognitive  and 
behavioral  analysis.  He  proposes  to  use  "emic"  or  "native"  categories  as 

basic  units  for  the  analysis  of  the  musical  context  at  the  behavioral 
level  in  order  to  reduce  the  imposition  of  arbitrary  analytic  categories 
by  the  investigator.  Thus  in  his  study  of  the  Slavey  Drum  Dance  he  uses 
verbal  eliciting  to  get  some  indication  of  folk  taxonomy,  at  the  same 
time  dealing  with  the  behavorial  domain  in  terms  of  situational  analysis 
(Goffman  1971).  As  a  result,  he  finds  correspondence  between  the  two 
levels  of  analysis  but  also  uncovers  context-derived  taxa  which  appear  to 
be  operative  at  the  level  of  sound  organization  in  performance. 

The  concept  of  music  as  performance  itself  is  only  beginning  to 
figure  in  ethnomusicol ogical  thinking  (e.g.  Herndon  and  Brunyate,  1976), 
largely  inspired,  once  again,  by  recent  developments  in  linguistic 
anthropology.  Increasingly,  sociolinguists  and  folklorists  as  well--from 
Lord  (1955)  and  Labov  (1972)  Darnell  (1975,  1979),  Sherzer  and  Darnell 
(1972),  Ben  Amos  and  Goldstein  (1975),  Vanek  (1979)  and  others--are 
including  the  contextual  dimension  in  the  study  of  verbal  communication 
and  proposing  to  deal  with  both  text  and  context  in  terms  of  a 
performance  concept  (e.g.  Baumann,  1975).  These  and  related  models  of 
language  performance  (e.g.  Murray  1977)  are  promising  for  the 
consideration  of  performance  in  general,  but  their  applicability  to  music 
is  complicated  unneccessarily  by  the  fact  that  they  naturally  tend  to 
focus  on  the  semantic,  if  not  the  referential,  content  of  the  performance 
medium  and  consequently  tend  to  deal  with  context  as  an  extension  or 
modifier  of  the  text  (Murray  1977,  Silverstein  1976). 

It  is  the  very  absence  of  obvious  semantic  reference  in 
music--general ly  considered  problematic  by  ethnomusicol ogi sts--that  makes 
it  easier  to  approach  performance  as  a  structured  manifestation  of 



culture  in  which  the  medium  of  performance  is  integrated  or  even 
subsumed,  rather  than  to  treat  performance  context  as  an  adjunct  upon  the 
medium,  as  is  implied  by  sociol i ngui Stic  analysis  approaches.  This 
essentially  anthropological  stance  is  in  fact  manifested  in  a  number  of 
ethnomusicol ogical  studies  of  musical  ceremonies  by  anthropologists  (e.g. 
McAll ester  1954,  etc.)  but  there  has  until  recently  been  little  concern 
for  developing  this  stance  into  an  analytical  model,  particularly  one 
that  would  include  the  dimension  of  musical  sound.  Even  in  practise, 
these  (anthropological)  studies  have  generally  failed  to  deal  with 
musical  sound  from  the  same  anthropological  perspective,  using  instead 
"etic"  western  criteria  for  their  music  analysis,  or  leaving  music  to 
musicologists.  The  recent  increase  in  musical  understanding,  generated 
by  opportunities  for  musical  immersion  and  study,  has  not  essentially 
changed  the  picture,  because  the  need  for  integrating  such  musical 
knowledge  into  a  formal  and  replicable  analytical  model  remains. 

Concern  with  establishing  such  a  model  for  musical  performance--!' .e. 
integrating  musical  sound  into  an  anthropological  perspective--has  been 
articulated  in  the  writings  of  McLeod,  Herndon  and  Asch.  Inspired  by 
Singer's  concept  of  "cultural  performance"--evol ved,  appropriately ,  as 
"unit  of  observation"  for  the  study  of  Indian  cul ture--Herndon  formulates 
the  concept  of  "musical  occasion"  or,  using  Singer's  term,  "a  cultural 
performance  in  which  music  has  a  role"  (Herndon  1971:339,  Singer  1972:148 
f ) .  A  musical  occasion  is  an  isolatable  segment  of  human  behavior  or 
activity  identified  by  a  linguistic  tag--i.e.  a  named  event--and 
characterized  by  "varying  degrees  of  organization  of  setting  and 
activity".  In  accordance  with  basic  anthropological  assumptions  the 


musical  occasion  may  be  regarded  as  a  cultural  and  social  entity  that 
includes  music  but  also  the  totality  of  associated  behaviors  and 
underlying  concepts.  This  "encapsulated  expression  of  forms  and  values 
of  a  society"  (Herndon  71:340)  serves  as  a  natural  frame  of  reference  or 
point  of  departure  for  musical  investigation,  making  it  possible  to 
isolate  context-derived  analytical  units  for  the  analysis  of  musical 
structure . 

Since  this  approach  presupposes  a  thorough  anthropological  study  of 
the  occasion,  informed  by  an  understanding  of  the  larger  socio-cul tural 
context,  it  has  received  more  theoretical  approval  than  practical 
application.  Besides  several  preliminary  inroads,  (Herndon  1971,  1972, 
1974),  Ascii' s  systematic  suty  of  the  Slavey  Drum  Dance  shows  that  there 
are  musical  rules  which  are  derivable  from  the  contextual  framework  of 
the  musical  occasion,  thus  providing  a  positive  test  of  the  hypothesis 
that  music  and  context  are  related  at  the  level  of  what  Asch  terms 
"musical  event",  i.e.  "the  perceived  focus,  purpose  and  observed  behavior 
associated  with  the  actual  performance  of  a  composition  during  a  musical 
occasion"  (Asch  2975:245).  However,  this  as  well  as  other  applications 
(i.e.  Blacking  1971,  Herndon  1971)  also  indicate  that  the  level  of 
specificity  of  musical  rules  derived  through  context  analysis  alone 
appears  to  be  quite  low,  governing  only  a  limited  number  of  musical 
distinctions.  A  gap  is  therefore  left  in  the  analysis  of  musical  sound 
which,  in  the  absence  of  a  compatible  framework  for  music  analysis,  is 
filled  at  the  investigator's  discretion.  The  need  to  fill  this  gap  by 
means  of  a  compatible  analytical  framework  brings  the  question  of  musical 
sound  analysis  back  into  focus  and  thus  this  discussion  has  come  full 


circle,  setting  the  stage  of  an  attempt  at  a  synthesis  between 
anthropological  and  musicol ogical  approaches. 

C  Proposed  Model 

From  the  above  it  should  be  clear  that  the  model  for  understanding 
the  rule  system  of  Qawwal i  music  is  available.  As  well,  it  should  be 
clear  that  anthropology  has  provided  a  conceptual  framework  whereby 
context  and  music  sound  can  be  interrelated.  What  remains  is  to  provide 
an  analysis  which  actually  does  so.  This,  of  course,  is  my  intention 
here.  However,  to  set  forth  the  framework  and  procedure  for  such  an 
analysis  will  first  of  all  require  clarifying  the  underlying  assumptions 
that  inform  this  endeavour.  I  consider  five  such  assumptions  basic; 
three  of  them  concern  the  nature  of  anthropological  analysis  and  are 
derived  most  directly  from  the  analytical  model  developed  by  Asch.  The 
remaining  two  assumptions  concern  dimensions  particular  to  the  analysis 
of  music  in  performance,  dealing  with  the  music  sound  medium  and  the 
process  of  performance  itself. 

1.  The  first  assumption  is  that  an  analysis  should  focus  on  what 
can  be  tested:  the  observeable  (cf.  Murphy  1971  for  background 
logic).  Observeable  music  is  the  complex  of  sounds  a  musician 
makes  and  its  observeable  context  is  the  performance  situation 
in  which  he  makes  them;  hence  analysing  the  relationship  of  the 
two  requires  dealing  with  behavior  in  very  specific  terms 
(Goffman  is  still  the  primary  model  for  such  analyses). 

2.  The  second  assumption  is  the  recognition  of  a  conceptual  domain 
as  distinct  from  the  domain  of  behavior,  with  a  dialectical 

relationship  obtaining  between  the  two  domains  (for  theoretical 
foundation  of  this  assumption  see  Sturtevant  1964  and  others  on 
ethnoscience) .  The  implication  significant  for  analysing  the 
behavioral  realm  is  that  concepts  inform  behavior  and  can  there¬ 
fore  serve  as  a  key  to  such  analysis  (Asch  1975). 

3.  The  third  assumption  is  the  logical  priority  of  the  analyst's 
categories  into  which  ultimately  all  his  perceptions  of  data  are 
translated,  whether  consciously  or  not.  This  implies  the  truism 
that  even  native  concepts  or  categories  are  subject  to  the 
analyst's  perception,  and  therefore  cannot  be  treated  as 
analytically  equivalent  to  the  analyst's  own  categories  (Murphy 
1971 :  Part  3) . 

In  order  to  analyse  a  context  which  includes  musical  sound,  these 
three  assumptions  must  be  applicable  to  the  domain  of  musical  sound  as 
well.  The  musicol ogical  approach  developed  by  Powers  implies  the  feasi¬ 
bility  of  such  an  application,  subject  to  a  fourth  assumption  regarding 
musical  analysis: 

4.  Where  musical  conceptualizations  are  available  it  is  then 
possible  to  deal  analytically  with  musical  sound  in  performance 
on  the  basis  of  musical  parameters  isolated  according  to  native 
music  theory.  This  assumption  implies  that  at  the  present  stage 
of  development  of  music  analysis  access  to  both  the  dimension  of 
musical  behavior  and  that  of  musical  conceptualizations  is  a 
prerequisite  to  an  analysis  of  musical  sound.  This  is  not  to 
suggest  that  music  traditions  lacking  verbal  theory  cannot  be 
analysed,  only  that  such  analysis  may  more  profitably  be 


.  J  7 

attempted  once  that  analytical  apparatus  for  music  is 
considerably  and  systematically  expanded. 

On  the  basis  of  these  assumptions  an  analytical  approach  may  be 
delineated  which  includes  the  dimensions  of  both  context  and  music, 
dealing  with  each  at  the  conceptual  level  of  structure  and  then  at  the 
level  of  process  where  structure  is  realized  behavioral ly.  What  remains 
to  be  clarified  is  the  question  of  how  to  deal  analytically  with  the 
dynamic  that  underlies  any  process  per  se,  including  the  process  of  music 
making.  This  requires  stating  a  final  assumption  regarding  process  and 
its  analysis  which  in  a  general  way  derives  from  the  anthropological 
position  taken  by  Asch,  Goffman  and  Murphy: 

5.  Process  means  making  structure  operational.  It  constitutes  the 
behavioral  realization  of  concepts.  But  process,  no  matter  how 
culturally  and  socially  complex,  originates  in  individual  human 
action  which  is  based  upon  individual  strategy  or  motivation  and 
dependent  on  the  individual's  vantage  point  in  the  situation. 
From  this  perspective,  the  process  of  a  musical  performance 
results  from  the  innterplay  of  such  action  (i.e.  inter-action) 
by  two  kinds  of  participants:  those  who  operationalize  music, 
and  those  who  operationalize  context--i .e.  performer  and 
audience.  Thus  the  key  to  understanding  musical  sound  in  its 
process  of  performance  is  to  analyse  it  from  the  vantage  point 
of  the  performer,  since  it  is  his  action  that  takes  the  form  of 
musical  sound  production,  and  it  is  through  his  perceptions  that 
the  actions  of  the  audience  affect  the  music. 

Incorporati ng  this  assumption  into  the  analytical  approach  results 



in  a  model  which  may  serve  as  the  framework  or  blueprint  for  the  proposed 
analysis.  As  schematized  on  Table  1,  the  model  reflects  all  five 
assumptions;  it  also  accounts  for  the  fact  that  musical  and  contextual 
structures  are  informed  by  socio-cul tural  background  dimensions  while 
musical  and  contextual  process,  based  on  the  strategy  of  the 
participants,  is  informed  by  their  own  vantage  point  or  self  interest. 

It  now  remains  to  make  this  analytical  framework  operational,  i.e. 
to  translate  the  blueprint  into  a  concrete  analytical  procedure.  Sub¬ 
stantively  this  procedure  consists  of  two  basic  stages,  that  of  the 
analysis  of  musical  structure  and  that  of  musical  process,  but  there  is  a 
third  step  intermediary  to  the  two:  the  examination  of  the  performance 
context.  Thus  the  analysis  actually  comprises  three  steps,  contained  in 
Sections  I  through  III  and  each  requiring  a  variety  of  descriptive  and 
analytical  tools,  as  detailed  in  an  introductory  chapter  for  each.  The 
analytical  procedure  will  be  carried  out  as  follows: 

The  first  step  is  a  consideration  of  the  musical  idiom  of  Qawwali. 
Using  a  musicol ogical  approach  Qawwali  music  will  be  analysed  in  terms  of 
its  musical  framework  and  its  distinctive  musical  features,  resulting  in 
a  model  of  Qawwali  musical  structure.  This  is  contained  in  Section  I. 

The  second  step  is  logically  parallel  to  the  first:  an  examination 
of  the  performance  context,  i.e.  the  structure  of  the  Qawwali  occasion. 

In  terms  of  the  analytical  goal  this  step  simply  provides  information 
prerequisite  to  the  next  step--the  analysis  of  the  performance 
process--and  is  therefore  organized  accordingly,  focussing  on  concepts, 
setting  and  procedure.  To  deal  with  the  contextual  domain,  however, 
requires  introducing  first  the  relevant  background  dimensions  that 

<5  >l  t 



B  ackground 

Dimensions  to  be  Analysed 






Oc  ca  sion 






(according  to 

to  shared 

performer’ s 







_  _  _  .nUF  R  A  T’TOTsT  AT  T  7  TT  TO  _ 

Jy  conomic 

UrLi\/l  _L  IU1N  X-ii.  /->  XL  LJ 



Performer’ s 





Proce  s  s 

analysed  as : 

audience  « - -interaction - > 

pe  rformer 

Performer 1  s 

(according  to 

(according  to 


performer’ s 

performer’ s 

Point  (Self 

pe  rceptions) 


Intere  st) 

i _ _ _ 

inform  the  immediate  context  of  performance;  these  are  the  Sufi  ideology 
which  provides  the  rationale  and  function  of  Qawwal i ,  the  symbolic  system 
of  mystical  poetry  used  as  Qawwal i  texts,  the  socio-economic  setting  of 

Sufism  within  which  Qawwal i  is  practised,  and  the  social  and  professional 
identity  of  the  performer  who  knows  and  produces  Qawwal i  music.  An 
overview  of  the  Qawwal i  occasion  links  the  performance  context  to  this 
background,  setting  the  stage  for  the  analysis  of  the  occasion  structure. 
All  this  is  contained  in  Section  II. 

The  third  step  constitutes  the  actual  analysis  of  the  performance 
process.  First  context  and  idiom  of  performance  are  outlined  in  concert, 
as  they  constitute  a  particular  performance  event,  their  interplay 
resulting  from  the  strategies  of  the  participants.  The  performance 
process  is  seen  as  the  performer's  operationalization  of  the  musical 
structure,  informed  by  his  apprehension  of  the  contextual  structure  as 
well  as  by  his  understanding  of  the  background  dimensions.  This  leads  to 
the  actual  analysis  of  the  performance  process:  to  reduce  the 
context-music  interaction  to  its  underlying  principles  so  that  the 
contextual  constraints  operating  in  the  peformance  process  may  be 
ultimately  incorporated  into  the  structural  model  of  Qawwal i  music.  This 
is  contained  in  Section  III. 

Throughout  the  analysis  the  conceptual  separation  betweeen 
informant's  categories--as  perceived  by  the  analyst--and  analyst's 
categories,  i.e.  between  "emic"  and  "etic"  levels  of  analysis,  is 
maintained  and  formalized  by  means  of  two  different  types  of  summaries 
presented  in  the  form  of  appendices  and  tables  respectively.  In  view  of 
the  primacy  of  the  analyst's  categories  on  which  the  entire  analysis  is 


built,  they  are  contained  in  the  tables  that  run  concurrent  with  the 
text.  Wherever  informants'  categories  have  informed  those  of  the 
analyst,  they  are  supplied  on  corresponding  appendices  so  as  to  provide 
the  reader  with  the  relevant  ethnographic  evidence  and  to  clarify  the 
translation  process  from  "emic"  to  "etic"  knowledge  on  which  so  much  of 
the  analysis  rests. 

A  concluding  chapter  reviews  the  results  of  the  analysis  and  its 
implications  in  a  wider  intellectual  and  disciplinary  context.  Finally, 
a  comprehensive  Ethnographic  Section  serves  to  provide  exemplification 
and  evidence  for  the  analysis  while  also  constituting  a  capsule  ethno¬ 
graphy  of  Qawwali  as  observed  and  recorded  at  one  of  India's  major  Sufi 
shri nes . 

D  Ethnographic  Procedure 

The  field  research  for  this  study  of  Qawwali  was  carried  out  during 
a  ten  month  stay  in  Sufi  centres  of  the  Indian  subcontinent,  mainly  at 
the  Nizamuddin  Auliya  shrine  in  Delhi.  An  intensive  immersion  into  all 
aspects  of  Qawwali  yielded  an  enormous  amount  of  information  and  recorded 
material  (see  Data).  More  important,  it  led  to  an  increasing  awareness 
of  the  contextual  factors  and  forces  which  combine  to  make  Qawwali  music 
what  it  is.  It  is  on  the  basis  of  this  awareness  that  the  theoretical 
analysis  ultimately  rests. 

As  for  ethnographic  method,  I  have  attempted  to  be  as  rigorous  as 
possible  in  order  to  compensate  for  the  ethnocentri sm  which  to  an  extent 
arises  from  the  theoretical  or  discipline-oriented  motivation  for  ethno¬ 
graphic  research  itself.  Selecting  a  focus  and  interpreting  ethnographic 





data  on  the  basis  of  what  might  be  termed  "scholarly  intuition"  may  be  a 
necessary  concomitant  to  selecting  a  problem  relevant  to,  and  entering 
the  ongoing  discourse  within  a  discipline.  But  at  the  level  of  inter¬ 
preting  other  people's  stated  concepts  or  observed  behavior  such 
scholarly  intuition  can  be  presumptive  if  not  positively  counterproduct¬ 
ive,  not  to  the  creation  of  "neat"  ethnographic  examples  for  an 
analysi s--for  it  is  this  intuition  that  leads  very  surely  to  finding  just 
such  exampl es--but  to  the  goal  of  obtaining  a  body  of  ethnographic 
information  which  can  stand  the  scrutiny  of  its  own  protagonists  even 
when  they  are  not  trying  to  please  what  they  consider  an  "establishment" 
of  which  the  researcher  forms  part.  This  is  not  to  foray  into  epistemo¬ 
logical  issues  or  questions  of  ethics  in  anthropology,  but  simply  to 
propose  that  ethnographic  rigor  is  in  order  no  less  than  theoretical 
rigor,  and  that  such  rigor  requires  above  all  for  the  analyst  to  come  to 
terms  with  his  own  intuition  vis-a-vis  his  ethnographic  task.  Ethno- 
science  has  introduced  an  extent  of  rigor  into  field  observation;  what 
often  remains  to  be  clarified,  however,  is  the  step  that  leads  from  data 
gathering  to  the  use  of  such  data  in  analysis  and  finally  its  presentat¬ 
ion  to  the  reader.  I  therefore  wish  here  to  account  for  my  own  field 
research  procedure  in  these  broadened  terms,  particularly  in  order  to 
make  it  clear  how  both  the  analysis  and  the  ethnographic  examples  in  this 
thesis  relate  to  my  field  observations. 

Four  types  of  discovery  procedures  were  required  to  do  the  field 
research  necessary  for  this  analysis.  While  conceived  of  in  terms  of 
stages  or  steps  appropriate  to  the  analytical  model,  in  actuality  a  good 
deal  of  overlap  occurred  between  them.  However,  the  conceptual 



separation  of  the  steps  served  as  a  procedural  guide  throughout  the 
research . 

The  first  two  steps  served  the  discovery  of  the  conceptual  framework 
for  both  Qawwali  music  and  context.  Because  of  the  very  different  nature 
of  musical  and  contextual  knowledge,  different  discovery  procedures  were 
called  for.  However,  in  both  domains  I  followed  what  I  believe  to  be  the 
only  appropriate  approach  toward  the  discovery  of  my  informant's 
conceptualizations:  starting  the  inquiry  in  a  totally  open-ended  way  and 
thus  making  sure  not  to  impose  or  even  suggest  any  of  the  analyst's  own 
categories  or  concepts  (a  stance  pioneered  by  ethnoscience  and  success¬ 
fully  applied  by  e.g.  Conklin).  Needless  to  say,  this  approach  is  very 
time-consuming  and  resulted  in  much  repetition  and  topical  non-sequi turs 
which  later  required  much  extra  processing  and  cross-referencing  of  this 
interview  material  (while  also  exasperating  my  more  conventionally 
trained  assi stant- friend  who  was  ready  to  administer  questionnaires 
instead).  But  the  procedure  did  contribute  significantly  toward 
identifying  conceptual  priorities  and  boundaries  which  then  could 
gradually  be  defined  and  tested  in  a  more  direct  way. 

Step  1:  Learning  Qawwali  Music 

This  primary  task  was  carried  out  within  the  traditional  setting  for 
learning  from  a  professional  specialist  in  India:  The  student  ( shagi rd) 
who  is  formally  taught  by  one  master  in  return  for  allegiance,  made 
manifest  through  remuneration  and  personal  service.  For  me,  the  anomaly 
of  being  a  foreign  female  of  obvious  propserity  (evidenced  by  my  having 
time  and  money  for  this  research,  modest  outward  appearance  notwith- 





standing)  made  it  quite  acceptable  to  convert  the  requirement  for  service 
into  generous  financial  reward.  This,  and  my  safe  distance  from  the 
local  performing  circuit  also  allowed  me  to  deviate  from  my  allegiance  to 
one  teacher  by  taking  lessons  from  others.  Ultimately  it  all  boiled  down 
to  the  fact  that  traditional  Qawwali  performers  in  India  are  in  dire  need 
of  patrons  today. 

The  teaching  process  included  learning  musical  concepts  and 
performance  rules,  acquiring  performing  competence  and  an  actual,  though 
limited  repertoire  of  Qawwali  songs  which  I  used  to  test  the  musical 
rules  in  application.  To  avoid  imposing  my  suggestions  required  adopting 
the  stance  of  a  musical  novice.  Even  then,  my  position  as  a  patron 
resulted  at  times  in  my  "client"  not  wishing  to  answer  my  question  in  the 
negative;  only  gradually  did  I  learn  to  distinguish  such  an  accommodation 
from  a  true  confirmation  (e.g.  "yes,  this  is  done"--yeh  hota  hai--, 
meaning  standard  practice,  vs  "yes,  this  is  done  as  wel1"--yeh  bhT  hota 
hai-- ,  meaning  that  it  really  isn't  done  but  conceivably  could  be,  since 
I  raised  the  question). 

While  formal  musical  learning  was  to  be  the  first  step  in  the  field 
research,  large  areas  of  knowledge  turned  out  to  be  inaccessible  in  the 
initial  course  of  lessons.  Then  I  discovered  that  Qawwals  believe  in 
learning  by  ear  and  use  formal  teaching  mainly  to  help  out  unmusical 

Qawwal  youngsters.  This  meant  that  I  had  to  acquire  a  working  knowledge 
by  ear  (with  at  least  the  music  memorized),  of  the  standard  Qawwali 
repertoire,  in  order  to  ask  pertinent  questions  exploring  the  limits  of 
musical  conceptualizations.  Since  for  any  student  such  knowledge  comes 
only  from  repeated  listening  to  Qawwali  performances,  the  process  of 

!  '  ft  y  *  '  'I 





musical  learning  in  effect  continued  through  most  of  the  fieldwork 

Step  2:  Learning  the  Qawwali  Context 

This  knowledge  was  acquired  in  the  natural  course  of  interaction 
with  leadig  Sufis  at  Nizamuddin  Auliya  and  at  other  shrines  in  India  and 
Pakistan.  Initially,  such  contacts  were  always  established  by  my 
husband;  this  laid  the  foundation  for  a  culturally  appropriate  relation¬ 
ship  which  allowed  me  to  learn  from  the  standard  vantage  point  of  a 
spiritual  junior.  Sufis  are  well -versed  teachers  of  their  own  ideology, 
but  to  gain  access  to  the  more  intimate  aspects  of  Qawwali  listening  took 
a  special  rapport  with  particularly  understanding  Sufis  and  lay 
1  i steners . 

In  theory,  this  step  too  was  initial  to  the  analysis,  but  as  with 
Qawwali  music,  learning  to  understand  the  actual  structure  of  the  Qawwali 
occasion--especial  ly  its  experiential  aspect--requi  red  a  repertoire,  i.e. 
prior  acquaintance  with  the  entire  "map"  of  actual  Qawwali  events,  to 
serve  as  a  frame  of  reference  for  areas  not  covered  in  teaching.  Again, 
this  acquaintance  I  could  only  gain  over  time,  by  attending  many  diverse 
Qawwali  assemblies.  Written  materials,  used  and  recommended  by  my  Sufi 
informants,  also  helped  supplement  my  knowledge  of  the  Qawwali  occasion 
and  of  Sufism  in  general,  as  it  is  conceptualized  in  these  Sufi  circles. 

Step  3:  Observing  and  Recording  the  Performance  Process  of  Qawwali 

Since  attending  Qawwali  performance  events  was  started  quite 
immediately  in  order  to  complement  Steps  1  and  2  above,  the  total  number 




of  assemblies  observed  and  recorded  on  audiotape--compl ete  with 
observational  annotations--turned  out  to  be  considerable,  supplemented  in 
the  later  part  of  the  research  by  videotape  recording--which,  however, 
lack  extensive  annotations  since  I  felt  constrained  to  operate  the  camera 
myself.  Considering  that  Qawwal i  is  an  all -male  tradition,  I  was 
fortunate  to  have  had  the  chance  to  attend  all  but  one  very  specially 
hallowed  assembly  (which  was  video-recorded  by  my  husband).  Since, 
understandably,  I  was  often  posted  away  from  the  front  area,  it  was 
helpful  to  have  a  male  collaborator  (my  husband  or  assistant-friend) 
supplement  his  observations  from  the  front  row.  In  any  event,  observing 
a  Qawwal i  assembly  visually  is  always  a  compromise,  for  invariably  the 
performer  is  not  in  focus  if  all  the  audience  is,  or  else  some  listeners 
are  left  out  of  view.  Using  a  variety  of  vantage  points  to  observe  and 
record  assemblies  of  the  same  type  (see  Field  Data)  appeared  to  be  the 
best  solution  for  offsetting  inevitable  bias,  so  that  my  collection  of 
data  includes  several  groups  of  events  held  over  the  year  in  the  same 
locale,  under  the  same  leadership,  and  with  the  same  performers.  All  the 
same,  I  remained  keenly  aware  of  the  limitations  inherent  in  the  pursuit 
of  observing  behavior. 

In  substance,  the  field  observation  of  Qawwal i  performances 
basically  consisted  of  identifying  as  well  as  possible  all  that  went  on 
for  the  duration  of  the  event,  both  musically  and  behavioral ly.  Using 
both  musical  and  contextual  conceptualizations  as  a  frame  of  reference, 
along  with  relevant  socio-economic  factors,  I  later  checked  through  and 
clarified  particular  recorded  performances  with  Meraj  Ahmad,  my  Qawwal i 
teacher,  who  was  himself  a  participant  in  most  of  these  events.  This 


often  led  to  further  inquiry  and  verification  about  performing  strategies 
used  in  Qawwal i  events.  To  further  elucidate  the  process  of  listeners' 
responses,  I  gained  insight  from  talking  to  Sufis  and  particularly  to  a 
few  personally  interested  devotees  who  were  willing  to  explore  the  level 
of  behavior  even  where  it  did  not  conform  with  Sufi  concepts. 

Step  4:  Analysing  the  Performance  Process  of  Qawwal i 

This  final  and  most  crucial  step  was  carried  out  only  after  the 
field  research  had  been  completed  and  the  data  was  processed.  Consider¬ 
able  time  had  to  be  spent  first  in  organizing,  translating,  and  trans¬ 
cribing  the  many  hours  of  recorded  talk,  then  in  indexing  and  cross- 
referencing  them  by  what  amounts  to  a  vast  number  of  topics,  both 
musically  and  non-musical.  Performances  on  audio  and  video  tapes  also 
needed  to  be  transcribed,  indexed  and  cross-referenced  down  to  each 
individual  song.  At  another  level,  a  process  of  re-thinking  the  project 
led  me  to  consider  the  entire  Qawwal i  tradition  in  terms  of  the  political 
economy  underlying  it,  in  an  attempt  to  make  sense  of  the  human 
incongruities  I  found  disturbing.  This  reconsideration  expanded  and 
clarified  my  perspective  on  the  socio-economic  background  of  Qawwal i,  its 
relation  to  Sufi  ideology,  and,  most  crucially,  on  the  motivations  of 
Qawwal i  participants. 

The  analysis  of  the  performance  process  constitutes  an  interplay 
between  ethnographic  and  theoretical  thinking.  On  one  side  this  meant 
analysing  particular  performances  and  testing  particular  hypotheses  on 
performances  not  yet  analyses,  a  procedure  made  possible  by  the  vast 
amount  of  available  and  processed  ethnographic  data  (see  Data 

Collection).  On  the  other  side  this  interplay  entailed  generalizing  the 
results  and  making  sure  that  the  analytical  perspective  continued  to 
conform  to  the  theoretical  goal.  Finally,  the  ethnographic  section  was 
conceived  in  the  light  of  the  analysis  and  its  aim:  A  careful  selection 
from  the  many  performers,  songs  and  performances  analysed  was  put 
together  to  exemplifying  the  salient  features  of  Qawwali  and  their 
interplay  in  the  performance  process  while  also  illustrating  the  methods 
used  in  analysing  the  data.  The  intent  throughout  what  follows  is  to 
make  as  clear  as  possible  what  has  gone  into  the  total  theoretical  and 
ethnographic  effort. 




In  this  section  a  musicological  approach  is  used  to  analyse  Qawwali. 
In  terms  of  the  theoretical  argument  of  this  thesis  this  represents  a 
demonstration  of  how  far  the  musicological  approach  --  under  the  best  of 
conditions  (see  discussion  of  Indian  musicology  above)  --  can  take  the 
analyst  toward  describing  and  explaining  Qawwali  music.  The  result  will 
then  serve  as  the  take-off  point  for  the  analysis  of  Qawwali  in 
performance  which  is  to  be  undertaken  in  the  salient  third  section  of  the 
thesi s . 

In  terms  of  its  content,  this  musicological  analysis  deals  with  the 
sound  structure  of  Qawwali  by  setting  out  the  framework,  units  and  rules 
of  the  music.  The  aim  is  to  present  a  music  analysis  akin  to  a  musical 
gramar  in  such  terms  as  to  satisfy  two  requirements  essential  for 
achieving  the  ultimate  goal  of  this  project.  Once  is  accessibility  to 
tests  of  verification,  replication  and  comparison;  the  other  is 
useability  and  manipul abil ity  in  the  context  of  a  broader  analytical 
perspective  that  includes  non-musical  variables.  To  fulfill  these 
conditions,  I  consider  it  necessary  to  first  clarify  the  basic 
musicological  assumptions  and  then  to  set  out  the  analytical  model  with 
reference  to  the  focus  of  the  analysis.  This  particul arly ,  because  in 




ethnomusicol ogy  there  is  at  yet  no  framework  for  music  analysis  which  is 
generally  accepted  and  systematically  worked  out,  especially  one  that 
accommodates  input  from  indigenous  --  here:  Indian  —  musicology  in  a 
systematic  way.  What  follows,  therefore,  is  a  brief  outline  of  the 
particular  analytical  approach  developed  for,  and  used  in  the  analysis  of 
the  Qawwal i  musical  sound  structure. 

In  accord  with  the  logical  priority  of  the  analyst's  categories 
basic  musical  concepts  and  terminology  used  are  Western,  as  is  the  system 
of  staff  notation  that  serves  to  represent  musical  sound  visually. 

Indian  musical  concepts,  when  used,  are  noted  and  identified  as  such,  but 
rendered  in  terms  of  the  Western  framework.  This  is  quite  possible  since 
contemporary  writers  on  Indian  musicology  have  gone  far  toward  expressing 
Indian  musical  concepts  in  terms  of  Western  analytical  notions  (see 
Indian  Musicology  above,  p.  14  f f . ) .  My  primary  source  here  is  the  work 
of  Powers,  both  as  regards  expressing  Indian  musical  concepts  "in 
translation"  and  as  to  the  use  of  certain  linguistic  analogies  for  the 
purpose  of  relating  those  concepts  systematically. 

The  analytical  framework  consists  of  a  set  of  four  musical 
parameters  derived  from  Western  music  theory:  pitch,  duration,  formal 
structure  and  acoustic  articulation.  This  last  parameter  approximates 
what  is  more  conventionally  termed  "performance  style";  the  term 
"acoustic  articulation"  is  chosen  to  clearly  set  apart  those  features  of 
performance  style  which  are  connected  to  the  musical  sound  system,  as 
against  other,  nonmusical  aspects  of  performance  presentation. 

Standard  musicol ogical  and  ethnomusicol ogical  usage  provide  an 
adequate  basis  for  defining  all  four  parameters  (Nettl,  1964,  Asch, 




1972).  But  to  apply  them  in  analysis  requires  in  addition  a 
clarification  as  to  how  these  parameters  are  related  to  each  other  in  the 
analytical  framework. 

Of  the  four  parameters,  pitch  and  duration  are  the  primary 
dimensions  in  music  which  account  for  melody  and  rhythm  respectively,  but 
also  in  complement,  since  music  consists  of  sound  in  time.  Features  of 
formal  structure,  as  well,  can  be  reduced  to  pitch  and  durational 
elements,  but  formal  structure  nevertheless  requires  to  be  dealt  with  at 
a  distinct  level  of  analysis.  Acoustic  presentation,  including  mainly 
features  of  performance  style  and  ensemble,  is  less  immediately  related 
to  the  other  parameters,  but  often  contains  identifying  characteri sties 
salient  to  the  musical  idiom  (see  below). 

The  investigation  of  music  in  terms  of  its  components  requires  the 
conceptual  separation  of  pitch  and  durational  elements,  since  every 
musical  event  has  a  measurable  pitch  frequency  and  duration.  For  this 
purpose  the  analytical  framework  provides  a  grid  for  analysing  musical 
sound  el ements  in  terms  of  pitch  and  duration,  in  the  sense  laid  out  by 
Asch  in  his  analysis  of  Slavey  Music  (Asch  1972:  95-117).  In  addition, 
this  framework  must  also  serve  the  analysis  of  the  organizing  principles 
that  govern  those  sound  elements,  for  if  music  is  organized  sound,  it  is 
the  principles  of  musical  organization  that  render  the  elements  intel¬ 
ligible.  Indeed,  these  organizing  principles,  once  identified,  may 
provide  a  key  to  test  the  very  isolation  or  definition  of  those  elements 
or  "minimal  units"  of  the  music  in  question.  The  application  of  this 
tenet  to  Indian  art  music  by  Powers  (1958)  is  relevant  to  the  present 
analysis  notwithstanding  the  specific  differences  between  the  musical 

idioms  in  question.  In  accordance  with  these  premises  I  propose  to  deal 
with  pitch  duration,  and  form  by  establishing  for  each  first  the  frame  of 
reference  and  the  units  of  organization,  and  then  the  principles  of 
structuring  that  are  applied  to  those  units  within  their  frame  of 
reference.  The  resulting  analysis  of  each  parameter  of  Qawwali  music  is 
summarized  in  a  set  of  tables  (Table  2-5). 

Since  this  analysis  is  based  on  the  interpretation  of  indigenous 
music  theory,  it  is  also  necessary  to  present,  at  least  in  a  summary 
form,  the  ethnographic  evidence  used,  so  as  to  give  the  reader  better 
access  to  verification.  Accordingly,  the  Qawwali  musical  frame  of 
reference  --  as  arrived  at  by  this  analyst  --  is  outlined  in  a  set  of 
appendices  (Appendices  2-5)  which  may  be  read  in  conjunction  with  the 
tables.  In  addition,  musical  conceptions  used  by  performers  to 
articulate  about  Qawwali  are  discussed  in  the  text  where  relevant. 

The  proposed  analytical  procedure  provides  adequate  terms  to 
describe  the  musical  features  of  Qawwali.  However,  the  result  would  show 
Qawwali  music  differing  in  only  a  few  respects  from  a  number  of  other 
musical  idioms  of  North  India,  without  accounting  for  these  features  that 
identify  Qawwali  particularly.  The  fact  is  that  musical  structures  are 
not  unique  to  single  communities  within  the  North  Indian  culture  area. 
Rather,  they  are  general izedd  systems  of  sound  communication  thtat  are 
used  throughout  that  area,  often  transcending  linguistic,  regional, 
religious  or  ethnic  boundaries.  Within  that  common  musical  frame  of 
reference,  different  musical  idioms  exist  side  by  side,  serving  different 
purposes  in  different  contexts  of  performance.  To  the  extent  that  they 
share  that  common  musical  frame  of  reference,  these  idioms  may  be  said  to 



be  mutually  intelligible  in  terms  of  musical  sound  structure.  What 
distinguishes  them  from  one  another,  and  thus  identifies  any  single 
musical  idiom,  are  one  or  more  particular  musical  features  related  or 
associated  with  the  idiom's  particular  function  or  context  of  use  (for 
ex.  other  than  Qawwal i  see  Qureshi  1969,  1981).  Indeed,  these  may  be 
said  to  constitute  the  distinctive  features  of  such  a  musical  idiom. 

To  reflect  this  musical  reality  appropriately,  I  propose  that  an 
analysis  of  Qawwal i  --  or  of  any  musical  idiom  within  the  North  Indian 
music  area  --  should  consist  of  two  stages.  In  the  first  stage  the 
musicol ogical  model  identified  above  is  applied  so  as  to  place  the 
musical  structure  of  Qawwal i  within  its  frame  of  reference  of  North 
Indian  music.  The  second  stage  consists  of  identifying  thos  musical 
features  that  distinguish  Qawwal i  from  the  common  background.  This  means 
that  a  procedure  for  isolating  distinctive  of  characteri Stic  features  of 
Qawwal i  music  must  be  incorporated  into  the  music  analysis.  Such  a 
procedure  requires  that  the  musicol ogical  model  be  expanded  to 
accommodate  those  contextual  or  functional  "clues"  that  lead  to  the 
identification  of  such  musical  features.  This  is  particularly  important 
since  it  is  the  association  of  these  features  with  the  idiom's  fuction  or 
use  context  that  makes  them  distinctive  to  its  users. 

For  Qawwal i  it  is  the  religious  function  of  the  music  which  provides 
the  entire  key  to  its  distinctive  musical  features.  Hence,  to  achieve 
stage  two  in  the  music  analysis,  I  propose  to  link  the  religious  function 
of  Qawwal i  to  the  music  in  a  very  simple  linear  model:  The  function 
defined  in  terms  of  basic  components  generates  constraints  that  can  be 
seen  to  operate  upon  the  music  in  specific  ways,  resulting  in  musical 




features  which  thus  represent  that  function.  These  constitute  the 
distinctive  features  of  Qawwal i  musical  structure. 

Without  presenting  literal  evidence  in  the  form  of  appendices,  it 
must  be  added  here  that  the  ethnographic  source  for  the  identification  of 
distinctive  musical  features  on  the  basis  of  functional  constraints  is 
the  musical  knowledge  of  the  Qawwal i  performer.  This  is  not  to  say  that 
every  Qawwal  has  conceptualized  this  knowledge,  but  rather  that  it  is 
functionally  present  and  expressed  at  some  level  of  awareness,  depending 
both  on  how  much  training  a  performer  has  in  musical  theory  and  how  much 
exposure  to  Sufi  ideology. 

To  complete  this  analytical  step  it  reamins  now  to  put  stages  one 
and  two  together  by  incorporating  the  distinctive  features  into  the 
musicol ogical  model  of  four  parameters.  This  is  readily  achieved  by 
means  of  an  appropriate  categorization  through  which  the  distinctive 
features  are  identified  within  the  context  of  their  respective  parameters 
(see  Table  6).  Inserting  the  relevant  functional  constraints  represents 
an  expansion  of  the  traditional  model  for  musicol ogical  analysis,  but  an 
expansion  that  is  formal  rather  than  substantive  in  nature.  It  basically 
consists  of  no  more  than  formalizing  what  many  musicologists  and  ethno- 
musicol ogi sts  have  long  acknowledged:  the  fact  that  there  are  features 
of  musical  structure  which  are  directly  constrained  by  features  of  other 
structures  through  functional  association  --  whether  these  be  textual 
enchancement  and  arousal,  as  in  Qawwal i,  or  the  patterning  of  dance 
movements,  as  in  the  Slavey  drum  dance  (Asch  1973).  It  follows  that  a 
musical  grammer  should  allow  for  the  expression  of  input  from  such 
structures  so  that  this  dependence  can  be  accounted  for. 


•  .  V-  " 



However,  there  is  one  set  of  musical  features  which  even  this 
expanded  musicol ogical  analysis  cannot  accommmodate,  because  they  relate 
not  to  the  structure  of  Qawwali  music  but  to  the  way  that  structure  is 
operationalized  in  performance.  These  are  the  features  relating  to 
flexibility  of  structure.  While  this  analysis  can  generate  an  abstract 
model  of  Qawwali  formal  structure  in  terms  of  an  inventory  of  units  and 
rules  (see  Tables  7-12),  it  cannot  deal  with  their  application  in  the 
concrete.  It  is  at  this  point  that  the  musicol ogical  approach  has 
reached  its  limits,  for  it  simply  fails  to  account  for  the  way  Qawwali  is 
programmed  in  performance.  And  it  is  at  this  point,  in  the  anlysis, 
therefore,  that  a  new  approach  has  to  be  introduced  which  will  expand 
these  limits  so  as  to  allow  for  the  incorporation  of  the  performance 
process  of  Qawwali.  This  can  only  be  done  by  admitting  the  context  of 
performance  into  the  analysis. 

i  j 



A  Musical  Frame  of  Reference 

Qawwali  music  forms  part  of  a  larger  musical  context  characteri zed 
by  common  features  which  musically  aware  members  of  the  culture  take  for 
granted,  along  with  the  musical  associations  such  features  may  evoke.  I 
propose  to  begin  the  analysis  of  Qawwali  music  by  identifying  those 
features  for  Qawwali  and  at  the  same  time  define  its  place  within  the 
Indian  musical  context,  thus  establishing  the  musical  background  or  frame 
of  reference  for  the  Qawwali  idiom.  The  analytical  framework  developed 
for  this  purpose  is  clearly  related  to  the  indigenous  framework  of 
musical  categories,  as  presented  in  Appendix  2  (see  below),  but  modified 
to  serve  the  purpose  of  analysis. 

Qawwali  music  has  its  musical  roots  in  northern  India  and  forms  part 
of  the  Indian  musical  language  in  its  northern  version  --  as  opposed  to 
Southern  Indian  music  (see  Powers  1970  for  distinguishing  features). 

This  means  that  Qawwali  shares  with  all  other  North  Indian  music  certain 
basic  features  of  musical  organization  and  presentation,  as  follows: 

1)  a  tonal  framework  based  on  a  central  octave  of  seven  scale 
steps,  marked  by  tonal  centres  --  system  tonic  and  usually  fifth 
--  and  organized  into  a  variety  of  modal  scale  arrangements  that 
form  the  basis  for  monophonic  pitch  movement, 

2)  a  rhythmic  framework  of  musical  meters  organized  in  a  variety  of 
additive  arrangements , 





3)  a  formal  organization  into  performance  units  or  "compositions" 
with  tonal  and  metric  consistency  and  containing  repeatable 
sections  differentiated  by  register, 

4)  an  ensemble  structure  centered  upon  one  melodic  line,  with 
optional  melodic  and  rhythmic  support. 

Within  the  North  Indian  musical  language,  the  Qawwali  idiom  falls 
into  the  broad  category  of  "song",  i.e.  the  musical  setting  of  a  text. 

As  schematized  in  Table  2,  this  makes  Qawwali  distinct  from  classical  or 
rage  music  on  one  side  and  from  chanted  poetry  or  recitation  on  the 
other.  Classical  music,  on  one  extreme,  is  characterized  by  the  primacy 
of  music  over  text.  Thus  verbal  delivery  may  be  present,  as  is  the  case 
where  texts  are  used  for  singing;  but  they  may  also  be  absent,  as  is  the 
case  in  vocal  improvisation  and  in  all  instrumental  music.  Furthermore, 
instrumental  accompaniment  is  present  to  reinforce  the  musical  dimension 
of  rhythm  as  well  as  that  of  melody.  Finally,  extended  cyclical  forms 
allow  for  extensive  musical  development.  Chant,  on  the  other  extreme,  is 
characteri zed  by  the  primacy  of  the  word  over  its  musical  delivery; 
indeed,  spoken  declamation  may  be  substituted  for  recitation  with  a 
singing  voice.  Pure  music  in  the  form  of  instrumental  accompaniment  is 
entirely  absent.  The  formal  structure  closely  follows  the  structure  of 
the  text  which  normally  consists  of  strophic  poetry;  accordingly  chant 
formal  structure  is  strophic. 

The  central  category  of  "song"  falls  in  between  the  other  two, 
combining  elements  from  both  classical  music  and  recitation.  Together 
with  other  types  of  song,  Qawwali  thus  shows  the  following  musical 


TABLE  2: 









(Ka  rnataka) 



music  primary 
+_  verbal  delivery 

+  instrumental 

form  extended 

words  primary 
+  verbal  delivery 

+  instrumental 

form  strophic  or 

words  primary 
+_  musical  delivery 

-  instrumental 

form  strophic 




(filmi)  (lok 


feature  s 




According  to  Delhi  Qawwals 



(reciting)  (identification  by- 




na!tkhwanT  - 







(identification  by 





tar ana 

a  sthayT 









filmi  ghazal 


film!  qawwalT 


filmT  git 

(LOK  GlT) 

shad!  ka  gana 

(folk  song) 



(etc.  ) 


1)  Music  and  text  are  interlinked  and  fused  into  one  musical  whole 
in  which  the  text  is  the  primary  message  --  as  against  both  raga 
music,  where  the  music  is  primary  and  its  verbal  delivery 
entirely  subordinate  and  recitation,  where  the  text  is  primary 
and  its  musical  delivery  entirely  subordinate. 

2)  The  musical  form  may  be  strophic  or  cyclic,  depending  on  the 
presence  of  a  refrain,  but  it  always  represents  the  formal 
structure  of  the  text  --  as  opposed  to  the  extended  cyclical 
forms  of  raga  music. 

3)  The  musical  setting  includes  instrumental  accompaniment  --  as 
opposed  to  recitation  which  is  strictly  unaccompanied. 

Of  the  different  types  of  North  Indian  song,  Qawwal i  most  closely 
fits  under  the  rubric  of  "light  classical",  along  with  other  supralocal 
song  genres  that  are  the  preserve  of  specialist  performers.  This  means 
that  Qawwal i  shares  with  other  light  classical  songs  a  certain  musical 
flexibility  that  allows  for  musical  enhancement  by  means  of  techniques  of 
classical  music,  but  also  for  adaptations  from  popular  and  folk  song. 

It  is  within  this  musical  context  that  Qawwal i  may  now  be  analysed 
musically  by  establishing  the  framework  of  pitch,  duration,  formal 
structure  and  acoustic  presentation  for  this  musical  idiom. 


The  pitch  framework  of  Qawwal i  is  represented  by  Qawwal i  performers 
themselves  in  the  terminology  of  classical  music,  used  selectively  and 
with  modifications  to  express  the  musical  parti cul ari ties  of  Qawwal i. 

The  concepts  behind  the  classical  terminology  provide  the  basis  for  the 




present  analysis  which  is  summarized  on  Table  3.  The  way  performers 
conceive  of  pitch  and  melody  is  outlined  in  Appendix  3.  It  should  be 
mentioned  that  Qawwal s  rarely  use  this  pitch  framework  in  abstraction, 
except  as  a  teaching  tool,  but  they  are  cognizant  of  it;  indeed,  they 
consider  pitch  and  its  dimensions  as  the  very  basis  of  singing. 

The  fundamental  principle  of  pitch  organization  is  octave 
equivalence,  based  on  a  system  tonic  and  its  upper  octave.  The 
tonal  gamut  comprises  seven  pitch  classes  or  tones  denoted  by  the  same 
collective  term  used  for  pitch  in  general:  sur.  These  tones  or  scale 
degrees  are  named  as  in  classical  music  (i.e.  sa_,  re,  ga_,  etc.,  see  Table 
3),  and  represent  a  pitch  arrangement  quite  corresponding  to  that  of  the 
European  tonic  solfa  system  (i.e.  do,  re,  mi,  etc).  The  basic  point  of 
reference  for  the  scale  is  the  system  tonic,  significantly  named  "tone" 

( sur)  as  well,  i.e.  tone  par  excellence.  Two  more  points  of  reference, 
related  to  the  tonic  and  reinforcing  it,  complete  the  basis  outline  of 
the  pitch  framework:  the  upper  tonic,  named  "high  pitch"  ( tip) ,  and  the 
fifth  above  the  lower  tonic,  simply  named  "fifth"  (pancham) .  All  these 
three  pitches  can  also  serve  as  a  drone.  Each  of  the  remaining  five 
scale  degrees  can  occur  at  either  of  two  positions  --  lowered  ( utra)  and 
raised  (charha) .  The  resulting  gamut  is  thus  the  equivalent  of  the 
European  gamut  of  twelve  semitones.  Their  intonation  is  quite  adequately 
represented  by  the  tempered  gamut  of  the  harmonium  which  is  used 
constantly  to  reinforce  the  voices  in  Qawwal i  performance. 

In  their  standard  version,  as  used  e.g.  in  teaching  beginners,  the 
seven  scale  degrees  correspond  to  the  standdard  scale  arrangement  of 
North  Indian  classical  music  (bilaval  that)  which  is  equivalent  to  the 

I  !■ 


TABLE  3: 

Musical  Frame  of  Reference 

a)  Pitch  Framework  and  Units 

Tonal  centres 

Total  Gamut  Units 
7  degrees - standa rd 
arrangement  « 

lower  tetrachord  upper  tctrachord 

(niche)  (upar) 

tonic  fifth  upper  tonic 

(sur)  (pancham)  (tip) 

it  v*  — f13*  f 


5  alterable  degrees  I  II  III  IV  V  VI  VII  I  units-7 

Sa  Re  Ga  Ma  Pa  DhS  NT  sS 

b)  Scale  Arrangements 

Most  frequently  used  arrangements: 

classical  scale 

a  rranr.orncnt 


(standard  scale 
a  r  rangement 
for  Q) 

k  llama  j 


a  scending 

de  sc  ending 

*  W 


-+■  * 

frequency  of 
Q  usage 





*  also  used 



Ragas  favoured  in  Qawwali  settings:  bagcsbrl,  kafi,  shahana,  bahar, 


c)  Pitch  Movement 




tonal  circumscription  - 
motivic  structuring 

moving  in  high/low  register 
(upar /niche  bolna) 
moving  to/from  high/low  register 
(no  term) 

correspondence  between  registers,  also 
sequential  repetition  (no  term) 
moving  with  reference  to  a  tonal  centre 
(murk!,  palti) 

general  patterning  (phailao,  chalat  phirat) 
specific  patterning  (tan 
sargam  kl  ar) 

d)  Pitch  Constructs  (Melody) 

scale  arrangement  +  pitch  movement 
combination  of  motives 
motivic  consistency 

motive  s 

melodic  setting  (that,  bandish) 
Raga  setting 


According  to  Delhi  Qawwals 


a)  Basic  Concept 

sur  =  tone,  pitch  (besur=off  pitch) 

b)  Pitch  F  ramework  and  Units 



sur  (7) 



(registe  r) 

(tonal  centre) 



(mo  difica 

pitch  class) 


sur  /  tip 



(upper  tonic) 






















sur  (tonic) 



c)  Pitch  Movement 

registral:  upar  bolna  (move  in  the  upper  register) 

niche  bolna  (move  in  the  lower  register) 

motivic -general:  phailao  (melodic  expansion) 

chalat  phirat  (moving  around  melodically) 

motvic  -  specific :  tan  (passage) 

alap  (raga  expositions) 
sargam  (solfa  passage) 

sargam  ki  ar  (rapid  movement  "across"  gamut) 
murki,  palti  (melodic  turn) 

d)  Pitch  Constructs 


*  • 

ban  dish 
tar  z 

consistent,  systematized  melodic  pattern 
consistent  melodic  setting 
setting  of  tune 
(old)  tune 

(contemporary,  popular)  tune 




Western  major  scale.  But  Qawwal i  music  occurs  in  quite  a  variety  of 
scalar  combinations  very  much  like  those  of  the  "light"  or  "mixed"  ragas 
of  light  classical  music.  Most  Qawwal i  scales  are  diatonic.  A  majority 
of  scalar  arrangements  correspond  to  those  of  a  European  c,  d,  or  g 
mode,  but  very  often  include  both  versions  of  a  scale  degree  used 
alternatively,  depending  on  the  melodic  movement  (for  discussion  of  this 
principle  see  Jairazbhoy  1970:102  ff,  also  Qureshi  1981:23).  Certain 
ragas  of  classical  music  are  also  used  in  Qawwal i.  Table  3  lists  Qawwal i 
scale  arrangements  and  the  ragas  favoured  in  Qawwal i  melody  in  accordance 
with  their  frequency  of  occurence. 

Within  this  tonal  framework  pitch  movement  in  Qawwal i  is  oriented 
around  tonal  centre  and  register,  and  is  governed  by  principles  of 
directionality,  parallelism  and  tonal  circumscription.  The  concepts  of 
tonal  centre  and  register  have  both  been  well  established  by  the  Indian 
classical  theorists  as  organizing  principles  of  melodic  structure 
(defined  and  reviewed  by  Powers  1980:  II,  1  and  2,  also  in  25  and  29  f, 
and  1970:46),  and  Qawwal i  performers  recognize  them  to  a  degree,  though 
without  abstracting  them.  The  concept  of  tonal  centre  arises  from  the 
basic  conception  of  a  pitch  framework  with  fixed  points  of  reference 
which  in  Qawwal i  music  are  a  tonic,  upper  tonic  and  fifth.  The  concept 
of  register  for  Qawwal i  is  closely  related  to  the  concept  of  tonal 
centre,  in  that  a  register  may  be  considered  as  a  tonal  space  bounded  by 
or  defined  with  reference  to  one  or  more  tonal  centres.  This  means  that 
pitch  movement  within  a  register  entails  reference  to  a  tonal  centre  as 
well.  In  Qawwal i  music,  two  basic  registers  are  recognized  within  the 
basic  pitch  framework  of  the  octave:  the  lower  register  --  between  tonic 


*rj  fthtotw  b9slHty .o*t  3-ib  wi'e't  *f  qg^lj  ;r&tiR  rfaww*0  fll  .  ff$* 

and  fifth  and  the  higher  register  --  between  fifth  and  upper  tonic. 
Qawwal s  simply  term  them  "low"  ( nTche)  and  "high"  (upar)  respectively. 
The  reference  point  for  the  lower  register  is  the  tonic;  accordingly, 
pitch  movement  in  this  register  may  also  extend  to  pitches  below  the 
tonic  (ex.  5:  344,  Section  A).  The  reference  point  for  the  higher 

register  may  be  either  the  upper  tonic  or  the  fifth;  accordingly,  pitch 
movement  for  fifth  reference  may  include  pitches  below  the  fifth  (ex.  5: 
344,  Section  B),  while  pitch  movement  for  upper  tonic  reference  may 
extend  into  the  octave  above  (ex.  1:  324,  Section  B) . 

In  addition  to  this  primary  framework  of  tonal  centre  and  register, 
a  common  secondary  point  of  reference  for  pitch  movement  is  the  third 
above  the  tonic,  functioning  as  tonal  focus  between  tonic  and  fifth 
without  changing  the  tetrachordal  basis  of  the  registers  (ex.  6:349). 
Much  less  common  is  the  presence  of  a  raga-like  framework  with  secondary 
tonal  centres  that  impose  different  registers  as  well  (ex.  4:340). 

Among  principles  of  pitch  movement,  directionality  in  Qawwal i  stand 
in  direct  reference  to  the  concept  of  register  and  quite  corresponds  to 
classifications  of  directional  movement  found  in  Indian  classical  theory 
(summarized  by  Powers  ms  p.  26,  28  ff  and  1980:  III  ff ) .  Thus 
directional  pitch  movement  either  rising  or  falling,  principally  serves 
the  purpose  of  moving  from  one  register  to  another  (ex.  2:329). 

Parallelism  generally  takes  place  within  the  registral  frame  of 
reference  as  well,  taking  the  form  of  tetrachordal  correspondence 
(ex. 6:349).  It  can  also  occur  as  sequential  repetition,  expecially  in 
tunes  derived  from  popular  music  (ex.  7:355,  8:356). 

Tonal  circumscription,  finally,  is  a  principle  of  pitch  movement 

*  '  •  '  ''  ® '  1  H  Jl  •  ■  l 

denoting  melodic  motion  around  a  single  tone  by  the  use  of  neighbouring 
tones.  It  is  closely  related  to  the  concept  of  tonal  centre,  for  it 
generally  represents  pitch  movement  circumscribing  a  tonal  centre  (ex. 
6:349,  2:329).  When  occurring  in  the  telescoped  form  of  a  deliberate 
melodic  ornamentation  Qawwals  identify  it  by  one  of  the  standard  musical 
terms  of  melodic  "turn"  (murkT  or  paltT,  ex.  2:330). 

The  application  of  all  these  principles  within  the  given  pitch 
framework  results  in  what  could  be  called  the  building  blocks  or  units  of 
Qawwali  melody:  pitch  sequences  or  motives  set  within  a  definite  tonal 
framework  whose  individual  pitches  are  ordered  in  accordance  with  the 
above  principles  of  pitch  movement.  Traditional  Qawwali  melody  consists 
of  combinations  of  such  pitch  sequences  or  motives.  Qawwali  performers 
term  such  entities  "melodic  setting"  or  "tune"  (fhat,  bandi sh ,  see 
Appendix  3).  If  there  is  complete  consistence  between  the  motives  of  one 
such  entity,  and  if  melodic  patterning  is  governing  the  use  of  the  entire 
gamut,  then  the  result  is  a  raga-like  melody.  Qawwali  boasts  of  a  number 
of  such  melodic  settings,  some  identified  with  specific  raga  names, 
either  of  classical  music  (e.g.  the  famous  BakhubT  in  raga  shahana--see 
p.  131  below--,  or  the  Basant  song  Phul  rahT  sarson--see  p.  252  below--in 
raga  bahar)  or  of  a  specific  Qawwali  tradition  (ex.  4:336),  others 
recognizeabl e  as  classical  ragas  but  not  identified  (ex.  2:331). 

In  the  majority  of  Qawwali  tunes,  however,  motivic  consistency 
obtains  only  to  a  limited  degree,  resulting  in  a  wide  variety  of  song¬ 
like  tunes  with  an  individual  melodic  contour  but  some  basic  motivic 
traits  that  identify  the  "setting"  ( thal:)  and  delimit  the  scope  for 


melodic  improvisation  within  the  song  (ex.  2:329-30).  Most  traditional 
Qawwali  tunes  fall  into  this  broad  category,  as  do  tunes  adapted  from 
folksong  (ex.  5:341  ff)  or  popular  song. 

It  is  important  to  note,  as  a  final  point,  that  motivic  patterning, 
i.e.  patterning  purely  at  the  dimension  of  pitch,  is  minimal  in  a  great 
many  Qawwali  tunes  because  very  strong  durational  and  formal  patterning 
dominates  Qawwali  music,  as  the  analysis  of  those  parameters  will  show. 
In  fact,  special  "recitative"  or  declamatory  passages  may  be  inserted 
into  Qawwali  songs,  where  melodic  structuring  is  limited  to  orientation 
around  tonal  centres  and  motivic  patterning  is  largely  absent,  due  to 
other  structuring  priorities. 


Much  like  in  the  case  of  pitch,  Qawwali  performers  represent 
duration  in  terms  of  concepts  familar  from  classical  music,  though  some¬ 
times  using  divergent  terminology.  As  in  classical  usage,  it  is  the 
durational  framework  and  its  articulation  which  are  conceptualized  most 
systematical ly--predictably  so,  since  these  concepts  serve  as  teaching 
tools  for  drumming.  The  durational  organization  of  melody  is  conceived 
of  in  less  descriptive  terms,  or  else  is  expressed  through  non-musical 
association.  Appendix  4  presents  an  outline  of  performers'  durational 
concepts;  Table  4  summarizes  the  analytical  presentation  of  Qawwali 
duration . 

The  framework  of  durational  organization  is  founded  on  the  concept 
of  rhythm  ( 1  a i ) .  Rhythm  is  realized  in  terms  of  musical  meters  ( theka) 

which  are  composed  of  a  set  number  of  pulses  (matra)  organized  additively 

.  b  f"'-' 



TABLE  4: 

Musical  F  rame  of  Reference 

a)  Durational  F  ramework 

musical  meter  (theka) 

set  number  of  pulses  (matra) 

^  organized  into  groupings  (no  term) 

marked  by  stress  (za rb) 

t*-  through  clapping  (tal) 
and  drum  beat  (than) 

b)  Metric  Patterns 

Patterns  in  standard  use: 

pulses : 
stre  s  se  s : 

3  +  3 

( dadra  or 

3  +  4 
(  pashto. 
r upak  or 
c  hachar ) 



(kaharva  or 



i'"T  r  i  fin 
xux  x  x  x  x 

>  > 



Y  x  y  x  y  J  y 


i.  x  xxx 
>  > 



X  x!  x! 

>■  ^  r  k  y 


Or  x  y  X 

c)  Pitch  Duration 

primary  units 



=  one  pulse  long  J 
=  two  pulses  long  J 

subsidiary  units 

"extended  long"  =  several  pulses  long,  most  often  = 
"divided  short"  =  most  often  1/2  pulse  long  = 





According  to  Delhi  Qawwals 

a)  Basic  Concept 

lai  =  measured  rhythm 

b)  Durational  F  ramework  and  Units 

theka  meter 


matra  pulse 

zarb  stress 



sam  initial  stress 

c)  Metric  Patterns 

8  mat  re  (pulses) 
zarb  (stress) 
tal  (clap) 
thap  (drum  slap) 

6  mat  re  (pulses) 
zarb  (stress) 
tal  (clap) 
thap  (drum  slap) 

7  mat  re  (pul  s  e  s ) 
zarb  (stress) 
tal  (clap) 
thap  (drum  slap) 

d)  Pitch  Duration 

matra  =  pulse 
waqf  a  =  pause 

ki  ban  dish  =  (drum)  setting  of  mete 
bol  =  drum  stroke  syllable 

-  clap  on 

stre  s  s 

drum  s 

lap  on  stress 

(used  in 

longer  metric  settings) 

kaharva/qawwali  ka  theka 


2  3  4  5  6  7  8 









2  3  4  5  6 







pashto / rupak 


2  3  4  5  6  7 







into  groupings  with  an  equal  or  unequal  number  of  pulses.  Nearly  all 
Qawwal i  meters  consists  of  two  such  groupings,  each  of  which  is  marked 
with  an  initial  stress.  Thus  the  most  common  Qawwal i  meters  are  4+4 
(kaharva,  qawwal T  ka  fheka,  see  ex.  1,  2,  5,  6,  7),  3+3  (dadra) ,  and  3+4 
( pashto ,  rupak,  see  ex.  3,  4),  as  listed  in  Table  4  and  Appendix  4. 

This  rhythmic  framework  operates  in  Qawwal i  music  at  two  levels;  one 
as  a  purely  rhythmic  dimension  articulated  percussively  by  drumming  and 
clapping,  the  other  as  the  organizing  durational  principle  governing 
Qawwal i  melody,  both  as  regards  the  duration  of  individual  pitch  units 
and  their  organization  into  larger  pitch  sequences.  There  are  two 
standard  units  of  pitch  duration.  Using  terminology  borrowed  from 
European  music  theory,  one  may  be  called  the  "short",  equal  to  one  pulse 
(matra)  of  the  meter,  the  other  the  "long",  equal  to  two  pulses  in 
duration.  Additional  units  are  what  may  be  called  the  "extended  long", 
most  often  with  a  duration  of  four  pulses,  and  the  "divided  short", 
nearly  always  one  half  of  a  pulse  long. 

The  units  of  musical  duration  are  combined  with  reference  to  the 
metric  framework  on  the  basis  of  a  principle  that  includes  both 
"quantity"--!*  .e.  measured  duration  of  the  meter--and  "qual  ity" — i  .e.  the 
stress  points  marking  the  groupings  of  the  meter.  How  this  dual 
principle  of  durational  movement  is  applied  within  the  given  durational 
framework  is  based,  in  Qawwal i  on  non-musical  factors  to  be  discussed  in 
the  section  to  follow.  To  a  limited  extent,  however,  it  is  also  a 
function  of  purely  musical  factors,  mainly  indicating  regional  and  genre 
style  ( ang) .  Thus  tunes  from  the  two  principal  regions  of  the  Qawwal i 

tradition,  Uttar  Pradesh  and  Panjab,  can  be  distinguished  mainly  by  their 


rhythmic  setting  or  "gait"  ( chal ) .  A  predominantly  quantitative  emphasis 

characterizes  tunes  from  Utter  Pradesh  (ex.  5:341),  while  Panjabi  tunes 
tend  to  be  rhythmically  organized  according  to  quality  (ex.  7:352). 

Along  with  this  differentiation  in  the  thythmic  setting  of  the  tune  goes 
also  a  difference  in  the  rhythmic  setting  of  the  meter  as  articulated  on 
the  drum  (theke  kT  bandi sh) ,  which  in  Panjab  is  more  strongly  accentual 
than  in  Uttar  Pradesh. 

At  special  points  there  are  durational  arrangements  in  Qawwali 
melody  which  do  not  refer  to  a  metric  framework  at  all;  during 
"recitative"  inserts  and  introductory  verses  when  the  drummed  meter  is 
either  absent  (ex.  9:358)  or  reduced  to  a  background  pulsation,  to  be 
reimposed  upon  the  melody  at  resumption  of  the  regular  tone  (ex.  10:363, 
ex.  11:368). 

Formal  Structure 

The  framework  and  units  of  formal  organization  summarized  on  Table  5 
correspond  to  the  concepts  of  classical  Indian  music  and  are  expressed  by 
Qawwali  performers  in  analogous,  but  somewhat  simplified  terminology,  as 
listed  in  Appendix  5. 

Formal  structure  covers  the  larger  dimension  of  Qawwali  musical 
organization  and  relates  to  melody  and  rhythm  at  a  higher  level  level  of 
inclusion.  Indeed  it  is  the  constructs  of  pitch  and  duration  which  are 
the  constituent  elements  of  formal  structure.  In  Qawwali  music,  as  in 
North  Indian  classical  music,  units  of  formal  structure  are 
conceptualized  in  terms  of  melodic  rather  than  rhythmic  constructs. 
Accordingly,  a  formal  unit  may  be  defined  as  consisting  musically  of  a 

6;.  '''  ^ 

*'  l 

TABLE  5: 

Musical  F  rame  of  Reference 

a)  F  ramework  and  Units 

Framework:  Item  of  Performance  =  multiple  of  tune  (dhun,  tar z) 


Tune  (dhun.  tar z)  =  minimal  sequence  of  two  comple¬ 

mentary  sections .  in  basic 
ABA  arrangement. 

Units:  Sections  =  A  section  (a  sthayi.  also  mukhra) 

-with  lower  register  and  tonic 

B  section  (antara) 

-with  upper  register  and 
upper  tonic  or  fifth  emphasis. 

Ae  section  (no  term) 

-  extension  of  A  section. 

B  section  (no  term  or  antara) 

-  extension  of  B  section 

b)  Principles  of  Formal  Structuring 
to  repeat  sections  (dohr ana) 

to  establish  registral  contrast  (upar  bolna,  niche  bolna) 
to  connect  by  directional  movement  (no  term) 



According  to  Delhi  Qawwals 

a)  F  ramework  and  Units 


piece,  song 

tar  z 


tune,  musical  setting  of  song 

asthayi  lowe r -pitched,  concluding  or  "staying" 

antara  higher-pitched,  initial  or  "intermittent 

b)  Principles  of  Construction 



reiteration,  repetition 
incessant  repetition 

upar  bolna 
niche  bolna 

high-pitched  exposition 
low-pitched  exposition 

c)  Basic  Formal  Scheme 

r_  __ 


antara  asthayi 

'  section 

number  of  melodic  constructs,  i.e.  motives.  At  the  same  time,  formal 
units  are  always  subject  to  the  durational  constraint  of  rhythmic 
constructs,  i.e.  a  meter.  Finally,  while  dealing  here  with  formal 
structure  in  purely  musical  terms,  it  must  be  noted  that  Qawwali  formal 
structure  is  dependent  on  textual  structure  in  a  more  fundamental  way 
than  either  melody  or  rhythm,  since  its  very  framework,  the  Qawwali  song, 
is  defined  by  the  textual  unit  of  performance,  the  poem  (see  Appendix 
7-11  below). 

Musically,  the,  formal  organization  is  conceived  of  within  the 
framework  of  what  may  be  called  the  unit  or  item  of  performance  bounded 
by  silence,  i.e.  the  song  or,  as  performers  call  it,  the  "piece"  or 
"item"  ( chTz,  a  term  held  in  common  with  classical  music).  Identified  by 
a  consistent  tonal  organizational  and  durational  pattern,  the  item  of 
performance  musically  consists  of  a  "setting"  or  "tune"  ( tarz ,  dhun) . 
Melodically  a  setting  is  composed  of  several,  usually  different,  motives 
and  corresponds  to  the  "melodic  setting"  discussed  above  (p.  46). 
Rhythmically,  it  consists  of  several  rounds  of  a  metric  pattern 
(see  p.  47).  Within  one  item  of  performance  the  setting  is  stated  at 
least  once,  but  more  usually  it  is  repeated  a  number  of  times. 

Within  the  framework  of  the  musical  setting  there  is  a  structuring 
into  two  complementary  sections  which,  too,  are  repeatable.  These  basic 
units  of  formal  organization  are  characterized  by  registral  pitch 
emphasis:  The  first  and  principal  section  establishes  tonic  and  tonality 
in  the  form  of  the  main  "burden"  of  the  item  or  song,  by  moving  mainly  in 
the  lower  part  of  the  octave.  The  second,  complementary  section 
establishes  a  tonal  center  above  the  tonic,  usually  the  upper  tonic  or 


else  the  fifth,  by  moving  mainly  in  the  upper  part  of  the  octave.  As  in 
Indian  classical  music,  the  first  part  is  called  "permanent"  or  "staying" 
(asthayT) ,  the  second  "intermittent"  or  "intervening"  (antara) .  The  two 
sections  have  a  musical  connotation  of  complementarity:  The  asthayT 
representing  the  stability  associated  with  the  base  portion  of  the  tonal 
system  and  thus  suggesting  recurrence  or  conclusion,  while  the  antara 
suggests  an  intermittent  excursion  into  the  upper  reaches  of  the  tonal 
gamut  (all  exs.).  In  addition  to  these  two  essential  units  there  may  be 
sections  which  can  be  broadly  classed  as  extensions  of  either  asthayT  or 
antara ,  moving  in  their  respective  registers  and  expanding  or  completing 
their  respective  melodic  material  (ex.  1:324,  ex.  3:334).  Performers  do 
not  name  these  extensions  separately. 

The  registral  contrast  between  sections,  in  Qawwali  as  in  other 
North  Indian  song  forms,  may  be  complemented  by  parallelism  between 
sections.  This  takes  the  form  of  melodic  and  rhythmic  equivalence  and 
occurs  most  often  in  the  final  portion  of  two  sections  (ex.  2:329,  ex. 
4:340,  ex.  6:349). 

The  combination  of  these  structural  units  or  sections  is  governed  by 
three  musical  principles  of  formal  construction.  The  first  one, 
fundamental  to  all  formal  structuring,  is  repetition  and  takes  the  form 
of  simple  reiteration  (dohrana  ,  multiple  repetition  ( takrar)  and  recur¬ 
rence  (no  term).  The  second  one  is  the  establishment  of  registral 
contrast  between  higher  and  lower  units  ( upar ,  bol na ,  nTche ,  bol ha) , 
based  on  the  recognized  musical  connotation  of  higher  register  with 
initial  or  intervening  statement  (i.e  antara) ,  and  of  lower  register  with 

concluding  statement  (i.e.  asthayT) .  The  third  one  is  the  connection  of 

units  by  means  of  directional  pitch  movement.  It  is  based  on  the 
connotation--derived  directly  from  that  of  registral ity--that  descending 
pitch  movement  signals  a  low  pitch  register  and  ascending  pitch  movement 
a  high  pitch  register.  Directional  movement  occurs  as  a  melodic 
adjustment  between  one  formal  unit  and  the  next  one.  Operative  at 
endings  as  well  as  at  beginnings  of  structural  units  or  sections  in  a 
song,  this  principle  most  commonly  takes  the  form  of  alternative  endings 
used  to  indicate  the  pitch  register  of  the  unit  that  is  to  follow, 
whether  that  be  the  next  unit  in  sequence  or  the  same  unit  repeated. 

Formal  structuring  within  the  framework  of  a  Qawwali  item  or  song, 
then,  works  as  follows:  the  units  of  formal  structure,  i.e.  the 
sections--pri ncipal ly  asthayT  and  antara  and  their  extensions--are 
characterized  and  distinguished  by  registral  contrast,  established  and 
identified  by  repetition,  and  connected  by  directional  melodic  movement. 
All  three  are  standard  structuring  principles  of  North  Indian  music,  but 
unlike  the  first  two,  the  principle  of  directional  pitch  movement  is  not 
generally  identified  in  writings  on  Indian  music.  Nor  indeed  do  Qawwali 
pereformers  themselves  abstract  it  verbally,  even  though  it  is  clearly  a 
prominent  feature  of  formal  structuring  Qawwali  music. 

The  application  of  these  principles,  as  well  as  the  sequencing  of 
the  sections  within  one  song  setting  in  Qawwali  are  largely  determined  by 

non-musical  factors  to  be  discussed  in  the  following  section.  However, 
whatever  the  resulting  formal  structure,  it  invariably  moves  within  the 
confines  of  a  basic  formal  scheme  common  to  North  Indian  musical  genres: 

A  registral ly  low  section  is  established  as  a  meaningful  unit  by  its 
repeatability,  thus  defining  the  song's  musical  identity.  Then  a 




registrally  higher  section  is  also  established  by  repetition.  It  is 
prefigured  by  an  initial  rise  in  pitch  and  expands  the  melodic  setting 
initiated  by  the  first  section  by  adding  a  second  contrasting  portion  in 

a  new  register.  Descending  pitch  movement  to  the  end  of  the  second 
section  leads  back  into  the  original  or  first  section  which  is  the  one 
that  utlimately  concludes  the  song.  This  basis  cheme  of  low  section, 
high  section,  and  concluding  return  to  low  section  (exemplified  musically 
in  ex.  5:344)  may  be  called  a  loose  A-B-A  frame;  it  can  be  multiplied  by 
repetition  or  expanded  by  means  of  additional  sections,  but  the 
structuring  principle  remains  the  same. 

Acoustic  Articulation 

The  texture  of  Qawwali  music,  as  that  of  North  Indian  song  in 
general,  has  three  components.  The  melodic  line,  principal  channel  of 
musical  communication,  is  vocalized  by  one  or  more  singer.  The  musucal 
meter  is  articulated  on  the  dholak  drum;  finally,  the  pitch  outline  of 
the  melody  is  reinforced  on  the  portable  harmonium.  More  specific 
aspects  of  acoustic  articulation  are  linked  to  contextual  factors  to  be 
discussed  in  the  next  section.  These  include  the  structuring  of  the 
choral  ensemble,  vocal  delivery,  drum  articulation,  and  pacing. 

B  Distinctive  Features 

So  far  what  has  been  outlined  is  the  musical  framework  of  Qawwali, 
i.e.  what  is  musically  "given"  in  the  general  run  of  the  North  Indian 
song  tradition.  To  analyse  the  specific  idiom  of  Qawwali  music  requires 
an  understanding  of  the  functional  constraints  that  operate  upon  this 



generalized  musical  framework.  These  constraints  represent  various 
aspects  of  that  function  at  different  levels. 

The  first  step  in  this  stage  of  the  musical  analysis  is  to  define 
the  function  of  Qawwali  in  terms  of  its  components  and  then  to  isolate 
the  functional  constraints  as  they  relate  to  their  functional  basis. 

Then  it  can  be  shown  how  these  constraints  operate  on  the  musical 
framework,  and  how  they  are  manifested  in  specific  musical  traits,  the 
distinctive  features  of  Qawwali. 

The  function  of  Qawwali  music,  in  accordance  with  its  place  in  the 
ideology  of  Sufism  (see  Preface  p.  x  and  below  p.98  ff)  is  to  serve  the 
presentation  of  mystical  poetry  in  order  to  arouse  mystical  emotion  in  an 
assembly  of  listeners  with  diverse  and  changing  innter  needs.  Three 
basic  components  characterize  this  function:  1)  Arousing  2)  through 
texts  3)  diverse  listeners.  For  the  purpose  of  a  systematic 
presentation,  the  three  functional  components  need  to  be  isolated,  so 
that  each  can  be  linked  to  the  contextual  constraints  it  generates.  It 
can  then  be  shown  how  each  of  these  constraints  operate  on  the  musical 
framework  in  specific  musical  terms.  The  following  is  an  outline  of  this 
relationship  between  function,  contextual  constraints  and  musical  idiom; 
the  entire  pattern  is  schematized  in  table  form  on  Table  6. 

The  three  functional  components  of  Qawwali  may  be  isolated  in  the 
following  form: 

1.  Qawwali  serves  to  generate  spiritual  arousal 

2.  Qawwali  serves  to  convey  a  text  message  of  mystical  poetry 

3.  Qawwali  serves  to  satisfy  listeners'  diverse  and  changing 
spiritual  requirements . 



TABLE  6: 


Functional  Components  and  Requirements 

Musical  Execution: 

Distinctive  F eatures 

1.  Spiritual 

a)  Supply  strong  rhyth¬ 
mic  framework 

Duration : 

-meter  with  regular  and  frequent 
stress  repeat 

b)  Supply  strong  stress 

Acoustic  Presentation: 

-stress  intensified  by  handclaps 
and  open-hand  drumming 

2.  Text 

Priority  a)  Clarify  text  acous¬ 

(clarity  of  words) 

b)  Clarify  text  struc¬ 

(clarity  of  syntax) 

Clarify  text  seman¬ 

(clarity  of  content) 

Acoustic  Presentation: 

-high  volume  through  voice  quality 
-high  volume  through  group  reinforcement 
-sharp  enunciation 

-continuous  text  presentation  through 
group  alternation 


-poetic  meter  represented  in  durational 
arrangement  of  melody  (rhythm  of  tune) 
-poetic  meter  reflected  in  musical  meter 

Formal  Structure: 

-strophic  form  represented  in  musical 

-rhyme  scheme  represented  in  sectioning 
of  tune 


-units  of  strophe  and  poetic  meter 
represented  by  melodic  phrasing  and 

Visual  Presentation: 

-content  emphasis  through  gestures 

3.  Listenc  r  s 1 
R  e  q  ui  r  e  - 


a)  Provide  flexible 

structural  framework 
for  text  manipulation 

Formal  Structure: 

-all  kinds  of  text  units  represented  by 
musical  units 

-manipulability  of  all  musical  units 
within  overall  structure  through  direc¬ 
tional  movement,  manifested  principally 
in  alternative  endings  of  musical  units 
(alternative  text  options  indicated  by 
alternative  endings  of  musical  units) 

(  )  =  controversial,  nonstandard  feature 



From  each  of  these  three  basic  components  of  the  Qawwali  function  emanate 
specific  requirements  for  the  music  which  result  in  a  number  of  function- 
derived  musical  characteristics,  as  follows: 

1.  Spiritual  Arousal 

A  strong  rhythmic  framework  and  an  emphatic  stress  pattern  or  pulse 
( zarb)  --  often  compared  with  the  heartbeat  (also  called  zarb)  by  Qawwal s 
and  Sufis  alike  --  are  considered  essential  for  the  soul  to  become  moved 
( gal b  jarT  hojana) .  In  more  concrete  terms,  the  recurring  beat  is  to 
suggest  the  continuous  repetition  of  God's  name  (zikr) ,  and  to  guide  the 
Sufi's  movement  in  ecstatic  dancing  ( rags)  (see  p.  79  f.  below). 

Musically,  this  dual  requirement  of  a  strong  rhythmic  framework  and 
an  emphatic  stress  pattern  affects  both  duration  and  acoustic 
presentation.  Thus,  Qawwali  music  favours  a  durational  framework 
consisting  of  meters  with  simple  and  regular  durational  patterns,  clearly 
articulated  by  vigorous  and  recurring  stresses.  This  means  that  nearly 
all  Qawwali  meters  are  short  and  composed  of  two  simple  groupings, 
normally  of  equal  duration  (i.e.  the  3+3  dadra  or  the  4+4  kaharva  see 
above  p.  47  f  and  Table  4).  It  also  means  that  all  rhythmic  groupings 
begin  with  a  stressed  beat,  even  where  more  complicated  meters  are  used 
which  formally  exempt  some  groupings  from  stress  (e.g.  3+4  rupa~k,  4+4+4+4 
tintal  or  2+3+2+3  jhaptal ,  see  Table  4). 

The  acoustic  presentation  of  the  rhythmic  framework  is  characterized 
by  two  accentual  techniques  emphasizing  stressed  beats.  One  in  handclap¬ 
ping,  the  other  a  drumming  technique  that  uses  mainly  open-hand  or 
flat-hand  strokes  ( thap ,  thapiya) .  This  technique  is  compatible  with  the 




dholak,  the  standard  Qawwali  drum,  and  even  when  the  tabla  is  used. 

Qawwali  performers  play  it  with  flat  hand  strokes  (tMp  se),  for  the 
tabl a1 s  standard  fingered  technique  (chutkT  se)  is  considered  to  have  no 
effect  on  listeners.  Qawwals  agree  that  with  the  downbeat  of  the  drum 
the  listener's  heart  moves  in  silent  repetition  of  God's  name  ( zikr) ,  and 
his  foot  moves  in  the  dance  of  ecstasy  ( rags) .  Even  the  recurring  drum 
beat  alone  may  cause  ecstasy.  The  conception  also  underlies  the 
instrumental  prelude  which  is  based  on  the  riteration  of  a  zikr  rhythm 
(cf.  p . 1 03  and  ex.  8:356). 

One  other  durational  device  related  to  spiritual  arousal  is 
increasing  speed  of  delivery.  This  aspect  of  tempo  is  a  characteristic 
feature  for  classical  music  performance  as  well;  in  Qawwali  it 
specifically  serves  the  intensification  of  spiritual  emotion  and  is  used 
selectively  for  this  purpose.  Conversely,  a  decrease  in  speed  implies 
the  relaxation  of  intense  emotion,  especially  at  the  very  end  of  a  song. 

2.  Text  Priority 

The  music  must  above  all  serve  the  clarification  of  the  text,  both 
acoustically  by  making  it  clearly  audible,  and  structurally,  by  placing 
emphasis  on  the  salient  formal  features  of  the  poem.  Qawwals  themselves 
usually  refer  to  their  singing  as  "speaking"  ( bol na) ,  and  their  major 
concern  is  to  make  the  words  understood  (bol  samjhana),  both  individually 
and  as  poetic  constructs.  This  dual  constraint  fundamentally  affects  the 
musical  parameters  of  duration  and  formal  structure,  as  well  as  that  of 
acoustic  presentation. 

a)  The  acoustic  clarification  of  the  text  is  achieved  through 


establishing  clarity  as  well  as  volume.  Thus  all  singing  is  carried  out 
at  a  high  dynamic  level  and  with  strong,  even  exaggerated  consonant 
enunciation.  In  accordance  with  this  requirement,  the  ideal  voice  for  a 
Qawwal  is  considered  to  be  loud  or  full  (bharT  huT,  motT) ,  a  voice  with 
life  ( j an )  and  strength  ( ( zor) ,  rather  than  a  very  melodious  ( surTlT)  or 
modulated  voice  (klas  kT) .  Also  important  is  the  Qawwal 's  ability  to 
project  by  pronouncing  correctly  and  clearly.  For  additional  volume,  the 
solo  voice  is  reinforced  by  group  singing.  Both  clarity  and  volume  are 
achieved  in  combination  through  the  responsorial  ensemble  structure  in 
which  salient  statements  of  any  text  unit  are  made  by  the  soloist  and 
repeated  by  the  group.  Finally,  group  alternation  permits  continuous 
singing,  without  instrumental  interludes  which  keeps  up  what  is  primary 
in  Qawwal i,  an  uninterrupted  verbal  communication. 

b)  The  structural  clarification  of  the  text  takes  place  through  two 
formal  dimensions  of  Qawwal i  poetry,  poetic  meter  and  poetic  form. 

Qawwal s  use  the  rhythmic  pattern  of  the  poem  (wazan)  as  a  guide  to  select 
a  musical  setting  ( dhun ,  bandi sh ,  tarz  see  ex.  6:348).  Conversely,  they 
conceive  of  an  existing  tune  as  representing  a  particular  poetic  meter 
and  call  it  a  "pattern  tune"  (pattern  dhun  see  ex.  4:337  f)  for  poems 
with  the  same  meter.  Thus  the  Qawwal i  performer  is  aware  that  the 
musical  rhythm  emanates  from  the  poetic  meter  ( zamin) ,  is  set  musically 
into  a  tune  ( dhun) ,  and  put  within  a  rhythmic  framework  ( theka) 
appropriate  to  that  tune. 

Musically  the  poetic  meter  is  represented  by  the  rhythm  of  the  tune, 
both  at  the  level  of  the  durational  units  (long-short,  etc.),  and  the 
durational  framework  (musical  meter).  At  the  level  of  the  durational 



units  this  means  that  the  long-short  arrangement  of  the  poetic  meter  (see 
p.113  ff  and  Table  14  below)  forms  the  basis  for  the  long-short  arrange¬ 
ment  of  Qawwali  melody,  whether  in  a  literal  2:1  proportion  (i.e.  one 
long  =  two  short,  see  ex.  4:339,  5:343),  or  in  various  asymmetrical  ar¬ 
rangements  (i.e.  one  long  >  short.  Hence,  in  the  standard  rhythmic 
representation  of  Qawwali  verse  patterns  the  durational  unit  representing 

a  short  syllable  is  doubled  in  length  to  represent  a  long  syllable  (i.e. 

>  1 

if  u  =  #  ,  then  —  =#  .  see  ex.  4:339,  5:343,  ex.  6:348  -  traditional 
version).  Asymmetrical  arrangements  are  characteri zed  by  long  syllable 
units  of  varying  duration,  always  multiples  of  the  short  durational  unit 
(i .e.  if  u  =  $  ,  then  —  =  >  J  ,  see  ex.  2:329,  ex.  6:348  -  easy  version, 
ex.  7:354).  Alternatively,  stress  is  sometimes  used  to  make  a  long 
syllable  musically,  even  though  its  duration  may  be  short;  this  occurs 
mainly  at  the  beginning  of  the  verse  line  (see  ex.  2:329). 

At  the  level  of  the  durational  framework  the  musical  meter 
represents,  or  at  least  fits  the  structure  of  the  poetic  meter.  This 
means  that  the  long-short  pattern  of  the  poetic  meter  is  incorporated 
into  the  musical  framework  of  a  compatible  musical  meter  ( theka)  in  an 
arrangement  that  expresses  the  rhythmic  structure  of  the  verse,  whether 
literally  or  in  a  modified  form.  How  literally  the  poetic  meter  is 
realized  depends  mainly  on  the  degree  of  regularity  in  the  poetic  long- 
short  pattern,  but  considerations  of  musical  style  also  enter  (see  above 
p.58f ). 

As  for  poetic  form,  the  strophic  unit  of  the  poem  determines  the 
overall  formal  structure  of  the  musical  setting,  including  the  length, 
proportion  and  number  of  sections.  The  standard  formal  pattern  of 

■  uj 

asthayT  and  antara  sections  is  adapted  to  the  formal  rhyme  scheme  of  the 

poem.  Rhyming  lines,  which  are  normally  in  a  concluding  or  refrain 
position,  are  set  to  the  principal  section  of  the  tune,  the  lower-pitched 
asthayT,  which  musically  suggests  stability  and  conclusiveness  (see  above 
p.  63).  Non-rhyming  lines  which  normally  carry  the  poetic  statement 
initiating  a  verse,  are  set  to  the  intermittent  section  of  the  tune,  the 
higher-pitched  antara-  which  musically  suggests  an  excursion  into  new 
territory.  Verses  with  more  than  two  lines  are  set  to  varying  arrange¬ 
ments  of  these  two  sections  or  their  extensions,  but  the  final  line  of  a 
verse  is  always  an  asthayT,  and  the  semantically  most  significant 
preceding  1  i n e  —  initial  or  penul timate--is  always  an  antara.  The  very 
opening  line  of  a  Qawwali  poem  is  always  a  rhyming  or  refrain  line;  at 
the  same  time,  it  is  the  opening  statement  of  a  verse  requiring  a 
conclusion.  Musically,  this  duality  is  expressed  by  a  dual  setting, 
first  to  the  asthayT-- in  order  to  mark  the  line  as  a  rhyming  line  or 
refrain--,  and  then  to  the  antara--i n  order  to  mark  the  line  as  an 
opening  statement  which  is  to  be  followed  by  the  concluding  second  line 
(also  rhyming),  set  to  the  asthayT  tune  again.  Throughout,  the  musical 
contrast  marking  asthayT  and  antara  sections  serve  to  underscore  the 
complementarity  between  rhyming  and  non-rhyming  lines,  or  "statement"  and 
"answer" . 

As  a  final  point  it  should  be  added  that  form  and  meter  of  the  poem 
also  constrain  pitch  movement  of  Qawwali  music,  albeit  in  an  indirect 
way,  by  means  of  their  influence  on  musical  form  and  duration.  Thus  the 
formal  units  of  the  strophe  also  determine  the  length  of  the 
corresponding  musical  unit,  whether  that  be  an  asthayT,  an  antara-,  or 



their  extensions.  Overall  melodic  range  and  contour  are  affected;  in 
particular,  subdivisions  resulting  from  a  caesura  within  the  verse  line 
are  often  expressed  melodically  by  complementary  contouring  (ex.  6:349  - 
asthayi ) .  Furthermore,  melodic  movement  throughout  a  section  reflects 
rhythmic  characteristics  of  the  poetic  line  (ex.  2:329).  The  most 
obvious  musical  result  of  such  recurring  formal  features  is  melodic  and 
rhythmic  parallelism  occurring  between  sections  and  also  between  parts 
within  one  section.  Most  prominently,  it  serves  to  mark  the  points  of 
structure  between  verse  lines  through  what  amounts  to  a  musical  end  rhyme 
or  cadence"*"  (ex.  2:329,  4:340,  6:349).  Musically  less  literal  is  the 
parallelism  found  within  lines  to  mark  caesuras  or  even  metric  groupings 
by  means  of  sequential  or  rhythmic  repetition  or  tonal  imitation  (ex. 
4:340).  Ultimately,  these  features  are  functions,  once  again,  of  the 
interrelationship  between  the  three  musical  parameters  of  form,  melody 
and  rhythm. 

Performers  express  the  structural  dominance  of  the  poem  by  their 
very  vocabulary,  identifying  formal  structure  and  elements  of  Qawwal  i 
music  by  poetic  rather  than  musical  terms,  even  where  standard  musical 
terms  exist  and  are  known  to  them.  Thus  the  word  commonly  used  for  tune 
section  is  "verse  line"  (mi sra1) ,  and  the  last  or  refrain  section  of  a 
strope  is  called  "salient  word  phrase"  ( bol ) .  When  dealing  with  songs  in 
couplet  form,  Qawwal s  prefere  to  call  antara  and  astKayT  sections  "first 
line"  (mi  sra1  ula)  and  "second  line"  (sanT  mi  sra*).  They  even  refer  to 
singing  a  verse  line  to  one  or  the  other  tune  section  as  "saying  (it)  as 
first"  (ula  bolna)  and  "saying  (it)  as  second"  ( sanT  bol na) . 

c)  The  clarification  of  text  content  by  means  of  visual 

.■a.1  t\  --itj  gnfra 

presentation  needs  to  be  mentioned  here  although  it  is  marginal  to  the 
Qawwali  idiom  in  every  sense,  consisting  of  occasional  gestures  by  the 
lead  singer--mainly  raising  his  hand  to  point  or  wave  to  a  salient  text 
phrase.  Because  its  consistent  execution  runs  counter  to  the  spiritual 
function  of  Qawwali  (see  p . 1 60  ,  164  below),  its  practice  is  not 
standard;  rather  it  distinguishes  the  popular,  filmT  qawwlilT  (cf.  Table  2 
and  Appendix  2). 

3.  Listeners1  Requirements 

The  Qawwali  performer  must  be  able  to  repeat,  amplify,  rearrange  or 
even  omit  any  part  of  the  song  text  in  immediate  response  to  the  changing 
requirements  of  his  listeners.  This  presupposes  total  flexibility  of  the 
Qawwali  musical  structure,  both  as  to  the  structural  units  and  their 
manipulation.  Accordingly,  the  established  musical  sections  of  Qawwali 
song  structure--!' .e .  asthayT  and  antara  and  their  extensions--are  further 
divisbile  into  shorter  musical  units  in  order  to  accommodate  even  the 
shortest  meaningful  text  unit  that  may  require  to  be  isolated  and 
repeated.  Furthermore,  additional  musical  units  are  created  as  settings 
for  text  portions  that  may  need  to  be  inserted  as  well  as  for 
introductory  verses. 

Within  the  overall  framework  of  the  formal  musical  scheme  and  the 
durational  pattern  of  the  musical  meter  all  these  structural  units  are 
repeatabl e--both  by  single  reiteration  ( dohrana)  and  by  the  multiple 
repetition  supporting  intense  arousal  ( takra)--i nserteabl e,  and 
recombineabl e.  Such  musical  flexibility  implies  a  comprehensive 
application  of  the  structuring  principle  of  repetition  (see  above 


p.  63  ff ) .  Musically,  this  application  is  achieved  by  means  of  the  other 
structuring  principles,  registrality  and  directional  melodic  movement. 

As  already  stated  the  recognized  registral  connotation  of  high  pitch  with 
initial  statement  and  low  pitch  with  conclusion  underlies  the  musical 
setting  of  verse  lines  to  antara  and  asthayT  sections.  This  connotation 
is  extended  to  directional  melodic  movement,  for  ascending  pitch  movement 
signals  a  high  register  and  therefore  the  coming  of  an  initial  statement 
whereas  descending  pitch  movement  signals  a  low  register  and  therefore 
the  coming  of  a  concluding  statement.  On  the  basis  of  this  connotation 
directional  melodic  movement  is  used  in  Qawwali  music  not  only  to  connect 
structural  units  but  also  as  a  semantic  signalling  device  for  the 
structuring  of  these  units.  It  operates  most  prominently  in  the  form  of 
alternative  unit  endings  which  serve  "al 1 omorphical ly"  to  indicate  what 
type  of  text  unit  is  to  follow  (see  all  music  ex.). 

Alternative  endings,  in  essence,  function  much  like  first  and  second 
endings  in  Western  musical  form,  but  there  is  no  implication  of 
conclusion  for  either  ending.  In  its  standard  design  a  structural  unit 
of  Qawwali  music  ends  melodically  in  such  a  way  as  to  lead  naturally  to 
the  unit  next  in  sequence.  If,  instead,  a  repeat  of  the  same  unit — or 
the  insertion  of  a  different  unit--is  indicated,  the  melodic  ending  is 
then  modified  so  as  to  lead  back  to  the  beginning  of  that  unit--or  to 
that  of  the  new  unit--,  usually  by  means  of  a  change  in  pitch  direction. 
If  the  unit  to  be  repeated  or  inserted  and  the  one  next  in  sequence  begin 
at  similar  pitch  levels,  the  repeat  or  insertion  will  be  indicated  by  an 
upward  pitch  movement,  suggesting  more  intermittent  text  material, 
whereas  a  downward  pitch  movement  suggests  completion  of  the  statement. 


The  application  of  this  principle  of  directionality  extends  in 
Qawwali  to  the  connection  of  larger  units  of  text  structure,  particularly 
serving  to  integrate  inserted  or  introductory  verses  into  the  song 
proper.  Musically  rendered  in  a  declamatory  or  recitative  style,  such 
units  serve  in  to to  as  "statements"  to  be  "answered"  or  concluded  by  the 
succeeding  portion  of  the  song.  This  is  always  achieved  by  means  of  a 
descending  final  melody  to  signal  the  end  of  one  structural  unit  and  a 
lead-back  into  the  song  proper  (ex.  9 : 361 f ,  10:367,  11:370). 

In  short,  directional  movement  is  the  prime  syntactic  principle  of  the 
Qawwali  idiom.  Essentially,  it  is  a  function  of  the  capacity  for  unit 
manipulation  inherent  in  the  basic  Indian  approach  to  music,  allowing 
this  kind  of  music  to  be  flexibly  adapted  to  immediate  ad  hoc  event  in 
the  performance  context--for  Qawwali  music  these  events  consist  of  the 
expression  of  listener's  requirements . 

Qawwali  performers  articulate  about  the  units  and  rules  of  this 
structural  manipulation  in  terms  of  the  text,  as  they  do  with  other 
dimensions  of  musical  structure.  This  includes  structural  units  such  as 
inserted  verses,  called  "knot"  ( gi rah),  introductory  verses  called 
"quatrain"  ruba 1 T)  or  (Hindi)  "couplet"  ( doha) ,  verse  lines  (mi sra 1 ) 
short  text  phrases  called  "saying"  ( bol ) .  It  also  includes  the  manipu¬ 
lation  of  units,  such  as  repetition  ( dohrana ,  takar) ,  amplification 
( barhana) ,  and  ommission  ( chhorna)  --  all  these  terms  being  applicable 
primarily  to  text  units.  Of  musical  structuring  devices,  performers 
clearly  conceptualize  registrality  (see  above),  whereas  for  the  melodic 
connection  of  units  by  the  use  of  alternative  endings  or  directional 
movement  they  have  only  a  general  term:  "to  make  the  connection,  to 



harmonize  parts"  (mel  karna). 

Having,  completed  the  process  of  identifying  the  distinctive 
features  of  Qawwali  music  by  means  of  their  functional  association,  it 
now  remains  to  incorporate  these  features  into  the  structural  framework 
of  Qawwali  music  established  above.  This  means  inserting  each  feature  at 
the  appropriate  level  within  the  parameter  it  pertains  to,  along  with  the 
functional  constraint  that  generates  the  features,  for  the  way  the 
constraint  operates  is  the  key  to  the  feature  itself. 

In  terms  of  the  musical  grammar,  this  adds  within  each  musical 
parameter  certain  specific  features  which  are  subject  to  some  specific 
functional  constraint.  Some  of  these  constraints  are  operative  at  the 
fundamental  level  of  musical  structure,  i.e.  the  feature,  once  present  in 
the  musical  idiom,  is  not  modified  in  response  to  a  constraint  and 
therefore  the  constraint  is  not  required  in  the  grammar  once  it  has 
served  to  explain  the  initial  presence  of  the  feature  per  se.  However, 
where  functional  constraints  operate  at  the  level  of  variation  in  the 
structure  of  a  musical  feature,  i.e.  to  vary  the  feature  itself,  such 
variation  cannot  be  accounted  for  unless  the  constraint  is  included  in 
the  grammar.  This  applies  to  Qawwali  to  all  features  of  duration, 
structure  and  pitch.  The  constraints  for  nearly  all  of  these  pertain  to 
textual  structure.  Thus  the  Qawwali  grammar  would  simply  need  to 
include,  as  a  further  structural  feature,  the  relevant  variables  of  text 
structure--basical ly  consisting  of  poetic  meter  and  verse  form--on  which 
variation  within  each  musical  feature  depends. 

In  accordance  with  these  requirements ,  the  distinctive  features  of 




Qawwali  may  be  fitted  into  the  analysis  of  Qawwali  musical  structure, 
along  with  the  relevant  non-musical  features  that  constrain  them,  by 
incorporating  them  into  the  four  parameters  as  outlined  in  Tables  2-5 

C  Qawwali  Song  Model 

The  analysis  of  Qawwali  music  is  now  complete  in  terms  of  a 
systematic  inventory  of  units  and  rules,  i.e.  a  grammar  that  can  account 
for  Qawwali  musical  structure.  However,  to  render  this  grammar  opera¬ 
tional,  i.e.  potentially  capable  of  generating  Qawwali  music,  it  must 
also  provide  the  reader  with  a  blueprint  for  constructing  what 
constitutes  the  Qawwali  unit  of  performance,  i.e.  a  single  song.  For 

Qawwali  music  such  a  blueprint  exists  only  in  the  abstract,  since  in 
performance  Qawwali  song  is  by  definition  structured  to  serve  audience 
needs,  as  manifested  musically  in  its  features  of  structural  flexibility. 
However,  there  nevertheless  exists  what  may  best  be  termed  a  "roadmap" 

(to  borrow  a  popular  musician's  term)  for  the  formal  structure  of  a 
Qawwali  song,  based  simply  on  the  sequential  structure  of  the  song  text. 
It  is  therefore  possible  to  map  out,  as  an  abstraction,  a  minimal 
sequence  of  a  Qawwali  song  by  showing  the  music  in  its  structural 
relationship  with  the  text,  listing  all  possible  units  along  with  all 
possible  rules  of  combination.  The  entire  sequence  and  its  variable 
structuring  are  described  below  and  schematized  in  Tables  7-11,  while 
performers'  conceptions  utilized  for  this  schemati zation  are  summarized 
on  Appendix  7-11. 



t  ■ 

TABLE  7: 




Level  I:  Item 
of  performance 



sequence  of  verses  differing  -  sequence  of  identical  tunes, 

in  content,  identical  in  form, 
with  common  end  rhyme 

Level  II:  Largest 
repeat  unit 


statement  of  one  complete 
content  unit,  including 
"statement"  and  "answer", 
consistent  poetic  meter, 
fixed  verse  structure  is  se¬ 
quence  of  2-6  line s  (rhyming 
and  non-rhyming), 
most  prevalent  form  is  coup¬ 


complete  statement  of  musical 
setting  of  motivic  melody  within 
total  framework, 
consistent  musical  meter, 
standard  tune  structure  is  se¬ 
quence  2-5  sections  (differing 
in  register). 

most  prevalent  form  is  binary 
adaptation  of  three-part  frame. 

Level  III:  Standard 
repeat  unit 


distinguished  by  presence/ 
absence  of  rhyme, 
a  -  rhyming  line  (normally)  re¬ 
presents  concluding  "answer", 
except  for  opening  line  of  poem 
which  is  rhyming,  yet  repre¬ 
sents  opening  statement  (i.  e. 
precedes  conclusion), 
b  -  non-rhyming  line  (normally) 
represents  initial  or  inter¬ 
mittent  statement  (i.  e.  pre¬ 
cedes  conclusion). 

c  -  secondary  rhyming  line,  in 
some  verse  forms, 
in  standard  format  a  follows 
b,  except  for  opening  verse,  as 
in  couplet  form  aa/ba/ba/etc. 


distinguished  by  low/high  re¬ 
gister  and  tonal  centre. 

A  -  low-register  section  with 

tonic  reference,  represents 
"burden"  of  tune  as  well  as 
its  conclusion. 

B  -  high-register  section  with 

fifth  or  upper  tonic  reference, 
represents  intermittent 
portion  of  tune. 

Ae/Be  -  extensions  of  low-high 
register  section, 
in  standard  format  A  intro¬ 
duces  song  and  then  follows  B,  as 
in  prototype  form  ABA/BA/BA,  et 

Level  IV : 
repeat  unit 

(part  of  line) 

-  meaningful  content  unit  from 
half  line  to  single  word. 
al/a2  -  fir st/ second  half  of  line, 
ai/am/af  -  word  phrase/word  in 
position  of  line. 


(part  of  section) 

isolable  musical  unit,  from  half 
section  to  single  motive. 

A1/A2  -  first/second  half  of  section. 
Ai/Am/Af  -.motive  in  initial/ 

medial/final  position 
of  section. 

TABLE  8: 

Sequencing  Rules 

T  ext 


Principle  s 

-  complementarity  of  b_  and  a. 
lines  (i.  e.  b_  completed  by  a), 
on  basis  of  content  compati¬ 

-  repeatability  of  all  meaningful 
text  units. 

-  complementarity  between  B  and 
A  sections  (i.  e.  B  completed  by 
A)  on  basis  of  registral  contrast. 

-  repeatability  of  all  correspond¬ 
ing  musical  units. 

^integration  of  repeatable  song 
units  into  alternative  sequences 
by  means  of  musical  principle  of 

-  dir  ectional  melodic  adjustment 

(based  on  registral  connotation) 

>1  -  downward  movement,  suggests 
low  register,  i.  e.  conclusion 
and  advancement  to  next  unit 
according  to  standard  format, 
t  -  upward  movement,  suggests 
high  register,  i.  e.  recurrence 
or  repeat  of  unit  already  stated. 

alternate  integrative  device: 

W-  v/ord  call  (saint,  appelation),  -  raised  pitch  anticipates  high 

signals  alert,  suggesting  re-  register,  i.  e.  recurrence  or 

currence  or  repeat.  repeat. 

Musical  Application 

Directional  Melodic  Adjustment 

1)  Principal  Rule:  Ending  adjusted  melodically  (to  connect  with 

next  unit) 

B  standard  ending,  no  adjustment  -  signals  A,  hence 

sequence:  B  A 

Bt  upward  adjustment  of  ending  -  signals  B,  hence 

sequence:  BT  B 

2)  Modified  Principal  Rule:  Delayed  directional  adjustment 

-  B(T)  upward  adjustment  delayed  -  connects  with  B,  hence 

sequence:  B  tB 

3)  Secondary  Rule:  Word  call  to  raised  pitch 

Bw  word  call  along  with  raised  pitch- signals  B,  hence 

sequence : 

B  w  B 


Modified  Secondary  Rule:  Delayed  word  call  to  raised  pitch 

B^T  word  call  along  with  raised  pitch  delayed-signals  B; 

hence  sequence: 

B  wB 

:  1  . 

TABLE  9: 






Level  I:  Largest 
repeat  unit 


statement  component  in  context 
and  consistent  in  rhyme  scheme 
consisting  of  1  to  4  verses  (see 
definition  above), 
consistent  poetic  meter. 

fixed  verse  structure  and 
rhyme  scheme,  2-8  lines, 
most  prevalent  form  is  single 
or  double  couplet. 

complete  statement  of  musical 
setting  of  recitative  oriented  to 
tonal  centres  in  thin  tonal 

consistent  but  metrically  free 
devotional  arrangement,  no 
musical  meter  (though  may  play 

loosely  structured  recitative, 
2-4  sections. 

most  prevalent  form  is  lively 

4-L  p  — _ 

V  V  JL  l J  X  l -■  # 

Level  II:  Stan¬ 
dard  repeat  unit 


distinguished  by  initial /inter¬ 
mittent /final  position  rather  than 
presence/absence  of  rhyme, 
i  -  initial/intermittent  line. 

f  -  final  line,  connecting  ad¬ 
junct  unit  to  song  proper, 
p  -  penultimate  line. 


distinguished  by  stationary/ 

directional  pitch  movement. 

I  -  stationary  section  oriented 
to  one  to  three  intermediate 
tonal  centres. 

F  -  final  section,  descending 
from  high  register. 

P-  corresponding  section  estab¬ 
lishes  high  register  (optional 
only  in  units  four  or  more 
lines  long) 


TABLE  10: 

Sequencing  Rules 




repeatability  of  corresponding 
musical  units  (final  section  ex¬ 

variability  of  repeatable  actions, 
as  to  tonal  orientation  (in  ab¬ 
sence  of  registral  contrast. 
complementarity  of  recitative  and 
song  tunc  (i.  e.  final  recitative 
seption  completed  by  subsequent 
song  tune  section)  by  means  of 
registral  contrast. 

^integration  of  adjunct 
unit  with  song  by  means 
of  musical  principle  of 

Uy  -  directional  melodic  movement 
(based  on  registral  connotation) 

-  downward  movement  suggests 
low  register,  i.  e.  conclusion 
and  advancement  to  next  unit, 
i.  e.  song 

-  repeatability  of  text  units, 
(except  for  final  line). 

complementarity  of  adjunct  unit 
and  song  proper  (i.  e.  insert/ 
introduction  completed  by  sub¬ 
sequent  song  text  unit)  on  basis 
of  content  compatibility.' 

Musical  Application 

Directional  Melodic  Movement 

1)  Principal  Rule:  Directional  melodic  movement  from  high  register 

F  -  final  section  contains  downward  movement  from  register  higher  than  preceding 

-  signals  conclusion,  hence  sequence  F  (recitative)  A  or  B  (song  tune). 

2)  Modified  Principle  Rule:  Directional  melodic  movement  from  pre-established  high  register 

P  -  penultimate  section  establishes  higher  register  than  preceding  sections. 

F  -  final  section  contains  downward  movement  from  high  register, 
signals  conclusion  as  above. 



TABLE  11: 






(-  implied  only:  "Allahu"  formula.  )  -  durational  pattern  of  tune  anapaestic. 

musical  meter  binary,, 

-  melodic  frame  with  sequential 
patterning  within  variable  tonal 

•  -  initial  rise  and  final  descent. 

gradual  speed  increase  and  final 
slowdown  (optional). 


According  to  Delhi  Qawwals 



Sequencing  Principle 

naghma  ('melody')  bajana  ('to  play') 

=  instrumental  prelude,  usually  with 
Zikr  rhythm  of  Allahu 

-  kaharva  (4/8)  as  theka  (meter)  thap  se  lag  ana  (present  it 

with  open  hand  strokes) 

F  ar  si-Urdu: 
r ub a ' i  ('quatrain') 

=  introductory  verse 

-  also  doha  (Hindi) 

-  theka  (meter )/ rhythm  absent 

-  dhun  ('tune')  absent,  only 

zara  sa  sur  men  ('more  or  less 
within  pitch') 

parhna  ('to  recite') 
kholna  ('to  open') 

=  to  announce  the  song 

chlz  ('item' ) 

=  item  of  performance,  song  proper 

-  also  commonly  ghazal  (Farsi- 

Urdu:  Poem  of  couplets)^  see 
ch.  on  texts 

-  also  rarely  thumri  (Hindi:light- 

classical  song)=  see  Appendix  I) 

-  ta r z / dhun / that  (tune  setting)  pre sent 

-  theka  (meter)  present 

parhna  ('to  recite') 
sun  an  a  ('to  perform') 
make  heard 

F  ar  si-Urdu: 
she r  ('couplet') 

-  also:  band  ('verse', over  2  lines  long) 

kahna  ('to  say') 
parhna  ('to  recite') 

mi s r a*  ('line') 

-  ula,  pahla  ('first') 

=  non -rhyming  line 

-  sani.  dusra  ('second') 

=  rhyming  line 

-  also:  mukhra  ('face')  or  bol  ('  state 

=  refrain  line  ment') 

kahna  ('to  say') 
bo  In  a  ('to  speak') 

kholna  ('to  open') 

=  to  "set  up"  the  2nd  lind 
kholna  ('to  open') 

=  to  "set  up"  the  refrain 

bol  ('statement') 

=  phrase  within  line 

kahna  ('to  say') 


The  Song,  Unit  of  Performance  (cf.  ex.  1-7) 

1.  A  Qawwali  song  comprises  of  text  unit--a  poem--,  and  a  musical 
unit--a  tune.  The  poem  consists  of  a  number  of  verses,  identical  in 
structure,  while  the  tune  is  a  musical  setting  repeated  to  the  words  of 
each  verse.  Qawwali  is  thus  a  strophic  song. 

2.  The  largest  repeatable  unit  of  a  song  is  the  verse  set  to  one 
statement  of  the  tune.  The  verse  comprises  from  two  to  six  verse 
lines--most  often  two,  as  in  the  ghazal  (see  below  p.110  and  Table 
13)--and  is  governed  by  a  consistent  rhyme  scheme  based  on 
complementarity  between  non-rhyming  lines  with  initial  or  intermediary 
statements  and  rhyming  or  refrain  lines  with  concluding  statements.  A 
consistent  poetic  meter  is  based  on  a  variety  of  long-short  arrangements 
repeated  with  each  verse  line.  The  tune  is  a  melodic  settting 
constituted  motivically  within  a  fixed  tonal  framework.  Its  formal 
structure  is  adapted  to  the  verse  structure  and  consists  of  at  least  two 
registrally  contrasting  sections  that  correspond  with  the  non-rhyming  and 
rhyming  lines  of  the  text.  Its  durational  arrangement  is  derived  from 
the  poetic  meter  and  is  set  within  a  musical  meter  articulated  on  the 
drum  throughout  the  song. 

3.  At  the  next  level  of  structure  the  verse  is  divided  into 
repeatable  text  lines  set  to  tune  sections.  Rhyming  lines  are  set  to  the 
principal  tune  section  ( asthayT)  which  is  characterized  by  a  low  pitch 
register  and  orientation  to  the  lower  tonic.  Non-rhyming  lines  are  sung 
to  the  contrasting  tune  section  ( antara)  which  is  characterized  by  a  high 
pitch  register  and  orientation  to  the  fifth  or  upper  tonic,  and  which 
melodically  requires  to  be  completed  by  the  principal  section.  Where  a 




rhyming  line  is  in  an  initial  rather  than  a  concluding  position  within 
the  verse,  as  is  the  case  with  every  opening  line  of  a  poem,  it  is  set 
first  to  an  asthayT,  then  to  an  antara  tune,  indicating  the  impending 
conclusion  that  is  to  follow  in  the  form  of  another  asthayT.  Verses  with 
more  than  two  lines  may  contain  additional  tune  sections,  extensions  of 
the  asthayT  and  particularly  of  the  antara  tune. 

4.  Within  each  verse  line,  any  meaningful  text  phrase  can  be 
isolated  and  repeated,  from  a  half  line  down  to  a  single  word. 

Musically,  this  implies  the  isolation  and  repetition  of  any  part  or 
motive  within  a  tune  section. 

Adjunct  Units  (cf.  ex.  8-11) 

1.  Two  performance  units  may  be  added  to  the  song.  One  is  an 
introduction  ( ruba 1 2  i )  preceding  the  song  to  indicate  the  type  of  poem 
that  is  to  follow  (ex.  9).  The  other  is  an  insert  ( gi rah)  introduced 
during  the  course  of  a  song  to  amplify  the  meaning  of  a  verse  line 

(ex.  10,  11).  Both  are  verse  units  two  or  more  lines  long  and  musically 
rendered  as  "recitatives"  (in  an  declamatory  style  without  motivic 
patterning  or  reference  to  a  musical  meter,  but  following  the  principle 
registral  contrast  between  non-rhyming  and  rhyming  lines). 

2.  Finally,  an  instrumental  prelude  ( naghma) ,  played  solo  on  the 
harmonium,  may  preface  the  sung  performance  (ex.  8).  A  loosely 
structured  tune  follows  a  registral  progression  from  low  to  high,  and 
back  to  low.  A  reurring  rhythmic  pattern  suggesting  zikr  is  strongly 
reinforced  by  the  drummed  musical  meter. 

**  I  f  1 



Sequencing  of  Units 

1.  The  sequence  of  performance  implied  in  the  text  structure  goes 
from  verse  to  verse,  within  each  verse  from  line  to  line,  and  within  each 
line  from  beginning  to  end.  However,  since  all  meaningful  units  are 
repeatable,  the  performer  may  repeat  either  a  smaller  or  a  larger  unit  at 
will:  a  word,  the  half  line,  the  entire  line,  the  whole  verse.  This 
flexibility  is  acommodated  musically  through  a  method  of  musical 
sequencing  based  on  traditional  pitch  movement  using  directional  melodic 
movement  "al 1 omorphical ly"  as  indicator  of  what  is  to  follow.  All 
musical  units  that  can  be  repeated  or  followed  by  more  than  one 
subsequent  unit  are  subject  to  this  principle.  In  its  most  prevalent 
form  the  end  of  one  unit  is  melodically  adjusted  to  what  is  to  follow. 

In  its  standard  version  the  ending  suggests  continuation  on  to  the 
musical  unit  set  to  the  text  portion  next  in  sequence.  If  the  unit  is  to 
be  repeated,  the  ending  is  melodically  adjusted  to  lead  back  to  the 
beginning  of  the  same  unit.  The  adjustment  follows  the  criterion  that 
ascending  pitch  movement  signals  a  high  pitch  and  thus  an  intermediate 
statement  or  the  continuation  of  a  message,  whereas  descending  pitch 
movement  signals  a  low  pitch  and  thus  the  conclusion  of  the  statement  and 
continuation  to  new  material. 

2.  The  entire  directional  adjustment  may  also  be  delayed  so  as  to 
govern  the  beginning  of  the  following  unit. 

3.  Finally,  a  non-musical  method  of  signalling  a  text  phrase  out  of 
sequence  consists  of  prefacing  it  with  a  short  appellation  of  a  saint's 
name,  usually  to  a  raised  pitch  also  anticipating  repetition. 

4.  The  standard  application  of  these  sequencing  rules  is  based  on 



I  *  '  ‘  b  rij  r«  3 1  $J 



the  assumption  that  a  message  must  be  heard  at  least  twice  in  order  to  be 
internalized,  and  it  needs  to  be  presented  in  segments  corresponding  in 
duration  to  one  message-phrase.  The  text  unit  that  comes  closest  to  such 
a  segment  is  the  verse  line,  so  that  in  Qawwali  singing  the  standard  unit 
of  repetition  is  the  line  set  to  one  tune  section.  Since  verse  lines 
vary  widely  in  length,  however,  this  principle  may  be  modified  in  two 
ways.  In  case  of  a  very  short  verse  line  two  complementary  lines  are 
sung  in  succession  and  then  repeated,  and  single  line  repeats  may  follow 
once  the  complete  message  has  been  conveyed.  A  very  long  verse  line, 
conversely,  is  usually  divisible  in  half  by  a  caesura,  and  each  half  line 
is  repeated  separately  at  first,  so  that  each  portion  of  the  message  is 
clearly  conveyed  before  the  entire  line  is  repeated. 

5.  The  same  principle  of  minimal  repetition  is  applied  to  smaller 
units  of  performance. 

6.  For  adjunct  units  the  sequencing  rules  are  modified  somewhat  to 
accommodate  their  special  place  within  the  song  structure.  Both 
introductory  verses  and  inserts  are  single  statements  added  to  the 
principal  song  message;  accordingly  they  are  not  repeated  beyond  the  need 
to  make  them  comprehensible.  For  this  purpose  the  only  repeat  unit  is 
the  entire  verse  line,  regardless  of  length.  However,  an  exception 
occurs  with  the  very  least  line  of  the  adjunct  unit.  This  line 
represents  not  so  much  the  conclusion  of  the  added  message  than  the  lead- 
back  into  the  main  portion  of  the  song;  accordingly  it  is  sung  only  once, 
always  to  a  descending  tune  section  which  leads  directly  into  the  suc¬ 
ceeding  line  of  the  song  proper  (cf.  ex.  9  and  10,  and  Performance 




7.  Entire  songs  become  subject  to  the  same  rules  in  a  limited  way. 
Thus  when  one  song  is  meant  to  lead  directly  to  the  next  one,  the  final 
asthayT  line  may  have  its  ending  adjusted  to  the  pitch  level  starting  the 
new  song.  Two  devices  may  serve  to  indicate  the  conclusion  of  a  song; 
one  is  a  melodic  cadence  leading  to  the  lower  tonic  at  the  end  of  the 
final  asthayT  line,  the  other  is  a  restatement  of  the  asthayT  at  a 
greatly  reduced  tempo. 

D  Evaluation 

The  presentation  of  this  model  of  Qawwali  music  in  the  abstract 
represents  the  farthest  extent  to  which  the  musicol ogical  approach  can  go 
to  generated  a  Qawwali  song.  Thus  the  presentation  of  this  model 
constitutes  a  fitting  conclusion  to  the  musical  analysis  of  Qawwali.  At 
the  same  time,  the  obvious  shortcoming  of  the  model --its  inability  to 
generate  even  one  song  in  the  concrete--suggests  the  need  for  a  different 
level  of  inquiry,  thus  making  it  a  natural  starting  point  for  the 
analysis  to  come.  For  this  purpose,  let  us  take  stock  of  what  has  been 
achieved  so  far:  We  have  a  musical  analysis  of  Qawwali  which  provides 
the  reader  with  the  musical  frame  of  reference  by  way  of  four  musical 
parameters  and  identifies  distinctive  features  by  means  of  their 
functional  constraints,  all  put  together  into  a  grammar  that  can  account 
for  the  structure  of  Qawwali  music  by  way  of  units  and  rules  imposed  on  a 
model  for  sequencing  the  music  which  is  broadly  based  on  the  textual 

But  what  motivates  the  application  of  these  rules  and  thus  the 
choice  of  musical  units,  i.e.  the  actual  programming  of  Qawwali  music,  is 






not  contained  in  this  grammar.  True,  there  are  certain  rules  of 
structure  that  govern  relationships  between  certain  musical 
elements--e.g.  different  endings  must  be  followed  by  different 
sections--,  or  even  between  musical  and  non-musical  el ements--e.g. 
musical  meter  must  represent  poetic  meter.  But  such  rules  only  account 
for  one  structural  element  constraining  another.  This  leaves  unmotivated 
those  musical  options  or  choices  which  are  not  governed  by  a  structural 
constraint.  In  Qawwali  music  in  particular,  a  repertoire  of  such  musical 
choices  is  central  to  the  musical  idiom.  Collectively  designated 
"flexibility  of  structure"  along  with  "manipul abil ity  of  units"  it  is 
assigned  special  significance  as  a  distinctive  feature  and  tied 
explicitly  to  the  functional  constraint  of  satisfying  changing  spiritual 
needs  of  the  audience.  It  is  in  dealing  with  this  feature  that  the 
present  musical  grammar  reaches  its  limits,  for  it  can  list  the  choices 
by  which  Qawwali  musical  structure  is  rendered  flexible  and  its  units 
manipulate.  But  it  canot  provide  a  programme  for  using  those  choices. 
The  fact  is,  that  flexibility  is  no  more  than  a  set  of  options,  and 
manipul abil ity  no  more  than  the  musical  mechanics  to  generate 
flexibility.  How  to  use  this  flexibility  is  not  a  matter  of  structure  at 
all,  but  of  process:  the  process  of  performance. 

There  is  no  better  evidence  for  reinforcing  this  major  point  than  to 
refer  the  reader  to  an  actual  Qawwali  song  performance  in  transcription. 
Transcriptions  1  and  2  represent  two  songs  (ex.  3  and  5)  transcribed  from 
two  recorded  Qawwali  performances  (Performance  1  and  2).  Transcription  1 
of  Tori  Surat  (ex.  3,  Performance  1,  Song  4)  presents  the  beginning  part 

of  the  opening  line  (see  Performance  1:  418-432  for  complete  opening 


line).  Transcription  2  of  Kachh  jagmag  presents  the  first  two  statements 
of  the  second  verse  (of  a  total  of  five  statements,  see  Performance  2: 
451-457).  Both  transcriptions  make  up  the  musical  characteristics 
outlined  so  far;  they  also  exemplify  the  musical  use  of  flexible 
structuring  outlined  in  the  Qawwali  Song  Model  above.  The  result  is  an 
irregularly  patterned  musical  sequence,  obviously  the  result  of 
structuring  choices  lacking  any  purely  musical  rationale. 

It  is  to  performance  the  analysis  must  now  turn  in  order  to  pursue 
what  has  been  left  out  of  the  analysis  so  far:  how  Qawwali  music  is 
programmed  or  put  together  into  an  actual  musical  sequence  as  a  result  of 
a  series  of  choices  (flexibility  of  structure)  executed  through  the  use 
of  appropriate  musical  structuring  (manipul abil ity  of  units).  In 
considering  performance,  the  analysis  must  shift  its  focus  first  and 
foremost  on  the  dynamic  behind  this  programming  process  or,  in  plain 
language,  find  out  what  makes  the  music  happen.  In  Qawwali,  there  is  no 
doubt  what  that  dynamic  consists  of,  since  the  flexible  structuring 
process  is  very  explicitly  linked  to  the  important  functional  constraint 
of  satisfying  changing  audience  needs,  i.e.  the  context  of  performance. 

On  the  basis  of  this  cl ue--arrived  at  from  indigenous  conceptualization 
and  powerfully  reinforced  in  observed  behavior — ,what  needs  to  be 
investigated  and  ultimately  incorporated  into  the  analysis  is  the 
performance  context  of  Qawwali,  whatever  it  may  consist  of.  For,  if 
serving  audience  needs  is  a  primary  function  of  Qawwali  music,  it  is 
obvious  that  the  actual  process  of  programming  a  Qawwali  song  is  tied  in 
exclusively  with  the  performance  process  and  can  take  place  only  with 
reference  to  an  audience.  Thus  a  complete  analysis  of  Qawwali  music 





requires  dealing  with  the  music  in  its  performance  context,  for  it  is 
only  there  that  the  musical  application  of  the  contextual  constraints  of 
"satisfying  changing  audience  needs"  can  actually  take  place.  Analysing 
the  process  of  structuring  Qawwali  music,  then,  requires  an  understanding 
of  the  entire  interaction  between  the  Qawwali  performer  and  his  audience. 
The  remainder  of  this  study  will  be  devoted  to  just  this  aim.  This  will 
require  a  major  excursus  away  from  the  music  to  the  context  within  which 
this  music  operates.  First  and  foremost  there  is  the  immediate  context 
of  performance:  the  Qawwali  assembly  which  constitutes  the  setting  for 
the  expression  of  listeners'  needs  as  well  as  their  musical 
manifestation--the  music  sounded  in  response  to  those  needs.  At  one 
level  removed,  the  ideological  background  provides  the  larger 
communicative  framework  for  the  entire  process  which  is  also  informed  by 
the  socio-economic  background  of  the  participants. 

Having  once  outlined  the  structure  of  the  context  in  which  Qawwali 
music  making  happens,  the  stage  will  be  set  for  the  actual  analysis  of 
the  performance  process  as  an  interaction  between  context  and  music. 

This  will  move  the  focus  on  to  the  musician,  for  it  is  he  who  ultimately 
brings  the  two  together,  by  processing  context--through  his  perception  of 
it--and  expressing  that  context  in  music--by  performing  it.  Thus  the 
performance  process  is  properly  analysed  from  his  vantage  point.  This 
leads  to  the  isolation  of  key  referents  which  serve  the  performer  to  link 
the  context  to  the  music.  Accordingly,  it  is  by  introducing  these 
referents  into  the  musical  grammar  that  it  may  be  rendered  context- 
sensitive  and  thus  capable  of  accounting  for--or  even  generating--an 
actual  Qawwali  performance.  Starting  from  the  musical  structure  as  a 



take-off  point,  then,  this  analysis  will  proceed  to  focus  on  musical 
process--the  process  of  performance. 





The  following  section  is  devoted  to  a  consideration  of  the  context 
dimension  of  Qawwali  music.  While  this  constitutes  a  major  excursus  away 
from  the  music,  it  is  being  undertaken  from  a  perspective  directly 
consistent  with  the  larger  goal  of  analysing  music  as  a  process  taking 
place  in  performance.  The  assumption  here  is  that,  analytically 
speaking,  process  is  the  operationalization  of  structure,  and  therefore 
the  structure  needs  to  be  known  before  the  process  can  be  understood. 

This  applies  no  less  to  the  music  itself  than  it  does  to  the  performance 
context  that  motivates  the  programming  of  the  music.  Thus,  analysing  the 
musical  structure  is  a  necessary  prerequisite  to  investigating  how  that 
structure  is  operationalized  in  performance--indeed,  such  an  analysis  is 
already  completed.  Equally,  to  analyse  the  contextual  dynamic  that 
motivates  this  process  requires  that  the  structure  of  that  context  be 
understood  first.  It  is  the  purpose  of  this  section  to  lay  the 
foundation  for  such  an  understanding. 

In  the  immediate  sense,  the  context  for  programming  Qawwali  music  is 
the  occasion  of  its  performance.  Accordingly,  a  detailed  consideration 
of  the  structure  of  the  Qawwali  assembly  constitutes  the  core  of  this 
section.  In  accord  with  its  manifestly  spiritual  function  the  Qawwali 
occasion  is  analysed  as  a  religious  ritual  with  norms  of  setting  and 



■  i 


procedure  which  are  informed  by  a  set  of  relevant  concepts.  These  norms 
constitute  the  structure  of  the  Qawwal i  occasion,  inasmuch  as  they  are 
shared  by  the  participants  who  actualize  that  structure  according  to 
their  particular  knowledge  and  motivation,  but  always  in  terms  of  those 
common  ritual  norms. 

The  structural  dimension  of  Qawwali,  however,  also  encompasses 
components  which  are  derived  from  socio-economic  norms  of  Indo-Muslim 
society  at  large.  They  figure  in  conjunction  with  the  explicit  religious 
norms,  but  rather  at  an  implicit  level;  hence  they  are  discussed 

An  understanding  of  the  structure  of  the  Qawwali  occasion  also 
presupposes  an  awareness  of  the  background  dimensions  which,  for  all 
Qawwali  participants,  underlies  the  Qawwali  tradition:  the  conceptual 
framework  and  poetic  idiom  of  Sufism  which  provide  the  functional  and 
operational  basis  for  the  tradition,  and  the  socio-economic  reality  of 
Muslim  society  in  India  which  not  only  informs  the  particular  shape  of 
the  Qawwali  tradition  but  also  accounts  for  the  social  and  economic 
dimensions  operating  at  the  latent  level. 

Because  the  Qawwali  is  a  religious  ritual,  the  ideological  framework 
of  Sufism  is  of  primary  importance  in  defining  the  norms  for  the  way  a 
Qawwali  occasion  is  structured.  Accordingly,  Sufi  ideology  and  its 
communicative  concomitant,  the  poetic  idiom  of  Sufism  which  furnishes 
Qawwali  texts,  will  therefore  be  discussed  first  and  in  enough  detail  to 
illuminate  the  following  analysis  of  the  ritual  itself,  i.e.  the  Qawwali 
occasion.  This  is  however  not  meant  to  invest  religious  ideology  with 
ontological  prirority.  On  the  contrary;  Sufi  ideology,  while 

i  *  3 


transcending  socio-economic  realities  in  theory,  is  at  the  same  time 
linked  with  these  realities  in  its  institutional  manifestations.  Indeed, 
at  that  level  it  may  even  be  seen  as  a  metaphor  for  those  socio-economic 
realities.  This  becomes  clear  when  Sufism  and  its  institutions  are 
considered  in  the  larger  context  of  Indo-Muslim  society.  Such  a 
perspective,  derived  from  the  political  economy  tradition  of  anthropology 
and  relating  ideology  to  economic  and  socio-political  reality,  directly 
informs  the  discussion  of  Sufism  in  its  socio-economic  context  while  in 
an  indirect  way  it  underlies  the  approach  to  the  entire  background 
context  as  a  potential  source  of  motivation  for  the  actors  in  the  Qawwal i 
performance  process. 

While  not  all  Sufis  or  performers  are  cognizant  of  the  actual 
features  of  these  background  dimensions,  all  are  aware  that  their 
knowledge  is  oriented  around  this  frame  of  reference.  I  consider  it 
essential,  therefore,  to  preface  the  discussion  of  the  Qawwal i  occasion 
itself  with  an  outline  of  the  relevant  background  dimensions,  so  that  the 
reader  can  place  the  specifics  of  the  performance  context  into  that 
larger  frame  of  reference--a  proccedure  which  runs  basically  parallel  to 
the  one  employed  in  the  music  analysis.  This  background  chapter  will 


focus  first  of  all  on  the  Sufi  ideology  which  provides  the  raison-d  etre 
and  functional  basis  for  the  entire  Qawwali  tradition.  A  second,  related 
background  dimension  is  that  of  the  expressive  medium  of  communicating 
mystical  throught  and  experience  in  Sufism.  Complementing  these 
ideational  dimensions  is  the  following  discussion  on  the  socio-economic 
realities  underlying  Sufism  and  Sufi  ritual  practise,  including  Qawwali. 
Finally,  and  still  within  this  perspective,  the  performer  is  brought  into 



special  focus,  in  anticipation  of  his  central  role  in  the  performance 
process  of  Qawwali. 

From  the  contextual  background  the  discussion  moves  on  to  the  actual 
context  of  Qawwali  music,  the  Qawwali  occasion  of  performance.  In  order 
to  acquaint  the  reader  with  the  Qawwali  assembly  as  an  ethnographic 
concept,  an  overview  outlining  its  general  features  will  introduce  the 
detailed  discussion  of  its  structure.  The  entire  discussion  on  context, 
then,  is  built  in  two  stages:  the  first  stage  establishes  the  contextual 
background,  the  second  and  main  stage  introduces  and  then  analyses  the 
actual  context  of  Qawwali  music  in  terms  of  its  structure. 

The  Qawwali  occasion  per  se  is  analyzed  using  an  approach  derived 
from  ethnoscience  and  situational  analysis  and  makes  reference  to  both 
the  cognitive  and  behavioral  levels  of  structure;  one  is  represented  by 
the  conceptual  frame  of  reference  of  the  Qawwali  assembly,  the  other  by 
the  two  complementary  domains  of  the  setting  and  procedure  of  the 
assembly.  The  result  of  this  analysis  is  presented  as  an  ethnographic 
abstraction  containing  concepts  and  features  of  setting  and  structure  in 
their  relevant  frame  of  reference--a  model  or  blueprint  for  the  Qawwali 
occasion  of  performance,  quite  analogous  to  the  abstract  model  for  a 
Qawwali  song  (see  Ch.  3:78,  Tables  7-10).  All  that  will  be  required  next 
is  to  turn  that  blueprint  into  action.  For  this  we  have  to  turn  to  the 
actor,  and  since  the  complete  action  of  a  Qawwali  assembly  includes  the 
music,  the  actor  can  be  none  but  the  musician.  That,  however,  will 
constitute  the  crucial  turning  point  of  this  analysis,  the  point  of 
turning  structure  into  process. 


t  ;  f 




The  aim  of  this  chapter  is  to  present  in  outline  form  the  dimensions 
of  the  socio-cul tural  framework  underlying  Qawwali  which  are  relevant  to 
an  understanding  of  its  structure  and  process.  These  dimensions 
comprise,  on  one  hand,  systems  of  thought  and  symbol  which  all  partici¬ 
pants  know  to  be  the  foundations  of  the  Qawwali  tradition:  These  are  the 
ideology  of  Sufism  and  the  place  of  Qawwali  within  it,  and  the  symbolic 
idiom  of  Sufi  poetry  which  serves  mystical  expression  in  Qawwali.  Both 
of  these  are  presented  here  from  the  perspective  of  Indian  Sufi sm--rather 
than  that  of  standard  classical  Sufism  and  literary  history 
respectively--,  as  set  forth  by  leading  participants  in  Qawwali  and  as 
understood  by  devotees  as  well  as  Qawwali  performers.  On  the  other  hand, 
there  is  the  background  dimension  of  social  reality:  At  the  level  of 
general  relevance  it  consists  of  the  socio-historical  setting  of  Sufism 
in  India  which  has  shaped  Qawwali  as  a  religious  and  cultural 
institution;  at  the  level  of  specific  relevance  to  the  musical  domain  of 
Qawwali,  it  includes  the  socio-economic  position  of  the  Qawwali 
performer,  including  his  social  and  professional  identity. 

A  Sufi  Ideology:  The  Rationale  and  Function  of  Qawwali 

This  outline  sketch  of  Sufi  ideology  aims  at  presenting  what  Indian 
Sufis  consider  the  salient  features  of  Sufi sm--whether  they  are  part  of 
classical  Sufi  doctrine  or  the  result  of  local  Indian  tradition--and  then 





to  identify  the  Qawwali  ritual  in  terms  of  this  ideological  frame  of 
reference.  In  its  organization  this  outline  of  Indian  Sufism  also  means 
to  convey  the  importance  of  an  historical  dynamic  as  a  basic  structuring 
principle  of  this  ideology.  The  primary  sources  for  this  expose  are  Sufi 
informants  and,  secondarily,  the  literature  that  best  formalizes  their 
ideological  frame  of  reference. 

Indian  Sufism  is  rooted  in  the  classical  tradition  of  Islamic 
mysticism  as  it  developed  in  the  Arab  and  Persian  culture  area  between 
the  ninth  and  eleventh  centuries,  and  was  codified  in  the  writings  of  the 
major  Sufi  masters  by  the  twelfth  century  (Nicholson  1962,  Arberry  1950: 
Chs.  1-7,  Rizvi  1978:  Ch.  1,  Milson  1975:  Introduction).  Sufism  was 
propagated  through  the  great  Sufi  orders  which  were  founded  during  the 
twelfth  and  thirteenth  centuries  (Arberry  1950:  Ch.  7,  Trimingham  1971: 
Chs.  1  and  2)  and  included  the  establishment  of  Sufism  in  India  (Rizvi 
1978:  Chs.  1-3,  Schimmel  1975:  Chs.  1  and  2). 

The  salient  ingredients  of  the  Islamic  mystical  tradition  thus 
established  are:  a  common  theory  of  the  mystical  way  ( tari qa) ,  and 
elaborate  verbal  code  to  elucidate  that  theory,  a  basic  list  of  eminent 
mystics  who  are  recognized  as  the  founders  and  authoritative  masters  of 
Sufism,  and  a  large  stock  of  hagiographic  material  (Milson  1975:  Ch.  5). 
A  further  essential  aspect  of  classical  Sufism  is  the  aesthetic  element, 
for  rather  than  consisting  of  a  common  body  or  doctrine,  "the  Sufi 
movement  ...  formed  a  complex  association  of  imaginative  and  emotional 
attitudes"  (Gibb  1962:211)  which  found  expression  in  the  rich  poetic 
traditions  inspired  by  Sufism  throughout  the  Islamic  realm. 

Sufi  ideology  is  a  response  to  orthodox  Islam,  at  the  same  time 




emanating  from  its  very  tenets.  Thus,  while  affirming  the  unity  of  God 
( tauhTd)  and  the  absolute  distinction  between  Creator  and  created,  Sufism 
also  assumes  an  inner  kinship  between  God  and  man  and  strives  to  bridge 
the  gulf  between  them  through  the  dynamic  force  of  love  (muhabbat) . 
Mystical  love,  the  central  concept  of  Sufism,  has  two  complementary 
dimensions  essential  to  the  sphere  of  Sufi  thought  and  experience.  One 
comprises  man's  deliberate  conscious  striving  toward  God  by  following  the 
Way  ( tariqa)  under  the  direction  of  a  spiritual  guide  to  achieve  "stages" 
or  "situations"  (maqamat,  pi.  of  maqam)  of  nearness  to  God.  The  other 
dimension  comprises  ecstatic  intuitive  fulfilment  through  God's  illumi¬ 
nation  of  man.  His  gift  of  "states"  ( ahwal ,  pi.  of  ha! )  of  nearness, 
leading  ultimately  to  union  (wi sal )  with  God.  "The  maqam  is  a  stage  of 
spiritual  attainment  which  is  the  result  of  the  mystic's  personal  effort 
and  endeavour,  whereas  the  ha~l  is  a  spiritual  mood  depending  not  upon  the 
mystic  but  upon  God."  (Arberry  1950:75). 

Clearly  distinct  from  each  other,  both  dimensions  are  conceptually 
integrated  into  the  scheme  of  the  Sufi  sil s i 1 a-s ,  the  spiritual  "chains" 
of  those  who  followed  the  path  and  received  illumination  from  God,  which 
in  turn  empowered  them  to  be  guides  ( sheiyi,  pTr)  to  other  seekers  or 
disciples  (murid) .  Disci  pi eship  ( bay' at)  links  the  devotee  to  this 
geneology  of  spiritual  power  through  his  pTr  to  the  great  saints  of  the 
past,  to  Hazrat  Ali--the  Prophet's  son-in-law  and  disciple--,  then  to 
Prophet  Muhammad  himself  and  ultimately  to  God  (see  Table  12).  It  is 
this  principle  of  spiritual  linkage  ( ta ' al 1 uq)  and  transmission  which 
underlies  the  structuring  of  Sufism  through  the  establishment  of  the 
great  mystical  orders  and  their  extensions  throughout  the  Islamic  region. 




TABLE  12: 

(with  reference  to  India  and  Chrishti  silsila) 


-  direct  spiritual  link 

- several  spiritual 










Chishtiya  Suh  r  a  wa  r  di  ya  Nag  shbandiya  Qadriya 

MumuddTn  ChishtT  "Khwaja  GharTbnawaz" 
(d.  Ajmer  1236) 

Qutbuddln  Kaki  "Qutab  Sahib" 

(d.  Delhi  1237) 

Farlduddin  Shakarganj  "Baba  Farid" 
(d.  Pakpattan  1266) 

Alauddin  Sabir  "Sabir  Pak"  Nizamuddin  Auliya  "Mahbub-e -Ilahi" 

(d.  Piran-e-Kalyar  1291)  (d.  Delhi  1325) 

NasTruddin  "Chiragh-e -Delhi" 
(d.  Delhi  1356) 

Amir  Khusrau 
(d.  Delhi  1325) 

Syed  Muh.  Gesudaraz  "Khwaja  Bandanawaz" 
(d.  Gulbarga  1422) 



wherever  Sufism  took  root. 

At  the  core  of  this  structure  is  the  teaching  relationship  of 
spiritual  guide  to  disciple.  Indeed,  the  attachment  and  submission  to  a 
sheikh  or  pTr  is  considered  an  essential  prerequisite  to  attain  the  goals 
of  mysticism,  through  his  guidance  along  the  "stations"  of  the  "path"  or 
Way,  and  also  to  receive  the  benefice  emanating  from  one  who  has 
acchieved  spiritual  superiority.  Indian  Sufism  in  particular, 
conceptualizes  divine  power  and  man's  relationship  to  it  in  hierarchical 
terms:  There  are  degrees  of  nearness  to  that  power  which  are  reckoned 
according  to  the  principle  of  spiritual  descent  from  the  great  Sufi 
masters  or  saints  ( aul iya ,  pi.  of  walT)  of  the  past,  and  manifested  in  a 
Sufi's  spiritual  geneolology,  leading  through  his  founder-saint  to  A1 i , 
the  Prophet  and  thus  to  God.  (see  Table  12). 

Another  important  aspect  of  the  discipleship  principle  is  the 
resulting  relationship  of  spiritual  "brotherhood"  which  links  the 
disciples  of  one  spiritual  guide,  as  encapsulated  in  the  expression 
pTrbhayT  or  "brother-i n-pTr"--quite  analogous  in  meaning  to  "brother-in- 
Christ."  Indeed,  this  bond  is  considered  fundamental  to  the  concept  of 
the  Sufi  community. 

Later  Sufism  has  also  come  to  emphasize  nearness  to  these  saints  and 
their  power  in  spatial  terms,  at  the  abode  of  their  final  union  with  God, 
i.e.  their  tomb.  Accordingly,  Sufism  in  India  (see  e.g.  Eaton,  1978)  as 
elsewhere  (see  e.g.  Geertz  1968,  Crapanzano  1973)  has  in  recent  centuries 
shifted  its  focus  of  orientation  to  saintly  shrines,  their  founder-saints 
and  spiritual  power.  In  this  ta ' i fa  phase  of  Sufism  (Trimingham  1971: 

Ch.  3),  the  devotional  veneration  of  saints  as  spiritual  intermediaries 



I  ; 


and  mediators  of  divine  benefice  ( barkat)  becomes  an  integral  and  central 
part  of  Sufi  practice,  in  addition  to  personal  discipleship  and  lineage 
1  inks . 

The  core  of  Sufism  is,  however,  experiential,  for,  in  the  words  of 
the  great  Sufi  teacher  al  Ghazali,  "what  is  most  essential  to  Sufism 
cannot  be  learned,  but  can  only  be  reached  by  immediate  experience  and 
ecstasy  and  inward  transformation"  (quoted  in  Nicholson  1914:29). 

Mystical  love,  to  become  the  dynamic  force  of  both  mag am  and  hal ,  must  be 
cultivated  spiritually  and  aroused  emotionally.  This  is  achieved  through 
ritual  or  devotional  practice,  in  particular  the  reciting  or 
"recollection"  of  God's  name  ( zikr) ,  and  the  listening  to  spiritual  music 
( sama 1 ) .  Zikr,  "the  constant  recollection  of  God"  (Schimmel  1975:84), 
consists  of  the  repetition--silent  or  voiced--of  divine  names  or 
religious  formulae.  Its  particular  form  and  emphasis  is  part  of  the 
teaching  tradition  of  the  various  Sufi  orders  and  it  is  often  practiced 
collectively  in  assemblies  led  by  a  spiritual  leader  ( hal qa-e-zikr ,  see 
e.g.  Haas  1917) . 

While  zikr  is  sanctioned  by  koranic  order  (e.g.  Sura  33:40  and 
13:28),  sama1  has  always  remained  a  theologically  controversial  practice, 
because  the  mainstream  of  Islamic  theological  opinion  has  prohibited 
music  as  dangerous  and  unlawful,  although  no  direct  prohibition  of  music 
is  contained  in  the  Koran  (Roychaudhry  1957:  Ch.  2,  see  also  Farmer 
1965,  Nadvi  1959,  Phulvarvi  1968  on  this  issue).  On  the  other  hand, 
Islamic  tradition  recognizes  and  cultivates  the  chanting  or  cantillation 
of  religious  texts,  principally  the  Koran  itself.  Inspite  of  its  musical 
features,  particularly  its  pitch  organization,  such  chanting  is  conceived 




of  as  non-music  and  termed  "recitation"  or  "reading"  in  Arabic  as  well  as 
in  other  Muslim  languages. 

In  religious  cantil 1 ation--as  in  all  recitation  (including  chanted 
poetry,  cf.  Qureshi  1969)--musical  features  are  subordinated  to  the 
religious  text  and  function  and  thereby  legitimized.  Singing,  on  the 
other  hand,  is  characterized  by  the  presence  of  independent  musical 
features  which  exist  for  their  own  sake,  most  of  all  the  sound  of  musical 
instruments.  Indeed,  musical  instruments  are  considered  the  hallmark  of 
secular  music--in  Urdu,  as  in  Hindi,  the  English  term  "music"  is  in  fact 
often  used  to  denote  "instrumental  accompaniment." 

It  is  against  this  dual  background  conception  of  music  and 
recitation  that  the  practice  of  sama'--! istening  to  mystical  music--takes 
on  a  controversial  character,  for  the  traditional  music  for  sama 1  has 
normally  included  the  use  of  instruments,  particularly  of  percussion,  to 
reinforce  the  element  of  zikr  repetition  which  is  considered  inherent  in 
it.  Within  the  Sufi  conceptual  framework  sama 1  is  therefore  not  accepted 
universally.  Orders  with  a  more  orthodox  orientation  prohibit  its  use 
altogether  or  compromise  by  permitting  mystical  songs  unaccompanied  by 
instruments.  However,  the  mainstream  of  Sufi  tradition  accords 
importance  to  sama 1  as  the  context  for  a  Sufi's  attaining  wa j d ,  the 
ecstasy  of  what  means  literally  "finding"  God.  Sama 1 ,  in  fact,  is  "no 
doubt  the  most  widely  known  expression  of  mystical  life  in  Islam" 
(Schimmel  1975:179). 

The  concept  of  sama 1  in  Sufism  comprises  first  and  foremost  that 
which  is  heard,  the  "divine  message  which  stirs  the  heart  to  seek  God, 
(Hujwiri  1970:404).  That  message  is  normally  assumed  to  consist  of  a 


poetic  text  which  is  set  to  music,  i.e.  a  mystical  song.  Indeed,  Sufism 
considers  poetry  to  be  the  principal  vehicle  for  the  expression  of 
mystical  thought  and  feeling;  thus  its  musical  rendering  becomes  the 
means  for  turning  this  expression  into  a  spiritual  and  emotional 
experience  for  the  Sufi  listener.  Utlimately,  then,  the  sama1  concept  is 
focussed  on  the  listener--in  accord  with  its  literal  meaning  ("listening" 
or  "audition")--and  on  his  spiritual  capacity  for  receiving  what  he 
hears,  including  all  the  implications  of  an  ecstatic  response.  This 
means  that,  even  where  Sufism  permits  music  for  sama 1 ,  it  invariably 
places  constraints  on  the  listening  process.  Sufism  achieves  this 
primarily  by  placing  the  entire  practice  of  sama1  firmly  within  the 
hierarchical  structure  of  spiritual  authority  (e.g.  Hujwiri  1970:  Ch. 
25).  Accordingly,  the  prototype  setting  for  sama1  is  an  assembly  of 
mystics  under  the  guidance  of  a  spiritual  master. 

Conspiciously  absent  from  the  sama1  conception  is  the  maker  of  that 
which  is  listened  to--the  performer.  Yet  it  is  implied  that,  starting 
from  early  Sufi  treatises  (e.g.  the  11th  C.  Ibn-e-Arabi  and  A1  Hujwiri) 
singers  with  a  special  competence  served  mystical  assemblies  (Hujwiri 
1970:417).  The  main  point  is  that  a  conceptual  separation  exists  between 
the  Sufi  listener  of  the  sama1  message  and  the  singer  who  is  causing  the 
message  to  be  sounded.  In  Indian  Sufism,  the  one  is  termed  Sufi  or, 
collectively,  mashFikh  (pi.  of  sheikh),  the  other  Qawwal ,  meaning 
literally  "the  one  who  says,"  or  "the  singer  of  a  verbal  message"--the 
message  being  Qawwali  (derived  from  qaul  i.e.  "saying"  in  Arabic). 

Qawwal i  is  sama 1  set  in  practice:  mystical  poetry  is  set  to  music  and 

enhanced  by  a  powerful  rhythm  as  well  as  by  repetition  so  as  to  suggest 



zikr.  Instrumental  accompaniment  reinforcing  both  rhythm  and  melody  are 
part  of  the  conception,  rendered  acceptable  by  their  context  and  function 
despite  their  proscription  in  orthodox  Islam. 

There  is,  in  Indian  Sufism,  yet  another  factor  contributing  to  the 
importance  accorded  to  the  sama1  concept  in  the  major  spiritual  lineages: 
the  ubuquitous  presence  of  religious  music  in  Hinduism.  Since  music  is 
an  integral  element  in  the  conception  and  practice  of  Hinduism, 
especially  its  devotional  movement,  Indian  Sufis  recognize  that  in  a 
Hindu  environment  the  spread  of  Islamic  mysticism  justified  giving 
special  emphasis  to  sama 1 .  While  there  may  be  some  element  of  apology  in 
this  justification,  the  general  Sufi  interpretation--of  course  excepting 
the  si  1  sila-s  that  prohibit  music--is  to  accord  special  significance  to 
music  as  a  means  to  give  a  more  universal  reach  to  Islam. 

B  Sufi  Poetry:  The  Texts  of  Qawwali 

Sufi  poetry,  the  source  of  Qawwali  texts,  constitutes  a  principal 
vehicle  for  expressing  and  communicating  mystical  thought  and  experience. 
It  is  therefore  appropriate  to  outline  the  features  of  this  poetic  idiom 
in  relation  to  the  ideological  dimension  of  Sufism.  This  applies 
particularly  to  all  aspects  of  poetic  content,  but  also  to  language. 
However,  because  of  the  structural  relationship  between  Qawwali  texts  and 
Qawwali  music  (see  Ch.  3B  above),  it  is  also  necessary  for  this 
discussion  to  cover  aspects  of  poetic  form  and  meter.  Being  more 
technical  in  nature,  their  principal  features  are  summarized  in  two 
tables  (Tables  13  and  14),  using  standard  Western  terminology  and 
symbols.  Otherwise,  this  section  too  is  entirely  based  on  information 




gathered  from  both  Sufis  and  Qawwali  performers. 

The  contentious  element  in  the  concept  of  sama1  or  Qawwali  is 
musical  sound  per  se;  but  in  fact  the  music  of  sama 1  is  never  conceived 
of  apart  from  the  Sufi  poetry  that  constitutes  the  song  texts  of  Qawwali. 
Indeed,  Qawwali  is  the  musical  performance  of  texts.  These  texts 
comprise  a  vast  range  of  poetic  expression,  generated  from  the  Persian 
mystical  poetry  of  classical  Sufism.  Ever  since  its  beginnings,  and 
particularly  since  its  expansion  into  the  Persian  culture  area,  Sufism 
has  inspired  poetic  expression  of  both  inspirational  and  didactic 
character.  It  became  the  vehicle  for  conveying  mystical  experience  while 
at  the  same  time  representing  the  legacy  of  the  great  Sufi  saints  and 
teachers.  Most  of  all,  classical  Persian  poetry  provided  an  unlimited 
range  of  aesthetic  expression  to  mystical  love  through  its  idiom  of 
stylized  imagery  centering  on  human  love,  thus  giving  a  particularly 
metaphoric  quality  to  the  manifestation  of  spiritual  passion  (Schimmel 
1975:187  ff ) . 

This  poetic  idiom  of  classical  Sufism  has  remained  alive  in  the 
regions  of  Persian  Sufi  influence,  through  its  use  by  Sufis  in  teaching 
and  self-expression,  but  most  of  all  through  performance  in  the  sama 1 
assembly.  In  addition,  these  regions,  including  India,  subsequently 
acquired  repertoires  of  Sufi  poetry  composed  in  local  languages. 

In  India,  the  poetic  repertoire  used  in  Qawwali  assemblies  includes 
three  languages  (though  Sufi  poetry  exists  in  other  local  languages  as 
well,  see  Schimmel  1975:383  ff ) ;  they  are  Farsi,  Hindi  and  Urdu.  While 
related  linguistically,  all  three  represent  distinct  socio-cul tural 
contexts  and  styles;  hence  they  serve  both  performers  and  Sufis  as 

i  ‘ 


primary  categories  for  the  Qawwali  repertoire  of  poetry. 


In  the  Qawwali  repertoire,  Farsi  poetry  represents  Sufism  par  excel¬ 
lence,  in  its  idiom  of  symbol  and  imagery  as  well  as  in  its  thought 
content.  Because  of  this  spiritual  stature  of  Farsi--and  because  it  was 
the  court  and  elite  language  for  centuries--Indian  poets  have  composed  in 
it  expressly  mystical  as  well  as  secular  poetry  until  the  late  19th 
century.  Today  little  understood  as  a  language,  Farsi  still  enjoys  a 
high  spiritual  and  cultural  prestige  and  is  familiar  to  Sufis  in  the  form 
of  a  standard  repertoire  by  venerated  poets,  including  Persian  mystics 
like  Rumi  (see  ex.  4:338),  and  above  all  the  greatest  Indo-Persian  Sufi 
poet,  Amir  Khusrau  (see  ex.  2:327). 

Hindi  is  the  second  "classical"  language  of  Indian  Sufism.  Repre¬ 
senting  early  Indianized  mysticism,  Qawwali  poetry  in  Hindi  introduces 
symbols  and  imagery  derived  from  Hindu  devotional  verse  in  the  dialect 
particular  to  it,  Braj  Bhasha.  This  poetry  is  characterized  by  simple 
and  direct  expression  in  a  folk-like  idiom  profound  in  its  associational 
meaning,  yet  understood  by  the  untutored  devotee.  Sufi  poets  have  used 
Hindi  since  the  13th  century,  most  famous  among  them  Amir  Khusrau  (see 
ex.  3:331),  hence  in  this  classical  form  it  is  close  to  Farsi  in 
spiritual  prestige.  Its  repertoire  is  strongly  localized,  often  being 
associated  with  specific  shrines  or  saints.  Today  there  is  some 
ascendancy  given  to  Hindi  by  some  Sufis  who  wish  to  broaden  the  appeal  of 
Sufism  beyond  the  Muslim  community. 

Qawwali  poetry  in  Urdu,  finally,  represents  the  idiom  of 


contemporary  Sufi  experience,  using  the  current  Indo-Muslim  language. 
Based  on  Farsi  models  and  using  a  heavily  Persianized  vocabulary,  it 
incorporates  the  time-honoured  symbolic  idiom  of  classical  Sufism,  but 
adds  to  it  the  appeal  of  familiar  expression.  Because  Urdu  poetry  is  no 
more  than  two  centuries  old  and  has  little  association  with  Sufi  saints, 
it  has  less  spiritual  presttige  than  either  Farsi  or  Hindi.  Qawwali 
poetry  in  Urdu  is  characteri zed  on  one  hand  by  the  works  of  serious 
contemporary  Sufi  poets  (e.g.  ex.  6:346),  and  on  the  other  by  an 
extensive  repertoire  of  popular-style  devotional  poems  composed 
especially  for  Qawwali  singing  (e.g.  ex.  7:352). 


The  content  of  Qawwali  poetry  corresponds  to  the  spiritual  require¬ 
ments  of  Sufism.  Specific  content  categories  are  identified  by  Sufis  and 
Qawwali  performers  which  run  across  all  three  languages;  nevertheless  the 
language  of  a  poem  also  has  a  certain  connotational  impact  upon  the 
content,  in  line  with  the  language  characteristics  mentioned  above. 

These  content  categories  are  distinguished  according  to  their  focus  which 
in  a  general  way  corresponds  to  the  dimensions  of  Sufism  outlined  above. 
This  does  not  imply  that  content  categories  are  mutually  exclusive; 
rather  they  indicate  the  primary  emphasis  or  impact  of  a  poem's  content 
and  are  used  in  this  sense  by  both  Sufis  and  Qawwals. 

1.  Focus  on  Spiritual  Links--Figures  of  the  Sufi  hierarchy  are 
addressed  in  praise  or  devotion,  including  God  in  the  hamd,  the  Prophet 
in  the  na't  (ex.  7:354),  and  Hazrat  A! i  (ex.  1:322,  6:348),  Sufi  saints 

(ex.  3:333,  4:339,  5:342),  even  living  Sheikhs  in  the  manqabat. 


2.  Focus  on  Spiritual  Emotion--States  of  mystical  love  are 
expressed,  particularly  love  per  se  (*i shq,  ex.  4:339,  9:360,  10:366), 
separation  (firaq) ,  union  (wi sal ) ,  and  includes  poems  pertaining  to 
ecstatic  states  ( rindanT,  ex.  2:328).  It  is  in  this  content  category 
where  a  wide  range  of  themes  serves  the  expression  of  spiritual  emotion 
by  means  of  metaphoric  association  (ex.  2:328,  3:333,  4:339). 

3.  Focus  on  Association  with  a  local  saint--A  variety  of  associa- 
tional  links  are  expressed,  including  devotion  to  a  particular  saint,  his 
shrine  and  reference  to  its  ritual  practice.  Such  poems  also  include 
compositions  by  the  saint  himself  (ex.  10:363,  by  Nizamuddin  Auliya)  "or  by 
devotees  (ex.  2:320,  3:331,  4:336,  11:368  are  all  by  Amir  Khusrau, 
disciple  of  Nizamuddin  Auliya).  This  is  the  most  variable  portion  of 
Qawwali  texts;  its  principal  language  is  Hindi,  the  preferred  idiom  for 
addressing  unlettered  devotees  (ex.  3:331  f,  ex.  5:341  f ) . 

Poetic  Form 

Both  dimensions  of  formal  organization,  verse  structure  and  poetic 
meter,  are  strongly  dominated  by  the  classical  schemes  of  Persian  poetry 
(ex.  2,  4,  9,  11).  Urdu  poetry  follows  Persian  models  directly  (ex.  6, 

7)  and  even  Sufi  poetry  in  Hindi  shows  its  influcence  (ex.  5).  The  pro¬ 
totype  form  in  Sufi  poetry  is  the  gjjazal  which  is  found  in  the  overwhelm¬ 
ing  majority  of  Qawwali  songs  (ex.  2,  5,  6,  7,  11). 

The  poetic  form  of  all  Qawwali  poetry  is  strophic.  Its  structural 
units  are  verses  organized  on  the  basis  of  the  contrast  between  rhyming 
and  non-rhyming  verse  lines.  Most  rhyme  schemes  in  Qawwali  poetry  are 
based  on  a  consistent  rhyme  syllable  which  occurs  throughout  the  poem  and 



is  often  extended  by  a  repeated  monorhyme.  This  arrangement  underlies 
the  gJiazal  form  in  which  thematically  self-contained  couplets  identical 
in  form  are  linked  by  such  a  common  rhyme  scheme:  the  first  couplet 
establishes  the  formal  pattern  with  a  rhyming  opening  line,  while  in  the 
remaining  couplets  a  non- rhyming  first  line  is  complemented  by  a  rhyming 
concluding  line  identical  in  structure  throughout  the  poem  (see  Table 

The  ghazal  form  has  been  considered  "an  ideal  vehicle"  for  mystical 
experience  (Schimmel  1975:162):  The  repetitive  monorhyme  or  radTf  is  a 
vehicle  for  the  reiteration  of  a  central  word  phrase  or  concept  in  the 
manner  of  the  zikr  principle  (see  p . 1 03  above,  and  cf  ex.  2,  4).  At  the 
same  time  this  built-in  refrain  principle  so  strongly  links  the  verse 
units  together  by  form  that  it  allows  for  free  associational  play  on  the 
central  theme  in  each  couplet  without  requiring  the  structure  of  a 
thematic  sequence.  The  only  couplets  with  a  distinct  structural  identity 
are  the  first  one,  the  matla 1 ,  which  establishes  the  theme  of  the  poem 
and  its  rhyme  scheme,  and,  in  a  majority  of  poems,  the  last  one,  the 
maqta 1  which  usually  introduces  the  nom  de  plume  of  the  poet  (see  ex. 

Various  other  strophic  arrangements  are  found  mainly  in  Hindi  poetry 
where  refrain  lines  are  a  more  prevalent  feature.  In  the  most  common 
form  a  refrain  line  alternates  with  strophes  of  two  or  four  lines  in 
which  a  non-rhyming  line  is  followed  by  one  that  rhymes  with  the  refrain 
(ex.  3:333  f ) .  Less  common  in  Qawwali  are  the  extended  strophic  forms  of 
Farsi  and  Urdu  where  each  verse  of  four  to  six  lines  contains  a  different 
rhyme  but  is  concluded  by  a  constant  rhyme  as  well. 


1  ? 




Common  Patterns 

a)  Ghazal  F orm  (F ar si,  Urdu,  also  Hindi) 

verse  1  (matla1): 

a  (a  =  rhyme  +  mono  rhyme 

a  b  =  no  rhyme) 

subsequent  verses 



last  verse  (maqta1) 

by  poet's  nom- 
aj  de -plume 

b)  Hindi  Form  (common  version) 

refrain  line 

a  (a  =  rhyme 

b  =  no  rhyme) 





c)  Ruba'i  F orm  (Farsi,  Urdu) 

single  verse 

a  (a  =  rhyme 

a  b  =  non- rhyme) 




In  addition  to  strophic  poems  Qawwal i  poetry  also  includes  short 
poetic  forms  of  a  single  strophe,  for  these  are  used  in  performance  as 
introductory  verses  and  inserts  into  the  principal  poem.  The  classical 
short  form  of  Sufi  poetry  is  the  Persian  ruba 1 i  or  qata  of  four  lines  in 
which  the  rhyme  scheme  ( aaba)  highlights  the  dramatic  structure  of  an 
epigram-like  poetic  statement  (see  Table  13  and  ex.  9:360).  This  format 
is  considered  so  standard  that  it  has  lent  its  name  to  introductory 
verses  in  general;  they  are  called  ruba 1 i ,  even  when  the  actual  verse  has 
a  different  form.  A  single  couplet  or  strophe  from  a  longer  poem  may 
also  serve  as  an  independent  verse  unit  for  introduction  or  insertion 
(ex.  10:365f).  The  Hindi  equivalent  of  the  introductory  couplet  is  the 
doha-,  a  two- line  verse  with  a  common  rhyme  and  containing  a  complete 
poetic  statement  (see  Table  13).  Two  or  more  couplets  may  also  be  joined 
for  the  purpose  of  either  introduction  or  insertion,  provided  they 
constitute  an  appropriate  unit  of  content  (ex.  11:368  f ) . 

Poetic  Meter 

Qawwal i  poetry  is  rich  in  diverse  metric  schemes  derived  mostly  from 
Persian  prosody  ( 1 aruz)  which  in  turn  originates  in  Arabic  models.  This 
prosodic  system  is  based  on  the  principle  of  syllabic  quantity,  hence  its 
basic  units  are  the  short  and  long  syllable  which  are  grouped  into  a 
number  of  prosodical  "feet"  from  two  to  five  syllables  long.  The  system 
recognizes  eight  primary  feet  and  numerous  derivatives  represented  not  by 
short-long  symbols,  but  by  different  mnemonic  words  in  Arabic  which 
express  their  individual  composition  (for  background  see  Weil  1960, 
Blochmann  1872,  Ruckert  1874).  All  meters  derived  from  this  system  are 


tj  o  \,f4  Jud  «ei  P'  <t  j 

composed  of  a  definite  sequence,  either  of  several  different  feet,  or  of 
the  same  foot  repeated  (compare  ex.  6:348  and  7:354),  and  a  meter  remains 
the  same  throughout  one  poem,  except  for  an  occasional  change  in  the 
ruba 1 i .  In  length  a  meter  can  range  from  three  to  eight  feet,  hence 
between  poems  verse  lines  vary  greatly  in  length  (compare  ex.  4:339  and 

Hindi  poetic  meters  are  very  much  simpler,  using  two  basic 
combi nati ons--dactyl ic  or  anapaestic--of  a  grouping  that  consists  of  one 
long  and  two  short  syllables  (see  Table  14  and  ex.  5:343). 

Of  the  wide  variety  of  meters  occurring  in  Qawwali  poetry  most  are 
organized  symmetrically  into  two,  three  or  four  equal  parts.  Table  14 
lists  the  most  frequent  metric  arrangements  along  with  their  syllabic 
representation  and  reference  to  the  examples.  This  is  not  to  imply  that 
Qawwali  performers  identify  poetic  meters  in  this  formal  way,  and  among 
Sufis  only  those  with  literary  training  do  so.  Yet  all  those  using  this 
poetry  are  conversant  with  its  scansion;  indeed  for  Qawwal s  that  is  a 
prerequisite  for  composing  and  performing  correctly. 

The  range  and  diversity  of  Qawwali  poetry  is  so  considerable  that 
one  can  hardly  consider  it  a  poetic  idiom  collectively.  Its  origins 
range  from  great  Sufi  saints  to  folk  anonymity,  and  available  sources 
vary  from  published  classics  to  the  memory  of  old  performers.  Yet, 
because  of  the  basically  metaphoric  quality  fo  all  Sufi  poetry,  even  the 
simplest  folk  idiom  is  invested  with  profound  spiritual  meaning,  while 
the  classical  Sufi  poetic  idiom  is  characterized  by  the  two-level 
oscillation  between  the  obvious  sensual  and  the  implied  spiritual  level 
of  expression  (cf.  ex.  2  and  4,  3  and  5).  It  is  only  in  the  most  recent 



■  1 


TABLE  14: 


a)  Most  Common  Persian-Urdu  Meters 

1)  u  -  -  -|u  -  -  -|u  -  -  -  ju  -  -  - 

Hazaj  II  mafa'ilun  mafa'ilun  mafa'ilun  mafa'ilun 


Rami  3 

-  u  -  -  I  uu  -  -  I  u  u  -  - 

u  u  - 



-  -  u 

-U-UU  -  -  u 

-  u  - 

4)  -  u 

Mutadarik  2 

-  1  -  u  -  -  u  -  I  -  u  - 


5)  -  u 

Mutadarik  3 

-  I  -  u  - 

-  u  - 



Rami  1 


-  u 



u  - 

u  u  -  u  - 

u  u  -  u  - 


8)  u 
Mutaqarib  1 

9)  -  u 

Rami  2 

u  -  -  u 


-  u  - 

10)  u-u-juu- 
Muj  ta  s  s 

u  -  u  -  I  u  u  - 

b)  Most  Common  Hindi  Meters 


-  u  u 


(multiple  s) 

2)  u  u  -  u  u  -  |  (multiples) 

(long -short  pattern) 
(mnemonic  identi¬ 

(see  ex.  2) 

(see  ex.  6) 

(see  ex.  4  and  11) 
(see  ex.  7) 

(see  ex,  3) 

(see  ex.  5) 

Urdu  poetry  composedd  to  address  large  untutored  audiences  that  the 
traditional  language  of  metaphor  is  reduced  to  one  simplified  level  (cf. 
ex.  7). 

C  Socio-Economic  Reality  of  Sufism:  The  Setting  for  Qawwali 

This  section  complements  the  discussion  of  Sufi  ideology;  it  also 
encompasses  it,  in  the  sense  of  providing  a  socio-economic  frame  of 
reference  in  terms  of  which  that  ideology  becomes  operational.  A 
political  economy  perspective  is  used  to  identify  the  institutions  and 
processes  which  characterize  the  Indo-Muslim  polity  and  then  to  show  the 
dynamic  by  which  they  are  related  to  Sufi  institutions  and  process. 
Because  of  the  historical  roots  of  this  relationship,  it  is  necessary  to 
introduce  a  historical  perspective  into  this  account,  especially  since 
the  somewhat  marginal  place  Sufism  and  Qawwali  occupy  in  today's  Indo- 
Muslim  society--which  itself  has  ceased  to  be  the  dominant  polity  in 
India--can  in  no  way  account  for  the  power  the  Qawwali  assembly  still  has 
as  a  social  metaphor.  Contemporary  socio-political  developments  are 
touched  upon  only  inasmuch  as  they  explain  clearly  established  features 
of  Sufi  practice  without  discussing  ongoing  trends  toward  change. 

The  development  of  Sufism  within  Indo-Muslim  society  accounts  for 
the  socio-economic  framework  underlying  Sufi  institutions,  including  that 
of  Qawwali.  Wile  knowledge  of  the  realities  of  this  framework  is 
essential  for  participants,  especially  performers,  to  operate  within  the 
Qawwali  assembly,  awareness  of  the  purely  socio-economic  and  political 
implications  rarely  becomes  manifest  and  is  likely  to  be  rare  in  fact  as 



In  the  Indian  subcontinent  Sufism,  and  with  it  Qawwali,  took  root 
during  the  13th  century  within  the  socio-cul tural  framework  instituted  by 
Muslim  rule  and  under  its  patronage  and  protection  (see  Ahmad  1963;  K.A. 
Nizami  1957;  1974;  Rizvi  1978).  Through  a  series  of  dynasties  ruling 
from  the  11th  to  the  18th  century  Muslim  rule  imposed  a  centralized 
agrarian  bureaucracy  over  an  existing  feudal  economy,  in  which  a  rigid 
caste  system  had  been  operating  to  enforce  both  authority  structure  and 
the  local  division  of  labour.  This  resulted  in  a  social  structure 
dominated  by  a  ruling  hierarchy  of  Muslim  nobles  and  functionaries  who 
derived  their  power  and  status  in  relation  to  their  proximity  to  the 
central  ruler.  Local  rulers  enjoyed  varying  degrees  of  autonomy-- 
expecially  on  the  decline  of  Mughal  power  (17th  to  18th  c.)--and  to  a 
degree  replicated  the  centralized  elite  structure  (for  background  see 
Athar  A1  i  1966,  Habib  1963,  Spear  1970). 

Within  this  elite,  hierarchical  relationships  traditionally  followed 
a  courtier  pattern  of  submission  in  return  for  benefice.  These  relation¬ 
ships  were  governed  by  formalized  codes  of  behavior  ( 1 adab) ,  and 
elaborate  court  ritual.  At  the  core  of  both  lay  the  articulation  of 
submission  and  allegiance  to  a  superior  by  means  of  a  gift  or  offering 
( nazr)  which,  once  accepted,  entailed  an  obligation  to  confer  benefice  on 
the  donor,  thus  reaffirming  the  link  between  inferior  and  superior 
members  of  the  elite  hierarchy  (Ashraf  1970:72  f f ) .  Members  of  the 
Muslim  elite  also  validated  their  status  and  engaged  in  competition  with 
one  another  by  practising  conspicuous  consumption  and  by  patronizing 
retainers  (for  background  see  K.A.  Nizami  1974,  Athar  A1 i  1966,  Ashraf 


Essentially,  two  types  of  services  wer  patronized  by  this  elite, 
belonging  to  two  distinctly  different  social  strata.  The  "lower" 
services,  or  shagird  pesha  ("serving  professions,"  menials),  comprising 
specialized  crafts,  artisan  skills  and  personal  services,  were  provided 
by  hereditary  professional  specialists  belonging  to  Hindu  occupational 
castes  or,  more  often,  to  their  equivalent  Muslim  convert  groups. 
Characterized  by  an  ascribed  status  and  a  position  of  economic 
dependence,  these  groups  related  to  the  elite  as  in  the  traditional 
patron-client  or  jajmanT  system  prevalent  throughout  traditional  India 
(for  background  see  Wiser  1936,  Lewis  1965,  Kolenda  1963).  Though  not 
strictly  within  the  caste  system,  Muslim  occupational  classes,  too,  were 
the  hereditary  clients  serving  feudal  rural  or  urban  patrons  under  fixed, 
inter-caste-like  conventions  of  authority  and  submission  (for  sources 
dealing  with  Muslim  data  see  e.g.  Eglar  1960,  Madan  1976,  Ahmad  1978). 

The  "higher"  services  of  administration,  culture,  religion  and 
personal  retainership  were  provided  by  groups  drawn  mainly  from  Muslims 
of  foreign  descent  who  generally  belonged  to  the  elite  category  within 
the  social  structure.  Their  relationship  with  patrons  followed  courtly 
conventions  but  contained  a  strongly  personal  and  arbitrary  element  which 
accounts  for  the  dimension  of  social  mobility  through  personal 
allegiance.  What  seems  significant  here  is  that  access  to  the  centre  of 
power  and  resource,  personified  in  the  ruling  elite,  was  related  to  the 
acceptance  of  personal  allegiance,  an  arbitrary  criterion,  not  just  to 
the  heredity  of  occupational  class.  During  the  height  of  Muslim  rule  in 
the  Mughal  period  (16th  to  18th  c.)  this  "courtier"  pattern  came  to 
dominate  social  relations  among  the  elites  and  to  a  degree  it  persists  to 


i  & 


the  present.  Bribery,  though  universally  condemned  in  recent  times,  can 
be  seen  as  a  natural  concomitant  of  this  pattern,  representing  the 
material  link  (offering)  between  client  and  patron. 

As  a  whole,  traditional  Muslim  society  in  India  is  characteri zed  by 
a  basic  division  into  two  comprehensive  social  strata.  One  comprises  the 
ashraf  (sing.  sharTf  i .e.  "noble"),  "noble"  or  "well-born"  Muslims 
claiming  foreign  descent  and  holding  political  or  economic  power, 
especially  land;  it  also  includes  those  with  some  access  to  either.  The 
other  comprises  the  "low-born"  Muslims,  considered  to  be  of  indigenous 
origin  and  grouped  into  occupational  classes  or  "castes"  ( zat,  a  term 
roughly  equivalent  to  the  Hindi  term  for  subcaste,  jatT,  but  also 
denoting  "social  class"  generally).  These  are  ordered  hierarchical ly  and 
separated  by  endogamy  much  like  their  Hindu  counterparts;  whereas  the 
four  categories  of  the  "well-born",  based  on  genealogical  or  geographic 
origin,  are  but  loosely  ranked  and  lack  strict  internal  endogamy.  What 
links  the  entire  Muslim  social  structure  and  distinguishes  it  from  Hindu 
caste  society  is  that  power,  both  political  and  economic,  constitutes  the 
primary  criterion  of  status  differention.  Religion  can  at  most  play  a 
legitimizing  role;  in  addition,  religious  stature  can  serve  to  enhance 
social  status  (for  perspectives  on  Indo-Muslim  social  structure  see 
Ansari  1960,  Barth  1960,  Dumont  1970,  Ahmad  1973,  Madan  1976). 

Culturally,  Muslim  rule  was  oriented  initially  to  the  Persian  and 
Central  Asian  realm  of  its  origin,  but  gradually  a  blend  of  foreign, 
Islamic  and  indigenous  Indian  elements  came  about,  however  with  clear 
superiority  assigned  to  the  former  (for  background  see  Ahmed,  1964, 

1969).  Thus  the  court  language  and  idiom  of  high  culture  was  Farsi,  with 





Hindi  used  only  as  a  lingua  franca  to  address  the  unlettered.  From  this, 
Urdu  developed  as  a  synthesis  of  both  languages,  based  on  Hindi  structure 
with  a  heavily  Persianized  vocabulary.  By  the  18th  century  Urdu  became 
the  Indo-Muslim  elite  language  and  lingua  franca,  and  indigenous  Indo- 
Muslim  cultural  traditions  were  well  established  in  the  arts,  including 
music  (for  background  see  Bailey  1932,  Saksena  1940,  Ahmed  1964,  chs.  10, 
11,  and  1969  chs.  8,  9). 

Within  this  socio-cul tural  framework  Sufism  established  itself  in 
the  Indian  subcontient  along  with  Muslim  political  rule.  Indeed,  it  came 
to  represent  and  legitimize  that  rule,  and  in  time  Sufi  practices  and 
institutions  came  close  to  mirroring  the  social  structural  pattern  of 
that  rule. 

From  the  beginning,  Sufi  leaders  and  their  spiritual  descendants 
played  an  important  role  in  establishing  centres  of  mystical  life  for 
Sufi  adepts  which  also  served  the  teaching  of  Islam  among  the  non-Muslim 
population  (Ahmed  1955,  Eaton  1978).  In  turn,  the  imperial  rulers  were 
generous  in  granting  property  endowments  to  such  Sufi  establishments,  in 
particular  the  shrines  built  around  the  graves  of  their  founders.  Four 
important  Sufi  orders  were  introduced  into  India  during  the  13th  and  upto 
the  16th  century,  along  with  other  minor  ones.  The  four  are  the 
Chishtiya  and  the  Suhrawardiya ,  followed  by  the  Naqshbandiya  and  the 
Qadriya  (see  Trimingham  1971:  Ch.2  and  Subhan  1960:  Ch.  10,  also  Rizvi 
1978  for  their  origin  and  background). 

The  Chishtiya  is  the  earliest  and  the  one  spread  most  widely 
throughout  India;  in  fact,  it  has  remained  an  Indian  order  with  little 



presence  outside  the  subcontinent.  Established  initially  by  Muinuddin 
Chishti  at  Ajmer  and  his  immediate  spiritual  successors  (see  Table  12) 
the  Chishti  order  was  initially  in  close  contact  with  the  imperial  Muslim 
court,  thought  some  early  Chishti  saints,  notably  Nizamuddin  Auliya  of 
Delhi,  refused  to  accept  landgrants  as  rewards.  But  the  general  pattern 
of  development  was  that  the  state  supported  shrine  establishments  by  both 
landed  endowments  and  also  by  direct  patronage  through  members  of  the 
elite.  Hand  in  hand  went  the  increasing  popularity  of  such  shrines  as 
centres  of  saint  veneration,  attracting  vast  numbers  of  uninitiated 
devotees  in  addition  to  the  Sufis  attached  to  the  saintly  lineage. 

Along  with  this  localization  of  Sufi  practice  and  the  concomitant 
need  for  the  management  of  shrines  and  rituals  came  an  expansion  in  the 
reckoning  of  Sufi  lineages  from  the  purely  spiritual  descent  principle  to 
the  inclusion  of  familial  descent  from  a  founder  saint.  Sufism  simply 
adopted  the  social -structural  principle  of  heredity  by  patrilineal 
descent  prevalent  throughout  Indian  Muslim  society,  thereby  according  to 
the  physical  descendants  of  saints  the  hereditary  right  to  control  and 
manage  the  endowments,  both  spiritual  and  material,  of  their  ancestor 
(documented  in  Eaton  1974  for  South  Indian  shrines).  Thus  a  dargah  or 
Sufi  shrine,  whether  endowed  with  property  or  not,  came  to  be  controlled 
by  a  legitimate  representative  of  the  saint  buried  there  whose  right  is 
based  on  familial  rather  than  spiritual  descent  (documented  for 
Nizamuddin  Auliya  in  Dehlavi  1964). 

Theoretically,  there  is  one  single  successor  to  the  leadership  of 
the  saint  and  his  tomb  called  sajjada  nashTn  or  gaddT  nashTn  (the  one 

sitting  on  the  [saint's]  prayer  mat  or  throne),  but  at  most  large  shrines 


at  least  two  if  not  more  descendants  claim  this  right.  At  the  major 
shrines  of  the  Chishti  si  1  siTa  such  as  Ajmer  or  Nizamuddin  Auliya,  entire 
communties  of  such  representatives,  called  pTrzade  (pi.  of  pirzada,  son 
of  a  pTr,  see  p.  251  ff  for  Nizamuddin  Auliya)  or  khuddam  (pi.  of  khadim, 
one  serving  the  saint),  have  a  hereditary  share  in  managing  the  shrine's 
spiritual  and  material  benefits.  Here  too,  however,  one  or  several 
individual  leaders  stand  out  as  the  equivalent  of  an  official 
representative  or  sajjada  nashTn,  though  often  under  different  titles. 

As  a  class,  these  "descendants"  constitute  the  nobility  of  the  Sufi 
shrines.  Individually  or  collectively,  they  receive  the  income  or 
revenue  from  shrine  endowments.  Most  of  all,  their  familial  and 
spiritual  inheritance  from  the  saint  enables  them  to  mediate  between  any 
non-related  Sufi  and  the  saint.  On  one  hand  the  descendant  himself 
represents  the  saint's  followers  by  means  of  traditional  Sufi  teaching  as 
well  as  by  distributing  its  material  tokens,  especially  in  the  form  of 
amulets  ( tlwTz) .  On  the  other  hand  he  acts  as  the  agent  (wakTl )  of  the 
Sufi  devotees,  especially  referring  their  concerns  to  the  saint  in  their 
absence.  Most  important  of  all,  he  is  entitled  to  accept  on  behalf  of 
the  saint  the  propitiatory  offerings  the  devoteees  bring  to  the  saint. 

The  devotee  in  turn  depends  on  the  saint's  representative  to  cater  to  his 
spiritual  and  ritual  needs,  including  the  opportunity  to  participate  in 
all  Sufi  ritual  practices. 

To  provide  these  opportunities  and  generally  maintain  the  shrine, 
the  saintly  representatives  rely  on  service  professionals  who  are 
attached  to  the  shrine  by  hereditary  right  but  are  also  subject  to  the 
cotrol  of  the  shrine  descendants.  These  normally  include  professionals 



providing  menial  services  such  as  sweeping  the  shrine  or  cooking  food 
which  devotees  wish  to  give  away  in  the  name  of  the  saint.  Most 
prominently,  they  also  include  the  Qawwali  performers  who  are 
indispensible  to  the  performance  of  sama1  assemblies  as  well  as  shrine 
rituals.  Notwithstanding  their  superior  professional  skill  and  service, 
the  Qawwals,  along  with  all  other  service  professionals,  belong  to  the 
servants  of  the  dargah  and  stand  in  a  servile  or  "client"  relationship  of 
dependence  to  the  shrine  descendants.  (This  entire  setting  is 
exemplified  by  the  Nizamuddin  Shrine  as  described  in  the  Ethnographic 
Section,  Part  A) . 

In  sum,  the  central  institution  of  Sufism  in  India,  the  dargah, 
clearly  reflects  the  larger  socio-economic  structure  of  traditional  Indo- 
Muslim  society.  This  can  be  seen  at  two  levels:  At  the  level  of  a  self- 
contained  institution  the  Sufi  dargah  is  a  quasi -feudal  establishment  in 
which  a  hereditary  appropriating  class  of  saintly  representatives 
controls  the  resources,  whether  property  revenue  or  offerings  received 
from  devotees.  Service  professionals,  including  Qawwali  performers,  are 
attached  as  clients  to  this  controlling  class  in  a  traditional  patron- 
client  arrangement  by  which  the  client  has  a  hereditary  right  to  perform 
the  service  but  under  conditions  controlled  by  the  patron. 

Seen  at  the  level  of  its  larger  socio-economic  base,  however,  the 
dargah  is  ultimately  an  institution  of  patronage,  received  either 
directly  or  indirectly.  Not  only  does  the  entire  shrine  establishment 
depend  on  wordly  patronage  economically;  such  patronage,  especially  from 
high  representatives  of  the  worldly  hierarchy,  also  serves  to  reinforce 


its  spiritual  standing,  validating  the  saint's  spiritual  power  with 
tangible  evidence.  In  return  for  this  worldly  support  the  Sufi  dargahs 
have  historically  provided  religious  legitimization  for  the  Muslim  ruling 
elites,  especially  vis  a  vis  the  general  subject  population. 

The  institutional  emphasis  of  Indian  Sufism  on  the  dargah  of  course 
does  not  mean  that  Sufism  is  confined  to  shrines;  Sufis  both  teach  and 
practise  in  all  Muslim  centres  of  the  Indian  subcontinent.  But  since  the 
spiritual  orientation  of  Indian  Sufis  generally  is  directed  to  the  Sufi 
hierarchy  and  its  saintly  leaders,  such  circles,  too,  practice  Sufism 
with  reference  at  least  to  the  saints  of  their  own  lineage.  They  also 
recognize  the  manifestation  of  saintly  power  in  shrine  establishments, 
just  as  they  recognize  worldly  power  in  the  seat  of  government;  they 
therefore  are  the  prime  supporters  of  both  the  spiritual  framework  and 
the  social  sphere  of  saintly  representation  centered  in  the  dargah. 

The  practice  of  Sufism,  particularly  in  its  ritual  aspects,  reflects 
both  Sufi  ideology  and  its  socio-economic  realization  in  the  shrine 
hierarchy.  A  highly  formalized  code  of  behavior  derived  from  Muslim 
court  traditions  governs  all  formal  interaction  between  members  of  the 
Sufi  community  and  their  servants,  especially  as  it  occurs  in  the  sama 1 
assembly.  Indeed,  seen  in  the  larger  perspective  of  Sufi  practice,  the 
Qawwali  assembly  provides  a  prototype  context  for  a  formal  "acting  out" 
of  the  structural  and  processual  features  of  Indian  Sufism,  since  it  is 
the  one  formal  setting  in  which  the  entire  Sufi  community  is  represented. 
An  analysis  of  the  Qawwali  assembly  needs  to  take  in  account  this  back¬ 
ground  dimension;  at  the  same  time  it  will  also  serve  to  illustrate  that 



dimension  in  concrete  terms. 

Lest  this  account  give  the  impression  that  Sufism  operates  in  a 
static  social  context,  it  should  be  added  that,  while  in  India  Sufi 
shrine  establishments  continue  to  exist  and  operate  as  before,  including 
the  practise  of  sama 1 ,  the  lack  of  political  dominance  and,  more 
particularly,  the  recent  decimation  of  the  feudal -based  Muslim  Establish¬ 
ment-due  to  land  reforms  and  migration  to  Paki stan--have  weakened  the 
traditional  socio-economic  support  base  of  the  Sufi  shrine  elites,  in 
turn  reducing  their  power  of  patronage.  As  a  concomitant,  individual 
patronage  from  among  the  larger  public  has  assumed  more  importance  for 
Sufi  institutions,  including  patronage  from  the  non-Muslim  elite. 

D  Social  and  Professional  Identity  of  the  Performer:  Maker  of  Qawwali 

In  this  section  the  same  political  economy  perspective  is  extended 
to  the  performer  of  Qawwali,  inasmuch  as  he  is  a  part  of  the  socio¬ 
economic  structure  of  Sufism.  In  addition,  a  consideration  of  his 
professional  identity  as  a  music  maker  is  relevant,  in  the  light  of  the 
goal  of  this  analysis.  This  outline  sketch  of  the  performer  is  presented 
here  since  it  forms  part  of  the  background  context  of  Qawwali,  even 
though  this  information  will  mainly  be  drawn  upon  once  the  performer 
becomes  central  to  the  analysis.  This  entire  discussion  is  exemplified 
in  the  concrete  by  the  Ethnographic  Section  which  deals  with  the 
performers  of  the  Nizamuddin  Auliya  shrine;  however,  it  outlines  what  is 
common  to  Qawwals  all  over  India. 





Within  the  ideological  and  socio-economic  setting  of  Sufism  the 
performer  of  Sufi  music  occupies  a  totally  insignificant  position;  yet  he 
obviously  has  a  key  function  in  the  central  ritual  of  Sufism.  The 
ideological  explanation  of  this  apparent  incongruity  is  that  Sufism 
admits  music  into  the  sama 1  assembly  only  as  a  medium  for  spiritual 
advancement,  to  be  achieved  strictly  through  listening,  while  making 
music  per  se  is  considered  against  Islamic  tenets.  But  this  ideological 
distinction  between  listening  to  music  and  performing  it  needs  also  to  be 
seen  in  its  socio-economic  manifestation  within  Indian  Sufism,  to  make 
the  peculiar  position  of  the  Qawwali  performer  understandable. 

As  mentioned,  Indian  Muslim  society  took  over  from  Hindu  caste 
society  a  hierarchial  social  structure  in  which  highly  developed 
professional  skills  are  the  preserve  of  endogamous  groups  of  hereditary 
specialists  of  low  caste  standing  (Ansari  1960).  Underlying  this 
structure  is  the  more  fundamental  opposition  between  two  general  classes 
of  society:  those  wo  control  resources  and  those  who  produce  either 
resources  or  services.  The  dependence  relationship  between  these  two 
classes  is  regulated  in  various  highly  structured  arrangements  which 
secure  appropriation  to  the  controller  or  patron  while  granting  the 
producer  a  livelihood  under  conditions  appropriate  for  his  personal 
survival . 

Qawwals,  like  all  musicians  fall  into  the  category  of  producers  in 
the  wider  sense  of  producing  a  service.  At  the  shrine  of  their 
affiliation  they  have  a  hereditary  right  to  the  performance  opportunities 
for  Qawwali  generated  and  controlled  by  their  patron,  but  they  are  in 
turn  obligated  to  provide  their  performing  services  whenever  needed, 


<  >■ 


otherwise  their  patrons  can  admit  outside  performers  into  the  hereditary 
performer  group  (as  may  happen  if  the  group  cannot  fulfil  its  ritual 
singing  obligations). 

Qawwal s  are  organized  into  bradrl-s,  endogamous  patrilineal 
communities  defined  in  accordance  with  a  common  local  origin  and  subject 
to  a  governing  body  of  elders  ( panch) .  All  male  members  call  each  other 
bhayf  (brother)  and  women  normally  do  not  seclude  themselves  from  male 
bradrT  members,  though  otherwise  female  seclusion  is  standard  practice 
among  Qawwal s,  in  accordance  with  Islamic  tradition.  Also  linked  with 
Islamic  practice  is  a  preference  for  marriage  within  the  kin  group, 
including  cousin  marriage.  Kinship  ties  are  thus  continually  reinforced 
and  extended  bilaterally,  in  the  manner  of  a  kindred  (cf.  Neuman  1979:98, 
for  Muslim  musicians  in  India;  and  Murphy  and  Kasdan  1959,  for  Muslim 
practice  general ly) . 

Socially,  Qawwal i  performers,  like  other  service  professionals,  have 
virtually  no  contact  with  the  Sufis  who  are  their  patrons.  But,  like  all 
performers,  they  also  stand  out  as  providing  a  service  of  a  public 
nature--i.e.  articulating  a  valued  cultural  tradi tion--which  is 
identified  with  social  and  cultural  prestige  and  associated  directly  with 
the  enhancement  or  validation  of  a  patron's  social  position.  Such  a 
performer's  role  as  a  cultural  "mouthpiece"  entails  a  relatively  close 
contact  with  the  socio-cul tural  elite  or  "culture  bearers"  who  are  his 
patrons  (see  Irvine  1973  for  a  fitting  elucidation  of  this  role  in  a 
feudal  Muslim  Society).  Personal  association  or  "attendance"  ( sohbat)  at 
the  teaching  circle  of  Sufi  patrons  is  indeed  an  essential  means  for  a 
Qawwal  to  acquire  background  knowledge  of  Sufism  and  its  cultural 

expression,  especially  the  literary  dimension  of  Sufi  poetry  which 
requires  a  literate  tutor.  More  particularly,  this  association  is  the 
Qawwal' s  opportunity  to  become  a  better  exponent  of  the  personal  style 
and  preference  of  the  Sufis  he  serves  in  performance.  He  may  even  cement 
the  contact  with  a  link  of  di scipl eship ,  but  that  is  in  no  way  a 
necessary  concomitant  of  what  both  Qawwal  and  Sufi  consider  a 
professional  rather  than  a  personal  or  spiritual  tie. 

Qawwal s,  however,  are  also  professional  musicians  and  share  with 

other  musicians  a  professional  identity  based  on  the  highly  specialized 

skill  of  musical  competence.  Among  the  various  kinds  of  hereditary 

performers  Qawwal s  belong  to  the  general  category  of  musicians  with  a 

classical  music  background  (see  Neuman  1979  for  an  overview  of  this 

category)  and  they  trace  their  muical  identity  through  lineages  parallel 

to,  or  even  converging  with  the  gharanas  (artistic  lineages)  of  classical 

music  (see  ex.  of  Qawwal  Bachche  performers  p.  309  f f ) .  In  spite  of  the 

fact  that  their  professional  specialization  includes  much  non-musical 

knowledge,  especially  that  of  Sufi  poetic  texts,  Qawwals  concur  with  the 

professional  evaluation  generally  accorded  them  on  the  basis  of  musical 

competence  alone.  Thus,  in  terms  of  the  professional  status  hierarchy  of 

musicians  Qawwals  consider  classical  musicians  superior  and  are  always 

ready  to  validate  their  own  musical  knowledge  in  terms  of  classical  music 


to  anyone  offering  them  the  tools  to  do  so. 

But  Qawwals  also  also  aware  of  the  special  non-musical  competence 
that  sets  them  apart  from  other  musicians,  and  indeed  qualifies  them  as  a 
kind  of  religious  functionary,  albeit  one  operating  strictly  within  the 
socio-economic  limitations  of  a  service  professional. 



It  is  in  this  general  setting  that  the  Qawwal  acquires  his 
professional  competence  which  consists  of  two  broad  areas  of  knowledge: 
one  comprises  the  performance  idiom,  including  music  and  text 
repertoires;  the  other  comprises  the  performance  context  in  which  this 
idiom  is  to  be  used. 

The  first  of  these,  the  performance  idiom  and  repertoire,  the  Qawwal 
learns  basically  from  his  family.  Boys  are  instructed  by  their  male 
el ders--women  have  no  part  in  Qawwal  i  singing  at  any  stage.  They  learn 
the  fundamentals  of  music--tonal  and  rhythmic  system,  form,  and 
rudimentary  improvisation--and  must  memorize  text  and  tunes  of  a  basic 
repertoire  of  Qawwal i  songs.  Since  Qawwal i  is  a  group  song,  the  young 
performer  has  to  be  initiated  into  the  process  of  group  singing  and 
assigned  his  place  in  the  ensemble.  Who  becomes  a  lead  singer,  a  group 
singer  or  an  instrumental  accompanist  is  determined  by  musical  talent, 
memory  and  quick  recall  of  texts,  as  well  as  that  elusive  quality, 
leadership.  According  to  his  skill  each  young  performer  learns  to  play 
his  part  in  the  ensemble.  In  particular,  the  future  lead  singer 
assimilates  the  method  of  performing  through  listening,  observing,  and 
guided  participation  in  the  family's  performing  groups. 

The  second  area  of  knowledge,  the  performance  context,  is  given  much 
importance  by  performers,  for  a  Qawwal  is  not  considered  capable  of 
performing  on  his  own  until  he  has  gained  an  understanding  of  what  he 
describes  as  "the  up  and  down  of  the  gathering"  (mahfil  ke 
nasheb-o-faraz) .  To  begin  with,  the  Qawwal  must  know  the  purpose  of  his 
music.  This  requires  some  background  knowledge  of  the  Sufi  ideology  as 
well  as  an  awareness  of  the  social  reality  within  which  Sufism  operates. 

•  ; 



More  specifically,  it  requires  experience  of  actual  performing  situations 
which  every  young  Qawwal  gains  "on  the  job"  while  supporting  his  elders' 
performing  group.  What  it  takes,  in  specific  terms,  for  the  performer  to 
achieve  his  goal  should  become  clear  from  the  analysis  that  follows. 



In  this  chapter  the  actual  Qawwali  assembly  becomes  the  focus  of 
attention.  Informed  by  the  background  dimensions  outlined  in  the 
previous  chapter,  the  discussion  will  introduce  the  Qawwali  assembly  in 
its  general  features,  i.e.:  when,  why,  where,  how  and  why  Qawwali 
assemblies  are  held  in  Indian  Sufism.  Then  follows  a  detailed 
consideration  of  the  structure  of  the  assembly  as  the  occasion  for  the 
performance  of  Qawwali  music. 

As  in  the  preceding  discussion  of  shrines  and  performers,  here  too 
the  example  of  Nizamuddin  Auliya  as  a  major  setting  for  Qawwali 
performance  occasions  (see  Ethnographic  Section,  Part  C)  may  be  taken  as 
a  concrete  manifestation  of  what  is  outlined  below  for  Qawwali  in 
general . 

The  Qawwali  assembly  (mahfil-e-qawwalT,  qawwali  ki  mahfil)  is  the 
socio-cul tural  institution  central  to  Sufi  ritual  practice.  In 
accordance  with  Sufi  ideology  it  serves  the  purpose  of  realizing  the 
sama1  concept,  i.e.  to  enable  Sufis  to  achieve  spiritual  advancement 
( ruhanT  taraqqT)  through  listening  to  mystical  verse  set  to  music 
( qawwalT) .  Specifically,  such  listening  ( sama1 )  is  to  evoke  in  the  Sufi 
intensified  mystical  emotion  which  may  culminate  in  a  state  of  ecstasy  or 
union  with  God.  This  arousal,  a  highly  individual  process,  takes  place 
within--and  may  cut  across--the  formalized  Sufi  hierarchy  as  represented 





by  the  assembled  listeners.  The  manifest  function  of  the  Qawwal i 
assembly,  therefore,  may  be  summed  up  as  the  spiritual  arousal  of 
individual  Sufi  listeners  within  an  assembly  through  exposure  to  the 
musical  presentation  of  mystical  texts. 

The  way  this  religious  ideal  is  set  into  practise  corresponds  in  its 
basic  aspects  to  the  structural  features  of  the  Sufi  community  and  its 
institutions.  In  accordance  with  the  hierarchical  ordering  of  Sufism  it 
is  those  with  spiritual  authority  who  institute  and  control  Qawwal i 
assemblies.  Hence  every  Qawwali  occasion  is  led  by  a  saint's  descendant 
or  a  spiritual  guide  who  acts  in  this  capacity.  Equally  essential  to 
every  Qawwali  assembly  is  the  presence  of  at  least  one  group  of  Qawwal s 
who  are  competent  to  perform  Qawwali  in  accordance  with  the  leader's 
expectations.  The  third  component,  the  Qawwali  audience,  varies  widely 
in  size  and  composition;  it  usually  comprises  Sufis  of  standing  and 
devotees  of  every  kind--indeed  the  Sufi  assembly  is  open  to  all  comers. 

In  its  distribution  and  frequency  the  Qawwali  assembly  reflects  the 
life  of  the  Sufi  community  all  over  the  Indian  subcontinent;  thus,  where- 
ever  there  are  Sufis  and  Qawwal s,  there  will  be  Qawwali.  Hence,  it  is 
the  centres  of  Sufism  which  are  also  the  centres  of  Qawwali:  the  major 
Sufi  shrines,  especially  those  of  the  Chishti  lineage  (silsila,  see  Table 
12, p.  41).  At  these  loci  of  spiritual  authority  saintly  descendants, 
representatives  and  spiritual  guides  hold  Qawwali  assemblies  in  which 
hereditary  shrine  Qawwal s  are  the  core  performers  and  both  resident  Sufis 
and  devotees  visiting  the  shrine  --i.e.  anyone  who  believes  in  the 
saint's  power--  constitute  the  core  audiences. 

Qawwali  assemblies  everywhere,  but  particularly  at  shrines,  are 


oriented  to  saints,  since  saints  symbolize  the  nearness  to  God  which  the 
Sufi  seeks  to  achieve  in  sama 1 .  In  fact,  the  commemoration  of  a  saint's 
final  union  (wi_sal_)  with  God  on  his  death  day  (  'urs)  constitutes  the 
prime  raison  d'etre  for  holding  Qawwal i  assemblies.  Such  anniversary 
commemorations  range  from  a  single  Qawwal i  occasion  led  by  the 
representative  of  a  small  shrine,  or  by  a  sheikh  with  a  group  of 
disciples,  to  a  week-long  succession  of  many  assemblies  held  by  different 
spiritual  personages  for  different  audiences  among  large  numbers  of 
pilgrims  at  a  major  shrine.  At  such  shrines,  Qawwal i  occasions  are  also 
held  on  the  saint's  monthly  or  weekly  death  days;  furthermore,  Qawwal i  is 
performed  weekly  on  Thursday,  the  day  for  the  remembrance  of  the  dead  in 
Islam,  and  it  is  often  heard  on  Friday  as  well,  the  day  of  congregational 
prayer.  In  addition  to  these  regularly  scheduled  events,  spiritual 
leaders  convene  Qawwal i  events  to  serve  their  own  needs  or  those  of 
visiting  devotees.  Outside  of  shrines  it  is  established  Sufi  sheiks  or 
saintly  descendants  who  hold  Qawwal i  assemblies  for  their  followers  with 
varying  regularity  but  guided  by  the  same  basic  pattern  of  their  saint's 
commemorative  days.  They  normally  rely  on  performers  attached  to  nearby 
shri nes . 

In  sum,  the  major  centres  of  occurrence  for  Qawwal i  are  the  large 
shrines,  especially  those  in  or  near  major  population  centres,  for  there 
the  Qawwal i  assembly  is  most  strongly  institutionalized  in  all  its 
dimensions.  In  particular,  the  anniversary  of  the  saint  provides  the 
focal  point  for  every  kind  of  Qawwal i  assembly,  since  holding  such 
assemblies  is  in  fact  the  principal  means  of  ritually  commemorataing  this 
event  (see  Ethnographic  Section,  pp.  371-375  for  assemblies  at  Nizamuddin 


Aul iya) . 

Qawwal i  occasions  par  excellence,  then,  take  place  during  the  'urs 
of  the  great  saints  at  their  shrines.  At  that  time,  Sufis  and  devotees 
assemble  from  all  over  the  region,  including  representatives  from  other 
important  shrines  or  from  smaller  local  tombs,  and  spiritual  guides  who 
will  in  turn  be  sought  by  their  disciples.  Disciples  and  devotees  of 
high  social  standing,  some  visiting  from  distant  centres,  others 
representing  local  worldly  authority,  also  come  to  the  shrine  and  attend 
Qawwal i  assemblies.  These,  as  well  as  the  many  ordinary  devotees  from 
the  local  town  or  nearby  villages,  are  drawn  here  to  link  themselves  with 
the  saint  or  with  a  spiritual  guide.  Finally,  large  numbers  of  local 
visitors  attend  a  major  1 urs  much  like  a  fair  and  take  in  Qawwal i  as  well 
(cf.  Census  of  India  1961,  1966). 

At  the  core  of  every  such  major  anniversary  are  the  major  Qawwal i 
assemblies  held  specifically  to  commemorate  the  saint's  union  with  God. 
Followed  by  the  appropriate  ritual  for  the  dead  ( qul  ,  khatam) ,  these 
assemblies  are  attended  by  the  largest  numbers  of  devotees  and  include 
the  entire  hierarchy  of  Sufis  present.  Their  time  and  place  are  fixed  by 
tradition  but  vary  widely  between  shrines  and  assemblies.  Located  near 
the  actual  tomb  or  otherwise  close  to  the  saint,  they  are  held  during  day 
or  night  and  may  last  from  half  an  hour  to  all  night. 

Complementing  these  major  performance  occasions  for  Qawwal i  are  what 
is  considered  by  Sufis  the  classical  sama1  of  mystics:  intimate 
gatherings  convened  by  shrine  notables  or  spiritual  guides  for  their 
particular  circle  of  Sufis,  disciples  or  devotees.  Such  assemblies  for 
the  spiritually  initiated  are  part  of  the  regular  sequence  of  events  at 


raj  I 


every  major  1 urs  (cf.  Performance  1:315  f f ) .  In  addition,  they  are 

convened  spontaneously  as  well.  It  is  this  type  of  assembly, 
furthermore,  which  is  held  throughout  the  year  by  Sufis  both  in  and  out 
of  shrines. 

At  shrines,  Qawwal i  is  performed  at  yet  other  kinds  of  occasions 
considered  to  be  of  less  significance  by  Sufis;  they  include  minor  shrine 
rituals  and  Qawwal i  performances  held  in  the  shrine  compound  for  visiting 
devotees.  All  these  are  characterized  by  variability  in  spiritual 
leadership  and  audience  composition. 

Musically,  this  wide  array  of  Qawwal i  performance  occasions  is 
served,  first  and  foremost,  by  the  local  shrine  performers.  As 
hereditary  shrine  servants  they  cover  ritual  singing  and  perform  at  all 
types  of  assemblies  as  arranged  by  the  particular  patron  who  leads  each 
gathering.  An  important  shrine  may  require  its  performers  to  sing  at 
about  50  assemblies  in  a  year,  circa  half  of  them  major  ones.  At  small 
assemblies  one  local  group  may  be  the  only  one  to  perform,  but  for  major 
Qawwali  assemblies,  and  during  the  'urs  in  particular,  outside  performers 
from  nearby,  and  sometimes  far-off  shrines,  visit  the  shrine  so  that 
assembly  leaders  can  draw  from  a  pool  of  performers.  Thus  the  performing 
sequence  heard  at  any  Qawwali  assembly  may  range  from  a  single  local 
performing  group  to  a  variegated  series  of  local  and  outside  performers 
singing  one  or  two  songs  in  turn. 

With  all  the  external  variety  in  Qawwali  assemblies,  consistent 
features  characterize  their  internal  structure.  Both  performance  setting 
and  interaction  process  reflect  the  formal  and  functional  relationship 
between  participants  in  the  assembly.  The  1 eader  occupies  the  foremost 


place  in  the  assembly;  he  regulates  the  performance  and  sets  the  tone  of 
the  occasion  so  as  to  best  serve  its  spiritual  purpose.  The  performer 
aims  at  satisfying  the  leader  by  presenting  a  continuous  succession  of 
Qawwali  songs  appropriate  to  the  occasion,  with  the  object  of  inducing 
and  intensifying  mystical  arousal  in  the  audience.  The  listeners, 
including  the  leader,  concentrate  on  the  impact  of  the  Qawwali  songs  so 
as  to  achieve  spiritual  advancement  through  the  experience  of  mystical 
arousal  that  may  even  lead  to  divine  ecstasy.  As  they  experience  such 
arousal,  individual  devotees  respond  spontaneously  but  in  accordance  with 
religious  and  social  convention.  They  express  states  of  mystical  love 
intuitively  through  movement  and  exclamation,  culminating  in  the  ecstatic 
dance  of  self-abandonment  in  mystical  union.  At  the  same  time,  they 
activate  their  link  to  the  Sufi  hierarchy  through  monetary  offerings  made 
to  the  leader  as  a  gesture  of  devotion  and  allegiance.  The  leader 
accepts  and  then  transmits  the  offerings  to  the  musicians  as  their 
remuneration.  All  responses  are  continually  interpreted  by  the  musicians 
who  adapt  their  performance  accordingly  to  cater  to  their  listeners' 
needs  of  the  moment.  Thus  every  Qawwali  song  performed  in  context  is  the 
result  of  a  continuous  process  of  interaction  between  musicians  and 

In  general,  the  standard  of  audience  participation  is  set  by  the 
leader  and  prominent  listeners,  while  ordinary  devotees  stay  in  the 
background.  The  amount  of  such  participation  varies  widely  between  and 
within  assemblies,  depending  on  these  listeners'  spiritual  state  but  also 
on  their  material  resources.  Indeed,  socio-economic  factors  operate  here 
alongside  religious  ones:  Musicians  sing  for  mystical  arousal  to  elicit 



offerings  and  ensure  the  leader's  patronage.  Leaders  work  for  a  success¬ 
ful  assembly  so  as  to  validate  their  status  and  expand  their  patronage 
over  devotees  who  provide  them  sustenance.  Listeners  use  the  opportunity 
for  self-expression  and  largesse  to  enhance  their  spiritual  or  social 
standi ng . 

Thus,  in  complement  with  the  manifest  spiritual  function  of  Qawwali, 
a  latent  function  may  be  said  to  operate  at  the  socio-economic  level, 
consisting  of  the  participants'  self-actualization  in  accordance  with  the 
basic  relationships  that  characterize  Indo-Muslim  society  (see  Ch.  5  C 
and  D  above).  However,  even  this  latent  function  becomes  operative  only 
at  the  manifest  level  of  the  Qawwali  assembly  as  a  Sufi  ritual  in  which 
participants  pursue  a  common  spiritual  purpose  centered  on  Qawwali  music. 
An  analysis  of  the  Qawwali  assembly  as  a  context  of  performance  for 
Qawwali  music,  therefore,  must  begin  with  the  consideration  of  this 
assembly  as  a  religious  ritual  which  is  created  by  the  participants-- 
musicians  and  audience--on  the  basis  of  their  shared  knowledge  about  its 
religious  function,  its  structure,  and  the  part  each  is  to  play  in  the 
behavioral  realization  of  this  structure. 




In  this  chapter  the  Qawwal i  occasion  will  be  considered  as  a  socio¬ 
cultural  institution  with  an  established  setting  and  procedure,  supported 
by  an  established  conceptual  framework  and  functioning  within  a 
particular  socio-economic  structure.  Implied  in  this  perspective  are  two 
analytical  assumptions  which  inform  the  discussion  to  follow.  At  a 
general  level  of  analysis  it  is  assumed  that  any  cultural  institution  or 
tradition  with  a  social  component  will  be  subject  to  the  socio-economic 
constraints  under  which  its  participants  operate  as  members  of  that 
society.  Hence,  the  Qawwal  i  assembly  itself  may  serve  a  purpose  directly 
related  to  social  or  economic  factors  that  may  or  may  not  be  congruent 
with  the  religious  purpose  or  function  it  is  explicitly  serving.  To  ac¬ 
commodate  this  dimension  it  is  useful  to  make  the  analytical  distinction 
between  manifest  and  latent  function  (cf.  Merton  1957).  In  accordance 
with  this  dual  perspective  this  analysis  will  first  deal  with  the  Qawwal i 
occasion  at  the  level  of  its  manifest  religious  function  as  realized  in 
concept,  setting  and  procedure.  To  complement  this  detailed  outline,  the 
entire  structure  will  then  be  considered  at  the  level  of  the  latent 
social  and  economic  function  being  served  by  it  at  the  same  time.  This 
implies  a  shift  in  the  ethnographic  focus  which  will  be  introduced  when 
this  latent  function  is  being  considered  (Part  D). 

The  second  analytical  assumption,  more  specific  to  the  subject  of 
this  analysis,  is  expressed  in  the  distinction  between  what  is  here 



.  I 


termed--fol lowing  Herndon  (1974)  and  adapted  from  Asch  (1975)--"occasion" 
and  "event".  As  an  occasion,  the  Qawwali  assembly  is  seen  in  terms  of  a 
generalized  "cognitive  and  social  entity"  (Asch  1975:245)  which 
represents  the  abstracted  norm  that  is  evoked  by  the  question:  "What  is 
a  Qawwali  assembly?"  As  an  event,  the  Qawwali  assembly  is  seen  in  terms 
of  any  one  particular  manifestation  of  that  general  notion  which  presents 
the  concrete  occurrence  evoked  by  the  question:  "What  is  this  Qawwali 
assembly?"  Implied  in  this  distinction  is  an  analytical  perspective  that 
comprises  two  dimensions  of  structure:  one  is  the  practical  or 
behavioral  dimension,  i.e.  the  ingredients  of  the  Qawwali  process,  the 
other  is  the  theoretical  or  cognitive  dimension,  i.e.  the  conceptions  or 
norms  that  underlie  these  ingredients. 

Since  the  analytical  distinction  between  the  cognitive  and  the 
behavioral  dimension  owes  its  conceptualization  to  ethnoscience  (cf.  Ch. 
1:19  ff ) ,  it  is  important  to  clarify  that  here  this  analytical 
distinction  is  used  as  a  tool  to  deal  with  process  and  its  underlying 
structure,  not  as  an  approach  to  analysis  itself.  The  ethnoscientific 
approach  is  based  on  the  assumption  that  there  are  two  ethnographic 
domains,  the  cognitive  and  the  behavioral,  and  that  they  yield  to  two 
types  of  analysis:  one  formal,  componential  or  semantic,  the  other 
situational.  Research  generated  by  this  approach  has  significantly 
refined  the  analysis  of  the  cognitive  domain  and  thus  clarified  for  all 
anthropological  analysis  the  distinction  between  analyst's  and 
informant' s--or  "emic"  and  "etic"--categories  of  perception.  In  dealing 
with  a  culttural  tradition  which  is  so  obviously  founded  on  the 
conceptual  framework  of  a  religious  ideology,  the  ethnoscientific 


approach  would  seem  to  be  eminently  suitable.  Indeed,  it  provides  useful 
analytical  categories  for  dealing  with  the  semantic  framework  of 
conceptualizations  that  constitute  the  ideology  of  the  Qawwali  occasion. 
However,  separating  the  ideology  analytically  creates  the  illusion  of  a 
dichotomy  between  the  ideal  and  the  real,  or  behavioral  domain.  This 
interferes  with  an  understanding  of  the  complex  interplay  that  actually 
takes  place  during  a  Qawwali  event  between  norms  or  standard  expectations 
on  one  hand,  and  individual  strategies  or  behavioral  responses  on  the 
other,  in  which  the  ideology  represents  a  point  of  reference  for 
confirming  norms  as  well  as  for  actualizing  individual  strategies. 

Thus,  rather  than  dealing  with  conceptualizations  as  a  separate 
cognitive  domain  (and  thereby  isolating  the  behavioral  domain  in 
opposition  to  it),  I  propose  to  deal  with  the  Qawwali  occasion  as  an 
ethnographic  entity,  but  from  a  cognitive  as  well  as  a  behavioral 
perspective.  There  are  three  ethnographic  domains  that  together 
constitute  the  Qawwali  occasion.  The  two  that  directly  embody  its 
structure  are  the  setting  and  the  procedure  of  the  occasion,  the  third  is 
the  "charter"  or  ideology  that  serves  as  conceptual  frame  of  reference-- 
an  integral  part  of  a  ceremonial  that  forms  part  of  an  elaborated 
religious  ideology.  Accordingly,  the  analysis  to  follow  will  fall  into 
three  parts.  The  central  parts  cover  the  actual  structure  of  the  Qawwali 
occasion:  one  covers  the  Qawwali  setting  and  deals  with  such  factors  as 
time,  place,  participants  and  decorum;  the  other  covers  the  Qawwali 
process  and  deals  with  the  participants'  interaction,  focussing 
particularly  on  the  listeners'  states  and  their  outward  expression. 
Preceding  these  two  parts  will  be  a  discussion  of  the  Qawwali  "charter", 


I £ 


the  concept  of  what  the  Qawwal i  occasion  represents.  This  introduction 
will  provide  the  necessary  intelligibility  for  the  discussion  of  the 
Qawwal i  process.  Taken  together,  the  three-part  procedure  will  serve  to 
present  an  analytical  summary  of  the  structure  of  the  Qawwal i  occasion. 

The  structure  to  be  outlined  here  is  part  of  the  knowledge  current 
today  among  participants  in  Qawwal i  practise  and  found  among  members  of 
different  Sufi  teaching  traditions,  although  the  particular  version 
presented  here  most  closely  represents  the  teachings  of  the  Chishti 
lineage,  the  principal  exponent  of  Qawwal i  in  India.  It  is  important  to 
note  as  well  that  the  notions  governing  the  Qawwal i  occasion,  like  other 
Sufi  conceptions,  are  shared  among  all  the  participants  in  the  Qawwal i 
occasion,  including  the  performers--even  though  their  part  is  merely  to 
provide  service.  For  informed  Sufis  and  scholars  their  knowledge  of 
Qawwal  i  structure  takes  the  form  of  a  fully  developed  scheme  while 
others,  including  most  performers,  have  a  more  limited  access  to  this 
knowledge  and  thus  confine  their  awareness  to  the  areas  in  which  they  are 
directly  involved  as  participants. 

My  own  understanding  of  the  structure  of  the  Qawwal i  occasion 
derives  from  the  observation  of  Qawwal i  events  and  their  interpretation 
by  Sufi  divines,  devotees  and  performers  through  teaching  and 
conversations,  supported  by  evidence  from  scholars  and  the  Sufi  Stic 
literature  in  use  among  Sufis  today  (e.g.  Hujwiri  1970;  Sijzi  1884, 
Ghazali  1979;  Rahman  1971).  Of  all  these  sources,  those  recognized  by 
all  participants  as  most  relevant  and  authentic  are  practising  Sufis  with 
a  spiritual  as  well  as  an  intellectual  standing  (see  Acknowledgements). 

To  make  this  prime  ethnographic  source  data  accessible  to  the  reader, 




Appendices  15  and  19-21  outline  these  Sufi  conceptions  in  summary  form, 
as  they  presented  themselves  to  the  analyst.  This  set  of  principal  rules 
and  conditions  for  the  Qawwali  occasion  also  includes  commonly  known 
principles  laid  down  by  classical  Sufism  which  serve  as  a  background 
charter  of  Qawwali  (see  Ch.  5  A).  As  in  the  music  analysis,  a  set  of 
tables  (Tables  15-22)  presents  the  steps  of  the  entire  analysis  in 
summary  form.  They  complement  the  Appendices  wherever  applicable. 
Throughout  the  chapter,  reference  will  be  made  to  Performances  1  and  2 
described  in  the  Ethnographic  Section  when  they  exemplify  a  feature 
discussed  here. 

A  Concept 

The  concept  of  the  Qawwali  occasion  in  today's  Indian  Sufism 
includes  a  layered  composite  of  rules  and  conventions  developed  initially 
out  of  principles  expounded  by  early  saints  and  divines,  and  adapted  in 
accordance  with  changing  social  conditions.  The  principles  laid  down 
between  the  11th  and  14th  centuries  not  only  serve  as  a  charter  for  this 
concept  but  contribute  to  an  amazing  extent  to  the  conceptions  in  use 
today.  What  has  happened  since  is  an  expansion  of  these  principles  to 
take  account  of  the  more  public  context  of  Indian  Sufism  in  recent 
centuries  (as  dealt  with  in  Chapter  5:121  ff). 

The  Qawwali  occasion  is  conceptualized  in  two  complementary  ways, 
each  equally  significant  for  an  understanding  of  its  structure,  and  each 
reflecting  basic  assumptions  rooted  in  the  ideological  and  socio-economic 
background  of  Indian  Sufism.  The  two  conceptualizations  are  represented 
by  the  two  formal  appellations  applied  to  the  Qawwali  occasion  by  Sufis: 

£j  I 

£ I 



one  is  the  mahfil -e-sama 1  (gathering  for  listening),  the  other  darbar-e- 
aul iya  (royal  court  of  saints).  Each  suggests  for  the  Qawwali  occasion  a 
conceptual  structural  framework  centered  on  the  listener;  one  focussing 
on  the  listener  in  relation  to  the  medium  of  performance  (the  music),  the 
other  focussing  on  the  listener  in  relation  to  the  total  audience.  In 
both  the  performer  is  included  only  by  implication. 

The  Qawwali  Occasion  as  mahfil -e-sama 1  or  Gathering  for  Listening 

As  a  Gathering  for  Listening  to  music  the  Qawwali  occasion  is 
conceived  of  in  accordance  with  its  primary  purpose:  to  serve  as  a 
context  for  the  Sufi's  encounter  with  mystical  experience  through 
listening  to  music.  The  focus  here  is  on  the  individual  listener  and  on 
that  which  he  hears,  i.e.,  the  medium  of  performance.  They  way  the  two 
are  seen  to  interrelate  in  the  process  of  listening  rests  on  certain 
assumptions  regarding  both  the  influcence  of  the  music  on  the  listener, 
and  the  listener's  response  to  the  music. 

Three  assumptions  concern  the  power  of  the  medium  of  performance, 
i.e.  Qawwali  music;  two  of  them  Sufism  holds  in  common  with  other  Islamic 
traditions;  the  third  one  is  unique  to  the  Sufi  community.  The  first 
assumption,  fundamental  to  all  of  Islam,  concerns  the  power  of  the  word. 
Based  on  the  primacy  of  God's  word  in  the  Koran,  this  assumption  applies 
to  the  Qawwali  occasion,  with  regard  to  the  power  of  mystical  thoughts 
and  feelings  expressed  in  Sufi  poetry  (see  Ch.  5  B).  The  second 
assumption  concerns  the  effective  application  of  the  word  through  the 
power  of  repetition,  particularly  rhythmic  repetition  as  practised  in 



The  third  assumption,  and  the  one  most  fundamental  to  the  Qawwali 
occasion,  concerns  the  musical  rendering  in  which  both  the  word  and  its 
rhythmical  repetitions  are  clothed.  It  is  assumed  that  musical  sound 
(ghina,  i.e.  song,  music1  or  achchhT  awaz,  i.e.  melodious,  pleasing 
sound,  voice)  has  the  power  to  stir  the  soul  (tahnk-e-qal b) ,  and  to 
arouse  emotions  of  love  to  the  point  of  including  ecstasy. 

Moreover,  the  effect  of  music  on  the  receptive  listener's  emotion  is 
immediate,  for  it  transcends  the  striving  of  the  intellect,  as  attested 
in  Sufi  verse  (e.g.  the  much-quoted  khushk  tar-o-tdiushk  chob-o-khushk 
posh) .  Through  the  Qawwali  occasion  Sufism  utilizes  this  power  of  music 
as  a  means  for  spiritual  progress  ( ruhanT  taraqqT  ka  ek  zariya),  by 
activating  and  directing  the  listener's  emotions  of  love  toward  the 
divine  by  way  of  its  manifestations,  beginning  with  the  Sheikh,  leading 
through  saints  and  the  Prophet  to  cognition  (ma ' ri fat)  of  the  ultimate 
Truth  ( hag) .  According  to  Sufis,  the  primary  precedent  for  this  power  of 
musical  sound  was  set  at  the  time  of  Creation  when  the  beauty  of  God's 
voice  transported  the  human  soul  into  a  state  of  divine  ecstasy  (wajd) . 

It  is  implied  in  this  assumption,  however,  that  music  can  also  stir 
emotions  of  love  towards  profane  purposes.  For  this  reason  Sufi  music  is 
to  be  given  a  religious  character  through  text  choice  and  the  invocation 
of  zikr,  and  through  rules  of  style  and  presentation  avoiding  profane 

Ultimately,  though,  the  focus  in  the  mahfil -e-sama ' ,  rather  than 
being  on  the  music  itself,  is  on  the  listener  and  on  his  ability  to  draw 
spiritual  benefits  from  the  music.  Two  assumptions  concerning  the 
process  of  spiritual  arousal  are  relevant  here;  they  are  related  to  the 

'  1  ' 


two  dimensions  of  mystical  love  (see  Ch.  5  p.  100  f).  The  first  one 
concerns  the  listening  process  as  an  individualized  means  for  the  Sufi 
devotee  to  activate  emotion  on  the  basis  of  his  inner  state  and  according 
to  his  personal  need  of  the  moment.  This  implies  that  the  listener 
responds  to  the  music  intuitively  and  individually,  and  he  must  therefore 
be  provided  with  a  structural  setting  of  utmost  flexibility  and  scope  for 
self  expansion.  At  the  same  time  it  is  also  assumed  that  the 
individual's  mystical  emotion  finds  fulfilment  through  his  link  with  the 
spiritual  hierarchy.  The  process  of  arousal  through  listening,  then, 
must  take  place  within  the  frame  of  reference  of  the  Sufi  hierarchy  and 
be  directed  toward  its  divine  prepresentatives .  This  is  all  the  more 
esential  because  love,  as  an  emotional  force,  can  be  directed  toward  a 
profane  as  well  as  a  divine  target. 

For  the  individual  listener,  the  totality  of  the  Sufi  spiritual 
framework  and  his  own  place  within  it  become  realized  in  the  concept  of 
the  Qawwal i  occasion  as  Royal  Court  of  Saints  ( darbar-e-aul iya) . 

The  Qawwal i  Occasion  as  darbar-e-aul iya  or  Royal  Court  of  Saints 

This  conceptualization  of  the  Qawwal i  assembly  represents  the 
institutional  framework  within  which  the  Sufi's  personal  quest  for 
mystical  union  is  realized.  The  way  in  which  the  listener  relates  to 
this  spiritual  order  or  framework  reflects  two  assumptions  basic  to  the 
Indo-Muslim  social  order.  One  concerns  inner  reality  as  confirmed  in 
outward  manifestation;  accordingly,  the  spiritual  reality  of  the  Sufi 
saintly  hierarchy  is  manifested  in  the  physical  presence  of  its  assembled 
representatives  in  the  assembly.  I  know  of  no  better  charter  for  this 


conception  than  the  13th  century  poetic  vision  by  the  Sufi  poet  Amir 
Khusrau  in  one  of  Sufism's  best-known  and  beloved  poems  ( namT  danam  che 
manzil  bud)  where  the  poet  finds  himself  transported  in  an  ideal  assembly 
of  ecstatic  Sufi  saints,  exalted  by  the  Prophet's  presence  and  presided 
over  by  God  himself.  Thus  in  the  Sufi  assembly  the  individual  listens  to 
Qawwali  in  the  presence  of  his  spiritual  superiors  and  under  the  ultimate 
authority  of  the  presiding  figure  among  them. 

The  second  assumption  complements  the  first  one  and  concerns  the 
requirement  for  formal  rules  to  govern  individual  expression.  For  the 
Qawwali  occasion  this  means  that  external  form  serves  as  a  framework 
indicating  symbolically  the  individual's  submission  of  his  personal 
emotional  experience  to  the  spiritual  interpretation  of  the  Sufi  system. 
It  is  in  this  sense  that  Sufis  consider  that  love  is  achieved  firstly 
through  form  (adab  muhabbat  ka  pahla  qarTna  hai) . 

On  the  basis  of  both  these  assumptions  the  Qawwali  occasion  as  an 
assembly  of  divines  has  come  to  be  conceptualized  in  terms  of  its 
equivalent  in  the  worldly  authority  structure:  the  royal  court  of  Muslim 
rulers  and  its  formal  etiquette  (cf.  Ch.  5:117  ff).  It  is  implied  in  this 
concept  that  spiritual  status  does  not  contradict  worldly  status;  rather, 
both  must  be  incorporated  in  the  formal  scheme  of  external  manifestation. 
Accordingly,  the  Qawwali  occasion  is  a  formal  assembly,  structured  in 
accordance  with  the  relative  status  of  its  participants,  headed  by  the 
highest  spiritutal  authority,  and  musically  attended  to  by  service 
professional  s . 

In  its  totality,  both  as  mahfil-e-sama '  and  as  darbar-e-aul iya  the 
conception  of  the  Qawwali  occasion  may  be  termed  an  occasion  for  Sufi 



devotees  to  experience  mystical  arousal  within  the  framework  of  the  Sufi 
spiritual  hierarchy,  through  the  medium  of  mystical  songs  performed  by 
professional  functionaries.  This  conception,  along  with  all  its 
implications  regarding  performer,  medium  of  performance  and  audience, 
informs  the  structure  of  the  Qawwali  occasion  in  respect  to  setting  as 
well  as  procedure. 

B  Setting 

Setting  comprises  factors  that  remain  fixed  throughout  the  Qawwali 
occasion  or  are  prerequisite  to  it.  They  include  dimensions  of  time, 
space  and  occasion  as  well  as  personnel.  It  is  on  the  basis  of  setting 
factors  that  categories  of  Qawwali  occasions  have  come  to  be 
distinguished  along  with  corresponding  expectations  regarding  the 
procedure  of  the  assembly.  Table  15  outlines  categories  of  personnel, 
while  Table  16  summaries  factors  of  setting. 

The  first  and  foremost  aspect  of  setting  is  that  the  assembly  must 
be  in  charge  of  a  spiritual  authority,  whether  in  the  person  of  a 
spiritual  guide  ( sheikh)  or  a  saint  personified  by  his  representative . 

The  entire  proceedings  are  in  the  care  of  this  spiritual  leader  of  "chief 
of  the  assembly"  (mTr-e-mahf il )  and  he  is  responsible  for  the  spiritual 
welfare  of  the  participants.  Thus  the  establishment  of  the  "proper 
conditions"  for  a  purposeful  assembly  ultimately  rests  with  him.  To 
quite  an  extent,  the  leader  gives  the  gathering  its  character  and  hence 
assemblies  are  often  identified  by  their  leader,  as  X's  assembly. 

Normally,  the  leader  of  the  assembly  is  also  its  spiritually  most 
exalted  member.  However,  a  representative  of  a  senior  saint  (saint 



TABLE  15; 


ASSEMBLY  LEADER  (mir-e  -mahfil) 

+  SE 

+  S 


+  Spiritual  Status,  derived  from  saintly  an¬ 
cestor  ^ 

a)  saints'  representative  at  shrine 
(sajjadanashin,  gaddinashin,  sajjada). 

b)  saints'  descendant  or  equivalent 
(pirzada,  khadim,  khwarzada). 


+  Spiritual  Status,  derived  from  personal 

a)  spiritual  guide  (pir,  sheikh).  \  Spiritual 

>  status 
!  holders 

AUDIENCE  (sunnewale)  |  (Sufi, 

[  Ma  shaikh 

+  Spiritual  Seniority,  derived  from  saintly  i  F uqara) 
ance  stor 

a)  senior  saints'  representative  at  shrine. 

+  Spiritual  Status,  ancestral  or  personal 

a)  saints'  representative  or  descendant. 

b)  spiritual  guide  or  senior  devotee.  J 

+  Wordly  Status 

a)  based  on  wealth  (rich  devotees). 

b)  based  on  power  (officials,  patrons). 


a)  minimal  spiritual  (poor  devotees. 

b)  minimal  worldly  (non- religious  young 
men) . 

N  Wor dly 
>  status 


PERFORMERS  (qawwal) 

+  Local  Shrine  Affiliation 

a)  communal  group. 

b)  private  party. 

+  Other  Shrine  Affiliation 

a)  senior  saint's  shrine, 

b)  minor  saint's  shrine. 

shrine  affiliation 

a)  local. 

b)  outside  visitors. 

'  status 
(khas  ) 







$4 1 


According  to  Assembly  Participants 

mir-e  mahfil  (Assembly  Leader) 

sunnewale  (’Listeners'): 

mashaikh  ('Leader')  ^ 


('Mystics')  ^ 

=  spiritual  \ 


(' Mendicants' )  I 

personages  ! 

darwe  sh 




khas  ('special') 
with  status 

umara  (' 

wealthy  people') 

=  worldly 

!am  ('common') 
without  statu 

qawwal  ('Performers'): 

maurusi  ('hereditary')  ) 

=  with  shrine 

khas  ('special')  ' 


;am  ('common') 

=  without  affiliation 


higher  in  status  than  the  patron  saint  of  the  occasion)  may  grace  the 
assembly  with  his  presence.  In  such  a  case  he  will  be  recognized  as  the 
ceremonial  head  of  the  assembly  (see  Formal  Response  p.  180)  and  the 
leader  regains  charge  of  the  assembly  by  his  leave,  while  he  may  assert 
his  own  authority  through  the  leader.  It  is  also  possible  for  a  devotee 
of  social  prominence  to  sponsor  a  Qawwali  occasion  in  association  with  a 
spiritual  leader,  usually  his  own  guide.  Sponsorship,  in  this  case, 
implies  material  backing  only,  while  the  authority  over  the  assembly  is 
placed  entirely  in  the  hands  of  the  spiritual  leader. 

Next  in  importance  and  closely  linked  to  the  presiding  personage,  is 
the  audience.  According  to  the  generally  accepted  classical  rules  the 
assembly  is  open  to  serious  devotees  who  are  in  a  spiritual  frame  of  mind 
and  ritually  pure  ( ba-wuzu ,  i.e.  having  performed  ablutions).  Women,  as 
well  as  young  boys,  are  specifically  excluded  because  of  the  temptation 
their  presence  constitutes.  This  rule  is  geneally  enforced;  for  women  in 
particular,  a  separate  enclosure  may  be  provided  as  is  in  keeping  with 
Indo-Muslim  social  custom.  As  for  the  rule  requiring  a  spiritual 
orientation,  it  can,  for  obvious  reasons,  serve  only  as  a  standard  for 
attendance  annd  deportment;  for  the  rest,  there  is  an  ideological  com¬ 
mitment  in  Indian  Sufism  to  accept  all  comers  which  in  effect  means  that 
no  one  is  to  be  prevented  from  attending  a  Qawwali  assembly-- 
exceptional ly  not  even  a  woman  ((i.e.  the  analyst).  In  actual  fact,  it 
is  the  leader's  stature  which  effectively  determines  the  character  of  the 
audience  mainly  through  the  presence  of  his  personal  following  of 
associates  and  devotees.  In  a  small-scale  or  privately  held  gathering 
they  make  up  the  entire  audience;  in  a  large  public  assembly  they  form 




its  prominent  core. 

A  Qawwali  audience,  then,  may  range  from  a  small,  homogenous  group 
to  a  large,  heterogenous  crowd.  The  former  is  most  characteristical ly 
?r?rled  by  a  spiritual  guide  with  or  without  hereditary  affiliation  with 
a  major  saint  and  consists  of  the  circle  of  his  personal  disciples  (see 
Performances  1  &  2).  As  assembly  led  by  a  recognized  representative  of  a 
major  saint  and  held  at  his  tomb,  on  the  other  side,  draws  from  the  large 
general  following  such  saints  have,  and  therefore  may  include  not  only 
the  leader's  personal  disciples  but  also  other  spiritual  guides  with 
their  disciples  and  representatives  of  other  saints  as  well  as,  in 
addition,  individual  devotees  outside  the  spiritual  status  framework. 

It  is  in  this  type  of  audience  that  status  categories  according  with 
general  social  norms  become  relevant:  these  are  socio-economic  standing 
and,  to  a  much  more  limited  degree,  seniority.  Persons  of  high  socio¬ 
economic  status  are,  in  fact,  an  important  audience  component, 
especically  since  devotees  from  this  class  have  traditionally  been  the 
worldly  patrons  of  the  Sufi  divines  (see  above  Ch.  5  C). 

Indeed,  a  partnership  between  spiritual  and  feudal  lords  exists 
historically,  as  conceptualized  in  the  paired  idioms  that  group  together 
"the  saintly"  and  "the  wealthy"  as  fuqara  aur  umara  ( fuqara  =  plural  of 
faqTr ,  i.e.  saintly  mendicant;  umara  =  plural  of  amir,  i.e.  wealthy 
leader)^.  Persons  of  high  status,  both  spiritual  and  worldly,  are 
furthermore  classed  into  the  category  of  "special"  or  "noble"  ( khas , 
shari f) ,  as  distinguished  from  those  lacking  either  who  are  residually 
termed  common  or  lowly  ( 1  am,  zalTl ) .  This  latter  distinction  even  serves 

to  identify  an  assembly  by  its  dominant  audience  component:  a  special 


assembly  (kills  mahfil )  is  one  consisting  only  of  special  people  and 
implying  a  limited  number  of  listeners,  while  a  common  assembly  ( 'am 
mahfil )  is  one  attended  by  common  people  as  well,  which,  given  their 
relative  number,  implies  a  large  audience. 

Seniority  in  the  form  of  old  age  cuts  across  all  these  categories 
for  it  accords  to  the  individual  the  status  of  potential  spirituality; 
this  is  expressed  in  the  fact  that  the  very  term  for  old  or  senior  person 
( buzurg)  is  also  applied  to  all  saints.  The  implication  of  the 
spirituality  of  old  age  is  contrasted  with  the  assumed  worldliness  of  the 
young  men's  category  (naujawom  tabqa),  which,  in  the  absence  of  other 
status  constitutes  the  least  significant  component  of  a  Qawwali  audience. 

The  remaining  participants  are  the  performers.  They  are  peripheral 

to  the  setting  of  the  assembly,  principally  because  they  stand  in  a 

service  relationship  with  the  leader.  While  their  presence  is  obviously 

prerequisite  to  the  performance  of  Qawwali,  that  presence  is  ensured  by 

the  leader  who  also  controls  the  appearance  of  particular  performing 

groups--apart  from  the  obligatory  presence  of  hereditary  performers  at 

their  shrine.  Thus  it  is  only  as  a  category  of  service  professionals 

that  the  performers  are  part  of  the  Qawwali  setting,  not  as  individuals. 

Also,  since  their  interest  in  the  assembly  is  recognized  as  being 

professional  rather  than  spiritual,  the  performers  are  not  expected  to 

have  a  devotee's  disposition  or  training.  Even  those  who  are  formally 

attached  to  the  Sufi  hierarchy  by  a  disci  pi eship  bond  are  not  considered 


to  be  Sufis  or  devotees  .  In  fact,  in  the  case  of  the  performers  the 
rule  specifying  good  personal  and  ritual  habits  is  hardly  considered 
relevant  beyond  its  external  manifestation  in  the  assembly  (see  below  for 

I  . 


decorum) . 

As  summarized  on  Table  16,  a  number  of  distinct,  but  related 
categories  constitute  the  formal  setting  of  the  Qawwali  assembly.  Among 
factors  of  formal  setting,  what  occasions  the  holding  of  an  assembly  is 
of  first  importance  and  influences  the  more  circumstantial  aspects  such 
as  time  and  place. 

In  keeping  with  its  function,  the  primary  occasion  for  holding  a 
Qawwali  assembly  is  one  invoking  mystical  union.  Foremost  among  them  is 
the  day  of  a  saint's  final  union  with  God  ( * ur s ) ,  followed  by  other  com¬ 
memorative  days  (as  discussed  in  Ch.  6:  106  above  and  summarized  on 

Table  16  A).  Likewise,  the  primary  place  for  holding  a  Qawwali  assembly 
is  one  linked  to  mystical  precedent,  most  of  all  the  locus  of  his  final 
union,  i.e.  the  shrine,  but  also  any  other  locality  with  an  associational 
link  to  a  saint  (e.g.  the  Chilla  of  Baba  Farid  near  the  Nizamuddin  Auliya 
shrine,  see  Performance  1:376  ff ) ,  or  one  graced  by  a  living  personage  of 
high  spiritual  standing  (summarized  on  Table  16  B  and  discussed  above  p. 
106  f). 

As  for  the  specific  location  of  the  assembly,  two  types  of  locales 
have  come  to  be  distinguished,  one  is  the  house  or  abode  (makan)  of 
classical  Sufism  see  Rahman  1971);  a  private,  secluded  room  or  hall  where 
a  select  Sufi  audience  can  meet  without  providing  access  to  curious 
outsiders;  the  other  is  the  large  hall  or  shrine  yard  designated  to 
accommodate  the  numerous  devotees  who  congregate  at  a  saint's 
anniversary.  Major  shrines  contain  both  types  of  locale.  The  first  type 
consists  of  the  hujra  (cell  or  meeting  room)  of  saintly  representatives 

( f. 

TABLE  16: 


a)  Occa sion  ' 


Saint's  Anniversary 


-  death  day 

special  life  event 

Saint's  Special  Dav 


monthly  death  day 
-  weekly  special  day 

Opportune  Day  in  Islam 


day  of  remembering 
the  dead  (Thu) 

-  day  of  weekly  prayer 

Spiritual  Need 

b)  Pla 



Saint' s  Abode 


Spiritcxal  Guide's  Abode 

c)  Locale 


Public  Place 


Private  Place 

a)  commemoration  period 

b)  death  day  ritual 

a)  general  commemoration 

b)  ritual  commemoration 

a)  tomb  proper 

b)  saint's  dwelling  place 

c)  shrine  area 

a)  shrine  compound 

b)  hall 

a)  cell  (spiritual  use) 

b)  room 

d)  Time  /  Duration 

related  to  Islamic  prayer  times: 

1  Fair:  2  Zohr :  3  Asr :  4  Maghrib :  5  Is  ha: 

dawn  mid-day  mid-afternoon  sunset  after  nightfall 

1.  Fixed  by  Ritual  Requirement 

2.  Extended/ open-ended 

-  no  prayer-time  constraint 

3.  Limited  in  Duration 

-  by  prayer  time 

-  by  ritual  time 

a)  preceding  specified  prayer  by 
1-2  hrs  (before  zohr  or 

a)  morning  to  mid-afternoon 
(after  fair) 

b)  night  (after  isha). 

a)  between  short-interval  prayers 
(Zohr  -  A  s  r  -Ma_ghrib  -Isha) 

b)  preceding  ritual 



which  usually  surround  the  tomb  and  its  courtyard  (Performance  2:357  ff 
is  held  in  such  a  location:  a  huj ref  at  the  Nizamuddin  Auliya  shrine). 

The  second  type  includes  the  shrine  courtyard  itself  and  various  halls 
especially  designated  for  Qawwali  assemblies  in  and  around  shrines  (there 
are  two  such  halls  at  Nizamuddin,  see  p  373  below;  locales  are  summarized 
on  Tabl e  16  C) . 

Time  and  duration  for  the  Qawwali  occasion  vary  considerably.  What 
must  be  observed  are  the  customary  timings  of  commemorative  rituals;  for 
the  rest,  any  time  not  requiring  attention  toward  worldly  cares  is 
suitable,  provided  that  prayer  times  are  avoided.  Ritual  commemorations 
are  generally  held  during  the  day  and  their  duration  is  constrained  by 
ritual  requirements .  Substantial  Qawwali  assemblies  are  often  held 
during  the  earlier  part  of  the  day  when  no  prayer  is  schedul ed--this  is  a 
preferred  time  for  anninversary  assemblies  at  some  shrines.  But  the 
favorite  time  for  substantial  assemblies  is  the  night  when  no  inter¬ 
ruption  threatens,  continuing  as  late  as  early  morning  prayer  (e.g. 
Performance  2).  Of  all  times,  the  early  morning  hours  have  a  special 
aura  of  meditative  spirituality.  Otherwise  it  is  the  times  with  ritual 
association  that  hold  a  special  sanctity,  most  of  all  the  concluding  com¬ 
memoration  ritual  at  the  annual  1  urs  of  a  saint  ( qul  or  _khatam) . 

The  duration  of  a  Qawwali  assembly  is  relatively  open-ended  to  allow 
for  its  conclusion  at  any  spiritually  beneficial  time.  Certain 
assemblies  are  limited  in  duration  by  a  timing  of  ritual  or  prayer;  such 
events  generally  last  from  one  to  two  hours  (Performance  1  precedes  a 
ritual  see  p.  316).  Four  to  five  hours  are  quite  standard  for  the 
duration  of  a  Qawwali  occasion  not  limited  by  ritual  need  (time  and 



duration  are  summaried  on  Table  16  D). 

Part  of  the  setting  of  the  Qawwali  occasion  is  the  decorum  observed 
within  the  assembly,  including  the  physical  arrangements,  seating  order 
and  participants'  dress  and  posturing.  The  internal  structuring  of  the 
occasion  is  modelled  after  the  concept  of  a  royal  court  of  Sufi  divines 
convened  in  the  name  of  a  saint  by  his  spiritual  or  familial  descendants. 
By  implications,  the  saint  is  himself  present  through  his  representative, 
and  so  are  other  saints  if  their  desdendants  are  in  attendance.  Each  is 
recognized  according  to  his  position  in  the  spiritual  hierarchy,  with  the 
most  exalted  presiding. 

There  is  a  formal  seating  order  in  the  assembly  as  is  shown  on  Table 
17.  Appropriate  both  to  the  function  of  the  assembly  and  its  status 
arrangement,  it  reflects  the  formal  relationship  between  performers  and 
listeners,  and  among  listeners  differences  of  standing.  Worldly  status, 
too,  is  recognized  within  this  framework  as  a  secondary  principle  of 
audience  ordering.  The  highest  place  is  assigned  to  the  saint  presiding 
over  the  assembly,  either  represented  by  his  tomb,  if  the  assembly  is 
held  at  his  own  shrine  or  darbar  (Court),  or  else  by  his  gaddi  (throne) 
in  the  form  of  the  seat  occupied  by  his  most  exalted  representative  who 
controls  the  event.  Directly  opposite  is  the  space  set  apart  for  the 
performers,  who  thus  principally  face  and  address  the  "throne".  The 
remaining  listeners  are  seated  facing  each  other  along  the  central  open 
space  between  throne  and  performers  (both  Performance  examples  have  this 
format).  If  the  assembly  is  held  at  a  saint's  tomb,  the  row  facing  in 
the  direction  of  the  holy  Kaaba^  (see  Table  17)  is  reserved  for  the 
leading  saintly  representatives ,  including  the  leader  himself. 




TABLE  17: 






W  ( Kaaba) 

-  s 

-  s 

+  s 

+  s 

+  s 

+  -  s 

si  L  si  + ! 

+  s 

-  s 

-  s 

-  s 

-  s 

+  -  s 


+  -s 

-  s 


s  status  (listener  with  or  without) 

L  leader 

si  spiritual  leaders 

p  performers 


cardinal  direction 




Additional  listeners  are  seated  behind  the  front  rows  and  rarely  behind 
the  performers  when  conditions  are  crowded. 

Quite  naturally,  participants  take  front  or  back  seats  in  accordance 
with  their  status,  social  or  spiritual.  The  leader  will  ensure  that 
special  or  prominent  listeners  are  given  prominent  seating  up  front  near 
the  gaddi ;  very  rarely  is  he  required  to  relegate  a  presumptuous 
commmoner  to  the  back. 

Given  the  fact  that  the  Qawwali  assembly  is  a  performance  occasion, 
it  is  significant  to  note  that  the  seating  order  does  not  facilitate  the 
listeners'  focus  on  the  performers.  This  reflects  the  purpose  of  the 
assembly  to  promote  for  the  listeners  an  inner  concentration  on  the 
mystical  quest  with  the  help  of  the  Qawwali  as  a  medium  only.  In  fact, 
in  some  mystical  traditions  the  devotees  are  not  even  to  raise  their  eyes 
toward  the  performers  (e.g.  in  the  Abu  Ulahi  silsila).  Only  the  leader 
faces  the  Qawwal s  directly,  for  he  is  required  to  control  them  thus. 

A  certain  external  decorum  is  required  of  participants:  the  dress 
should  correspond  to  traditional  standards  of  decency  and  include  a  head 
covering,  the  traditional  symbol  of  respect  in  Islam.  There  is,  however, 
no  rule  of  conformity  as  to  style  of  dress,  as  long  as  the  appearance  of 
the  Sufi  does  not  serve  the  purpose  of  show.  Indeed,  the  Sufi  tradition 
of  non-conformity  with  orthodoxy  has  found  expression  in  a  wide  range  of 
acceptable  apparel,  reflecting  both  the  Sufi's  individual  preference  and 
the  standing  of  his  saintly  lineage.  The  classical  dress  of  Sufi  saints 
or  Sheikhs,  characterized  by  a  turban  ( safa) ,  a  long  cloak  ( k h i r qa )  and 
usually  a  long  scarf  draped  over  the  shoulders  ( gal daoni )  still 

designates  exalted  spiritual  standing  today,  but  serves  higher- ranking 


q<«  e  'll.)'  &■#"•*  ^jv-G'  ^«-J,2.1>lref12  -ioJ 

Sufis  in  conjunction  with  the  preference  for  discreetness  that  marks  high 
social  status  in  Indo-Muslim  Society.  Accordingly,  Sufis  with  higher 
standing  either  wear  the  traditional  Sufi  attire  in  plain  or 
inconspicuous  colouring  or  even  prefer  the  traditional  formal  apparel  of 
the  Muslim  secular  elite,  adorned  by  the  scarf  marking  their  particular 
Saint's  identity  (e.g.  K  in  Performance  1).  Conspicuous  Sufi  dress,  on 
the  other  hand,  generally  is  worn  by  representatives  of  minor  shrines. 

The  performers  are  subject  to  similar  general  rules  of  dress.  Un¬ 
like  Sufi  listeners,  however,  they  should  not  wear  anything  conspicuous 
that  attracts  undue  attention,  but  as  a  transmitter  of  aesthetic  as  well 
as  spiritual  delight  the  Qawwal  should  nevertheless  be  appealing  in  his 
personal  appearance. 

Deportment  within  the  assembly  must  convey  respect  for  the  saintly 
presence  at  all  times.  This  respect  is  to  be  expressed  first  of  all 
through  a  sitting  posture  that  does  not  show  the  feet--a  sign  of 
disrespect  in  Indo-Musliim  tradition.  The  ideal  sitting  position  is  one 
of  kneeling  while  sitting  on  the  heels,  preferably  with  the  right  foot 
crossed  over  the  left  one,  arms  dropped  by  the  sides,  head  bowed--the 
classical  devotional  posture  of  submission  in  Islam  prescribed  for  the 
prayer  ritual.  Changing  position  and  moving  about  are  frowned  upon  as 
attracting  undue  attention  to  the  physical  presence.  The  greatest  onus 
for  realizing  this  ideal  of  deportment  is  on  the  leader  who  sets  the 
standard  for  all  others,  as  well  as  on  the  front  ranks  of  the  assembly  in 
general.  Indeed,  spiritual  leaders  sit  for  hours  without  moving  during 
an  assembly.  Peformers  too  are  expected  to  stay  within  the  general 



confines  of  decent  deportment  which  means  that  any  explanatory  or 
emphasising  gestures  should  be  restricted  to  occasional  movements  and  to 
facial  expression  and  conform  to  the  same  rules  for  sitting  position. 

C  Procedure 

The  proceedings  of  the  Qawwali  assembly  (see  Table  18)  are  governed 
by  a  rather  flexible  structural  framework  which  is  subject  to  the 
guidance  of  the  leader  in  accordance  with  the  function  of  the  occasion. 
This  guidance  or  potential  control  also  extends  to  the  sequence  of 
Qawwali  songs  performed  and  the  audiences'  response  to  them. 

The  religious  cast  of  the  Sufi  assembly  is  formally  expressed  in  the 
fact  that  it  "begins  and  ends  with  the  Koran,"  specifically  in  the  form 
of  the  Koranic  recitation  and  prayer  offered  to  the  dead  in  Islam 
( fateha) .  Thus  the  beginning  of  the  event  consists  of  chanted  recitation 
from  various  suras  of  the  Quran,  at  least  including,  and  always 
concluding  with  the  relevant  koranic  portion  for  the  Fateha 
( sura-e- fateha) ,  followed  by  an  intercessary  prayer  ( du 1  a) .  The  very  end 
of  the  assembly  is  marked  with  a  similar  prayer.  Specific  reference  to 
the  assembly  to  its  place  in  the  Sufi  universe  is  made  through  the 
recitation  of  the  spiritual  genealogy  ( shi jra) ,  that  links  the  presiding 
saint  or  even  his  representative  to  the  Sufi  hierarchy,  reaching  up  to 
Prophet  Muhammad.  All  this  recitation  is  led  by  the  assembly  leader  who 
chants  himself  or  else  designates  a  supporter  to  do  so,  especially  for 
the  genealogy  which  requires  extensive  memorization.  However,  in 
accordance  with  the  Muslim  concept  of  man's  equality  before  God,  anyone 
with  the  competence  may  take  his  turn  in  reciting  a  koranic  passage-- 



I.  KORANIC  RECITATION  (Duration:* -  16  min.  'I 

— r  Leade r 

a)  Prayer  for  the  Dead  (fateha) 


b)  Other  passages  (qir'at) 

prominent  and 
listene  r  s 

c)  Sufi  Genealogy  (shiira) 

leader  or 

d)  Intercessary  Prayer  (dua) 


II.  QAWWALI  SINGING  (Duration:  1  /2-5  h.) 

— Performers 

a)  Songs  of  obligatory  ritual  use  ^  Hymns 

>  (panchayati 

b)  Songs  of  customary  ritual  use  ^  gane) 

communal  group 
of  local  shrine 

c)  Songs  freely  chosen, 

-  guided  by  thematic  sequence  of 
focussing  on  God 



mystical  love  and  states 

'private  parties' 

d)  Songs  of  obligatory  or  custo-  (in  place  of 

mary  ritual  use  a)  or  b)) 

HI.  KORANIC  RECITATION  (Duration:2-5  min.) 

— ^  Leader 

a)  Prayer  for  the  Dead  (fateha) 


including,  but  rarely,  a  Qawwal . 

The  Qawwal i  songs,  then,  are  religiously  legitimized,  so  to  speak, 
by  the  koranic  frame  of  reference.  Inside  this  frame,  the  sequencing  of 
songs  is  governed  by  further  religious  conventions.  All  Chishti  and  most 
Qadri  lineages  (see  Ch.  5:  120)  include  in  their  tradition  at  least 
one  obligatory  hymn  which  marks  either  the  beginning  (e.g.  Nizamuddin 
Auliya)  or  the  end  (e.g.  Muinuddin  Chishti,  Syed  Muhammad  Gesudaraz,  see 
Table  1 2 ) of  their  assemblies.  Called  Qaul  (i.e.  "saying"),  the  hymn  is 
based  on  a  saying  attributed  to  the  Prophet  Muhammad  in  which  he 
designates  his  son-in-law  A! i  as  his  spiritual  successor  (maul a)  and  thus 
establishes  the  principle  of  spiritual  successorship  on  which  the  concept 
of  the  Sufi  hierarchy  is  founded  (cf.  ex.  1:320,  Performance  1:389). 
Prominent  saintly  lineages  add  one  or  more  obligatory  hymns  which  refer 
to  their  founding  saint.  The  best-known  of  such  hymns  is  the  Rang 
(colour,  delight),  a  Hindi  hymn  in  which  the  14th  century  Sufi  poet  Amir 
Khusrau  rejoices  over  finding  his  spiritual  guide  in  Nizamuddin  Aulia, 
thus  testifying  to  the  principle  of  disci  pi eship  and  to  this  saint  as  the 
ideal  Sheikh  or  Pir  (cf.  Performance  1:392).  (Other  such  hymmns  are 
jjhwaj a- e- kwaj agan  for  Muinuddin  Chishti,  bekaram-o-bak?ram  for  Nasiruddin 
Chiragh-e-Dehl i ) . 

There  is  a  small  number  of  ritually  used  hymns  that  customarily 
follow  the  obligatory  ones  on  special  ritual  occasions,  principally  the 
anniversary  of  a  saint.  Prominent  examples  among  these  are  a  second  Qaul 
also  in  Arabic,  (1¥  tamafT)  as  well  as  some  Persian  and  Hindi  songs  (e.g. 
the  Persian  ghazal  bakjmbT  cf.  p.  54  above)  or  the  Hindi  songs  aj  badhava 
and  aj  toria  all  for  Amir  Khusrau  and  Nizamuddin  Auliya)  which  may  also  be 



heard  in  other  contexts. 

Outside  the  obligatory  hymns  the  songs  performed  should  follow  the 
convention  common  to  Islamic  tradition  of  beginning  any  formal  endeavour 
with  the  praise  of  God,  followed  by  the  praise  of  the  Prophet  (see  e.g. 
the  traditional  introduction  in  Urdu  books).  Thus  the  thematic  sequence 
of  songs  for  a  proper  Qawwali  occasion  is  similarly  hierarchical ;  it 
begins  with  poems  in  the  praise  of  God  ( hamd) ,  continues  with  praise  of 
the  Prophet  ( nat) ,  and  then  goes  on  to  the  praise  of  saints  ( manqabat) . 
Other  mystical  themes  follow  in  the  form  of  poems  expressing  mystical 
emotions  (love,  separation,  union,  etc.,  see  above  Ch.  5:110  f ) .  This 
conventional  order  of  song  themes  is  no  more  than  a  general  guide, 
however,  for  in  fact  the  choice  of  poetry  and  songs  is  left  open  to  the 
inspiration  of  the  performer,  although  a  listener  may  make  a  request  for 
a  particular  song.  This  is  in  keeping  with  the  Sufi  conception  of  the 
mystical  experience  as  a  blessing  ( faiz)  ultimately  intuitional  in  nature 
(cf.  Ch.  5:103  f)and  therefore  beyond  elicitation  through  formal 
procedures  such  as  text  choices.  For  the  listener's  heart  to  be  moved, 
anything  may  become  fortuitous  enough,  not  only  the  song's  message,  its 
musical  presentation  or  its  delivery,  but  also  other  factors  such  as  the 
occasion  of  a  saint's  union  with  God,  the  intensifying  presence  of  a 
Sheikh,  the  powerful  ambiance  of  a  saint's  tomb,  and  even  the  auspicious 
time  of  an  early  morning  assembly.  Considered  in  this  conceptual 
context,  the  performance  itself  is  never  taken  to  be  the  actual  cause  of 
blessing,  only  the  medium  through  which  the  Sufi's  heart  becomes  truly 
receptive  to  the  mystical  message. 

Given  these  considerations,  it  is  therefore  enough  for  the  leader  to 


see  that  the  song  choices  stay  within  the  bounds  of  the  Sufi  tradition 
and  the  poetry  within  the  thematic  realm  appropriate  to  the  mystical 
quest  in  general.  Here  particular  attention  needs  to  be  given  to  the 
maintenance  of  the  delicate  boundary  between  that  which  suggests  mystical 
and  that  which  suggest  human  love--for  the  wrong  sentiments  must  not  be 
stirred  in  the  listener.  It  is  the  leader  of  an  assembly  who  is 
responsible  for  maintaining  a  spiritually  appropriate  standard  of  song 
choices.  As  regards  text,  explicitly  inappropriate  is  love  poety  that 
lacks  a  link  ( ni sbat)  with  mysticism,  whether  through  its  content,  its 
author  or  its  historical  association.  The  same  concern  extends  to  the 
music  of  the  songs  and  their  style  of  presentation.  While  the  singer  is 
expected  to  adorn  his  songs  with  some  basic  musical  sophistication,  even 
extending  it  to  the  use  of  classical  ragas,  his  music  should  not  make 
itself  conspicuous  through  artful  vocal  display  or  the  use  of  current 
popular  song  style.  Inappropriate  in  the  same  sense  is  a  theatrical 
performance  style  that  attracts  undue  attention  to  the  singer's  person. 

In  case  of  any  such  lapse,  it  is  part  of  the  general  expectation  that  the 
leader  will  exercise  a  veto  over  the  performer  and  direct  his  performance 
to  a  more  appropriate  course.  A  modicum  of  gestures  is  nevertheless 
considered  acceptable,  as  long  as  these  stay  within  the  bounds  of  what  a 
Sufi  uses  to  express  mild  enthusiasm,  prime  among  them  the  raised  arm 
with  palm  upturned  (hath  batana,  see  Table  20  below). 

Listening  Process 

The  Qawwal i  listening  process,  i.e.  the  part  played  by  the  Qawwali 
audience,  is  subject  to  only  limited  external  structuring;  however  there 



are  guidelines  and  even  rules  to  facilitate  the  achievement  of  the 
spiritual  purpose  of  the  assembly  while  maintaining  its  decorum.  If 
necessity,  these  rules  are  flexible,  since  their  application  needs  to 
govern  a  wide  range  of  both  internal  experience  and  external  expression. 
Indeed  they  even  embody  certain  potential  contradictions  inherent  in  both 
the  experience  and  its  expression.  To  begin  with,  the  spiritual  advance¬ 
ment  through  intensified  mystical  love  requires  that  the  process  of 
emotional  arousal  be  allowed  to  progress  to  its  culmination.  On  the 
other  hand,  the  outward  physical  expression  that  results  naturally  from 
such  a  process  must  be  prevented  from  causing  a  distracting  external 
effect  that  would  be  detrimental  to  the  spiritual  goal.  As  for  the 
achievement  of  the  mystical  goal  itself,  conditions  must  be  created  to 
promote  both  the  dimension  of  conscious  striving  and  that  of  ecstatic 
self-abandonment.  For,  on  one  hand,  the  process  of  arousing  mystical 
love  is  cultivated  to  progress  through  stages  of  gradually  intensifying 
emotion,  implying  consciousness;  on  the  other  hand  this  process  may 
culminate  at  any  time  in  a  state  of  ecstasy  resulting  in  an  obliteration 
of  the  conscious  self. 

Central  to  the  mediation  of  these  potential  contradictions  is  the 
Sheikh,  or  spiritual  leader,  not  only  as  the  one  in  a  position  of 
controlling  the  sama_|_  proceedings,  but  more  specifically,  in  his 
recognized  capacity  as  a  teacher  and  guide  setting  an  example  to  the 
other  listeners. 

Listening  to  Qawwali  is  part  of  the  spiritual  training  a  Sufi 
receives  from  his  Sheikh.  Until  fully  initiated  he  is  to  listen  under 
spiritual  guidance  and  in  the  presence  of  his  Sheikh  or  a  spiritual 




superior.  Cultivating  the  spiritual  delight  of  mystical  arousal  and 
allowing  it  to  progress  to  the  point  of  ecstasy  is  a  gradual  process 
achieved  only  by  the  spiritually  advanced.  The  dynamic  of  the  process  is 
conceptualized  in  what  amounts  to  stages  in  a  continuum,  ranging  from  the 
unaroused  normal  inner  state  to  the  state  of  ecstasy.  These  states  are 
most  adequately  represented  as  a  framework  of  three  stages  linked  along  a 
continuum,  as  summarized  on  Table  19.  In  their  own  categories,  as 
presented  in  Appendix  19,  participants  focus  mainly  on  nuances  within  the 
stage  of  altered  consciousness,  often  relating  them  to  differences  in 
mystical  tradition  and  personal  conception.  The  stage  of  normal 
consciousness  they  generally  take  for  granted;  nevertheless,  seen 
analytically,  it  is  clearly  part  of  the  conceptual  scheme  and  must 
therefore  be  included  in  an  analytical  perspective.  Best  termed 
"neutral",  this  stage  is  characterized  by  the  absence  of  any  spiritual 
arousal  (symbolized  as  0  on  Table  19). 

Of  the  three  stages  of  arousal,  the  first  is  characterized  by 
conscious  intent:  to  adopt  a  devotional  attitude  with  the  help  of 
spiritual  discipline,  to  keep  the  inner  senses  focussed  on  manifestations 
of  the  mystical  goal.  Thus  the  inner  eye  should  see  but  the  image  of  the 
Sheikh,  and  the  inner  ear  hear  but  the  name  of  God  over  and  over  (as  in 
zikr) .  The  result  is  an  inner  state  of  receptiveness  to  the  mystical 
experience  in  which  the  listener  easily  responds  to  the  spiritual 
stimulation  in  the  Qawwali  songs,  experiencing  enthusiasm  and  what  may  be 
termed  the  beginnings  of  emotional  arousal  (exemplified  in  both 
Performances) . 

The  second  stage  includes  the  entire  range  of  states  characterized 

c  M  i 





a)  Concepts  underlying  F  ramework 

3  Overlapping  contrast  sets  provide  structure  for  continuum  of 
increasing  intensity 

1)  Neutral 

vs  Aroused  State 

2)  Potential  Spiritual 
Incipient  Arousal 

vs  Strong  Arousal 

Realized  spiritual  ex¬ 

3)  Arousal  within 
control  of  self 

vs  Arousal  outside  control 
of  self 

b)  Stages  of  Arousal 

Based  on  above  concepts  and  organized  along  single  intensity 


Intensity  Self  Control 

0  Neutral,  receptive  to  spiritual 

I  Activated  devotional  attitude 

Incipient  or  mild  arousal 

II  Deeply  moved,  overcome  with 


Intense  spiritual  experience 
Strong  arousal 

III  Transported,  self  obliterated 
Trance,  ecstasy 



•  H 











According  to  Qawwali  Participants 

a)  Collective  Concepts 

F  -  kaifiyat  (ruham  kaifiyat)  =  spiritual  delight,  ecstasy 

(term  associated  primarily  with  inner  state) 

A  -  also:  kaif  =  delight 

less  standard  term,  practically  synonymous  with  kaifiyat 
idiomatic  use:  kaifiyat  (tari)  hona  =  to  be  overcome  by  delight, 

ec  stasy 

-  hal  =  transported  condition,  ecstatic  state 

(term  associated  primarily  with  manifestation  of  state) 
idiomatic  use:  hal  ana  =  to  be  transported,  get  an  ecstatic  state 
hal  khelna  =  to  act  out  an  ecstatic  state 
(somewhat  derogatory) 

kaifiyat  +  hal  are  complementary  terms  covering  the  aroused  state 
continuum.  Of  the  two,  hal  is  also  used  de rogatorily,  hence 
Sufis  prefer  kaifiyat 

b)  Particular  States  Stages 

F  -  darje  =  degrees,  stages  (of  kaifiyat.  hal) 

idiomatic  use:  ala  darje  ki  kaifiyat  =  ecstasy  of  an  elevated  stage 
halki  kaifiyat  =  "light"  state  of  ecstasy 
also:  ruhani  taraqqi  =  spiritual  advancement 

hal  ~  state  of  ecstasy  both  terms  used  to  denote 

kaifiyat  =  state  of  ecstasy  paxticular  state  as  well 

A  -  mahav  =  entranced 
A  -  wajd  =  rapture,  ecstasy 
F  -  bckhud  =  besides  one's  self 

■  -  ■■  -Jg.  . . 

F  -  also:  behoshi  =  unconscious  state 
F  -  beqabu  =  out  of  one's  control 
F  -  also:  behal  =  beyond  any  condition 

A  =  of  Arabic  derivation 
F  =  of  Farsi  derivation 


by  strong  arousal,  from  being  deeply  moved  to  being  overcome  by  emotion 
and  transported  by  the  intensity  of  feelings,  yet  still  retaining 
consciousness  (exemplified  in  Performance  1:397  f f ) . 

The  third  stage  may  be  called  ecstatic,  when  the  mystical  arousal 
becomes  so  overwhelming  that  the  conscious  self  is  obliterated  by  the 
experience  of  mystical  union  (exemplified  in  Performance  2:447  ,  451  ff ) . 

As  for  the  listeners'  outward  responses,  a  basic  assumption 
underlying  regarding  the  Qawwal i  listening  process  that  mystical  emotion, 
though  spiritual  in  nature,  will  express  itself  physically,  and  strong 
emotional  arousal,  being  an  inner  movement,  needs  to  find  outward 
expression  in  physical  movement.  While  different  saintly  lineages  and 
teaching  traditions  vary  in  the  extent  to  which  they  permit  such  outward 
expression,  all  recognize  that,  in  the  extreme  state  of  ecstasy,  complete 
restraint  from  physical  movement  is  impossible. 

Equally  basic  to  the  concept  of  the  Qawwal i  occasion  is  the  role  of 
form  as  a  framework  indicating  symbolically  the  individual's  submission 
of  his  personal  emotional  experience  to  the  spiritual  interpretation  of 
the  Sufi  system.  Thus  Sufism  recognized  two  complementary  modes  of 
expressing  mystical  emotion  in  the  assembly;  they  correspond  to  the  two 
dimensions  of  the  Sufi  quest  for  union  with  God--one  through  the  indi¬ 
vidual  mystical  experience  and  the  other  through  the  active  link  with  the 
Sufi  hierarchy  of  spiritual  power.  Accordingly,  one  comprises  the 
expression  of  the  Sufi's  mystical  state;  the  other  the  expression  of  his 
attachment  to  the  spiritual  hierarchy.  The  two  modes  also  accord 
externally  with  the  two  conceptualizations  in  which  these  dimensions  are 




manifested:  the  first  makes  reference  to  the  individual's  experience  of 
mystical  song  as  conceptualized  in  the  mahfil-e-sama1 ,  the  other  to  his 
presence  in  the  saintly  gathering  as  conceptualized  in  the  darbar-e-- 
aul iya .  Both  modes  are  subject  to  constraints.  For  obvious  reasons 
intuitive  self  expression  takes  place  within  a  wide  range  of  individual 
variation,  whereas  activating  the  link  with  a  Sufi  divine  is  governed  by 
formal  rules. 

Of  the  two  expressive  modes,  intuitive  responses  of  individual  self 
expression  are  considered  primary  as  expressions  of  mystical  arousal  and 
the  definition  of  their  limits  given  much  importance.  These  expressions 
are  sanctioned  within  the  bounds  of  formal  convention  which,  for  the 
most,  are  not  formally  defined;  rather  they  represent  a  mold  for 
expressive  behavior  which  the  devotee  internalizes  through  his  exposure 
to  the  expressive  responses  of  his  Sheikh  and  other  Sufis,  and  which  are 
rendered  meaningful  through  his  spiritual  training. 

Thus  it  is  in  conjunction  with  his  spiritual  maturing  process  that 
the  Sufi  develops  his  language  of  stylized,  yet  personal  expressive 
gestures.  In  accordance  with  this,  the  tenor  of  expressive  behavior  is 
established  by  the  spiritually  prominent,  who  have  acquired  the  capacity 
for  mystical  experience.  This  applies  specifically  to  the  extent  and 
frequency  of  the  expressive  response;  all  too  conspicuous  or  unrestrained 
self-expression  on  the  part  of  the  uninitiated  or  spiritually  less  com¬ 
mitted  is  frowned  upon.  A  much-quoted  precedent  for  this  attitude  was 
set  by  Nizamuddin  Auliya  and  concerns  once  again  his  disciple,  the  poet 
Amir  Khusrau:  When  Khusrau  danced  in  ecstasy  at  his  guide's  assembly  the 
saint  restrained  this  free  expression,  for  the  disciple  was  still 



committed  to  worldly  pursuits.  On  the  other  side,  given  the  intuitional 
nature  of  the  mystical  experience,  it  is  considered  possible  for 
spiritual  benefice  to  accrue  to  a  spiritually  less  advanced  person  who 
may  then  be  overcome  with  emotion  to  the  point  of  losing  control  over  his 
movements.  Here  too  it  is  ultimately  up  to  the  spiritual  superior,  be  it 
the  ecstatic  person's  own  guide  or  the  leader,  to  assess  his  state  and 
guide  him  through  it,  be  it  by  facilitating  his  expression  or  by 
restraining  him  (see  Performance  ex.  2). 

Expressive  Response 

There  is  a  range  of  expressive  responses  generally  current  and 
deemed  appropriate  in  the  assembly  as  indicative  of  the  devotee's  state 
of  mystical  arousal.  Summarized  on  Table  20  (along  with 
exemplifications),  this  repertoire  in  fact  constitutes  a  language  of 
gestural  and  sound  expressions.  Analogous  to  verbal  language  in  its 
signifying  fuction,  its  meaningful  units  are  essentially  signs. 

Structural ly ,  they  are  limited  in  number  and  syntactic  manipul abil ity . 
Semantically,  they  are  character!' zed  by  a  low  degree  of  specificity  and  a 
highly  evocative  content  which  is  supported  by  their  inherent  indexical 
meanings.  These  meanings  are  rooted,  and  find  reinforcement,  in  the 
genenral  idiom  of  kinesic  expression  current  in  Indo-Muslim  elite  society 
and  manifested  both  in  the  formal  context  of  cultural  and  religious 
performance  as  well  as  in  informal  social  interaction.  Additionally,  the 
repertoire  of  Sufi  expressive  responses  embodies  a  set  of  signs 
transmitted  and  sanctioned  by  classical  Sufi  tradition,  as  the  manifesta¬ 
tions  of  spiritually  more  advanced  stages.  The  use  of  the  entire  idiom 


«  '  -«  ^  10 

TABLE  20: 


a)  Standard  Manifestations  of  Aroused  State  -  Specific  to  Sufism 
(in  order  of  increasing  intensity) 

Example  s 


-  sudden,  uncontrolled  movement,  twitching,  jumping 

-  weeping  (riqqat.  giria,  rona) 
arms  raised  (both)  (hath  uthana) 
shout  (chikh.  huha) 

stand  up  (khara  hona) 
dance  (raq  s) 

-  walk  (no  standard  term,  usually  subsumed  in  raq  s) 

-  fall  down,  roll,  toss  about  (lotna) 

(  -  die  (wisal)  ) 

3  99f,  4 1 9 




b)  Standard  Manifestations  of  Enthusiasm,  Incipient  Aroused  - 

Common  to  Indo-Muslim  Cultural  Expression 

-  move  head  (sideways,  nod)  455,458 

sway  (jhumna)  399,409,457 

-  tap  rhythmically  3  99 

raise  arm,  hand  (hath  batana)  454,455 

-  verbal  expression  approval  411 

exclaim  (awaz  nikalna)  413,451 

c)  Manifestations  Symbolizing  Sufi  Attitude  -  Specific  to  Sufism 

-  bow  head  symbolizes  respect,  submission  397,454 

join  hands  symbolizes  reverent  attitude  397,413 

-  prostrate  symbolizes  deepest  reverence  452 

-  hand  on  chest  symbolizes  image  of  Sheikh  in  heart  452 

-  rub  face,  touch  eyes  symbolizes  taking  in  spiritual  blessing  409 





According  to  Qawwali  Participants  (Sufis) 

a)  Manifestations  of  Strong  Arousal 

(in  order  of  increasing  intensity) 

F  -  riqqat  =  state  of  being  moved  to  tear  s,ec  static  weeping 
riqqat  tari  hona  =  to  be  overcome  by  ecstatic 


F  also:  giria  =  weeping 

H  rona  =  weeping,  crying 

F  -  sajda  =  prostration  (bowing  head  while  kneeling, 
as  in  Muslim  prayer) 

H  -  chikh  =  cry,  shout 
H  also:  huha  =  noise,  cry 
H  -  khara  hona  =  standing  up 

H  -  lotna  =  falling  down  and  tossing,  rolling  about 
A  -  raq  s  =  ecstatic  dance 

A  -  wisal  =  (final)  union,  death  in  ecstasy 

b)  Manifestations  of  Mild  Arousal 

(in  order  of  increasing  intensity) 

H  -  jhumna  =  swaying 

H  -  hath  bat  ana  =  gesturing  with  or  raising  arm,  hand 
H  also:  hath  uthana  =  raising  arm 
H  -  awaz  nikalna  =  exclaiming  (in  approval) 

F  -  harkat  =  (involuntary  movement,  action) 




of  Arabic  derivation 
of  Farsi  derivation 
of  Hindi  derivation 


is  flexible,  but  its  frame  of  reference  is  always  the  continuum  of 
spiritual  arousal. 

At  the  first  stage  of  mild  arousal,  appreciation  or  expression  of 
pleasure  ( kai f)  occurs,  often  in  response  to  a  specific  song  portion,  in 
the  form  of  an  upturned  palm,  an  exclamation,  even  a  verbal  expression. 
The  Sufi's  state  at  this  stage  may  express  itself  in  a  more  generalized 
way  through  swaying  or  an  arm  pointing  upward  to  indicate  the  awareness 
of  the  divine  presence.  Generally,  the  outward  expression  of  this  stage 
parallels  responses  in  other  performance  occasions  of  Indo-Muslim 
culture,  particularly  the  musha1 i ra  ("poetic  symposium",  see  Qureshi 
1969:430  f ) .  At  the  second  stage,  when  mystical  love  is  truly  aroused, 
it  expresses  itself  through  tears  ( riqqat)  and  perhaps  restlessness  or 
even  a  shout,  all  signs  of  being  overcome  by  strong  emotion.  Generally 
the  surge  of  mystical  delight  (kaifiyat)  will  then  subside,  perhaps  to 
arise  again  upon  a  further  stimulation  from  the  songs.  However, 
occasionally  the  emotion  is  not  to  be  overcome  and  culminates  in  complete 
ecstatic  abandonment,  the  third  stage  of  arousal.  This  condition  is 
normally  indicated  by  the  devotee's  rising  to  his  feet  in  order  to  be 
able  to  move  more  freely.  Once  he  moves  on  his  feet,  he  is  considered  to 
be  in  the  state  of  ecstatic  dancing  ( rags) .  Rags ,  properly  speaking,  is 
a  stylized  form  of  dance  in  which  the  Sufi  turns  more  or  less  on  the  spot 
by  alternately  raising  his  feet,  while  his  right  hand  may  point  upward. 
But  rags  may  also  include  walking,  or  any  rhythmic  movement  along  with 
gesticulation  and  vocalization.  In  the  case  of  extreme  self-abandonment 
jumps,  falls,  rolling  and  shouting  also  occur. 

A  seguence  of  intensification  is  implied  in  this  expressive  frame- 

.  I  i 


work,  and  indeed  the  general  expectation  always  reaches  to  the  next  more 
intense  emotional  expression.  At  the  same  time,  the  occurrence  of  these 
expressions  is  governed  entirely  by  the  individual's  inner  reaction  to 
the  performance  situation  at  any  given  moment.  Thus  they  may  indicate 
either  an  increase  or  a  decrease  of  emotional  arousal,  as  well  as  also  a 
sudden  surge  of  emotion  breaking  that  continuity. 

Formal  Response 

The  second  mode  of  responding  to  the  Qawwali  experience  serves  the 
expression  of  the  Sufi's  attachment  to  the  spiritual  hierarchy  of  Sufism, 
thus  representing  the  structural  dimension  of  the  Sufi  experience.  As  an 
essential  component  of  the  Sufi  path,  activating  this  link  forms  an 
integral  part  of  the  Sufi's  emotional  response  in  the  assembly,  at  any 
stage  of  mystical  arousal.  Whatever  the  emotional  state,  however,  the 
quality  of  this  link  remains  constant  and  therefore  finds  a  consistently 
formalized  manifestation  which  stands  in  some  contrast  to  the  wide 
expressive  range  of  the  experiential  dimension  (i.e.  expressing  states). 
This  outward  expression  reflects  the  essential  characteristics  of  the 
Sufi's  attachment  to  his  spiritual  superiors:  submission. 

Allegiance  through  submission,  embodying  the  Sufi's  striving  toward 
God  through  a  spiritual  superior  in  the  Sufi  chain,  is  the  primary 
quality  of  this  structural  dimension  of  mystical  love  and  it  is  to  be 
confirmed  by  outward  expression  wherever  representatives  of  spiritual 
superiors  are  present.  In  the  assembly,  these  include  descendants  of 
saints,  foremost  among  them  the  leader  who  represents  the  patron-saint  of 
the  assembly,  but  also  a  personal  spiritual  guide  or  even  the  very 

•  ^  ni  ■■  1  j  j 

threshold  of  the  saint's  tomb,  locus  of  his  resting  place.  A  much-quoted 
incident  from  the  life  of  the  saint  Nizamuddin  Auliya  exemplifies  the 
importance  of  outward  deference  to  anything  symbolizing  the  spiritual 
superior  in  the  assembly:  The  saint,  attending  his  own  Qawwali  assembly, 
suddendly  rose  in  respect,  motivated  not  by  inspiring  mystical  song,  but 
by  the  sight  of  a  dog  outside  that  resembled  the  annimal  he  used  to  see 
by  the  house  of  his  own  spiritual  gude.  Implied  in  the  Sufi's  activating 
his  spiritual  bond  with  the  saint  or  his  own  guide  is  also  an  active 
solicitation  of  the  divine  benefices  that  flow  from  God  through  the 
spiritual  chain  of  Sufism.  In  its  most  intense  form,  however,  submission 
becomes  an  expression  of  mystical  love  as  an  emotional  force  that 
sacrifices  life  and  possessions  to  merge  with  the  Beloved. 

Whether  serving  more  as  a  deliberate  gesture  of  deference  to  the 
divine  representatives  present  in  the  court  of  saints,  or  more  as  a 
spontaneous  extension  of  emotional  arousal  directed  toward  the  spiritual 
beloved,  the  external  format  of  encountering  the  saint  or  "meeting  the 
Sheikh"  (sheikh  se  milna)  is  constant  and  consists  of  making  a  formal 

- - - ssss - 

offering  ( nazrana) .  Table  21  summarizes  the  nazrana-  with  its  components 
(along  with  exemplifications);  in  its  standard  from  the  devotee  rises  to 
approach  the  spiritual  superior,  bows  down  (with  unbent  legs)  or  kneels 
before  him  and  extends  on  his  open  palms  (right  over  left)  an  offering  of 
money,  usually  a  single  note.  This  note  is  lightly  picked  up  or  touched 
by  the  recipient  as  a  gesture  of  acceptance  and  placed  on  the  floor 
before  him.  The  donor  may  respond  to  the  blessing  of  the  Sheikh's  touch 
by  a  gesture  of  moving  his  palms  over  his  eyes.  If  he  is  a  personal 
disciple,  he  may  well  kiss  the  hand  or  knee  of  his  guide,  or  the  ground 



TABLE  21: 


a)  Formal  Offering 

standard  presentation;  bow  to  offer 

presentation  expressing  need  for  : 
spiritual  indicator 

presentation  expressing  sub¬ 
mission,  respect 

presentation  expressing  sub¬ 
mission,  devotion 

presentation  expressing  aroused 
mystical  love 

offer  and: 

offer  jointly  with  senior 

"kiss"  or  touch  feet 

"prostrate"  (sajda) 

embrace  (gala  milna) 

Example  s 


389,  393ff 



b)  Inten  sifi  cation 

-  prostrate 






According  to  Qawwali  Participants 


a)  Standard,  Formal  Manife station 

F  -  nazrana  =  offering,  token  of  submission,  allegiance 
A  also: nazar 

F  -  sadqa  =  propitiatory  offering  to  avert  evil  from 

Sheikh/  recipient 

b)  Intensified  Manifestation 

F  -  sajda  =  prostration  (bowing  head  while  kneeling,  as 

in  Muslim  prayer) 

F  -  qadambosi  =  "kissing  the  feet"  (touching  feet  with 

hand(s)  and  kissing  it) 

H  -  gala  milna  =  embracing 

.  7  . ' 1 



before  him,  as  a  gesture  of  ultimate  devotion,  or  he  may  prolong  the 
encounter  by  remaining  in  a  prostrated  position,  indicating  ultimate 
submission.  When  returning  to  his  seat,  extreme  deference  may  further  be 
shown  by  retreating  backward  so  as  not  to  show  one's  back  to  the  saint. 

It  is  important  to  note  that  this  formal  offering  represents  a 
generally  accepted  modde  of  formal  social  interaction  with  superiors 
based  to  some  extent  on  Islamic  precedents,  but  above  all  on  the  Indo- 
Islamic  imperial  court  tradition  (see  above  Ch.  5:91).  The  implication 
is  principally  that  of  deference  which  is  indicated  by  bowing  as  well  as 
by  the  presentation  of  a  gift  that  serves  a  material  token  of  submission, 
while  also  implying  a  request  for  beneficence.  The  offering  gesture 
itself  clearly  indicates  that  the  offerer  puts  himself  in  the  position  of 
supplicant,  a  "taker",  whereas  the  spiritual  superior,  while  recipient  of 
a  gift,  is  nevertheless  himself  the  benefactor  or  "giver",  as  indicated 
by  the  gesture  by  which  he  accepts  the  offering. 

In  addition  to  this  formalized  meaning,  the  offering  further 
represents  the  material  manifestation  of  the  Sufi's  emotion  of  totally 
giving  himself  away  to  merge  with  the  divine,  by  sacrificing  all  he  has 
(muhabbat  kT  qurbanT  men  jan-o-mal  dena).  Indeed,  today's  money 
offerings  also  symbolize  what  in  the  past  is  said  to  have  been  a 
spontaneous  giving  away  of  anything  a  Sufi  had  access  to  when  overcome  by 
mystical  emotion,  including  the  very  clothes  on  his  body. 

Whatever  the  specific  meaning  of  the  offering,  the  general 
implication  is  that  an  offering  is  itself  the  means  for  linking  up  with  a 
spiritual  superior  in  the  assembly--a  means  available  only  to  those  who 
have  money.  While  this  is  not  considered  to  be  a  rule  by  Sufis,  it  is 




nevertheless  a  general  fact,  superseded  only  in  the  event  of  an  ecstatic 
experience  during  or  following  which  even  a  penniless  devotee  may  "meet 
the  Sheikh."  Then  the  rules  of  conduct  too  are  relaxed,  so  that  the 
lowliest  ecstatic  person,  if  he  is  so  moved,  may  even  embrace  or  kiss  the 
highest  spiritual  personage  present. 

The  recipient  of  the  offering  accepts  it  on  behalf  of  the  spiritual 
power  he  represents.  Then,  unless  he  occupies  the  highest  spiritual 
status  in  the  assembly,  he  too  is  required  to  present  the  offering  to  a 
spiritual  superior,  most  likely  the  leader;  thus  articulating  his  own 
place  in  the  spiritual  hierarchy  and  thereby  confirming  the  structural 
universe  of  the  royal  court  of  saints.  Very  rarely,  even  a  leader  may 
wish  to  express  his  personal  devotion  or  submission  to  the  divine  power 
whose  blessing  he  enjoys.  This  he  does  by  making  an  offering  of  his  own 
to  any  saint's  representative  who  then  will  be  obliged  to  present  it  back 
to  him  as  the  highest  saintly  representative  (cf  Performance  1). 

No  sequencing  is  implied  in  the  offering  response  per  se.  The  only 
point  in  the  assembly  where  offerings  are  certain  to  be  made  is  during 
the  obligatory  hymns,  especially  where  they  introduce  the  performance, 
for  each  such  hymn  reiterates  in  some  way  the  foundation  of  the  Sufi 
spiritual  hierarchy,  thus  inviting  every  member  to  confirm  his  allegiance 
to  it.  For  the  rest,  offerings  generally  follow,  or  are  part  of  the 
expression  of,  emotional  arousal.  Even  an  ecstatic  state  normally  comes 
to  its  conclusion  by  the  devotee  "meeting  the  Sheikh."  Ultimately,  the 
two  responses  are  blendned  together,  complementing  each  other,  for  an 
upsurge  of  mystical  emotion  invariably  draws  the  devotee  to  the  saintly 
representative.  Table  22  presents  the  total  framework  for  the  two 


! ! if 





Stages  of  Arousal  Expressive  Response 

Formal  Response 

0  Neutral  Stage  — 


Manifestations  of  Enthusiasm 



1.  Enthusiasm 

2.  Deeply  moved 
strong  arousal 

3.  Ecstasy 

self  obliterated 



move  head 

+  signaling 

raise  arm 
verbal  expr. 

(+  prostration 
+  kiss  feet) 



-7  ' 

Manifestations  of  Aroused 


movement,  twitching 
arms  raised 
pro  stration 

stand  up 

walk,  move  about 

fall  down,  toss  about 

+kiss  feet 

with  or  without 

offering  follows 
e  c  stasy 
(+pro  stration 
+kiss  feet 








general  kaifiyat/hal 

I - -  aia  darje  ki 


<—  darje — » - - - - 

particular  hal/kaifiyat 


bekhud  (behoshi) 
beqabu  (behal) 



a)  expre  s  sive 

jhumna - 

hath  batana 


- > 


■»khara  — ^  raq  s  —  wisal 




re  sponses: 

b)  link 


awaz  nikalna 

nazr  ana<- 

with  sajda, 
qadambo  si 

nazr ana 
bo  si 

gala  mil- 

(Prototype  responses  underlined) 


responses,  along  with  Appendix  22.  Of  the  two  inodes  of  responding  to 
this  emotion,  the  formal  offering  is  clearly  the  more  complex  in  its 
implication,  for  it  involves  interaction  between  all  categories  of 
participants,  actually  articulating  their  interrel ation.  Emotional  self 
expression,  on  the  other  hand,  is  the  response  considered  primary,  as  the 
immediate  indicator  of  mystical  arousal  which  provides  the  dynamic  for 
the  offering,  and  indeed  for  the  entire  proceedings. 

In  the  absence  of  a  sequential  structure  of  audience  responses,  it 
is  the  function  of  the  leader  to  control  and  mediate  their  often  highly 
individualized  and  unpredictabl e  occurrence.  This  function  applies  both 
to  the  channeling  of  emotional  expression  in  the  assembly  as  well  as  to 
the  management  of  its  structural  dimension. 

Emotional  expression  is  monitored  indirectly  by  a  calm  and  composed 
attitude  on  the  part  of  the  leader.  Thus,  he  does  not  allow  his  own 
feelings  free  reign,  for  he  serves  as  a  spiritual  anchor  for  the  feelings 
of  everyone  else.  Overt  action  to  this  effect  may  include  calming  a 
devotee  by  placing  his  hand  upon  his  back  or  head,  during  an  offering 
encounter,  or  even  by  reciprocating  an  embrace.  The  leader's  guidance 
becomes  most  crucial  in  the  event  a  devotee  is  overcome  with  ecstasy.  To 
begin  with,  it  is  the  leader  who  gives  recognition  to  the  ecstatic  state 
by  rising  in  respect  of  the  divine  blessing  it  represents,  whereupon 
everyone  in  the  audience  rises  likewise.  Throughout  the  duration  of 
ecstasy,  he  monitors  the  devotee  and  ensures  that  the  performer  provides 
appropriate  takrar  repetitions.  Finally,  when  he  perceives  the  state 
subsiding  he  choses  the  right  moment  to  sit  down  and  thus  to  have  the 
entire  gathering  return  to  a  sitting  position. 

As  for  the  structural  dimension  of  Sufism  expressed  through  the 
offering,  the  leader  provides  its  ultimate  legitimization  by  accepting 
all  offerings  on  behalf  of  the  highest  spiritual  authority  whom  he 
respresents  in  the  assembly.  Once  accepted  by  him,  however,  their 
purpose  of  articulating  a  spiritual  relationship  is  completed  and  they 
now  become  money  to  be  given  away,  in  keeping  with  the  Islamic  tradition 
of  turning  religious  tributes  into  charity.  In  this  particular  situation 
the  money  serves  to  remunerate  the  performers  for  their  service.  The 
relationship  thus  articulated  between  Sufi  audience  and  performers  is 
paraphrased  most  appropriately  through  the  following  simile  explaining 
sama 1  practise:  The  recipient  of  a  precious  gift  brought  to  him  by  the 
donor's  servant  must  reward  the  servant  for  bringing  it,  even  though  this 
reward  has  not  relationship  to  the  gift  itself  (Idris  Khan  1973:5). 

The  leader  thus  has  the  additional  function  of  rewarding  the 
performers.  Either  at  the  end  of  their  performance,  or  more  often  as 
every  offering  is  acepted  by  the  leader,  one  of  the  Qawwals--or  an 
assistant  of  the  leader--goes  to  receive  the  money.  The  standard  gesture 
of  turning  over  the  money  to  the  performer  is  the  reverse  of  the 
offering:  the  leader  drops  the  money  into  the  extended  palms  of  the 
performer,  thus  always  maintaining  the  formal  distinction  between  the 
giver  and  the  taker.  The  taker  raises  the  money  to  his  eyes  in  a  gesture 
of  partaking  of  the  blessing  conferred  on  it,  and  returns,  ideally  by 
backing  off,  to  place  the  money  on  the  harmonium  or  next  to  the  lead 
singer.  The  leader  the,  plays  an  essential  part  in  managing  the 
transformation  of  the  offering  from  a  token  of  spiritual  deference  into  a 
payment  for  service. 


The  performer ,  finally,  is  expected  to  react  to  his  audience  in 
accordance  with  their  spiritual  needs  and  respond  to  the  preferences  of 
spiritually  prominent  persons.  This  implies  that  he  has  an  understanding 
of  the  setting  and  participants  of  the  particular  occasion  and  is  capable 
of  selecting  appropriate  songs  for  his  performance.  In  his  delivery  of 
each  song  he  is  expected  to  be  sensitive  to  the  listerners'  responses  and 
conform  to  one  principal  requirement:  to  repeat  or  amplify  any  effective 
part  of  a  song.  This  becomes  crucial  when  a  devotee  attains  a  state  of 
ecstasy;  then  the  singers  are  required  to  repeat  incessantly  and  briskly 
the  particular  song  part  that  inspired  the  state.  This  form  of 
repetition  is  singled  out  by  the  special  term  takrar,  and  it  is  the  one 
characteristic  of  Qawwal i  music  understood  and  expected  by  every 
participant  in  a  Qawwal i  occasion.  Indeed,  Sufis  believe  that  this 
repetition  is  essential  during  ecstasy  to  sustain  and  bring  the  ecstatic 
state  to  completion;  for  if  the  salient  song  portion  is  discontinued 
prematurely,  the  ecstatic  person  may  die.  Of  the  frequently  cited 
examples  of  great  Sufis  who  died  in  ecstasy  during  a  Qawwal i  assembly, 
the  case  of  the  saint  Qutabuddin  Bakhtiyar-e-Kaki ,  second  in  the 
spiritual  lineage  of  the  Chishti  si 1 s i 1  a  (see  Table  12:  101),  serves 

best  to  illustrate  how  Qawwal i  functions  in  this  extreme  situation: 

The  following  famous  couplet  by  the  Persian  mystic  Ahmad  Jam 
inspired  the  saint  to  ecstasy: 

kushtagan-e-khanjar-e-taslTm  ra 
har  zaman  az  ghaib  jan-e-digar  ast 

(For  the  victims  of  the  dagger  of  submission 
There  is  a  new  life  every  moment  from  the  unseen) 

As  the  Qawwals  repeated  every  first  line,  the  saint  fell  down  as  dead, 
but  on  every  second  line,  he  rose  to  life  again.  This  alternation 
continued  for  many  hours  to  several  days,  but  the  singing  could  not  stop, 
until  finally  the  Sufis  present  had  the  performers  end  on  the  first  line 
to  allow  the  saint  to  rest  in  final  union  with  the  Beloved. 

D  Social  and  Economic  Dimensions 

Social  Dimension 

An  outline  of  the  structure  of  the  Qawwali  occasion  would  not  be 
complete  without  a  special  discussion  of  what  collectively  may  be 
considered  its  social  dimension.  Being  a  gathering  of  individuals  and 
groups  who  interact,  the  Qawwali  occasion  is  also  governed  by  the  social 
norms  operating  in  the  larger  society.  This  means  that  Indo-Muslim 
social  organization  and  rules  of  social  interaction  are  operative  in  the 
Qawwali  assembly,  albeit  in  conjunction  with  those  of  its  religious 
function . 

For  Qawwali  participants,  this  level  of  structure  is  understood  as  a 
matter  of  course,  as  their  knowledge  of  it  is  implied  in  their  social 
experience  as  members  of  Indo-Muslim  society.  To  the  extent  that  social 
structure  is  integrated  and  reflected  in  the  religious  structure  of  the 
Qawwali  occasion,  an  analytical  separation  of  the  two  is  illuminating, 
but  not  essential  to  the  explanation  of  the  context  dimension  of  Qawwali. 





However,  there  are  aspects  of  social  structure  which  operate 
independently  of  the  religious  structure  of  Qawwali,  and  these  require  to 
be  identified  separately.  Separately,  because  they  are  not  included  in 
what  the  Sufi  identifies  as  the  rules  specific  to  Qawwali.  Yet,  the 
social  dimension  is  operative  and  thus  forms  part  of  what  constitutes  the 
context  of  the  Qawwali  assembly. 

Unlike  the  religious  dimension,  the  social  dimension  of  Qawwali  is 
not  conceptualized  formally,  and  even  informally  notions  pertaining  to 
aspects  of  social  structure  are  often  not  made  explicit  even  on 
inquiring,  especially  where  they  are  not  congruent  with  the  religious 
rtenets  governing  Qawwali.  Data  underlying  this  discussion,  therefore, 
comes  mainly  from  observation  of  Qawwali  events,  supplemented  by 
explication  from  mainly  those  Qawwali  participants  willing  to  depart  from 
the  limits  imposed  by  spiritual  norms.  It  stands  to  reason  that  this 
would  include  performers  and  personable  devotees  more  than  spiritual 
guides,  though,  remarkably,  some  saintly  representatives  too  were  willing 
to  respond  to  the  investigator's  perspective.  What  is  presented  here, 
then,  is  an  outline  of  the  social  dimension  as  it  governs  the  standard 
norm  for  the  structure  of  the  Qawwali  occasion. 

Taken  together,  the  background  discussion  and  the  foregoing  outline 
of  the  Qawwali  as  a  religious  occasion  make  apparent  the  basic  congruence 
between  norms  of  Indo-Muslim  social  structure  and  concepts  of  Sufi 
ideology.  Quite  naturally,  this  congruence  is  manifested  in  the  concept 
and  structure  of  the  Qawwali  occasion.  The  most  prominent  principle  of 
social  organization  thus  incorporated  in  the  Qawwali  occasion  is  that  of 
hierarchical  structuring.  Hence,  social  status  and  wordly  authority  are 


•-  in 



recognized  as  legitimate  indices  of  privilege  which  are  ultimately 
derived  from  divine  beneficence.  This  notion  is  reflected  in  the 
darbar-e-auliya  concept  of  the  royal  court  of  saints.  And  it  is  clearly 
incorporated  in  the  setting  of  the  Qawwali  occasion,  where  wordly  status 
is  recognized  along  with  spiritual  status,  so  that  listeners  with  a  high 
status  are  invariably  seated  and  treated  with  deference,  while  low-status 
or  service  class  listeners  are  relegated  to  insignificance,  as  long  as 
they  don't  exhibit  outstanding  spiritual  achievement.  This  notion  is 
further  reflected  in  the  position  accorded  the  performer  as  a  hereditary 
professional  who  provides  a  personal  service,  albeit  a  religious  one,  so 
that  his  identity  as  a  type  of  religious  functionary  is  nevertheless 
subsumed  within  the  traditional  identity  of  the  service  professional 
which  is  character!- zed  by  dependence  on  a  patron  to  the  near  exclusion  of 
personal,  social,  o r_  spiritual  achievement.  A  performer  is  thus 
separated  from  the  Sufi  audience  conceptually  as  well  as  spatially,  and  a 
performer,  almost  by  definition,  cannot  also  be  a  Sufi  (but  see  note  5 
for  an  exception). 

It  is  in  the  process  of  interaction  in  the  Qawwali  performance  where 
the  social  dimension  sometimes  operates  independently  of,  or  acts  as  a 
modifier  to  the  spiritual  dimension.  Social  status  and  relationships 
come  into  operation  as  soon  as  the  performance  process  begins.  For  those 
of  high  status,  this  means  expressing  and  validating  their  status;  for 
those  of  low  status  it  means  activating  or  solidifying  vital  links  of 
patronage  wiith  patrons.  These  social  goals  affect  both  modes  of 
responding  to  the  mystical  experience:  individual  self-expression  as 
well  as  the  offering  expressing  attachment  to  the  Sufi  hierarchy. 



Dealing  first  with  the  expressive  response,  it  is  clear  that  the 
manifestations  of  intense  spiritual  arousal  (shown  on  Table  20)  consist 
of  behavioral  responses  deviating  considerably  from  the  accepted  social 
norm  for  a  gentleman.  Beyond  this,  the  expression  of  a  state  of  ecstasy 
and  self  obliteration  implies  behavior  not  subject  to  any  social  control. 
From  a  social  perspective,  such  expression  puts  the  devotee  on  center 
stage,  exposing  him  before  a  more  or  less  heterogeneous  audience.  The 
socially  prominent  devotee,  therefore,  tends  to  avoid  reaching  a  state  in 
which  he  may  indulge  in  any  eccentric  behavior  contradictory  with  his 
social  image.  For  the  devotee  who  lacks  social  standing,  on  the  other 
hand,  reaching  such  a  state  gives  him  momentary  prominence.  Indeed, 
observation  suggests  that  it  is  elderly  devotees  of  lower  status  who  are 
most  likely  seen  dancing  ecstatically,  whereas  high  status  listeners, 
including  saintly  representatives  with  high  social  and  religious 
standing,  very  rarely  "stand  up"  to  go  into  ecstatic  movement.  True,  in 
the  case  of  a  spiritual  leader,  this  is  primarily  due  to  the  restraint  he 
imposes  upon  himself  to  exercise  his  leading  role,  but  social 
considerations  also  operate  wherever  high  status  is  involved.  The  fact 
is,  that  restraint  and  controlled  behavior  are  characteristic  of  high 
status,  so  that  even  among  Sufis  or  spiritual  personages  the  frequent  and 
expansive  expression  of  strong  arousal,  especially  ecstasy,  is  associated 
with  lower  status--just  as  are  conspicuous  items  of  characteri Stic  Sufi 
clothing.  Leading  Sufis,  then,  validate  their  status  with  self  control 
and  a  more  subdued  outward  appearance  generally. 

There  is  yet  another  aspect  to  the  social  dimension  of  ecstatic  self 
expression.  While  prominence  is  accorded  to  anyone  reaching  an  ecstatic 


state,  a  low-status  listener  is  likely  to  be  reminded  of  his  social  place 
if  his  state  continues  too  long--after  all,  he  is  keeping  higher  status 
listeners  standing.  And  if  his  state  culminates  in  embracing  the  leader 
--or  any  spiritually  high  person--,  as  is  often  the  case,  the  leader  may 
well  signal  a  supporter  to  have  him  pulled  away  gently,  sometimes  even 
before  he  can  take  the  liberty.  The  point  is  that  the  Sufi  assembly  may 
be  a  place  where  only  spiritual  values  are  pursued  and  social  norms  may, 
as  a  result,  be  superseded  by  spiritual  ones,  but  the  basic  rules  of 
interaction  between  juniors  and  seniors,  or  low  and  high,  will  not  be 
contravened  al together--they  after  all  constitute  the  very  foundation  of 
the  Sufi  assembly. 

As  for  the  formal  offering  response,  its  built-in  social  ingredient 
is  the  public  give-away  of  money,  a  worldly  asset.  Besides  its  spiritual 
function,  the  offering  also  constitutes  the  social  gesture  par  excellence 
expressing  high  status  and  a  position  of  patronage.  The  fact  that  the 
money  offered  ultimately  serves  to  pay  for  the  service  of  the  performer 
points  directly  to  this  socio-economic  implication  of  making  an  offering 
by  marking  it  as  an  act  of  patronage  toward  a  client.  In  the  Qawwali 
assembly,  therefore,  it  is  the  accepted  social  norm  that  listeners  of 
high  wordly  status  should  be  seen  offering  generously  and  in  accord  with 
their  status,  while  failing  to  offer  is  considered  to  result  in  a  loss  of 
face.  Specifically,  these  offerings  serve  to  fulfil  two  social 
requirements  for  the  "special"  listeners:  One  is  the  obligation 
("noblesse  oblige")  for  them,  as  patrons,  to  share  in  the  support  of 
those  who  provide  them  with  service,  i.e.  the  singers.  The  other  is  the 
formal  requirement  for  guests  at  the  royal  court--be  it  of  king  or 

I ;  i}'  |00P  r*r  || 



saint--to  present  themselves  at  the  beginning  to  the  presiding  personage, 
expressing  their  deference  by  a  token  offering  (nazraria  in  its  secular 
meaning).  In  Qawwali  this  is  indeed  customary,  so  that  during  the  first 
song  there  is  often  a  rush  of  offerings  (cf.  Performance  ex.  1:389  ff).7 
The  operation  of  this  social  norm  does  highlight  the  importance  of  money 
as  a  material  token  of  status.  Indeed,  the  notion  is  preval ent--though 
in  opposition  to  the  spiritual  norm  of  the  Qawwali  occasion--that  status 
validation  by  means  of  offerings  is  an  obligation  regardless  of  spiritual 
experience.  For  devotees  with  social  status,  limited  financial  ability 
can  actually  operate  to  limit  their  attendance  at  Qawwali  assemblies. 

Finally,  the  offering  provides  by  implication  the  opportunity  to 
establish  or  activate  a  social  link  parallel  to  the  spiritual  one  that  is 
explicitly  being  sought.  This  aspect  of  the  social  dimension  is 
particularly  relevant  to  the  low-status  listeners  seeking  patronage;  so 
that  their  limited  offerings  also  serve  the  highlighting  of  their  social 
as  well  as  their  spiritual  dependence.  Performers  in  particular,  while 
not  singing,  often  utilize  this  means  of  being  "recognized"  by  the 
assembly  leader  or  another  spiritual  patron. 

Economic  Dimension 

To  consider  the  economic  dimension  of  the  Qawwali  occasion  apart 
from  the  social  and  spiritual  dimensions  is  necessary  mainly  in  order  to 
achieve  a  perspective  on  the  part  played  in  the  assembly  by  those 
participants  whose  purpose  in  attending  is  neither  spiritual  nor  social, 
but  economic:  the  performers.  There  is  general  agreement  among 
participants  that  a  performer  sings  for  money  and  will  operate  not  only 




at  the  spiritual  but  also  at  the  material  plane  of  making  a  living,  so 
that  spiritual  requirements  may  be  superseded  by  material  needs.  Sufis 
accept  this  to  an  extent— "that ' s  the  Qawwal's  nature,  pulling  money  out 
of  people"  ( pai se  1  urakna) ,  but  they  consider  control  essential  to  keep 
the  spiritual  priority.  This  reflects  the  general  attitude  of 
participants  regarding  the  economic  dimension  of  the  Qawwal i  context: 
that  dimension  is  recognized,  accepted  by  implication  but  kept  in  check 
by  allowing  only  an  exclusively  spiritual  conception  to  operate  at  the 
expl icit  level . 

In  purely  economic  terms  the  Qawwal i  occasion  is  a  setting  for  the 
Qawwal i  performer  to  provide  his  services  in  return  for  a  monetary  reward 
from  the  audience.  Three  aspects  characterize  this  process  and  set  it 
apart  from  that  operating  in  other  types  of  performance  occasions: 

First,  the  performer  depends  entirely  on  the  whim  of  his  listeners 
whether  he  will  be  rewarded  and  with  how  much,  so  that  it  is  hardly 
surprising  that  he  can  only  explain  an  economic  windfall  (or  its  absence) 
in  terms  of  "divine  blessing"  ( karam) .  A  lack  of  consistency  in  reward 
is  not  unique  to  Qawwal i  performers;  other  Indian  musicians  and 
performers  generally  experience  it  too,  but  not  to  the  extreme  extent 
that  results  from  the  fact  that  spiritual  emotion  motivates  the  donation, 
rather  than  the  donor's  desire  to  reward  the  performer. 

This  points  to  the  second  and  more  unique  economic  aspect  of 
Qawwal i :  the  fact  that  the  money  is  offered  purely  as  spiritual --and 
social --currency,  so  to  speak,  and  in  a  sense  becomes  a  thing  of  material 
value  only  once  the  non-material  transaction  is  completed.  For  the 
Qawwal,  then,  there  is  no  way  that  he  can  pursue  his  economic  goal  of 

1  ] 



performing  for  money  directly,  by  simply  eliciting  his  material  reward 
directly  from  the  listeners.  He  is  expected  to  do  so  indirectly, 
creating  the  conditions  for  arousal  so  that  its  effect  may  motivate  the 
Sufi  to  activate  his  link  with  the  hierarchy  by  means  of  an  offering- 
provided  the  Sufi  actually  has  money  to  offer. 

This  in  turn  leads  to  the  third  aspect  characterizing  the 
performer's  economic  pursuit:  the  fact  that  the  performer's  success  in 
creating  favourable  spiritual  conditions  hinges  primarily  on  his 
conforming  to  standards  and  requirements  of  those  with  spiritual 
authority,  not  just  on  his  appealing  to  wealthy  listeners  directly.  Most 
of  all  this  is  manifested  in  the  absolute  authority  of  the  leader  over 
the  assembly,  expressed  in  the  fact  that  the  leader  exercises  de  facto 
control  over  the  offering  transaction;  after  all,  the  performer  gets  his 
reward  only  by  the  leader's  leave.  Indeed,  in  past  times  assembly 
leaders  actually  retained  the  offerings  and  rewarded  the  performers  at 
their  discretion--an  expression  of  a  more  solid  feudal  tie  between  them. 
But  even  today,  the  leader  retains  his  economic  position  of  power  as  a 
redistributive  agent. 

As  for  the  donor,  the  spiritual  meaning  of  the  offering  makes  it 
equally  legitimate  for  him  to  offer  much  or  nothing,  although  social 
motivations  for  offering  do  operate  to  an  extent,  as  discussed  above. 

This  concludes  the  outline  of  the  Qwalli  occasion  in  all  its  salient 
features  and  thus  the  excursus  into  a  consideration  of  the  Qawwali 
context  of  performance.  Having  dealt  with  this  context  in  the  abstract 
results  in  a  model  of  a  clearly  conceptualized  structure  expressed  in 






terms  of  a  well-defined  setting  and  procedure,  all  informed  in  a  logical 
way  by  the  ideology  and  the  socio-economic  background  of  Sufism.  Just 
like  the  model  for  Qawwal i  music,  this  context  model  also  incorporates  a 
wide  range  of  variables  and  options  which  all  form  part  of  the  Qawwal i 
occasion  in  the  abstract.  But  it  can  be  actualized  only  in  the 
particular,  i.e.  the  actual  performance  event--which  is  the  same  as 
saying  that  structure  becomes  operationalized  as  process.  In  that 
respect,  the  structure  of  the  context  is  no  different  than  the  structure 
of  the  music.  Yet  they  do  differ  substantively  in  that  the  contextual 
dimension  of  the  Qawwal i  assembly  also  contains  the  motivational  dynamic 
for  making  a  Qawwal i  event  happen,  i ncl udi ng  the  music;  in  other  words, 
this  motivational  dynamic  is  ideological,  social  or  economic;  it  is  not 
musical . 

What  is  needed  in  order  to  demonstrate  this  dynamic  in  action  is  to 
introduce  the  actor,  to  show  how  the  participants  interact  in  actual 
Qawwal i  events  to  actualize  the  contextual  structure  and  thereby  cause 
the  musical  structure  to  be  actualized.  How  this  shift  from  structure  to 
process  can  be  made,  and  what  analytical  tools  are  required  for  the 
endeavour,  will  constitute  the  analysis  proper  of  this  thesis,  to  be 
undertaken  in  the  section  to  follow. 




A  Introduction 

The  final  section  of  the  analysis  turns  the  focus  back  to  the  music, 
only  this  time  it  is  music  considered  not  in  the  abstract--as  analysed  in 
Section  I--but  performed  in  the  context  of  the  Qawwali  assembly--as  out¬ 
lined  in  Section  II.  With  both  musical  and  contextual  structures 
accessible  to  analysis,  it  is  now  possible  to  proceed  to  investigate  how 
this  musical  idiom  is  actually  used  in  its  performance  context,  i.e.  how 
music  and  context  interface  in  the  process  of  performance.  It  is  this 
investigation  of  the  impact  of  the  context  upon  the  music  which  will 
utlimately  enable  the  analyst  to  produce  a  more  detailed  set  of  music 
rules:  one  that  should  account  for  the  generation  of  variation  in  songs 
and  sequences  of  songs  within  a  Qawwali  occasion. 

Because  there  is  really  no  established  precedent  or  prototype  for 
analysing  a  performance  process,  I  consider  it  necessary  at  the  outset  to 
clarify  what  approach  and  procedure  will  be  used  in  this  analysis.  While 
the  theoretical  foundation  for  the  analysis  has  already  been  laid  down  in 
Chapter  1,  the  task  is  now  to  generate  a  workable  procedure  for  its 
realization  in  practice. 

There  are  two  problematic  aspects  facing  any  analyst  of  a 
performance  process:  One  is  the  problem  of  having  to  deal  with  an  inter¬ 
action  between  two  domains  which  are  totally  different  from  each  other 
qualitatively  and  each  consist  of  a  divergent  range  of  variables.  The 





second,  more  fundamental  problem,  is  having  to  analyse  process,  an  on¬ 
going  dynamic,  by  means  of  a  procedure--conventional  analysi s--which 
operates  by  segmenting  its  object,  so  that  the  dynamic  linking  the 
pieces,  the  very  crux  of  process,  tends  to  be  left  out  of  an  analysis 
which  by  its  nature  tends  to  turn  process  into  structure. 

I  propose  to  deal  with  the  first  problem  at  two  levels:  Diversity 
within  either  domain  can  be  organized  by  setting  out  each  domain  as  a 
structure  to  serve  as  referential  grids  for  individual  variables  as  they 
occur  in  the  performance  process.  These  structures--of  Qawwali  music  and 
context--are  already  available  for  such  reference  as  presented  in 
Sections  I  and  II.  As  for  dealing  with  the  qualitative  difference 
between  musical  and  contextual  variables  in  the  analysis  of  an  inter¬ 
action  between  the  two,  this  problem  can  only  be  solved  if  the  dynamic 
link  operating  between  them  can  be  perceived  as  common  denominator  which 
can  act  to  generate  some  for  of  equivalence  between  musical  and 
contextual  variables.  It  will  be  the  major  task  of  this  process  analysis 
to  identify  the  several  such  common  denominators  operating  in  the  Qawwali 
performance  process  and  to  investigate  the  important  equivalences  that  in 
fact  exist  on  their  basis  between  features  of  music  and  context. 

It  is  in  the  same  direction  that  the  second  problem,  analysing 
process  in  terms  of  structure,  may  find  a  possible  solution.  For  if  the 
common  denominators  are  in  fact  dynamic  links,  that  dynamic  must  be 
identifiable  as  a  channel  or  referent  along  which  a  context  variable  can 
cause  the  occurrence  of  a  corresponding  music  variable.  It  will  be  by 
means  of  these  denominators  or  referents,  finally,  that  context  variables 
can  be  plugged  into  the  music,  and  context  constraints  can  thus  become 



part  of  a  musical  grammar. 

But  this  is  only  half  the  answer  to  the  problem;  for  it  sets  up  a 
model  for  the  mechanics  of  the  interaction  process  without  accounting  for 
the  motivation  that  leads  to  specific  choices  made  by  using  this 
mechanic.  It  is  here  that  the  human  actor  must  be  brought  on  the  scene. 
Not  that  he  has  been  excluded  from  the  ethnographic  perspective,  but  most 
analysts--particul arly  those  dealing  with  musical  sound--tend  to  leave 
him  out  of  their  models.  A  Qawwali  performance,  however,  is  so 
manifestly  shaped  by  the  participants,  even  at  the  level  of  its  religious 
function,  that  the  real  question  is  not  whether,  but  which,  participant 
should  become  the  focus  of  the  analysis.  It  is  this  question  that 
provides  the  starting  point  for  dealing  with  the  Qawwali  performance 
process . 

This  process  basically  consists  of  the  decisions  and  actions  of  the 
participants,  musician  and  audience,  which  together  constitute  the  per¬ 
formance  interaction.  The  common  basis  for  this  interaction  is  their 
shared  conception  of  what  a  Qawwali  occasion  is--the  standard  model  as 
outlined  in  the  preceding  section.  At  the  same  time,  the  strategies  that 
motivate  their  respective  decisions  and  actions  differ,  most 
fundamentally  so  between  performers  and  listeners.  What  accounts  for 
these  differences  is  the  particular  vantage  point  from  which  each 
participant  contributes  to  the  realization  of  that  shared  conception 
during  an  actual  performance  event.  Consequently,  to  analyse  the  process 
of  a  Qawwali  event  in  its  totality  would,  logically  speaking,  require  the 
consideration  of  all  participant's  strategies  put  together,  as  informed 
by  their  respective  vantage  points.  As  stated  at  the  outset  (Ch.  1:25) 



such  an  analysis  is  not  intended  here.  The  goal  of  this  investigation  is 
an  relevant  inasmuch  it  contributes  to  that  analysis,  i.e.  inasmuch  as  it 
affects  the  music.  Therefore,  the  interaction  process  to  be  analysed  is 
that  between  context  and  music,  not  the  interaction  between  participants 
per  se.  Since  only  the  performer  knows  and  makes  the  music,  such  an 
analysis  can  only  be  built  on  him.  Indeed,  for  the  purpose  of  analysing 
any  performance  event  involving  a  performance  medium,  the  key  participant 
is  the  performer  who  knows  and  uses  the  medium  of  performance.  All  other 
participants  and  their  actions,  i.e.  the  entire  interaction  process,  are 
relevant  to  this  analysis  only  in  terms  of  the  performer's  perception, 
because  it  is  he  alone  who  is  responsible  for  the  actualization  of  the 
music . 

Focussing  the  performance  process  analysis  on  the  musican  does  not 
mean  to  imply  that  the  musician  therefore  has  a  dominant  position  among 
participants,  quite  the  contrary:  the  discussion  of  the  Qawwali 
occasion's  every  aspect — concept,  setting  and  procedure--makes  it  amply 
clear  that  the  performer  is  accorded  the  least  possible  significance, 
considering  his  indispensible  role.  In  fact,  it  appears  that  he  and  his 
actions  are  controlled  by  the  audience.  But  that  control  is  variable, 
i.e.  the  performer  is  not  structural ly  constrained  by  it  (like  e.g. 
certain  musical  features  are  by  textual  features)  and  therefore  his 
actions  cannot  be  predicted  on  the  basis  of  audience  actions.  Herein 
lies  his  position  as  an  originator  of  strategy,  for  his  actions,  despite 
his  margi nal i ty--soci al ly  and  professional ly--are  nevertheless  the  result 
of  his  own  decisions,  even  though  these  may  arise  from  a  vantage  point  of 
weakness  and  dependence. 




In  order  to  understand  the  performer's  vantage  point  and  the 
strategies  this  vantage  point  generates,  it  is  necessary  to  consider  his 
position  within  the  performance  occasion,  especially  as  it  relates  to 
other  participants.  This  position  can  of  course  only  be  understood  in 
reference  to  his  general  situation,  of  which  it  is  a  particular 
manifestation.  As  a  first  step,  therefore,  it  is  necessary  to  refer  back 
to  the  discussion  on  the  performer's  identity,  both  as  a  member  of  the 
shrine  community  and  as  a  hereditary  professional  within  the  larger 
society.  In  the  light  of  this  background  it  can  then  be  assessed  what 
the  Qawwali  performance  means  to  the  performer,  i.e.  what  constitutes  his 
vantage  point  in  it.  This  will  be  set  forth  below,  as  part  of  the 
analytical  vantage  point  for  this  Section. 

Once  the  performer  is  established  as  the  hub  of  the  context-music 
interaction,  it  follows  logically  to  proceed  to  the  analysis  of  the 
interaction  itself  by  introducing  the  musician  into  the  analytical 
scheme.  Focussing  on  the  two  domains  from  the  perspective  of  the 
musician,  their  interaction  can  now  be  redefined  as  follows:  The 
performer,  using  his  knowledge  of  the  Qawwali  performance  idiom  and  the 
Qawwali  occasion  of  performance  takes  cues  from  the  occasion  to  select 
the  musical  variables  for  his  performance.  In  doing  so  he  fulfils  the 
spiritual  function  of  Qawwali  music  in  the  assembly  while  at  the  same 
time  maximizing  his  own  socio-economic  position.  His  particular  choices 
he  makes  on  the  basis  of  strategic  principles  that  reflect  both 
ideological  and  socio-economic  commitments.  Those  principles  serve  as 
referents  between  contextual  and  musical  variables,  essentially 
assigni ng--by  referential  association--ideological  and  social  meaning  to 



features  of  the  musicial  idiom.  On  the  basis  of  this  referential 
association,  the  performer  can  in  turn  convey  non-musical  meaning  to  the 
audience  through  his  musical  choices.  Thus  musical  variables  can  also 
serve  to  convey  non-musical  meaning  to  the  audience,  thereby  affecting 
their  response.  Either  way,  the  principles  acting  as  semantic  referents 
between  context  and  music  are  crucial  as  the  tools  of  the  performer's 

The  logical  way  of  proceeding  with  this  analysis  would  be  to  start 
with  the  identification  of  these  criteria  by  which  the  performer  relates 
context  to  music  and  then  to  analyse  how  he  uses  them,  following  the 
systematic  expose  with  an  ethnographic  illustration.  However,  while  this 
sequence  is  logically  appropriate,  it  has  the  reader  going  into  an 
analytical  excursus  based  on  novee  principles  whose  derivation  will  be 
less  than  clear,  simply  because  that  derivation  itself  stems  from  a  novel 
perspective  on  performance,  i.e.  to  view  music  and  context  simultaneously 
and  from  a  single  standpoint,  that  of  the  performer.  This  perspective 
and  its  logic  are  crucial  to  the  entire  process  analysis.  I  therefore 
consider  it  imperative  to  preface  the  analysis  proper  with  an  ethno¬ 
graphic  presentation  of  this  perspective,  in  the  form  of  a  schematized 
outline  of  a  Qawwali  performance  as  experienced  by  a  Qawwali  performer  as 
he  perceives  the  context  and  structures  the  music. 

The  second  chapter  in  this  section  (Ch.  9),  accordingly,  contains  an 
ethnographic  outline  of  a  Qawwali  performance  in  the  abstract.  It  is 
structured  to  follow  logically  after  the  first  chapter  setting  up  the 
performer's  vantage  point;  together  the  two  chapters  give  the  reader  the 
ethnographic  basis,  i.e.  the  range  and  relationships  of  concrete  options. 



musical  and  contextual,  which  are  then  abstracted  in  the  analysis  chapter 
that  fol 1 ows  ( Ch .  10) . 

This  final  chapter,  the  analysis  itself,  in  a  sense  parallels  the 
outline  of  a  performance  but  in  the  process  replaces  concrete  options  and 
relationships  by  abstract  principles  of  meaning  (semantic  referents) 
capable  of  generating  those  options  and  relationships  under  given 
conditions.  It  is  at  this  abstract  level  that  it  then  becomes  possible 
to  formulate  the  rules  for  the  contextual  input  into  the  musical 
programming.  The  entire  analysis  section  concludes  by  suggesting  how 
such  a  formulation  could  be  incorporated  into  the  musical  rule  system, 
without  however  going  to  the  extent  of  constructing  a  formal  context- 
sensitive  grammar. 

Throughout  this  section,  tables  dealing  with  features  of  the 
context-music  relationship  are  of  particular  importance,  because  a  table 
permits  isolating  such  features  as  well  as  the  relationship  between  them. 
In  the  analysis  chapter  particularly,  tables  serve  the  purpose  of  making 
the  analytical  model  more  portable  by  simplifying  each  step  in  the 
argument  to  its  essentials. 

The  source  material  for  this  section  deserves  special  comment:  The 
material  for  the  entire  section  is  derived  from  two  complementary 
sources:  talks  with  performers  and  recorded  observation  of  performances. 
In  an  overall  sense,  this  presentation,  no  less  than  the  sections  on 
musical  and  contextual  structure,  draws  heavily  from  notions 
1 earned--di recti y  or  indirectly--from  performers;  but  these  notions  may 
well  be  incomplete.  It  must  be  understood  that  the  vital  domain  of  the 
performer's  strategies  is  not  easily  accessible  to  an  outsider,  and  for 


good  reasons.  If  the  outsider  is  a  listener  and  therefore  a  potential 
patron--as  any  foreigner,  no  matter  how  modestly  endowed,  will  be 
classed--then  the  performer's  stance  toward  him  obviously  precludes 
divulging  strategies  not  congruent  with  the  conception  of  Qawwali  as 
spiritual  in  nature.  If,  on  the  other  hand,  the  outsider  is  a  performer 
and  therefore  a  potential  competi tor--as  even  a  foreign  musician  could  be 
expected  to  be--then  he  is  not  likely  to  be  let  in  on  anything  that  may 
be  considered  secrets  of  the  trade.  In  this  respect  only,  being  a  woman 
and  therefore  a  misfit  vis-a-vis  these  all-male  categories  was  probably  a 
help  in  setting  me,  as  investigator,  apart  professionally  while  enabling 
me  to  establish  a  family  relationship  at  the  personal  level  (a  male 
investigator  would  not  have  access  into  families  due  to  women's 
seclusion).  At  any  rate,  I  consider  my  informants'  sharing  of 
performance  strategies  as  a  special  gift.  And  the  trust  on  which  this 
information  in  particular  is  based,  imposes  a  responsibility  which 
immediate  rewards  can  only  partially  compensate  for.  I  have  tried  to 
treat  it  with  respect,  attempting  especially  to  avoid  the  bias  of 
contempt  evinced  not  only  by  upper-class  listeners  but--by  their  own 
impl ication--even  by  performers  themselves. 

B  Performer's  Vantage  Point 

To  set  the  stage  for  the  performer-centered  analysis  of  the  Qawwali 
musical  process,  the  performer's  vantage  point  will  now  be  outlined  in 
very  specific  terms,  drawing  upon  the  larger  social  and  professional 
frame  of  reference  which  broadly  limit  his  sphere  of  operation.  The 
purpose  is  to  provide  the  reader  with  a  sense  of  the  performer's 



rationale  as  it  arises  from  the  opportunities  and  constraints  that  define 
his  position  in  the  Qawwali  occasion. 

The  most  basic  aspect  of  the  performer's  vantage  point  is  his  own 
position  in  the  assembly,  including  his  access  to  it  as  a  performing 
opportunity.  Here  the  overriding  reality  is  the  performer's  dependence 
on  the  personal  control  exercised  by  the  spiritual  leader  who  convenes 
the  assembly,  both  over  access  and  process  of  the  performance.  By 
definition,  the  performer  stands  in  the  position  of  a  client  dependent  on 
patronage,  whether  it  is  a  permanent  personal  patron-client  tie  with  a 
saint's  representative  of  his  home  shrine  (i.e.  the  permanent  attachment 
to  a  patron,  see  Performance  1:),  or  the  temporary  patronage  sought  or 
obtained  from  the  leader  of  a  particular  Qawwali  assembly  (see 
Performance  2).  An  important  exception  to  this  is  the  hereditary  right 
that  performers  attached  to  a  shrine  have  to  ritual  performance  occasions 
(at  their  own  shrine,  see  below  pp.  306  ff);  but  since  these  rights  are 
held  communally  by  the  performing  lineage  ( bradri ) ,  their  benefit  for  the 
individual  performer  is  limited. 

As  for  the  performance  process  itslef,  it  is  in  all  cases  subject  to 
the  supreme  control  of  the  spiritual  leader.  Even  where  the  performer 
has  a  hereditary  right  of  access,  the  leader  can  have  him  time  and 
structure  the  performance  according  to  his  wishes.  And  where  he  controls 
the  performer's  very  access--as  he  does  in  almost  all  situations-- 
everything  the  performer  does,  including  his  very  act  of  performing,  can 
be  liable  to  the  leader's  guidance,  correction  or  censure. 

The  implications  of  this  control  for  the  performer  are  particularly 
crucial,  due  to  the  fact  that  in  most  assemblies  he  is  only  one  of 



several  performers,  any  of  whom  may  easily  replace  him.  This  pits  him 
against  his  col  1 eagues--or  lineage  brothers--in  direct  competition.  The 
individual  performer's  position  vis  a  vis  the  context  of  performance  is 
in  fact  precarious,  unlike  that  of  the  listener  who  has  absolutely  free 
access,  so  that  this  most  basic  aspect  of  his  vantage  point  is 
characteri zed  by  utter  dependence  on  the  patronage  and  approval  of  the 
leader.  It  may  be  relevant  here  to  point  out  again  that  the  performer 
has  neither  an  ideological  nor  a  socio-economic  base  to  secure  his 
position  in  the  assembly.  In  ideological  terms  the  performer  is  only  a 
medium  with  no  spiritual  merit  or  authority,  even  though  some  Qawwals  try 
to  claim  spiritual  status  inherited  from,  or  assigned  by  a  Sufi 
authority.  Such  claims  are  quite  categorically  denied  by  Sufis.  In 
worldly  terms,  the  performer  has  traditionally  been  identified  with  a  low 
social  class  without  assets,  "a  despised  lot"  (even  though  exceptionally 
a  nawab's  young  son  may  please  himself  by  performing  Qawwali). 

Given  the  utterly  dependent  position  of  the  performer  in  the 
performance  occasion,  it  follows  that  his  need  for  securing  the  approval 
of  those  controlling  the  assembly  is  of  paramount  importance,  if  he  is  to 
be  successful.  For  this  reason,  his  view  of  the  Qawwali  assembly  as  a 
performance  context  and  of  his  goal  within  it  constitute  the  most  crucial 
aspects  of  the  performer's  vantage  point. 

Performance  Goal 

What  is  the  Qawwali  performance  to  the  performer?  Basically,  the 
performer  shares  in  the  commonly  held  conception  of  the  Qawwali  occasion 
as  outlined  in  Chapter  7  A-C.  As  a  participant  he  is  committed  to 



contributing  toward  a  successful  realization  of  this  conception.  For 
him,  as  the  performer,  this  means  singing  Qawwali  songs  in  accordance 
with  the  spiritual  needs  of  his  audience.  His  explicit  goal  is  to  evoke 
spiritual  enhancement  among  the  listeners,  leading  to  mystical  arousal 
and  even  ecstasy.  The  Qawwal  is  fully  aware  of  the  crucial  part  he  plays 
in  the  proceedings  and  he  takes  very  seriously  the  responsibility  it 
entails  toward  his  listeners.  Time  and  again  performers  relate  how  the 
high  point  in  their  career  came  at  the  time  when  a  great  Sufi  or  leader 
went  into  deep  ecstasy  during  their  performance.  At  such  a  time  the 
performer,  too,  shares  in  the  gift  of  divine  beneficence  manifested  in 
the  ecstatic  state,  valuing  it  above  anything  material.  However,  the 
performer  knows  his  place  as  nothing  but  a  mouthpiece  and  consistently 
denies  having  any  personal  share  in  the  impact  generated  by  his 
performance . 

At  the  same  time  the  Qawwali  occasion  is  to  the  performer  also  the 
context  for  earning  a  living,  as  outlined  in  Chapter  7  D.  The  peculiar 
situation  for  the  Qawwal — as  compared  with  other  Indian  musicians  or  with 
concert  performers  generally — is  the  fact  that  his  remuneration  does  not 
come  to  im  as  a  direct  reward  for  a  good  performance.  Rather,  it  is  the 
indirect  material  result  of  what  is  essentially  a  non-material 
transaction:  the  symbolic  expression  of  the  spiritual  link  between  a 
Sufi  and  his  spiritual  superior — a  transaction  not  involving  the 
performer  at  all.  While  the  offerings  are  of  course  linked  to  the 
performance  inasmuch  as  they  are  generally  made  in  response  to  the  impact 
of  the  music,  they  are  only  incidentally  a  reward  for  the  performer ,  just 
as  the  performer  is  only  incidentally  a  contributor  to  the  impact  of  the 



music.  The  entire  complex  of  the  offerin9--p3y  conversion  in  its 
relation  to  the  performer's  imput  into  the  performance  is  schematized  in 
Table  23  in  such  a  way  as  to  show  its  relevance  to  the  performer. 

From  all  this  it  becomes  obvious  that,  while  the  implicit  goal  of 
earning  money  from  the  audience  is  a  primary  concern  for  the  performer  in 
the  Qawwali  assembly,  this  goal  itself  can  be  achieved  only  in 
conjunction  with,  or  through  the  explicit  goal  of  evoking  spiritual 
benefices  for  this  audience.  Accordingly,  the  performer  orients  himself 
first  of  all  to  the  spiritual  dimension  of  the  performance,  playing  his 
part  in  the  realization  of  a  Qawwali  occasion  in  accordance  with  the 
standards  set  and  shared  by  all  the  participants.  Within  the  standard 
conception  of  the  Sufi  assembly,  this  spiritual  orientation  requires  him 
to  consider  the  factors  of  setting  and  procedure  (as  discussed  in  Ch.  7 
B  and  C)  in  relation  to  his  performing  task,  which  is  first  and  foremost 
to  serve  the  spiritual  needs  of  his  audience.  The  performer  knows  that 
it  is  part  of  his  task  to  understand  these  needs,  indeed  this  is  implied 
in  his  position  as  a  service  professional.  For  this  purpose,  the 
strategic  onus  is  entirely  on  him  and  he  is  quite  free  to  exercise  it. 

The  fact  that  performers  invariably  use  this  freedom  to  attempt  as  close 
a  compliance  with  their  audience's  wishes  as  possibl e--rather  than  to 
"express  themselves"  or  innovate--is  an  obvious  manifestation  of  their 
dependent  position  vis  a  vis  this  audience  and  indeed  can  be  understood 
only  in  relation  to  this  reality. 

Perspective  on  Context 

From  the  performer's  vantage  point  the  occasion  in  its  spiritual 





offering  to 
spiritual  link 

Leacle r  (represen¬ 
tative  of  Sufi 
hie  rarchy 



dimension  is  defined  by  two  basic  factors:  spiritual  leadership  and 
thematic  focus.  Of  these,  spiritual  leadership  is  primary,  for  it  may 
determine  the  thematic  focus  as  well.  The  thematic  focus  suggests  the 
basic  framework  for  the  performance.  It  is  derived  most  obviously  from 
setting  factors  such  as  the  occasion  (e.g.  a  saint's  anniversary)  or  the 
place  (e.g.  a  saint's  tomb),  but  may  also  be  determined  by  the  spiritual 
leadership  of  the  occasion.  Indeed,  even  when  the  setting  suggests  a 
definite  thematic  focus,  its  manifestation  is  dependent  on  the  spiritual 
leadership  for  the  way  the  thematic  focus  is  realized.  Performers, 
therefore,  consider  spiritual  leadership  as  the  primary  factor  in  their 
view  of  the  Qawwal i  occasion,  for  they  are  fully  aware  of  the 
hierarchical  structure  of  Sufism.  Most  important  is  the  leader,  whose 
controlling  position  allows  him  to  determine  the  character  of  the 
assembly  by  his  mere  presence,  reinforced  by  his  personal  following  in 
the  audience.  This  means  that,  to  play  his  part  in  the  spiritual  pursuit 
of  the  Qawwal i  occasion,  the  performer  first  of  all  orients  himself  to 
the  spiritual  leader,  even  in  respect  to  realizing  an  established 
thematic  focus. 

As  for  the  performer's  implicit  goal,  i.e.  the  material  perspective, 
it  forms  an  integral  part  of  his  vantage  point,  without  introducing  a 
substantive  contradiction  to  the  spiritual  dimension.  For  the  basic 
acceptance  of  the  worldly  status  hierarchy  as  a  God-given  social  ordering 
makes  possible  the  acceptance  of  this  dimension  of  worldly  status  in  the 
context  of  the  hierarchical  setting  of  the  royal  court  of  saints 
( darbaTr-e-aul  iya) .  Thus  worldly  status  is  seen  to  play  the  role  of 

confirming  spiritual  status  through  deference  expressed  in  offerings, 





which,  at  the  same  time,  serve  to  validate  the  status  of  the  donor.  The 
performer,  by  virtue  of  being  the  client  providing  service  to  this 
alliance  of  spiritual  and  worldly  status,  considers  himself  the  natural 
beneficiary  of  these  offerings. 

From  a  material  perspective, then,  the  performer  sees  the  Qawwali 
occasion  in  terms  of  two  major  factors:  the  audience  composition  with 
its  offering  potential,  and  the  authority  structure  that  controls  his 
access  to  these  offerings  (i.e.  the  leader).  In  an  overall  sense,  taking 
both  spiritual  and  material  perspectives  together,  the  Qawwali  performer 
pursues  a  dual  goal  in  the  assembly  in  both  of  which  the  leader,  as  the 
controlling  figure,  holds  equal  prominence.  His  major  effort  is 
therefore  directed  to  the  leader  and  any  other  spiritual  notables  closely 
allied  with  him.  For  their  state  and  responses  are  known  to  affect  their 
spiritual  dependents  which,  in  fact,  constitutes  the  entire  audience, 
resulting  in  both  spiritual  benefice  and  material  rewards  for  the 
performer.  How  the  leader  and  spiritual  notables  react  to,  and  assess, 
the  event  and  the  performance  input  is  crucial  to  the  performer  in  a  more 
direct  way,  since  generally  they  control  access  to  performing 
opportunities.  In  practical  terms,  this  means  that  the  performer's  prime 
strategy  is  to  assess  setting,  audience  and  procedure  with  reference  to 
the  leader.  On  the  side  of  the  implicit  material  goal,  giving  priority 
to  the  high-status  component  in  the  audience  also  conforms  with  the 
concept  of  spiritual  control  by  the  leader,  enhanced  by  support  from 
prosperous  or  powerful  devotees. 

However,  should  the  performer  disregard  this  spiritual  control  by 
catering  to  a  rich  devotee  over  the  need  of  a  materially  less  rewarding 



spiritual  notable,  there  is  potential  for  conflict  and  censure  (see 
Performance  2:447,  451).  On  the  other  side,  the  performer  knows  that  he 
can  safely  encourage  offerings  musically  by  utilizing  the  thematic  focus 
of  the  occasion,  even  though  this  may  be  criticized  as  "money  pulling". 
What  is  most  essential  about  the  Qawwali  performer's  position  vis-a-vis 
the  performing  occasion  is  the  fact  that,  no  matter  how  harsh  the 
economic  reality,  or  how  purely  financial  his  interest,  the  performer  can 
pursue  this  material  goal  only  by  implication,  so-to-speak,  and  his 
financial  success  ultimately  derives  from  "scoring"  at  the  spiritual 
level.  This  is  not  to  deny  the  genuine  importance  spiritual  success 
holds  for  many  a  performer,  but  his  overall  vantage  point  must  invariably 
include  the  explicit  mystical  as  well  as  the  implicit  financial 
dimension.  Indeed,  it  is  in  these  very  terms  that  the  Qawwal  defines 
himself:  "I  am  a  complete  Qawwal ... .1 ooking  equally  to  spiritual 
benefice  and  to  money"  (Meraj  M3: 35). 

Perspective  on  Performance  Medium 

The  stage  has  been  set  for  the  performer  to  enter  and  assess  the 
occasion  of  performance  on  the  basis  of  his  own  position  within  it  and  in 
accordance  with  his  goal  as  a  performer  of  Qawwali  music.  What  remains 
is  to  consider  the  musical  idiom  as  the  strategic  medium  by  which  he 
pursues  this  goal. 

In  broad  terms,  musical  content  and  style  of  the  performance  idiom 
of  Qawwali  are  defined  by  the  consensus  of  participants'  expectations  as 
outlined  in  Chapter  7,  and  as  such  they  correspond  to  the  outline  of 
music  and  text  as  presented  in  Chapters  3  and  5  B.  The  performer  abides 



by  this  standard  of  expectation;  indeed,  doing  so  is  a  prerequisite  for 
an  acceptable  performance.  At  the  same  time,  the  nature  of  the 
performance  occasion  not  only  gives  the  performer  choices  to  make,  it 
requires  them  of  necessity.  In  fact,  the  musical  idiom  of  itself 
reflects  this  dual  requirement  of  conformity  on  one  side  and  flexibility 
on  the  other.  In  terms  simplified  from  the  music  outline  this  idiom 
consists  of  an  established  repertoire  of  songs  (text  and  music)  along 
with  techniques  and  ingredients  to  manipulate,  modify  or  amplify  this 
repertoire.  However,  there  are  limits  of  conformity--set  by  the 
listener's  expectations--within  which  the  performer  can  exercise  his 
musical  options  strategically.  They  leave  two  broad,  principal  areas  of 
choice:  one  concerns  the  choice  of  the  song,  both  as  to  textual  and 
musical  content  and  as  to  its  stylistic  presentation:  the  other  area 
comprises  the  totality  of  options  governing  the  internal  structuring  of 
the  song  in  performance.  Competent  control  of  both  areas  is  required  of 
the  performer  who  wishes  to  pursue  his  goal  successfully.  This  means 
that  he  should  have  at  his  instant  command  a  memorized  store  of  texts  and 
tunes  covering  the  stylistic  range  that  will  enable  him  to  choose  the 
song  appropriately.  Further,  he  should  control  the  range  of  internal 
structuring  devices,  both  textual  and  musical,  in  order  to  shape  the  song 
once  it  is  chosen.  Finally,  he  should  have  a  well  and  worked-out 
ensemble  so  that  his  choices  are  conveyed  successfully  in  performance. 
This  requires  above  all  strong  leadership  on  his  part,  and  instant 
compliance  on  that  of  his  accompanists. 

The  outline  of  the  performer's  vantage  point  is  now  complete,  having 

covered  the  performer's  own  position  in  the  performance  occasion,  defined 
his  goal  in  performance,  outlined  the  resulting  perspective  vis  a  vis  the 
performance  context,  and  finally,  having  dealt  with  the  performance  idiom 
as  his  strategic  medium.  The  next  step  is  to  consider  the  way  all  this 
is  actualized  in  the  process  of  performance. 




In  this  ethnographical ly  oriented  portion  of  the  performance 
analysis  section  the  aim  is  to  consider  the  performer's  strategies 
through  the  course  of  a  performance,  as  shaped  by  his  vantage  point,  and 
to  examine  the  musical  result.  This  can  best  be  done  in  the  form  of  an 
outline  of  the  performance  process  in  the  abstract,  by  taking  the 
performer  through  an  entire  performance  and  showing  how  contextual 
variables  serve  him  as  cues  for  his  musical  options  at  every  stage  of 
putting  together  a  Qawwal i  performance.  Because  it  is  difficult  to 
retain  a  sense  of  the  interactional  dynamic  while  discussing  these 
various  options  and  their  potential  consequences,  it  is  important  to 
indicate  that,  no  matter  what  is  chosen  at  the  level  of  either  context  or 
music,  the  performance  continues  in  terms  of  two  ongoing  processes--one 
musical,  one  contextual --which  go  on  interacting  with  each  other,  i.e. 
the  musician  continues  to  sing  and  the  ongoing  contextual  responses 
continue  to  inform  his  perception.  A  sense  of  this  polarized  dynamic  is 
best  conveyed  in  the  form  of  a  table  (see  Table  26),  here  representing  an 
exerpt  of  the  abstracted  Qawwal i  performance.  A  more  extensive 
representation  in  the  same  format  forms  part  of  the  Ethnographic  Section 
(see  pp.  451-461)  to  which  reference  will  be  made  wherever  applicable. 

As  mentioned,  the  performer  shares  with  other  participants  a  notion 
of  the  general  structure  of  the  Qawwal i  occasion  as  outlined  in  Chapter 
7,  and  the  categories  of  setting  and  procedure  (see  Tables  16  and  18,  pp. 




154  and  161)  are  entirely  relevant  to  his  general  view  of  the  Qawwali 
occasion.  In  following  this  general  conception  of  the  Qawwali 
performance  context,  the  performer's  strategies  will  be  considered  in 
reference  to  the  two  dimensions  of  the  occasion  structure:  setting-- 
comprising  contextual  categories  established  prior  to  the  actual 
performance--,  and  procedure--incl uding  factors  that  form  part  of  the 
performance  sequence  itself,  most  particularly  audience  responses.  At 
the  same  time,  his  vantage  point  imposes  particular  priorities  on  his 
view  of  these  categories,  so  that  logically  an  outline  of  performer 
strategies  must  be  structured  in  accordance  with  those  priorities.  As 
set  out  in  the  previous  section,  spiritual  leadership,  embodied  mainly  in 
the  leader,  occupies  the  foremost  position  among  priorities,  both  from 
the  spiritual  and  material  perspective.  Thematic  focus  is  a  further 
spiritual  priority,  while  the  high  status  component  of  the  audience  is  of 
greatest  importance  in  its  material  implication.  The  entire  perspective 
is  outlined  on  Table  24. 

A  Setting  Assessment 

A  discussion  of  a  performer's  strategic  use  of  setting  factors  must 
be  prefaced  by  the  general  point  that  the  Qawwal ,  like  any  performer, 
aims  his  strategies  at  his  audience,  so  that  his  prime  concern  is  for  all 
categories  of  listeners.  Among  them,  the  leader  obviously  occupies  a 
special  position,  hence  he  will  be  given  greatest  prominence  here,  as 
indeed  is  done  by  performers  in  their  assessment  of  performance 
occasions.  The  remaining  audience  is  then  evaluated  as  to  its  status 
components  and  considered  both  in  reference  to  the  sponsor  and  to  other 





- ^ 






TEXT  (intro, 
verse  +  song  text) 

MUSIC  (prelude  + 
entire  song) 


Sponsor/ spiritual 

leader  ship 

as  to: 

'  '  ' 




a)  spiritual  identity 

b)  personal  identity 


language  /  style 


tune  /  rhythm/ pre  - 



a)  social  status 

language/  style 

tune/  rhythm/pre¬ 


Oc  ca  sion  /Place 




Performing  Conditions 


duration,  leadership 






a)  composition 

b)  state 

(modify  above) 
j_  intro,  verse 

(modify  above) 

+_  prelude 


Preceding  Song 

language  /  theme 


relevant  setting  factors.  The  last  remaining  category  of  participants, 
i.e.  the  performer  himself,  is  also  part  of  his  assessment  of  a 
performance  occasion;  here  he  considers  mainly  the  performing  conditions 
under  which  he  is  to  operate,  but  also  where  he  stands  vis-a-vis  other 
performers  participating  in  the  same  performance  event.  As  for 
circumstantial  factors  of  setting  such  as  occasion,  place,  time,  locale 
and  duration,  they  are  of  direct  importance  to  the  performer  only  to  the 
extent  they  contribute  in  defining  the  thematic  focus  for  the 
performance.  For  the  rest,  such  factors  may  be  significant  to  him 
indirectly,  as  constraints  on  the  audience  composition. 

Dealing  with  the  setting  now  in  terms  of  an  actual  performance, 
there  are  two  levels  for  the  performer  to  consider.  At  the  primary  level 
are  the  predetermined  factors  that  make  up  the  general  setting  and 
characterize  the  event  as  a  whole,  factors  for  the  most  set  beforehand. 
The  secondary  level  comprises  factors  particular  to  the  immediate 
situation  the  performer  faces  when  starting  his  performance;  these 
usually  amplify,  but  can  also  contradict,  the  primary  setting 
constel 1 ation . 

The  prime  relevance  of  setting  factors  relates  to  the  performer's 
initial  choices  regarding  music  and  text  as  well  as  their  presentation. 

In  addition,  the  initial  assessment  of  these  factors  continues  to  inform 
the  strategies  he  uses  throughout  the  actual  performance  procedure.  The 
performance  process,  then,  begins  with  the  performer's  assessment  of 
primary  setting  factors,  most  of  it  carried  out  even  prior  to  the 
performance  event. 





To  begin  with,  the  performer  focusses  on  the  leader,  by  assessing 
him  primarily  in  spiritual  terms,  but  considering  also  their  material 
implication.  In  order  to  cater  to  the  leader  spiritually,  the  performer 
must  above  all  know  the  spiritual  status  and  identity  of  the  leader-- 
which  saintly  lineage  he  belongs  to,  and  whether  he  is  a  saint's  familial 
descendant  or  even  his  recognized  representative,  or  whether  he  is  a 
recognized  spiritual  guide  of  some  standing.  As  it  is,  in  most  cases  the 
performer  is  conversant  with  this  information  as  a  function  of  his 
attachment  to  a  leader  who  is  also  his  patron  (see  Ch.  5  D).  In  case  the 
leader  is  a  rich  patron  sponsoring  the  event  who  lacks  spiritual  status 
himself,  the  spiritual  superior  to  whom  the  leader  is  linked  becomes  the 
spiritual  focus  for  the  Qawwal .  The  same  holds  where  the  assembly  of  a 
leader  with  lesser  spiritual  status  is  enhanced  by  the  presence  of  a 
superior  spiritual  figure,  usually  a  representative  of  a  senior  saint 
(cf.  H  in  Performance  1:377). 

This  general  knowledge  of  the  leader's  identity  is  pertinent  for  the 
performer's  decision  regarding  his  choice  of  appropriate  song  topics. 

Thus  he  knows  that  for  a  saint's  representative  songs  establishing  a  link 
with  the  patron  saint  are  a  first  and  safe  choice.  This  link  ( ni sbat) 
may  be  thematic,  in  the  form  of  praise  or  supplication,  it  may  also 
reside  in  a  song's  ritual  association  with  the  saint  or  his  shrine  ( Tori 
Surat  in  Performance  1:418),  or  in  the  poet's  identity  as  a  disciple  or 
saint  of  the  lineage.  For  a  spiritual  leader  of  a  circle  of  disciples, 
songs  evoking  mystical  experience  (cf.  Performance  2)  or  expounding  on 
the  devotional  nature  of  the  link  between  disciple  and  leader  are  most 




In  addition  to  his  spiritual  identity,  the  personal  status  identity 
of  the  leader  forms  an  important  part  of  the  performer's  prior  assessment 
of  a  Qawwali  occasion.  This  relates  principally  to  the  degree  of 
sophistication  or  popularity  a  leader  wishes  to  project  in  his  assembly. 
The  performer  uses  this  knowledge  to  delineate  his  area  of  options 
supplementary  to  variables  expressing  spiritual  identity.  They  comprise 
language  and  style  of  the  song  text,  tune  and  rhythmic  framework  of  the 
music,  as  well  as  their  style  of  performance.  To  express  sophistication, 
Farsi  is  superior,  followed  by  classical  Hindi,  preferably  in  the  form  of 
a  sophisticated  poetic  text.  At  the  Shrine  of  Ajmer  a  performing  group 
was  recently  evicted  from  an  1 urs  assembly  for  singing  in  Urdu,  by  a 
newly  invested  shrine  representative  asserting  his  status  over  his 
predecessor.  Musically,  a  raga-like  or  old  tune  is  appropriate  for  this 
purpose,  especially  when  enhanced  by  a  complex  or  "difficult"  musical 
meter  or  at  least  a  seriously  slow  rhythmic  pattern.  A  sophisticated 
presentation,  finally,  is  best  kept  subdued  and  limited  to  a  few  stylized 
gestures.  If  on  the  other  hand,  sophistication  is  no  great  bar  to 
popular  appeal,  the  performer  will  keep  to  songs  with  a  generally 
understood  language--Urdu  or  standard  devotional  Hindi--and  with  a  more 
contemporary  style.  Musically,  he  will  prefer  to  choose  from  song  tunes 
with  popular  appeal  and  follow  an  easy,  smartly  moving  rhythmic 
framework.  As  for  presentation,  he  will  feel  more  free  to  impress  the 
audience  with  "acting"  out  the  song,  using  various  demonstrative 
gestures.  Since  the  majority  of  leaders  today  prefer  a  composite  image, 
projecting  both  sophistication  and  popularity,  (due  to  the  patronage 



situation,  see  Ch.  5  C),  the  performer's  safest  strategy  is  to  plan  on 
staying  on  a  middle  ground  and  let  the  immediate  performance  situation 
influence  his  final  decision  on  the  spot.  Finally,  a  leader's  individual 
preferences  may  be  known  to  a  performer,  especially  if  he  is  linked  to 
him  as  a  client  and  is  therefore  expected  to  cater  to  the  personal  wishes 
of  his  patron.  In  that  case,  the  only  decision  he  has  to  make  is  whether 
to  comply,  or  to  risk  displeasing  the  patron  by  catering  to  other 
audience  components. 

As  much  as  a  performer  gives  priority,  at  this  stage,  to  catering  to 
the  leader,  he  includes  the  audience  in  his  preliminary  assessment  as 
well,  at  least  as  to  its  basic  components.  Basically,  performers  divide 
audiences  into  the  same  categories  as  do  other  participants  of  Qawwali, 
both  as  to  the  fundamental  division  into  the  "special"  and  "common" 
audience  components  (see  Ch.  5,  Appendix  15)  and,  within  the  special 
category,  as  to  the  distinction  between  those  with  spiritual  and  worldly 
status,  i.e.  the  "saintly"  ( fuqara ,  darwesh) ,  and  the  "rich"  (limara , 
ra ' usa) .  Of  the  two,  clearly  the  special  category  is  of  major  importance 
and  interest,  since  its  members  are  the  prime  sources  of  both  spiritual 
enhancement  to  the  assembly  in  general,  and  of  material  benefit  to  the 
performers  specifically.  Certain  general  strategies  are  appropriate  in 
relation  to  this  category  as  a  whole.  In  accordance  with  their  status, 
the  special  audience  can  be  counted  on  to  understand  and  respond 
favourably  to  sophistication  in  content  and  form  of  the  songs,  as 
contained  in  texts  from  classical  Sufi  verse,  songs  with  special 
spiritual  association  or  with  an  old  or  special  tune. 

Since  most  Qawwali  occasions  are  regularly  occuring  events,  the 


;:,i  6  '(J  nO  t*|  I 

performer  is  usually  able  to  anticipate  the  presence  of  special 
individuals  in  the  audience.  Listeners  with  high  spiritual  status  will 
be  noted  particularly  as  to  their  spiritual  identity  and  treated 
musically  much  like  the  1  eader--indeed  a  representative  of  a  senior 
saintly  lineage  or  a  major  shrine  establishment  will  be  recognized  in  the 
performer's  strategy  in  the  same  way,  usually  by  the  choice  of  a  song 
with  a  fitting  theme  or  association  (cf.  MasnavT  in  Performance  1:330). 

As  for  lesser  spiritual  leaders  or  representatives--! ower  class  Sheiks  or 
representatives  of  minor  shrines--the  performer  usually  does  not  plan  to 
cater  to  them  specifically,  but  he  will  anticipate  giving  priority  to 
their  preference,  should  they  express  it,  in  consideration  of  their 
spiritual  identity. 

Listeners  with  worldly  status  are  of  very  special  value  to  the 
performers,  since  normally  they  constitute  the  main  source  of  offerings 
in  a  Qawwali  event.  Thus  the  performer  anticipates  catering  to  their 
preferences  in  a  general  way,  by  choosing  from  a  repertoire  of 
appropriate  sophistication,  in  line  with  their  assumed  orientation  to  the 
spiritual  leaders  of  the  assembly  or  to  its  patron  saint.  Listeners 
outstanding  in  worldly  endowment,  or  known  to  be  very  generous,  may  even 
be  singled  out  for  special  consideration  at  the  level  of  specific  song 
choices  (cf.  song  chosen  for  Performance  2:443).  Such  a  situation  can 
lead  the  performer  to  the  point  of  superseding  the  preference  of  the 
spiritual  leadership,  as  by  the  choice,  e.g.,  of  a  song  theme  to  suit  a 
puritan  devotee's  orientation,  or  of  a  simplistic  text  to  please  an 
unlettered  donor. 

In  contrast  to  the  individual  attention  bestowed  on  special 

9  I 



listeners,  the  common  component  of  a  Qawwali  audience  is  assessed  as  a 
body  of  secondary  importance  that  always  comes,  literally  as  well  as 
figuratively,  behind  the  special  group.  In  the  presence  of  important  and 
rewarding  special  listeners  a  performer  may  well  ignore  the  common 
audience  altogether,  especially  if  it  is  limited  in  size.  Where  a  large 
crowd  is  known  to  gather,  on  the  other  hand,  and  more  so  where  special 
listeners  are  scarce,  the  performer  will  plan  to  cater  to  popular  taste 
in  selecting  well-known  songs  with  a  popular  textual  and  musical  appeal 
( e . g .  ex.  7 ) . 

Fixed  Setting  Factors 

Fixed  setting  factors  are  relevant  to  the  performer's  strategies  in 
two  ways,  one  directly  affects  the  thematic  focus  of  the  event  through 
occasion  and  place  to  the  extent  that  these  set  up  an  associational  link 
with  a  saint--be  it  through  his  anniversary  (occasion)  or  his  proximity 
(place).  These  require  of  the  performer  to  express  that  link  which  the 
participants  are  expecting  to  have  confirmed  experientially .  Thus  he 
will  be  prepared  to  sing  songs  connected  to  the  saint,  be  it  through  text 
topic  or  authtorship,  or  through  ritual  association.  Among  them  are 
specific  songs  prescribed  for  the  ritual  portions  of  such  assemblies  (cf. 
Qaul  and  Rang  in  Performance  1:389,  392). 

Relevant  in  a  more  indirect  way  are  the  setting  factors  that  affect 
the  audience  components  expected  to  be  present  in  an  assembly;  these  are 
locale  and  time  of  day.  Both  may  enable  the  performer  to  anticipate  the 
presence  or  absence  of  a  common  audience  component.  Since  locale  size 
determines  audience  capacity,  it  is  clear  that  a  small  listening  area, 



even  in  a  public  shrine,  will  accommodate  few  listeners  beyond  the 
leader's  immediate  circle  which  is  normally  composed  of  "special" 
listeners.  A  large  public  hall  or  shrine  courtyard,  on  the  other  hand, 
is  expected  to  attract  a  seizable  common  audience,  in  addition  to  the 
special  circle  of  the  leader.  As  for  time  of  day,  assemblies  held  during 
working  hours  are  not  easily  accessible  to  those  who  need  to  earn  a 
daily  living;  therefore  the  performer  can  only  expect  night  performances 
to  be  frequented  by  large  common  audiences.  Of  course  there  is  always 
the  destitute  component  of  any  common  audience,  especially  in  assemblies 
held  at  shrines  where  beggars  and  mendicants  abound.  These,  however,  are 
hardly  given  any  consideration,  either  by  leaders  or  by  performers.  The 
performer,  thus  will  take  in  account  locale  and  time  to  assess  the 
prominence  of  the  common  audience  component  and  plan  his  choice  of  songs 
accordi ngly . 

Own  Performing  Conditions 

For  the  performer,  the  last,  but  by  far  not  the  least  aspect  of 
setting  is  that  of  his  own  performing  conditions  anticipated  for  a 
particular  Qawwal i  occasion.  The  first  factor  significant  to  his 
strategies  is  whether  he  is  performing  as  an  individual  leading  his  group 
(so-called  "party  singing"--partT  ka  gana,  see  Performance  1:397-442, 
Performance  2:443-461)  or  a  member  of  his  performing  community  ("mixed 
singing"--panchayatT  gana,  mushtar  ka  gana,  see  below  p.  259  and 
Performance  1:389-396).  In  the  first  case  he  controls  the  singing  and 
also  the  earnings,  so  that  all  possible  strategies  are  crucial  directly 
to  him  and  his  group.  In  that  situation  he  has  the  freedom  to  exercise 




his  musical  strategies  and  the  confidence  that  his  accompanists,  in  their 
own  interest  in  a  successful  performance,  will  comply  with  his  commands. 

In  the  second  case,  the  control  over  both  singing  and  earnings  are  shared 
and  leadership  is  usually  established  on  the  spot  between  the  leading 
singers  of  the  group  who  decide  on  strategy  as  they  go. 

Only  at  events  where  a  performer  does  both  community  and  party 
singing  the  party  leader,  anticipating  his  own  party's  turn  in  the 
performance  sequence,  will  plan  to  keep  the  communally  sung  ritual  songs 
short  in  order  to  save  for  himself  and  his  group  both  performance  time 
and  listeners'  offering  money,  rather  than  to  have  more  income 
distributed  among  the  greater  number  of  community  members.  If  his  "turn" 

( bari )  follows  immediately  after  the  communally  performed  ritual  songs, 
he  may  even  go  so  far  as  to  avoid  taking  a  lead  position  there,  in  order 
to  preserve  the  impact  of  his  singing  for  his  own  party's  turn  instead  of 
wasting  it  when  the  reward  for  it  will  be  dissipated  to  his  entire  bradT 
(cf.  Performance  ex.  1:  390  ff). 

The  second  and  even  more  important  aspect  of  the  Qawwal's  performing 
conditions  is  his  particular  place  within  the  course  of  the  performance. 
Normally,  this  consists  of  one  "turn"  allotted  to  him  by  customary  right 
or  by  the  leader's  personal  decision.  Given  the  fact  that  most  Qawwali 
occasions  involve  a  succession  of  performers  with  similar  access  rights, 
it  is  of  importance  to  realize  that  a  complete  Qawwali  performance 
consists  of  the  sum  total  of  different  individual  performances . 

Therefore,  in  specific  musical  terms,  each  performer's  concern  and 
strategic  input  is  of  necessity  limited  to  his  own  "turn".  While  the 
leader  has  the  ultimate  control  over  performance  turns,  there  is,  at  most 



frv-.,  1  ssqelnrl, 


shrines  at  least,  a  customary  sequence  of  those  performing  groups  in 
regular  attendance  over  the  years  which  is  maintained  from  generation  to 
generation,  always  under  the  name  of  the  original  head  of  the  group,  (see 
Ch.  5  C,  Ethnographic  Section  A : 309  f).Such  turns  occur  usually  at  the 
beginning  of  the  occasion.  One  would  therefore  expect  the  particular 
performers  to  be  bound  to  the  customary  thematic  sequence  of  praising 
God,  Prophet  and  then  saints  and  sheikhs.  Performers,  however,  do  not 
feel  particularly  bound  by  this  rule,  although  they  too  pay  lip  service 
to  it  and  respect  it  as  a  principle.  Songs  praising  God  are  hardly  ever 
heard  at  all,  and  often  a  performer  with  a  first  or  second  turn  in  the 
assembly  will  ignore  the  Prophet  as  well,  or  at  most  pay  his  respect  to 
the  tradition  by  singing  an  introductory  verse  in  his  praise. 

Usually,  it  is  part  of  the  turn  allocation  for  the  performer  to  be 
informed  whether  he  may  sing  one,  two  or  three  songs.  Two  is  the  usual 
norm,  but  if  the  limit  is  one  song,  he .will  try  for  as  long  a  song  as 
possible,  or  for  one  that  can  easily  be  extended  with  inserts. 

B  Situational  Assessment 

It  has  been  necessary  to  dwell  at  length  on  the  background  setting 
of  the  Qawwal i  occasion  in  order  to  prepare  the  ground  for  an  outline  of 
the  actual  performance  in  sequence.  In  actual  fact,  a  performer  may  be 
aware  of  all  these  structural  setting  factors  and  of  their  implications 
even  before  the  performance  begins,  but  still  he  is  unlikely  to  take  any 
final  performance  decision  beforehand.  The  reason  for  this  is  his 
conviction,  confirmed  by  experience,  that  nothing  is  ever  certain,  every 
situation  is  different  and  unpredictable,  so  that  it  can  best  be  assessed 



on  the  spot  when  the  entire  constellation  of  factors  is  at  its  most 
apprecei vabl e .  Let  us  then  follow  a  performer  as  he  starts  his  turn  and 
makes  his  way  through  a  performance. 

The  lead  performer  with  his  group  enters  his  assigned  place  in  the 
assembly.  With  this  he  begins  to  consider  and  choose  from  the  series  of 
options  open  to  him  in  order  to  make  his  music  happen.  First  of  all  he 
immediately  assesses  his  performing  situation.  While  he  is  already 
informed,  by  his  prior  knowledge,  of  the  structural  aspects  of  the 
setting  as  discussed  above,  he  now  must,  in  addition,  take  into  account 
the  factors  of  a  purely  situational  nature.  These  situational  setting 
factors  concern  the  "here  and  now"  of  the  performing  situation  and  may 
therefore  have  much  bearing  on  his  musical  strategy,  whether  they 
confirm,  modify,  or  contradict  his  view  of  the  structural  setting.  Two 
such  factors  are  relevant  to  the  performer;  both  relate  to  the  audience 
present  at  the  time  of  his  performance.  One  is  the  actual  audience 
rcomposition,  the  other  the  state  of  receptiveness  or  focus  among  the 
listeners,  including  their  explicit  song  preference,  if  any. 

Taking  note  of  the  audience  composition  is  of  basic  significance, 
since  attendance  at  Qawwali  occasions  can  be  quite  fluid,  so  that 
special  listeners  important  to  the  performer--because  of  their  spiritual 
or  worldly  status  and  offering  potential--may  not  all  be  present  at  any 
one  time  (e.g.  arriving  late  or  leaving  early),  and  outstanding 
individuals  whom  he  was  expecting  to  address  particul arly ,  in  the  hope  of 
a  good  reward,  may  just  then  be  absent,  requiring  him  to  change  his 
strategy  (cf.  Performance  2:445).  Basically,  the  performer's  view  of  the 
listeners  actually  before  him  will  round  out  his  picture  of  the  audience, 

:  i  J  ■> 




telling  him  what  relative  weight  to  give  to  different  audience  categories 
and  what  outstanding  listeners  to  cater  to. 

At  least  as  important  to  the  performer,  if  not  more  so,  is  the  state 
and  receptiveness  toward  his  performance  he  finds  his  listeners  in  when 
he  takes  the  floor;  indeed  it  is  mainly  on  positive  or  negative  clues  to 
this  effect  that  he  makes  his  final  decision  of  song  choice.  Here  the 
best  clue  comes  from  the  performance  immediately  preceding,  as  an 
indicator  of  how  the  audience  responded,  as  well  as  of  what  they  were 
responding  to.  It  is  for  this  reason  that  performers  normally  monitor  at 
least  the  singing  of  their  immediate  predecessors.  In  fact,  most  keep  an 
ear  on  the  entire  performance,  also  for  the  purpose  of  picking  up  new 
repertoire  (see  Ethnographic  Section  B : 3 1 6  f).For  assessing  the  audience, 
then,  the  performer  takes  note  both  of  the  song  selection  performed 
before  his  turn  as  well  as  of  the  degree  of  success  it  achieved.  At  one 
level  this  can  be  gleaned  from  the  amount  of  money  the  performer  sees  his 
predecessor  gather  at  the  end  of  his  performance,  as  he  is  about  to 
replace  him.  At  another  level,  the  impact  of  the  preceding  song  can  be 
noted  in  the  free  expression,  among  listeners,  of  a  heightened  state  of 
emotion.  On  perceiving  such  a  state,  the  performer  may  drop  other 
considerations  and  select  a  song  that  thematically  matches  or  extends  the 
previous,  successful  performance  selection.  Indeed,  this  procedure 
conforms  to  the  guideline  for  thematic  continuity  which  is  emphasized  by 
both  performers  and  Sufi  listeners,  stating  that  once  a  link  (silsila)  is 
established,  it  should  not  be  broken  (cf.  Performance  2:445). 

In  the  absence  of  a  visible  audience  preference,  however,  the 
principle  of  continuity  is  quite  freely  disregarded,  especially  by  a  more 

ifc  fc-  >  *'*'•  •*«*  -■>■  ■■'>  "■ 


confident  and  innovative  performer  who  may,  on  the  contrary,  choose  to 
make  a  contrasting  selection  for  his  performance  in  order  to  arouse  a 
seemingly  unengaged  audience.  More  generally,  performers  facing  an 
unfocussed  audience  will  make  their  performance  decision  on  the  basis  of 
structural  factors,  trying  to  suit  the  occasion  or  pi  ace, or  to  cater  to 
individuals  or  components  in  the  audience. 

C  The  Performance 

What  has  taken  paragraphs  to  outline  can  obviously  take  the 
performer  no  more  than  moments  to  seize  up  before  he  begins  his 
presentation.  Thus,  on  the  basis  of  both  structural  and  setting  factors, 
he  arrives  at  a  performance  choice  for  his  first  Qawwal i  item.  As  summed 
up  on  Table  25,  his  decision  identifies  the  song  as  to  song  text  and 
includes  song  theme,  association  or  author,  language  and  style.  It  also 
further  includes  the  musical  choices  of  tune,  rhythmic  framework  and 
ritual  association,  along  with,  possibly,  durational  or  speed 
1 imitations--in  case  of  an  inexorably  short  "turn".  Finally,  it 
identifies  the  presentational  style  for  the  song  and  it  may  affect  the 
ensembl e . 

However,  it  may  also  happen  that  the  performer  is  unable  or 
unwilling  to  choose  a  song  by  the  time  he  sits  down  to  perform,  most 
likely  because  he  feels  the  need  to  get  a  clearer  indication  of 
preference  from  at  least  some  of  his  listeners,  especially  in  the  case  of 
an  unfamiliar  setting.  In  this  connection  we  must  recall  that  the 
Qawwal i  song  genre  is  structured  in  just  such  a  way  as  to  allow  the 
performer  an  initial  time  of  grace  in  order  to  observe,  test  or  "try  out" 





Occasion/ Place 
Saint's  celebration 

place  . 


■  ■  ■  -  - - 




r — < 




•r- 1 





Performing  Conditions 










Party  turn 

single  J 










X  X 


















r  Lch 







- - ; - 1 

Sponsor's  identity 























saint's  j 
rep  i 












F  ar  si 


U  r  du 






-  easy 










Style : 


Tune : 




Style : 

Leade  rship: 






































•  iH 


•  r^ 













•  i— ♦ 


































































1  W 




his  audience.  This  is  possible  primarily  by  means  of  the  two  parts 
preliminary  to  the  song,  the  Introductory  Verse  ( ruba1 i ) ,  which  prefaces 
the  song  proper,  and  also  by  means  of  the  Instrumental  Prelude  ( na^hma) 
preding  the  entire  song  complex.  Neither  of  these  parts  is  compulsory  to 
the  song,  although  convention  suggests  a  standard  usage  in  which  a 
prelude  precedes  a  singer's  first  selection  and  an  introductory  verse 
prefaces  each  of  the  songs.  Thus  the  performer  is  free  to  make  flexible 
use  of  these  introductory  portions,  in  order  to  best  pursue  his  quest. 

Prel ude 

On  his  first  entry  the  performer  will  normally  introduce  himself 
with  a  prelude  on  the  harmonium,  accompanied  by  the  drums,  in  order  to 
get  the  audience's  attention  following  the  momentary  distraction  caused 
by  the  change  of  performers  (cf.  Performance  2:360).  Depending  on  the 
type  of  audience  and  the  style  he  wishes  to  project,  the  performer 
chooses  a  prelude  built  on  the  anapaestic  rhythm  that  suggest  the  zikr 
Allahu  and  either  traces  with  it  the  traditional  melodic  outline  (see 
naghma-e-quddusT,  p.  356)  or  incorporates  that  rhythm  in  the  more  modern 
prelude  version  current  today  (see  p.  357)  and  preferred  by  many 
audiences  "because  it  has  a  smart  beat"  (kyunkeh  is  men  thap  wap  zara 
thTk  ata  hai — Meraj).  If  trying  to  appeal  to  a  substantial  common 
audience,  the  performer  may  also  present  in  the  prelude  the  tune  of  the 
song  to  follow,  livened  up  with  much  accentuation  on  the  drums. 

Whichever  version  is  used,  the  prelude  serves  to  suggest  a  zikr-- 
like  experience  to  the  audience  with  its  rhythmic  pattern  heavily 
reinforced  by  clapping  and  increasing  in  speed  until  an  abrupt  halt  is 

nt  brs  no*J3ft»8  **%tt  i‘  SJ?*ta  6  zebsosiq  abu  ■  cr 



reached  rhythmically  at  the  same  time  as  the  melody  descends  to  the 

During  the  prelude  the  lead  performer  has  time  to  scan  the  audience 
for  any  subtle  signals  that  couldd  indicate  song  preference.  By  looking 
around  solicitously,  especially  at  the  leader  and  other  important 
personages,  he  also  declares  himself  ready  to  comply  with  any  direct 
requests,  thus  inviting  suggestions  from  special  listeners.  Even  when  he 
may  already  have  a  song  in  mind  to  perform,  he  knows  that  his  choice  can 
always  be  overruled  at  the  last  moment  by  a  direct  request  from  a 
spiritual  notable  for  which  he  must  be  prepared.  A  request  song  is 
instantly  assessed  for  its  appropriateness  and  impact  potential;  if  the 
performer  considers  the  selection  "just  right"  ( sahih)  for  the  situation, 
he  may  start  the  song  directly  without  spending  further  time  on 
introductions.  As  for  requests  by  insignificant  listeners,  they  are 
fulfilled  only  if  the  choice  seems  right  to  the  performer  or  else 
ignored.  A  different  situation  occurs  when  a  shortage  of  time  is 
indicated,  either  by  signals  from  the  leader,  or  caused  by  delays 
preceding  the  performance.  In  this  event,  too,  the  performer  is  free  to 
dispense  with  the  prelude  or  even  the  introductory  verse  of  the  song. 
Normally,  however,  both  introductory  portions  serve  the  advantage  of  the 
performer,  even  when  for  a  second  or  third  song  in  his  turn  he  is  likely 
to  omit  the  instrumental  prelude  and  only  sing  an  introductory  verse. 

Introductory  Verse 

By  convention,  the  introductory  verse  is  related  to  the  song 
thematically  and  often  by  language  as  well,  thus  representing,  for  the 




listeners,  a  sort  of  preview  of  what  is  to  follow  in  the  song.  The 
performer,  in  turn,  gets  the  opportunity  to  test  their  reaction  to  his 
choice  of  topic  and  language.  If  he  perceives  a  favourable  response,  he 
allows  the  verse  to  lead  directly  into  the  song  appropriate  to  it,  one 
suggesting  a  similar  theme  within  the  recognized  content  categories  (see 
Ch.  5:109  f).  More  often  than  not  the  song  will  also  be  set  in  the  same 
language  as  the  introductory  verse,  but  the  performer  is  also  free  to 
move  to  what  he  may  consider  a  more  appropriate  linguistic  idiom.  In 
this  he  generally  follows  a  hierarchical  conception--paral lei  to  the 
hierarchical  sequence  of  song  themes--that  permits  the  introductory  verse 
to  evoke  a  higher,  but  never  a  lower  status  than  the  song  proper.  Thus  a 
Farsi  song  can  only  be  introduced  by  a  Farsi  verse,  a  classical  Hindi 
song  may  be  preceded  by  a  verse  in  Farsi  (see  Performance  2:360)  but  not 
normally  in  Urdu,  while  for  an  Urdu  song  verses  from  all  three  languages 
are  acceptable.  Farsi  verses  are  favoured  for  introductions  because  they 
evoke  the  classical  Sufi  saints  and  the  entire  symbolic  realm  of 
mysticism  (cf.  ex.  9).  The  performer  knows  that  they  will  make  their 
impression  even  on  the  members  of  an  unlettered  crowd,  giving  them  enough 
of  a  taste  of  high  Sufism  without  boring  them  with  an  entire  song  they 
don't  understand.  Hindi  verses  are  chosen  mostly  to  introduce  Hindi 

If  during  the  introductory  verse  no  favourable  responses  are  forth¬ 
coming,  the  performer  need  not  make  it  lead  into  the  song  as  planned  but 
may  pass  on  directly  to  a  second  introductory  verse,  suggesting  a 
different  theme  and  perhaps  introducing  a  different  language,  in  order  to 
further  explore  the  audience's  mood.  Very  rarely  a  performer  proceeds  to 




a  third,  even  a  fourth  ruba 1 i ;  such  an  extended  introduction  invariably 
reflects  his  uncertainty,  caused  most  likely  by  an  unfamiliar  audience 
whose  reaction  he  finds  difficult  to  read. 

Any  switch  of  introductory  verses  is  mostly  a  thematic  one,  between 
the  general  categories  of  songs  addressing  the  Prophet  or  a  Sufi  saint, 
or  of  songs  dealing  with  aspects  of  mystical  love.  Such  a  thematic 
switch  is  also  a  recognized  strategy  for  satisfying  the  traditional 
requirements  for  a  thematic  hierarchy  which  early  on  in  the  gathering 
would  obligate  the  performer  to  choose  a  song  addressing  the  Prophet,  if 
not  God.  If  in  such  a  performance  situation  he  considers  the  prospect  of 
a  mystical  love  song,  or  one  addressing  a  saint,  more  rewarding--as  is 
often  the  case  during  a  saint's  anniversary--a  first  introductory  verse 
praising  the  Prophet  will  satisfy  the  formal  requirement.  This  then 
leaves  him  free  to  use  his  "turn"  for  a  potentially  more  rewarding  song 
with  a  different  theme,  which  he  then  simply  announces  with  a  second 
introductory  verse.  A  switch  in  language  invariably  proceeds  from  the 
sophisticated  Farsi  to  the  generally  intelligible  Hindi  or  Urdu.  This 
happens  where  the  audience  is  not  responding  to  the  Farsi,  an  indication 

that  sophisticated  Sufis  are  missing. 

There  is  another  way  the  performer  may  end  up  extending  his 
introductory  verse  even  without  intending  to  do  so.  If  the  verse  evokes 
a  very  positive  response  in  the  form  of  enthusiastic  gestures  or 
exclamations  then  the  performer  is  obliged  to  keep  repeating  the 
particular  verse  line.  Rarely,  this  can  lead  a  listener  to  the  stage  of 
actual  ecstatic  arousal.  Then  mere  repetition  of  the  verse  chanted 
without  drumbeat  will  not  suffice,  for  this  state  calls  for  intense 

J, },«!#.*  S  <*Jgg  «>»»(  »0  rtlh»  enH&st.  «enot  ’  10 

I  •  .  |  I  fjJ.  '  «'  f  i  ^S'tov  ff>  .  J  ;  ■  *'71Q 


—  8 

rhythmic  repetition  ( takrar)  .  The  performer,  therefore,  immediately 
"converts"  the  verse,  from  chanting  in  free  rhythm  to  singing  it  in  a 
musical  meter  while  signalling  the  drummer  to  play  the  appropriate 
rhythmic  pattern.  The  entire  performing  group  now  joins  in  the  singing, 
emphasising  the  beat  pattern  with  handclaps.  Thus  the  introductory  verse 
has  itself  become  a  Qawwali  song  which  will  now  be  continued  as  long  as 
this  verse  and  additional  verses  sustain  the  enthusiasm  of  the  listeners. 
Performers  consider  such  an  occurrence  a  windfall,  because,  of  course, 
offerings  are  part  of  the  response--the  song  came  to  us  as  a  bonus"  ( ieh 
chiz  muft  men  mil  gayT--Meraj,  see  Performance  1:330,  though  actual 
ecstasy  was  not  reached). 

This  discussion  of  song  choice  would  not  be  complete  without 
mentioning  the  other  extreme  to  this  windfall:  a  total  lack  of 
indication  as  to  the  audience's  preference.  It  does  happen  that  a 
performer  finds  no  setting  factor  suggestive  enough  for  a  song  topic,  and 
even  after  several  tries  at  introductory  verses  he  sees  no  positive 
response  in  the  audience.  In  such  a  case,  whe  he  "can't  figure  things 
out"  (kuchh  samajh  men  nahTn  aya),  there  is  only  intuition  left  to 
follow.  So  he  simply  picks  whatever  he  feels  like  singing  at  that  moment 
(jo  man  men  ae)  and  trusts  in  the  saint's  blessing  (karam)--it  may  just 
succeed,  or,  conversely,  the  performance  may  also  be  a  loss. 

The  Song 

Finally,  the  performance  has  reached  the  starting  point  of  the  song 
itself.  By  now,  the  performer  has  either  received  a  request  and  proceeds 
now  to  carry  it  out,  or  he  has  ascertained  to  his  own  satisfaction  what 



topic,  language  and  style  of  song  are  likely  to  appeal  to  the  listeners 
he  considers  important.  Having  chosen  the  song,  then,  he  now  begins  the 
process  of  performing  it.  This  process  is  outlined  in  chart  form  on 
Table  26,  where  musical  units  and  interaction  between  performer  and 
audience  are  shown  for  the  beginning  of  a  song. 

The  performer  has  a  basic  performing  sequence  laid  out  for  him 
which  is  implied  in  the  structure  of  the  Qawwali  song  itself  and  has  been 
outlined  in  Chapter  3  D : 63  ff.  To  begin  with,  the  performer  orients 
himself  along  this  standard  format,  with  the  purpose  of  projecting  the 
song  message  in  a  generally  effective  way,  using  all  available  channels 
of  communication.  Structurally  speaking,  this  means  that  he  focusses  on 
the  most  easily  comprehensible  text  unit,  the  verse  line.  Using  it  as 
the  standard  unit  of  communication,  he  follows  a  general  pattern  or 
repeating  each  verse  line  one  to  two  times.  On  reaching  the  end  of  a 
verse  in  this  manner,  he  re-states  the  entire  verse  in  sequence  once  or 
twice,  in  order  to  emphasize  its  message  in  its  entirety. 

In  his  presentation  he  aims  at  clarity  and  emphasis,  by  judiciously 
mixing  solo  and  group  singing.  The  opening  line  of  the  song  he  intones 
solo,  thus  presenting  its  message  in  absolute  clarity  as  well  as  drawing 
attention  to  his  own  leadership  of  the  performing  group.  Subsequent 
group  repetition  adds  emphasis  to  the  communication,  but  every  new  line 
is  first  introduced  by  the  leader.  Furthermore,  within  each  verse, the 
lead  performer  takes  special  care  to  convey  the  crucial  connection 
between  the  initial  "statement"  portion  (one  or  more  verse  lines)  and  the 
final  "answer"  portion  (concluding  line).  Thus,  after  the  group  has 
repeated  the  opening  statement  and  its  extensions,  if  any,  he  stops  the 


TABLE  26: 

Beginning  of  Opening  Verse,  as  Summarized  on  pp. 



Assess  impact  of  song 

Opening  line  to  a  sthavT 
tunc,  several  times 

C — >  Wait  for  offerings  to 
reach  leader 

No  extreme  response 
expected,  yet  hence 
as  soon  as  money 
picked  up,  initiate 
completion  of  verse  for 
enhancement  of  line  1 

^ — >  Open  2nd,  concluding 

£ — >  Return  to  opening 
line  to  harvest  its 
enhanced  meaning 

option  a): 

Intensification  required, 
but  also  wish  to  enhance 
general  appeal  of  line 

Keep  up  repeats  of ■ 
opening  line 

Restate  line  1,  solo  - > 

to  antara  tune 

Introduce  2nd  line 
solo,  repeat  with 
group,  to  a  stha yi  tune 

Restate  line  1,  solo 
to  a sthayl  tune, 
several  times 

Reiteration,  using 
melodic/  rhythmic 
alternative  s 

option  b) : 

Multiple  repetition, 
of  line,  or  salient 
phrase,  interspersed 
with  complete  state¬ 
ment  of  line.  Lower 
tune  alternative  used 

option  c) : 

Evoke  intensification 
among  multitude  of 
saint's  devotees, 
on  his  anniversary 

option  d): 

Intensification  to  be 
spread  among  specials 
by  amplification  at 
sophisticated  level 

Reiterate  after  insert 
of  F arsi  verse  in 
recitative,  culminating 
in  line  1 

Multiple  repetition 
alternating  line 
(segment)  with  saint's 
name,  may  use  lower  tune 

Focus  on  intensifi¬ 
cation  of  focal 
listeners'  state 

<4 < 



Much  success,  expressed  in 
offerings,  commotion 

All  sitting  again 

Attention  focussed  on  lead 
performer  and  new  message 

Some  more  offerings,  but 
no  great  shift  of  attention 

Focal  listeners  respond 

Enthusiasm  spreads  hence 
focal  and  other  special 
listeners  show  expressive 
and  link  response  (offerings) 

Focal  listeners  respond 
more  strongly,  impressing 
others  who  offer 

Common  audience  responds, 
offers,  but  leader  may 
be  displeased,  dampening 
atmosphere/  enthusia  sm 

Focal  and  several  more 
specials  respond  strongly 
and  offer.  .  .  . 



group  and  once  more  intones  the  opening,  or  penultimate  line  in  solo, 
always  to  an  antara  or  high- register  tune.  Thus  he  attracts  the 
audience's  attention  to  a  new  message:  the  coming  conclusion  of  the 
verse  which  he  states  for  the  first  time  to  an  asthayT  or  low-register 
tune,  continuing  the  solo  presentation  and  effectively  underscoring  the 
entire  message  with  facial  expression  and  gestures  appropriate  to  the 
meaning  as  well  as  the  type  of  audience  present.  This  procedure  of 
musically  "setting  up"  the  connection  between  initial  and  concluding 
verse  line  is  singled  out  by  the  special  term  misra1  kholna  ("to  open  the 
[salient  concluding]  line"). 

While  he  is  making  the  initial  statement  of  the  first  verse,  the 
performer  must  first  of  all  assess  the  impact  of  the  song  selection  on 
the  audience.  If  the  selection  is  at  all  fortuitous,  this  impact  will  be 
expressed  immediately  in  the  form  of  at  least  at  few  offerings  made  by 
those  who  wish  at  this  time  to  link  themselves  to  the  message  theme  or 
identity  of  the  song  (cf.  Performance  1 : all  songs).  It  is  up  to  the 
performer  to  judge  which  part  of  the  verse  is  making  the  greatest  impact. 
In  some  songs,  the  very  first  line  can  electrify  a  number  of  listeners, 
especially  if  the  poem  has  an  important  spiritual  association  or 
authorship  (see  Performance  1:418).  To  allow  for  such  an  effect  to 
happen,  the  performer  best  repeat  the  opening  line  many  times  in  the 
asthayi  or  lower  register  tune,  even  before  making  the  connection  to  the 
second  line  for  the  first  time.  Repeat  statements  are  kept  up  at  least 
until  all  offerings  have  reached  their  destination.  This  is  important 
because  if  provides  even  the  listener  who  is  last  in  line  with  the 
opportunity  to  make  his  offering  to  the  sound  of  the  statement  that 






inspired  it.  In  addition,  the  strategy  also  ensures  that  all  commotion 
caused  by  the  offering  gestures  has  ceased  and  nothing  will  distract  the 
audience  from  the  impact  of  his  next  statement  (cf.  Performance  1:421, 
442).  This  may  also  mean  extending  the  repetition  until  those  offerings 
made  to  someone  other  than  the  leader  have  been  passed  on  to  him,  even 
though  this  process  is  a  spiritual  formality  no  more  tied  to  the 
statement  that  initially  inspired  the  offering. 

There  are  gatherings  where  the  presence  of  several  descendants  of  a 
saint  causes  a  great  expansion  of  this  formality,  for  by  passing 
offerings,  once  received,  to  each  other  rather  than  directly  to  the 
leader,  these  descendents  demonstrate  mutual  respect  and  validate  each 
other's  spiritual  status  before  the  larger  audience.  Predictably, 
performers  find  this  unrewarding  to  wait  for;  often  what  looks  like  much 
offering  money  is  just  :one  rupee  passing  all  around"  (ek  rupya  charon 
taraf  ghumta  hai),  but  when  it  reaches  the  performer  "it's  still  only 
one"  (to  ek  hi  hai--Meraj  2:15). 

Even  if  the  opening  line  has  an  unusual  impact  potential,  there  is 
little  likelihood,  at  this  initial  stage,  of  more  than  incipient  arousal, 
so  that  excessive  repetition  of  the  opening  line  is  not  called  for  beyond 
the  first  run  of  offerings.  Rather,  the  performer's  strategy  is  now  to 
proceed  to  the  second  line  in  order  to  complete  the  statement  and  thus 
place  the  first  line  in  the  context  of  its  full  meaning.  This  he  does  in 
the  standard  way  of  "opening  the  (concluding)  line"  (see  above). 

Whatever  the  response  on  this  second  line,  the  performer  repeats  it 
until  the  offerings  are  placed,  unless  he  sees  someone  in  intense  arousal 
which  is,  however,  unlikely  at  this  stage  of  the  song.  Since  he  is 

.  V.  1.1  -  <■  •  «93C  ■■  <eun 




intending  to  go  back  to  the  effective  first  line  of  the  verse,  this 
automatically  means  that  the  second  line  will  be  repeated  as  well  to 
complete  the  verse,  so  that  its  potential  can  be  realized  then,  rather 
than  having  it  repeated  now,  jeopardizing  the  still  fresh  promise  of  the 
first  line. 

The  renewed  statements  of  the  opening  line  may  well  evoke  stronger 
spiritual  emotion  in  one--or  even  more  than  one--of  the  focal  listeners 
(cf.  Performance  1:405).  This  then  calls  for  intensification  through 
repetition  to  satisfy  these  listeners.  If  at  the  same  time  the  performer 
wants  to  increase  the  appeal  of  the  line  to  others,  he  can  do  so  by 
introducing  variety  into  the  musical  intensification,  either  melodically 
by  using  alternate,  and  usually  higher-pitched  versions  of  the  asthayT 
tune  (cf.  p.  420),  or  rhythmically  by  doubling  the  speed  of  all  or  part 
of  the  line,  stating  it  twice  or  filling  the  time  saved  with  an 
appellation  (ex.  2:330).  He  may  even,  at  this  early  stage  of  mostly 
incipient  arousal,  select  salient  parts  of  the  line  for  some  multiple 
repetition,  provided  the  line  contains  an  impressive  phrase  suitable  for 
this  device.  Such  takrar  repetition,  at  this  stage,  will  be  limited, 
though,  and  interspersed  with  complete  statements  of  the  line,  since  no 
specific  demand  for  potential  repetition  is  indicated  (cf.  ex.  3:335  and 

At  this  point  the  performer  is  obviously  using  musical  intensifiers 
in  order  to  evoke  intensification  of  his  listerners'  state,  rather  than 
only  responding  to  such  states--indeed  there  may  not  be  much  to  respond 
to.  If  he  succeeds,  the  reward  will  be  offerings  from  those  who  feel 
inspired  by  such  an  early  display  of  enthusiasm,  especially  from  a 

--uvi,  craw  Vi,i  |W»^8v>  Va  *J  ««*»*»  ftawsiwt  itfT  I 


spiritual  notable.  If  the  listeners  to  be  aroused  are  devotees  of  the 
saint  being  honoured  by  the  occasion,  a  simpler  type  of  insert  may  be 
called  for,  relating  directly  to  the  saint:  his  name  or  tile,  presented 
in  alternation  with  the  line  or  a  salient  part  of  it  (as  in  ex.  6:351). 

As  much  as  all  these  devices  are  calculated  to  succeed  in 
intensifying  the  state  of  arousal  among  at  least  some  listeners,  thus 
inspiring  them  and  others  to  make  offerings,  they  may  also  fail  to  do  so, 
for  reasons  tangible  as  well  as  intangible.  For  one,  the  leader  may  show 
displeasure  at  all  too  many  repeated  appeals  to  the  saint's  name,  for  he 
considers  this  too  obvious  a  ploy  for  compelling  the  devotees  to  confirm 
their  allegiance  by  an  offering.  Any  inserted  verse  also  runs  the  risk 
of  inviting  disapproval  (cf.  Performance  2:447,  453),  since  it  represents 
the  performer's  own  choice--especial ly  from  a  discriminating  leader  or  a 
Sufi  poet  in  the  audience.  On  the  other  hand,  if  chosen  with  a  good  eye 
to  the  focal  listeners'  tastes,  it  can  greatly  enhance  the  general 
atmosphere  of  enthusiasm  during  this  early  phase  of  the  song,  thereby 
increasing  the  prospect  for  further  intensification  of  the  audience's 
state--hence  the  risk  is  worth  taking  (cf.  Performance  1:420  f  ).  An 
insert  initiated  by  the  performer  may  also  inspire  a  listener  to  suggest 
a  verse  he  wishes  to  have  inserted  in  turn  (cf.  Performance  2:449,  458). 
Since  only  the  leader  or  a  listener  of  high  standing  will  take  this 
liberty,  the  performer  is  glad  to  comply  with  the  request.  For  at  least 
its  author,  and  probably  others  respecting  his  spiritual  stature,  are 
likely  to  assert  their  link  to  this  message  by  an  offering. 

Finally,  an  inserted  verse  may  so  inspire  a  leading  listener  that  he 
wishes  it  repeated.  Normally,  this  is  indicated  by  a  fervent  response  on 



the  return  back  into  the  main  verse  line,  so  that  the  performer,  after 
repeating  the  line  to  allow  for  the  immediate  expressive  and  offering 
responses,  interrupts  his  companions  to  present  the  insert  once  again 
(cf.  Performance  1:428  f  ).  One  special  technique  to  enhance  the  repeat 
statement  of  a  single  verse  insert  is  to  add  one  or  more  verses  preceding 
it,  so  that  the  previous  insert  now  becomes  the  culmination  of  an  entire 
verse  sequence  (cf.  ex.  10:363  f f ) .  The  method  of  thus  enhancing  the 
previous  insert  is  really  the  same  as  that  of  enhancing  a  verse  line  with 
an  insert,  so  that  this,  then,  represents  a  kind  of  double  insertion.  Of 
course  the  tune  will  be  adapted  to  the  expanded  structure  of  the  inserted 
verse,  while  the  salient  final  line,  leading  back  to  the  line  of  the 
song,  remains  musically  the  same. 

A  special  situation  obtains  where  a  listener  is  so  inspired  by  the 
insert  itself  that  he  needs  it  to  be  repeated  just  then,  before  the 
return  to  the  main  verse  linen.  If  he  has  reached  such  an  intense  state 
as  to  require  it,  the  performer  will  not  only  repeat  the  insert  but  try 
to  single  out  the  salient  portion  for  multiple  repetition.  Even  if  such 
an  extreme  demand  does  not  actually  come  from  the  listener,  a  sagacious 
performer  may  consider  this  move  as  an  opportunity  to  generate  more 
intense  feeling  all  around--provided,  of  course,  that  the  leader  or  some 
outstanding  listeners  are  actually  showing  sings  of  arousal.  Achieving 
multiple  repetition  within  an  insert  means  converting  its  musical  setting 
of  a  recitative  into  one  that  is  metrically  controlled,  so  that  rhythmic 
repetition  can  take  place.  Given  the  fact  that  the  musical  meter 
continuously  sounded  by  the  drum  is  that  of  the  principal  song  and  may 
not  naturally  fit  with  the  verse  rhythm  (i.e.  the  poetic  meter)  of  the 




insert,  the  conversion  may  require  considerable  rhythmic  skill  on  the 
part  of  the  performer  (cf.  ex.  10:367).  Furthermore,  he  may  also  need  to 
lower  the  melodic  range  of  the  insert,  in  order  to  make  multiple 
repetition  easy  on  the  voice,  especially  if  the  repeat  unit  had  been  the 
last  or  penultimate  line  of  the  insert  which  require  high  register 
settings  to  connect  back  into  the  main  song  (see  ex.  10:367).  While  the 
rhythmic  repetition  is  successfully  in  progress,  the  performer  still  has 
to  consider  the  process  of  connecting  the  insert  back  to  the  song  line  it 
had  meant  to  enhance,  although  the  temptation  may  exist  to  simply 
continue  the  poem  of  a  successful  insert  as  the  song,  superseding  the 
original  song  choice.  Turning  recitative  into  song  is  certainly  possible 
and  permissible  in  the  case  of  a  successfully  converted  introductory 
verse,  as  has  been  indicated  earlier  (see  p.  233).  But  whereas  the 
musical  process  of  conversion  is  similar  for  both  adjunct 
units--introductory  verse  and  insert--their  position  within  the  song 
structure  differs  fundamentally:  An  introductory  verse  can  become  the 
song,  since  no  reference  has  yet  been  made  to  the  song  that  was  to 
follow,  but  an  insert  cannot,  because  the  song  has  been  introduced  and 
with  it  a  thematic  and  associational  constellation  or  "chain"  ( silsila) 
that  must  not  be  broken  off,  according  to  Sufi  rules. 

The  return  to  the  song  may  however  lose  its  effect  once  several 
repeat  statements  of  the  insert  have  been  provided  to  please  the  leader 
or  a  patron  (cf.  Performance  1:428  f).  If  these  repeats  have  resulted  in 
nothing  more  than  enthusiastic  gestures,  then  the  loss  of  offerings  that 
follow  a  climatic  connection  of  insert  with  verse  line  will  be  felt  by 
the  performer.  In  this  event,  or  if  the  restatement  of  the  opening  line 




has  otherwise  been  unsuccessful,  he  may  as  well  move  on  to  the  second 
line  and  complete  the  verse  (cf.  Performance  1:431).  The  second  time 
round  this  completion  is  no  more  as  potentially  dramatic,  so  the 
performer  can  only  try  again  to  highlight  the  connection  by  singing  the 
first  line  to  the  antara  tune  alone  or  even  possibly  by  highlighting  it 
rhythmically  as  well,  through  doubling  the  speed  of  delivery  (cf. 
Performance  1:431). 

While  reiterating  the  line,  he  now  keeps  a  sharp  eye  on  potential 
offerers,  as  well  as  on  the  leader  whose  desire  to  hear  the  line  repeated 
will  have  to  be  respected,  even  if  no  direct  reward  flows  from  it.  There 
are  likely  to  be  a  few  offerings  from  the  common  audience  who  often  tend 
to  follow  behind  special  listeners  in  their  responses.  At  this  point  the 
performer  will  have  his  companions  do  the  repeating,  waiting  only  for  the 
offerings  to  reach,  so  that  he  can  have  the  "stage"  to  get  his  audience's 
undivided  attention  to  start  the  next  verse. 

Further  included  in  the  performer's  concern  for  good  timing  is  the 
money  pickup  arrangement.  In  the  few  shrines  where  the  leader  provides 
one  of  his  men  for  the  task  the  performer  has  nothing  to  do  with  the 
matter,  but  in  most  assemblies  it  is  he  who  designates  one  of  his  singers 
to  look  after  the  transfer  of  offerings  from  the  leader  to  the  performer 
(cf.  both  Performances) .  This  person  must  be  continually  on  the  alert, 
presenting  himself  to  the  leader  as  soon  as  one  or  several  offerings  are 
deposited,  so  that  he  may  receive  them,  which  he  does  by  respectfully 
bowing  and  raising  the  money  to  his  forehead  before  taking  it  to  the 
performer's  harmonium.  Unless  the  leader  wishes  it  otherwise,  the 
performer  will  see  to  it  that  money  is  never  left  lying  in  front  of  the 



leader  (this  is  also  the  method  followed  by  the  leader's  own  carrier). 
Most  performers  consider  this  process  as  an  appropriate  means  to  focus 
the  audience's  attention  on  the  offerings,  but  it  can  also  waste  precious 
performance  time  at  the  point  when  a  verse  line  has  yielded  all  its 
offerings  and  the  performer  would  like  to  introduce  the  next  line  without 
any  distracting  commotion.  For  this  reason  the  pickup  man  is  always 
alert  and  swiftly  moves  in  on  the  offerings  as  they  are  made,  while  the 
leader  performer  repeats  the  line  just  long  enough  to  see  the  money  reach 
him  and  immediately  proceeds  to  the  next  line  (cf.  Performance  1:389). 

When  in  succession  to  an  impressive  opening  statement,  the  second 
line  of  a  verse  does  not  often  have  much  impact,  but  normally  it  is  the 
concluding  portion  which  can  most  be  expected  to  generate  arousal.  In 
subsequent  verses,  then,  the  performer  is  likely  not  to  waste  time 
reiterating  their  first  line  more  than  a  few  times.  Instead,  he  may  use 
the  musical  opportunity  offered  by  the  high-register  antara  tune  of  the 
first  line  to  insert  one  or  more  melodic  improvisations  ( tan)  in  between 
returns  of  the  verse  line  (see  ex.  2:330).  By  suspending  briefly  the 
continuity  of  the  text  message  he  further  emphasises  the  intermittent 
character  of  the  first  line,  thus  increasing  the  anticipation  for  the 
second  one.  This  structuring  strategy  at  the  same  time  also  represents 
an  appeal  to  the  sophi si ti cation  of  the  audience  at  a  moment  when  their 
responses  do  not  indicate  absorption  in  the  text  message.  Of  course  the 
impact  of  such  a  purely  musical  insert  will  not  bring  offerings  directly 
--for  it  would  not  be  in  keeping  with  Sufi  tenets  to  reward  a  tune 
without  words--;  rather  the  positive  impact  on  special  listeners  will  be 
rewarded  at  the  appropriate  moment  of  the  connection  with  the  second 




verse  line. 

On  the  whole,  purely  musical  devices  need  to  be  used  with  care,  for 
in  case  a  Sufi  is  absorbed  in  the  meaning  of  the  verse  line,  he  may 
disapprove  of  the  interruption  by  a  signalling  gesture  or  even  by  a 
direct  verbal  statement.  Disapproval  is  also  likely  if  the  musical 
insert  is  of  a  popular  style  designed  to  appeal  to  common  listeners.  A 
clearly  "classical"  choice,  such  as  a  phrase  from  a  famous  raga  or  a 
passage  using  classical  solmization  syllables  (cf.  Table  3:50),  is  likely 
to  be  appreciated  as  a  sophisticated  enhancement  to  the  leader  and  his 
assembly.  To  an  extent,  even  the  incipient  arousal  of  a  group  of  high 
status  listeners  can  be  enhanced  by  the  judicious  addition  of  musical 
inserts,  but  once  any  individual  listener  shows  signs  of  being  more 
strongly  moved,  this,  or  any  other  interruption  from  the  salient  text 
unit  will  "disturb"  (distarb  karega--Meraj ) .  Indeed,  at  this  point  even 
the  most  appropriate  text  insert  will  only  "sting"  the  aroused  devotee 
(wahan  to  usko  girah  chhubegT  bahut--Meraj  M2-61,  cf.  Peformance  2:453). 

Once  the  concluding  line  has  been  reached,  the  performer  will  now  do 
everything  he  can  to  increase  its  effectiveness,  while  at  the  same  time 
keeping  a  sharp  eye  on  the  leader  and  the  front  row  listeners,  though 
also  including  the  general  audience  in  his  focus.  As  soon  as  he  sees  any 
signs  of  incipient  arousal,  such  as  strong  swaying,  head  shaking  or  other 
rhythmic  movements,  he  zeros  in  by  repeating  the  line,  substituting 
alternate  tune  versions  so  as  to  keep  other  listeners  engaged  by  musical 
variety.  He  is  also  particularly  alert  to  gestures  or  signals  pointing 
to  a  particular  text  phrase  as  the  source  of  inspiration;  then  he 
immediately  proceeds  to  turn  that  phrase  into  his  repeat  unit.  This  he 


does  by  singing  the  phrase  solo  and  letting  his  accompanists  complete  the 
line  in  chorus,  so  that  he  can  take  a  breath  to  repeat  the  phrase  again, 
followed  by  the  chorus  in  the  same  way.  This  is  the  "classical"  style  of 
doing  multiple  repetition,  but  today  many  Qawwals  simply  have  the  group 
follow  them  in  the  repetition,  once  they  initiate  the  salient  unit  solo, 
especially  when  the  unit  is  an  entire  line. 

Other  devices  to  render  repetition  more  effective  are  intensifies 
such  as  extra  weight  on  accented  beats  by  drum  or  handicaps  (cf.  p.  454), 
clapping  on  half-beats,  or  increasing  the  tempo  very  gradually;  these  are 
meant  to  be  used  in  situations  of  intense  arousal  or  ecstasy.  But  a 
performer  may  well  resort  to  them  when  he  sees  the  leader  or  one  or  more 
special  listeners  showing  enthusiasm,  hoping  that  offerings  may  result. 
"Actions"  too  may  sometimes  be  used  for  that  purpose,  provided,  of 
course,  they  are  not  censured  by  the  leader  as  being  to  worldly. 

Continuous  visual  reference  to  the  leader  enables  the  performer  to 
be  constantly  aware  of  his  reactions  and  avoid  his  displeasure.  There 
are,  however,  moments  when  he  is  willing  to  risk  that  displeasure,  e.g. 
on  seeing  an  opportunity  for  a  high  reward  in  the  person  of  a  rich 
devotee  with  a  particular  preference  which  he  would  rather  satisfy.  The 
reward  to  be  gained  may  be  great,  but  it  is  never  guaranteed,  so  that  the 
risk  is  real. 

As  the  performer  moves  from  one  verse  to  the  next,  he  focusses  not 
only  on  the  internal  structuring  of  the  verse  but  also  on  larger  aspects 
of  song  structure  such  as  verse  sequencing  and  song  duration.  The  more 
conservative  performer  will  sing  all  the  verses  of  a  song,  for  the 
traditional  Sufi  leader  expects  this  and  may  remind  him  of  any  omitted 




verse,  although  the  order  of  verses  is  somewhat  flexible.  Of  course  all 
verses  do  not  have  the  same  arousal  potential,  but  there  is  a  general 
assumption  among  performers  that  any  verse  can  become  the  vehicle  for 
spiritual  blessing  and  no  consistent  pattern  can  be  expected.  On  the 
other  hand,  it  is  clear  to  performers  as  well  as  listeners  that  verses 
invoking  the  link  between  devotee  and  saint  or  spiritual  leader  (so- 
called  m_sbatT--"connectional "  or  "linking"  verses),  have  a  more  or  less 
guaranteed  appeal  which  requires  an  offering  response  to  activate  the 
link  element.  Such  verses  are  of  course  never  omitted,  even  if  limited 
time  requires  the  song  to  be  shortened.  On  the  contrary,  the  performer 
tries  to  make  the  best  of  them  (cf.ex.  4  verse  5  in  Performance  1:339  f ) . 

In  spite  of  some  disclaimers,  a  performer  does  single  out  those 
verses  whose  potential  impact  he  knows  from  experience,  aiming  to  enhance 
them  by  such  means  as  multiple  repetition  with  melodic  variation  and 
particularly  with  what  Qawwal s  call  "encirclement  of  repetition"  ( takrar 
ka  hal qa) .  In  this  technique,  appropriate  fil lers--such  as  saints' 
titles  or  excl amations--highl ight  the  transition  from  one  repeat 
statement  to  the  next  one,  with  filler  and  text  unit  contrasted  by  solo- 
group  responsory  (see  ex.  6:351).  Should  one  or  more  of  his  listeners 
respond  more  fervently  to  the  statement  thus  repeated,  then  a  more 
intense  form  of  multiple  repetition  is  called  for.  This  is  usually 
carried  out  by  simple  group  repetition  to  achieve  a  consistently  high 
level  of  sound  volume,  along  with  a  gradual  increase  in  tempo.  If  the 
aroused  listener  is  of  stature,  the  performer  will  not  spare  any  effort 
in  catering  to  his  needs.  Even  if  he  is  not,  the  rule  of  continuing  the 
takrar  repetiton  must  be  observed,  especially  once  a  state  of  ecstasy  is 


in  M’  ',r'  :i 


validated  by  te  leader  through  his  gesture  of  standing  up,  thus  causing 
the  entire  audience  to  rise  (cf.  Performance  2:453).  Until  then,  there 
is  some  freedom  of  movement  for  the  performer,  at  least  theoretically. 

He  may  get  away  with  starting  an  insert  or  moving  on  to  a  different  text 
unit--even  if  it  is  only  the  repeat  of  a  preceding  line--in  order  to 
please  more  prominent  listeners.  On  the  whole,  however,  the  leader  takes 
seriously  any  manifestation  of  arousal--as  indeed  he  must--,  even  if  it 
comes  from  a  low  status  or  junior  listener;  the  performer  therefore  had 
better  do  likewise.  To  be  scolded  or  set  right  by  the  leader  not  only 
affects  the  performer's  standing  adversely,  it  also  disturbs  the 
atmosphere  of  the  assembly  which  in  the  end  is  likely  to  reduce  his 
income  from  offerings. 

Except  where  he  enjoys  privileged  access  or  is  the  only  one  to  sing, 
a  performer  is  naturally  concerned  with  utilizing  his  performance  time  to 
his  best  advantage.  An  insignificant  person's  ecstatic  state  can 
constitute  a  significant  loss  of  precious  time,  so  that  performers 
heartily  approve  of  some  leaders'  tactics  ensuring  that  such  a  person  is 
not  allowed  to  keep  the  floor  or  later  to  stay  in  the  leader's  embrace 
too  long  (see  Ch.  5:  190).  But  the  performer  himself  can  do  little  to 

manage  his  time,  except  not  waste  any  where  it  is  in  his  power  to  do  so. 
His  principal  technique  to  this  end  is  the  instant  switch  from  one  unit 
of  structure  to  another,  a  technique  which  he  also  uses  continuously  to 
cater  to  his  listeners'  changing  needs.  The  instant  he  decides  on  the 
move  he  proceeds  swiftly  not  only  from  one  repeat  unit  to  another,  but 
from  one  completed  verse  to  the  next  one,  and  even  from  song  to  song  (cf. 
ex.  1  and  4  in  Performance  1),  without  waiting  to  sing  to  the  end  of 




preceding  unit.  Thus  it  is  entirely  normal  for  a  performer  to  end  a  song 
without  any  cadential  signal,  simply  by  starting  in  on  the  opening  line 
of  the  next  one,  often  before  quite  finishing  the  last  line  of  the 
previous  song.  His  logic  is  that  a  song  is  to  be  continued — as  is  any 
other  message  unit  in  Qawwali--as  long  as  it  is  serving  its  function, 
i.e.  as  long  as  people  are  responding  to  its  message  or  can  be  expected 
to  do  so.  But  once  it  ceases  to  evoke  responses  it  should  be  dropped 
instantly  in  favour  of  a  different,  more  fortuitous  choice.  Performers 
know  that  the  leader  will  go  along  with  abreviating  a  song  as  long  as  all 
the  principal  verses  are  sung  at  least  once.  Of  course  this  strategy  can 
benefit  the  performer  only  if  his  turn  extends  to  the  next  song  to 
follow,  otherwise  he  is  merely  shortening  his  own  performing  time.  Since 
he  knows  that  his  turn  may  be  cut  off  by  his  ending  a  song,  especially  if 
it  is  the  second  one,  he  tries  to  eliminate  any  structural  clues  to 
final ity--such  as  slowing  down  or  intoning  a  melodic  or  rhythmic 
cadence--so  that  the  leader  may  not  anticipate  the  impending  end  and 
allow  him  to  continue  the  new  song  once  he  has  managed  to  start  in  on  it. 
This  move  can  take  a  performer  only  so  far,  however,  for  a  simple 
movement  of  the  leader's  hand  can  send  him  off  the  stage  even  after  the 
start  of  the  new  song. 

Another  method  of  dealing  with  an  unsuccessful  song  is  to  present 
material  more  pleasing  to  the  audience  within  the  song  itself.  This 
would  avoid  the  danger  inherent  in  terminating  it,  especially  when  the 
"turn"  is  known  to  allow  for  only  one  song.  The  method  is  to  switch  from 
one  lengthy  insert  to  another,  emphasizing  their  presentation  and  thus 
minimizing  the  importance  of  the  song  text.  Recognized  as  a  salvage 


3- <;  i 


operation,  such  a  "hodge-podge"  (khichrT,  literally  a  dish  of  rice  and 
lentils  mixed  together--Meraj  M2 : 6 1 )  is  disdained  by  good  performers  and 
censured  by  Sufis,  both  upholding  the  integrity  of  the  song  message  in 
its  given  sequence  as  one  of  the  fundamentals  of  Qawwali  singing. 

Respecting  the  textual  integrity  of  a  song  can  also  invite  censure, 
however,  in  the  event  a  leader  or  spiritual  notable  does  not  approve  of  a 
particular  textual  version  or  a  text  unit  itself.  Even  when  the 
performer  knows  his  own  version  to  be  the  standard  one,  he  then  must 
immediately  correct  his  performance  by  changing  wordings  or  glossing  over 
the  offensive  text  unit  as  soon  as  he  is  alerted  to  the  demand.  This  may 
require  some  musical  manoevering,  as  is  exemplified  in  the  sudden 
omission  of  a  second  verse  line  where  the  concluding  tune,  sung  to  the 
continued  first  line,  covers  up  for  the  missing  text  conclusion. 
Performers  may  resent  the  "disturbance"  caused  by  such  arbitrary  demands, 
but  whether  they  arise  from  a  Sufi's  assertion  or  his  spiritual  need,  he 
meets  it  to  the  best  of  his  ability,  as  is  his  task. 

Finally,  the  performer  will  end  a  song  with  a  proper  musical 

conclusion,  if  he  is  sure  of  his  right  to  continue  singing,  or, 

conversely,  if  he  knows  that  his  departure  will  be  irrevocable  after  this 

song.  He  then  takes  pride  in  concluding  his  song  with  the  standard 
musical  cadence  of  reiterating  the  opening  line  slowly  to  the  astKayT 
tune  (Performance  2:461)  or  ending  this  tune  with  a  descent  to  the  tonic, 
along  with  a  thrice  repeated  rhythmic  cadence  ( tiya)  on  the  drum 
(Performance  1:442) . 

This  completes  a  generalized  picture  of  the  performance  process  as 




focussing  on  one  complete  unit  of  performance,  a  song,  but  placing  it 
within  the  larger  context  of  a  performer's  "turn"  and,  ultimately,  that 
of  an  entire  Qawwali  event.  Having  thus  informed  the  reader 
ethnographical ly  how  Qawwali  music  in  performance  is  context-sensitive  in 
a  remarkably  formal  and  observeable  way,  the  ground  is  prepared  for 
dealing  with  the  process  of  performance  analytically  so  as  to  make  sense 
out  of  the  rule  system  at  work. 




In  this  chapter  we  are  finally  ready  to  tackle  directly  the  central 
question  of  this  thesis:  how  to  programme  music  in  performance  by 
introducing  contextual  input  into  the  sound  rule  system.  In  a  sense,  all 
preceding  chapters  can  be  considered  preliminary  to  this  step;  at  least 
they  each  are  indispensible  as  prerequi si tes  to  it,  for  this  step 
essentially  consists  of  abstraction  and  simplification,  of  reducing 
processes  governing  complex  and  diverse  variables  to  analytically 
manageable  dimensions.  This  of  course  makes  sense  only  because  those 
variables  andd  processes  have  been  identified  first:  the  structures  of 
music  and  context  have  both  been  explained  within  their  relevant  frame  of 
reference,  and  the  process  of  their  interaction  has  been  outlined 
likewise.  "How  variations  in  the  music  are  generated  by  variations  in 
the  performance  situation"  (Ch.  1:6)  has  thus  been  shown  descriptively  in 

the  previous  chapter.  What  remains  is  to  systematize  the  performance 


dimension  by  expressing  the  diverse  and  particular  in  terms  of  the  simple 
and  general . 

This  analysis  starts  from  the  premise  that  the  context-music 
interaction  operates  on  the  basis  of  certain  underlying  principles  which 
constitute  the  common  denominators  linking  the  musical  idiom  with  the 
context  of  performance.  Those  principles  serve  as  the  referents, 
"translating"  context  into  music,  and  in  turn  expressing  context 
musically.  It  is  by  applying  them  that  the  Qawwal i  performer  "plugs" 


;  '*!  iHT  Tr  t  Xfl  f#|-' 


context  variables  into  his  performance  of  the  music.  These  principles  or 
referents,  then,  provide  the  key  to  the  way  context  is  evaluated  and 
expressed  in  music.  What  this  key  unlocks  is  meaning,  non-musical 
meaning.  It  refers  to  the  context,  both  in  its  spiritual  and  social 
aspects  and  is  considered  to  be  manifest  in  the  music  by  general  agree¬ 
ment  among  performers  as  well  as  listeners  of  Qawwali.  Applying  this  key 
can  therefore  explain  the  basis  for  the  performer's  selection  of 
contextual  variables  as  cues  for  his  selection  of  musical  ones.  On  the 
basis  of  this  process  of  analysis  the  model  of  Qawwali  music  can  then  be 
rewritten  to  include  the  input  from  the  context  via  the  key  of  these 
semantic  referents. 

The  foundation  of  the  entire  analytical  procedure  is  ethnographic, 
which  is  in  keeping  with  the  empirical  approach  postulated  at  the  outset 
and  followed  throughout  the  study.  The  data  is  of  necessity  generalized; 
it  includes  much  that  is  already  represented  in  earlier  chapters  as  well 
as  much  observation  and  talk  with  informants.  The  analytical  dimension, 
unlike  the  ethnographic  one,  is  arrived  at  by  means  of  what  amounts  to 
etic  logic,  although  based  on  the  application  of  emic  premises. 

Throughout  the  chapter,  each  analytical  step  and  each  sub-system  of 
meaning  is  outlined  on  tables,  separately  for  context  (Tables  27-29,  33, 
34,  36,  38)  and  music  (Tables  30,  35,  37)  as  well  as  correlated  to  show 
the  equivalences  (Tables  31,  32).  The  conclusions  too  are  schematized  in 
table  form  (Tables  39,  40). 

The  first  step  in  the  analysis  is  to  establish  two  basic  premises 
characterizing  the  relationship  of  the  Qawwali  performance  idiom  with  the 


Qawwali  performance  context:  a)  The  idiom  is  semantically  capable  of 
being  a  referent  to  the  context,  and--following  1 ogical ly— b)  the  idiom 
can  express  or  manifest  the  context  as  well  as  suggest  or  motivate  it. 

On  the  basis  of  these  premises  the  performance  interaction  takes  place 
along  dimensions  that  form  the  link  between  context  and  music  and 
generate  the  principles  which  operationalize  those  links.  Seen 
analytically,  it  is  these  operational  principles  which  provide  the 
performer  with  the  criteria  of  interpretation  for  his  evaluation  of 
contextual  factors  and,  accordingly,  for  the  appropriate  selection  of 
musical  factors.  Put  in  another  way,  these  criteria  of  interpretation 
function  as  semantic  indicators  or  referents  for  a  "translation"  process 
taking  place  between  context  and  music.  This  process  underlies  the 
selection  of  performance  items  and  it  continues  to  operate  throughout  the 
song  performance.  Its  starting  point  is  always  the  evaluation  of  the 
audience  and  its  responses,  i.e.  the  context,  whether  along  structural  or 
procedural  dimensions.  Hence  this  analytical  outline,  too,  proceeds  from 
context  evaluation  to  musical  expression,  but  considers  their  interaction 
both  ways.  Principles  and  criteria  of  evaluation  are  considered  in  a 
sequence  temporally  as  well  as  logically  appropriate,  starting  with  those 
governing  structural  dimensions  and  proceeding  to  the  actual  process  of 
the  song  performance. 




A  Structural  Dimension 

Referents  1  and  2:  Status  and  Identity 

1 .  Evaluation  of  Context 

Two  primary  referents  appear  to  be  crucial  to  the  process  of  audience 
assessment  and  song  selection:  they  are  identity  and  status.  As  listed 
on  Table  27,  each  of  the  two  referents  generates  a  set  of  criteria 
pertaining  to  spiritual,  socio-economic,  and  personal  attributes.  The 
performer  uses  these  criteria  to  evaluate  the  contextual  factors  and  then 
to  select  the  musical  attributes  that  accord  best  with  his  evaluation. 

Of  the  two  referents,  status  is  of  prime  importance  analytically, 
because  it  provides  the  performer  with  an  ordering  frame  for  the 
diversity  of  contextual  variables  he  encounters,  particularly  in  the 
audience.  While  the  performer  is  cognizant  of  each  individual  status 
dimension,  they  serve  him  to  arrive  at  a  total  status  evaluation  for  the 
individual  listener,  based  on  the  relative  importance  assigned  to  each 
status  dimension,  and  comprising  a  composite  of  status  attributes. 
Categories  of  listeners  are  normally  identified  by  their  dominant  status 
dimension,  but  within  each  category  individual  status  is  generally 
enhanced  by  one  or  more  secondary  status  attribute.  To  illustrate,  Table 
28  identifies  the  standard  categories  of  listeners  in  Qawwali  assemblies 
with  reference  to  their  primary  status  dimensions.  Table  29,  on  the 
other  hand,  lists  individual  listeners  of  high  status  along  with  a  break¬ 
down  of  their  status  attributes.  Together,  the  criteria  identifying 
listeners  by  status  enable  the  performer  to  divide  them  into  status 
categories,  as  he  requires.  Depending  on  the  performance  decision  to  be 
made,  this  may  mean  no  more  than  to  identify  high  status  listeners  as 







a)  Spiritual  dimension 






as  manifested  in: 

1.  descent  affiliation:  ancestral  pedigree 

2.  spiritual  function: 

~y  representational 
pedigree  (seniority) 

saint,  shrine, 
lineage  repre 

-f  leadership  pedigree  spiritual  guid¬ 



b)  Socio-economic  dimension 

1.  patronage/power: 

2.  wealth: 

c)  Personality  dimension 

1.  personal  culture: 

cultural  level  (of 

stylistic  pre1 
f erence 

2.  age: 

(physical)  seniority 

In  order  of  importance 


(cf.  Table  15,  Ch.  7) 




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TABLE  29: 


According  to  Combined  Status  Attributes 

outstanding  asset 







senior  saints'  rep. 



shrine  rep. 





rich  man 


shrine  rep. 

rich  man 

rich  man 


de  s  Cendant 

(guide  (minor) 

senior  devotee 

*  In  order  of  decreasing  individual  status 



opposed  to  those  lacking  status.  Or,  conversely,  it  may  mean  ranking 
individual  high-status  listeners  vis  a  vis  each  other. 

The  second  operational  principle,  identity,  is  of  secondary 
importance  analytically,  for  its  function  as  an  ordering  device  is 
limited.  Only  attributes  within  the  spiritual  dimension  are  relevant  to 
the  performer  for  his  evaluation  of  the  audience,  due,  obviously,  to  the 
spiritual  function  of  the  Qawwali  assembly.  Analytically  speaking,  then, 
the  performer's  performance  evaluation  of  setting  and  situation  may  be 
summarized  as  follows: 

a)  Status  evaluation  consists  initially  of  establishing  the  two 
principal  audience  status  categories,  high  and  low.  At  the  same 
time,  individual  listeners  in  the  high  status  category  are  rated 
for  potential  ranking  according  to  their  relative  status  by 
means  of  the  combined  status  criteria. 

b)  Identity  evaluation  consists  of  determining  the  salient 
attributes  of  spiritual  identity  among  high  status  listeners. 

In  addition,  the  stylistic  preferences  of  high  status  listeners 
are  ascertained. 

The  leader  of  the  assembly  is  of  course  subjected  to  the  same 
evaluation  procedure.  While  by  definition  his  overall  status  is  above 
that  of  the  other  listeners,  it  is  relevant  to  measure  his  relative 
spiritual  status.  What  is  of  prime  concern  is  to  assess  the  features  of 
his  spiritual  identity. 

Fixed  setting  factors  are  relevant  to  the  performer  mainly  in 
relation  to  the  audience;  hence  their  evaluation  ultimately  contributes 
to  his  audience  assessment  and  is  subject  to  the  same  criteria  of  inter- 


:t  i*  *  io  '  1 1  m 


pretation.  Occasion  and  place  are  significant  in  terms  of  their 
spiritual  identity  component,  while  time  and  locale  indirectly  inform  the 
status  asssessment  of  the  audience. 

2.  Expression  in  Music 

Having  thus  reduced  the  performer's  evaluation  of  setting  variables 
to  criteria  of  status  and  identity,  it  now  remains  to  show  how  these 
criteria  serve  as  semantic  referents  for  the  translation  of  contextual 
factors  into  musical  ones.  This  implies  that  musical  or  performance 
idiom  variables  can  be  made  subject  to  these  very  same  criteria.  Table 
30  shows  how  the  principles  of  status  and  identity  are  indeed  represented 
by  specific  musical  dimensions  and  include  attributes  of  text,  music  and 
presentation.  The  table  lists  musical  dimensions  in  order  of  priority. 

In  considering  first  the  criteria  of  status,  what  becomes  apparent 
immediately  is  their  great  number  but  limited  differentiation,  i.e.  all 
musical  dimensions  indicative  of  status  basically  serve  the  designation 
of  only  two  broad  status  categories:  high  and  low.  Taken  together,  they 
all  add  up  to  characteri ze ,  in  the  extreme,  two  opposite  musical 
prototypes--one  high  status  and  resembling  classical  music  and  poetry; 
one  low  status  and  resembling  popular  music--of  which  these  dimensions 
are  the  individual  components.  By  varying  these  components,  different 
intermediary  combinations  can  be  obtained  to  achieve  varying  proportions 
of  high  or  low  status  ingredients.  While  the  status  distinctions 
suggested  by  these  musical  dimensions  are  in  essence  socio-economic  ones, 
it  is  noteworthy  that  dimensions  indicative  of  spiritual  status  in 
particular  have  a  most  limited  representation  in  the  form  of  language  and 
styl  e . 










a)  Text  dimension 

1.  Thematic  content 

mystical  personages 

mystical  states 

2.  Association 

ritual -author 

3.  Language 

F  ar  si-Hindi-Urdu 

formal -intimate 


4.  Style 

sophisticated -popular 
"veiled"  "obvious" 

ornate -plain 

b)  Music  dimension 

1.  Tune 

old-mo  dern 

authentic  -"compo  sed 
ritual -author 

I ! 

2.  Rhythm 

(  — >  se rious -popular) 

1 1 

hard' 1  -easy 

c)  Presentation  dimension 

1.  Style  — #•  sophisticated-popular 

2.  Elaboration  —?  rhythmic -melodic  — >  textual-musical 

*  In  order  of  importance 



A  concerns  the  principle  of  identity,  its  principal  dimension  is 
spiritual,  while  the  expression  of  personal  identity  or  "cultural 
preference",  may  operate  independently  of  spiritual  identity. 

Analytically  speaking,  then,  the  performer's  musical  expression  of 
principles  of  status  and  identity  may  be  summarized  as  follows: 

a)  Status  expression  is  achieved  on  the  basis  of  establishing  two 
principal  status  levels,  high  and  low,  through  a  variety  of 
narrow  musical  dimensions.  In  addition,  individual  status 
differentiations  can  be  made  manifest  by  using  these  dimensions 
in  varying  combinations. 

b)  Identity  expression  is  centered  on  the  manifestation  of 
spiritual  identity  through  few  but  widely  differentiated  musical 
dimensions.  In  addition,  personal  identity  or  stylistic 
preferences  can  be  expressed  variously  across  the  musical  idiom. 

The  foregoing  summary  makes  evident  that  the  principles  of  status  and 
identity  apply  to  each  of  the  two  performance  domains,  i.e.  context  and 
music.  It  now  remains  to  show  how  the  two  are  connected  through  the  two 
principles  when  they  are  used  as  semantic  referents,  first  to  evaluate 
the  context  and  then  to  select  the  appropriate  musical  variables  to  make 
the  evaluation  manifest  in  performance. 

3.  Context-Music  Interaction 

Tables  31  and  32  summarize  how  the  two  semantic  referents  are  applied 
in  principle,  based  on  the  identification  of  relevant  indicators  within 
the  contextual  as  well  as  the  musical  domain.  To  apply  successfully  each 
of  the  referents,  the  musician  is  required  to  have  as  part  of  his 
musical  repertoire  an  understanding  of  the  status  and  identity  attributes 












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*  See  text 


contained  within  the  dimensions  of  the  performance  idiom  (as  listed  on 
Table  30  and  summarized  on  Tables  31  and  32,  under  Identification: 

Music).  Equally,  he  requires  the  competence  to  identify  status  and 
identity  of  his  listeners  on  the  basis  of  the  standard  dimensions 
character!' zing  Qawwal  i  audiences  (as  listed  on  Tables  27  and  28,  and 
summarized  on  Table  31  and  32  under  Identification:  Audience). 

Overlaps  and  combinations  between  these  dimensions  occur  within  the 
audience;  these  can  equally  be  achieved  within  the  music,  so  that, 
theoretically,  individual  variation  and  even  contradiction  between 
listeners  can  be  reflected  in  the  music  by  means  of  variable  combinations 
of  the  relevant  dimensions.  Furthermore,  the  musical  expression  of 
status  and  identity  need  not  follow  a  predictable  pattern.  Rather,  the 
principle  of  applying  the  two  semantic  referents  in  performance  is  a 
flexible  process  of  combination  and  selection  in  accordance  with  the 
performer's  assessment  of  the  need  of  the  moment.  As  summarized  on 

Tables  31  and  32  the  process  may  be  characterized  as  follows: 

Two  overall  status  categories  are  ascertained  for  the  audience  and 
these  find  expression  in  a  number  of  musical  factors.  This  allows  the 
performer  the  flexibility  to  select  a  combination  of  attributes 
signifying  one  kind  of  status  while  at  the  same  time  permitting  him  the 
use  of  musical  options  with  a  different  or  even  contrary  implications. 
This  becomes  significant  as  a  tool  to  accommodate  variation  among 
listeners.  At  this  level,  general  status  dimensions  enable  the  performer 
to  rank  high  status  individuals  according  to  their  combined  status  assets 
(as  schematized  on  Table  29),  so  that  he  can  rank  or  single  out 
individual  listeners  of  high  status  and  cater  to  them  musically. 

St  DITS  :£  '‘^6l  K  lasneiWM 



It  is  by  means  of  the  identity  referent  that  the  actual  content 
selection  of  the  performance  is  made,  whether  on  the  basis  of  an  entire 
audience's  commitment  to  an  occasion  of  performance,  or  of  an  outstanding 
listener's  spiritual  identity.  Here,  too,  the  process  is  inherently 
flexible,  since  the  audience  dimensions  may  overlap  or  occur  in  any 
combination,  and  their  musical  representation  can  be  varied  accordingly, 
depending  on  who  is  to  be  singled  out  for  identification  and  with  how 
strong  an  emphasis. 

The  discussion  so  far  has  established  the  principle  of  application 
for  the  two  semantic  referents,  status  and  identity,  with  reference  to 
the  structural  dimension  of  a  performance,  governing  the  performer's 
assessments  and  decisions  up  to  and  including  his  choice  of  a  song. 

While  these  referents  of  status  and  identity  are  the  principal  criteria 
the  performer  applies  at  the  stage  of  evaluating  structural  and  setting 
factors,  they  continue  to  inform  his  performance  decisions  throughout  the 
process  of  performance.  At  the  same  time,  beginning  with  the  performer's 
consideration  of  the  purely  situational  aspect  of  his  performance 
setting,  a  third  operational  principle  comes  into  play,  referring  to  the 
spiritual  state  of  the  audience.  In  other  words,  his  focus  now  moves  to 
what  is  the  explicit  and  primary  purpose  of  the  Qawwali  assembly: 
spiritual  arousal. 


B  Process  Dimension 

Referent  3:  Spiritual  State/Intensification 

1 .  Evaluation  of  Context 

At  this  initial  stage  of  the  performance,  the  audience's  spiritual 
state  serves  the  performer  as  no  more  than  an  auxiliary  criterion  of 
evaluation  that  may  lead  to  amplify  or  modify  his  assessments  based  on 
status  and  identity  referents.  However,  state,  or  degree  of  spiritual 
arousal  becomes  the  dominant  principle  of  operation,  once  the  performance 
is  under  way;  indeed  it  is  this  principle  that  primarily  governs  the 
dynamic  of  the  performance  process.  Two  attributes  characterize 
spiritual  state  and  distinguish  it  in  a  fundamental  way  from  both  status 
and  identity.  First  and  foremost,  spiritual  state  is  experiential  and 
has  an  immediate  temporal  dimension,  i.e.  it  varies  with  time  throughout 
a  performance--unl ike  status  and  identity  which  remain  unchanged. 

Second,  spiritual  state  is  seen  as  founded  in  intuitive  idividual 
experience,  hence  it  can  occur  in  any  listener,  regardless  of  status  and 
identity--and  may,  but  need  not,  correlate  with  the  structural  attributes 
of  status  and  identity. 

There  is  a  further  attribute  of  spiritual  state  which  fundamentally 
distinguishes  is  from  status  and  identity  and  is  particularly  relevant  in 
the  consideration  of  its  evaluation  by  the  performer.  Identity  and 
status  are  structural  attributes  representing  established  social  facts  or 
shared  assumptions.  As  such,  they  are  characterized  by  a  consistent 
pattern  of  outward  manifestations.  The  performer  often  knows  these 
attributes  beforehand,  and  even  if  he  applies  the  criteria  of  status 
evaluation  on  the  basis  of  behavioral  manifestations,  his  interpretation 



is  easily  verified.  On  the  whole,  outer  manifestations  of  status  and 
identity  only  confirm  behaviorally  what  constitutes  structural  knowledge 
for  the  performer  as  well  as  his  audience.  State  of  arousal,  on  the 
contrary,  is  entirely  individual  and  situational  and  thus  subject  to 
interpretation  on  the  basis  of  outward  manifestation  only.  Yet,  state  of 
arousal  is  not  behavior,  it  is  an  abstraction  inferred  from  it  and 

individual  manifestations  of  such  states  vary  widely.  Accordingly,  while 
outward  manifestation  is  the  only  indicator  of  spiritual  state,  it  is 
nevertheless  not  considered  primary.  Rather,  the  performer  interprets 
behavioral  responses  with  reference  to  the  range  and  repertoire  of 
generally  accepted  expressive  conventions  (outlined  in  Ch.  7  and 
summarized  on  Table  19-22).  In  addition,  he  needs  to  evaluate  individual 
differences  in  behavior  in  the  light  of  relevant  personal  attributes  and 
recognize  their  motivation,  whether  it  resides  in  the  individual's 
spiritual  status  or  identity,  or  else  in  his  personal  idiosyncracy .  But 
his  focus--and  hence  that  of  his  analytical  presentation--! s  on  the 
listener's  state  as  he  perceives  it  rather  than  on  its  behavioral 
indicators . 

Qawwali  performers  share  the  standard  Sufi  conceptions  regarding 
spiritual  arousal  and  its  expressions.  Therefore  the  framework  of 
spiritual  states  and  their  outward  manifestations  is  of  relevance  as  a 

basic  interpretative  guide  for  the  performer. 

But  the  performer  also  evaluates  these  standard  expressive  responses 
with  an  eye  to  individual  variation.  This  is  relevant  especially  for 
identifying  the  inti  a 1  stage  of  arousal,  which  is  often  not  manifested  as 
clearly  and  overtly  as  the  more  advanced  spiritual  states.  Indeed,  the 




same  raised  arm  may  mean  to  the  performer  either  a  significant  signal  of 
incipient  arousal  or  nothing  more  than  a  habitual  gesture  of 
appreciation.  When  it  comes  to  the  manifestation  of  more  intense 
spiritual  emotion,  previous  assessments  of  status  and  identity  are  a 
factor  in  the  performer's  evaluation.  In  congruence  with  the  social  norm 
of  restrained  self-management  governing  the  assembly  leader  as  well  as 
listeners  of  elevated  status,  the  performer  expects  restraint  on  the  free 
expression  of  ecstatic  abandonment  where  such  high  status  listeners  are 

The  formal  offering,  too,  is  evaluated  by  the  performer  as  an 
indicator  of  the  presence  of  spiritual  arousal;  however,  its  constancy  of 
form--even  where  it  contains  an  intensification  such  as  prostration-- 
limits  it  as  an  indicator  of  the  degree  of  arousal.  Furthermore,  the 
performer  is  quite  aware  of  the  social  motivation  that  may  underlie  an 
offering.  Single  responses  expressing  individual  states  of  arousal  form 
the  basic  units  of  assessment  for  the  performer.  At  the  same  time  he  is 
fully  aware  that  such  states  and  their  expression  are  subject  to  the 
dynamic  of  time  and  space.  Thus,  in  terms  of  time  he  sees  each  single 
response  as  representing  a  point  in  the  continuum  of  increasing--or 
decreasing--spiritual  arousal,  so  that  his  assessment  of  every  response 
will  be  informed  by  his  evaluation  of  preceding  responses. 

Conversely--and  more  significantly,  from  the  point  of  view  of 
strategy--he  uses  his  total  assessment  of  past  and  present  arousal  to 
project  ahead,  anticipating  the  direction  of  spiritual  developments,  in 
order  to  cater  to  them.  The  same  point  applies  to  the  performer's 
consideration  of  the  spatial  dynamic  within  the  assembly.  He  realizes 




the  impact  which  both  the  strong  arousal  of  one  listener,  as  well  as  the 
mild  arousal  of  many,  can  have  on  the  entire  audience.  This  impact  is 
fairly  predictable  when  it  emanates  from  spiritually  superior  listeners, 
since  the  spiritual  content  of  their  arousal  is  recognized  by  everyone  as 
a  blessing.  But  the  same  does  not  apply  to  other  listeners,  especially 
those  of  the  "common"  category,  so  that  for  the  impact  of  their  arousal 
much  depends  on  the  general  mood  of  the  gathering  and,  ultimately,  on  the 
validating  response  of  the  spiritual  leader(s)  present.  In  this  context, 
the  collective  guesture  of  standing  up  when  a  common  listener  rises  in 
ecstasy  is  seen  as  a  formalized  validation  by  the  leader  who  initiates 
and  terminates  the  gesture.  In  general,  the  performer,  while  assessing 
each  individual,  does  so  with  reference  to  the  audience  as  a  whole,  which 
really  means  keeping  an  eye  on  everyone--no  wonder  he  claims  to  need  "an 
eagle's  eys"  (chTl  kT  ankh--Meraj )  for  the  task  and  sometimes  also  relies 
on  his  companions  to  lend  him  an  eye. 

Built  into  the  assessment  of  the  listener's  state  is  the  performer's 
concern  with  the  dynamic  inherent  in  the  state  dimension,  since  it  is  at 
the  level  of  process  rather  than  structure  that  he  applies  the  criterion 
of  spiritual  state  in  the  music.  Thus  he  aims  at  assessing  the  needs 
emanating  from  the  spiritual  states  of  the  audience.  Sufi  tenets  makes 
it  clear  that  the  primary  need  inherent  in  every  spiritual  state  is  to 
realize  the  arousal  potential  contained  in  it,  i.e.  to  intensify  it  to 
its  culmination.  The  dynamic,  thus,  is  intensification,  or  degrees  of 
increasing  intensity,  that  spiritual  arousal  itself  consists  of,  and  thus 
a  continuum  of  increasing  intensity  encompasses  all  stages  of  arousal. 

It  follows  from  this,  that  each  individual  state  is  always  the  product  of 





intensification  and  thus  requires  intensification  to  be  sustained  as  well 
as  to  be  increased  or  moved  to  a  higher  stage  of  arousal.  Tables  33  and 
34  summarize  the  performer's  evaluation  of  state.  Table  33  lists  the  way 
the  performer  assesses  both  spiritual  states  as  manifested  in  outward 
expressions  and  the  dynamic  he  sees  inherent  in  them.  Table  34  shows 
schematically  how  these  states  and  their  dynamic  fit  into  the  time  and 
space  dimension.  Both  tables  are  organized  so  as  to  underline  the  fact 
that  there  is  a  dynamic  operating  both  to  generate  and  to  sustain  or 
increase  these  spiritual  states.  Since  it  is  the  aim  of  the  performer-- 
in  accordance  with  Sufi  tenets--to  bring  about  this  increase  by  means  of 
the  song  he  is  singing,  he  has  to  shape  his  performance  of  the  song  in 
accordance  with  the  principle  of  intensification.  The  crucial  point  is 
that  in  this  process  the  music  takes  on  a  much  more  dynamic  function  than 
in  the  application  of  status  and  identity  criteria.  For  there,  the  music 
no  more  than  reflects  and  reinforces  the  status  and  identity  of 
listeners,  whereas  here  the  principle  of  intensification,  realized 
musically,  operates  not  only  to  reinforce  but  actually  to  generate  and 
increase  states  of  arousal. 

2 .  Expression  in  Music 

From  the  discussion  of  state  assessment  it  is  obvious  that,  in  order 
to  serve  its  function,  Qawwal i  music  must  above  all  express  and  convey 
intensification.  Since  intensification  is  a  process,  its  musical 
expression,  unlike  that  of  status  and  identity,  can  only  be  conveyed 
through  a  process--the  process  of  performance  itself.  Thus  it  is  not 
musical  units  or  attributes  but  the  principle  of  structuring  such  units 
or  attributes  which  represents  intensification  musically.  This 




TABLE  33: 

(cf.  Table  17,  Ch.  HI) 


a )  Expressive  manifestation* 


tap,  move  head,  sway- 
nod,  raise  arm, 
verbal  expression, 


asses  sment 


1  mildly  aroused 



generate  arousal 

— ^  reinforce/amplify 
+  increase  arousal 

more  vehemently,  weep\ 

raise  arms,  shout  }■  -^intensely  aroused  sustain  +  increase 

prostrate  J 

stand  up,  walk  > 

move  about,  dance  —r  ecstatic 

fall  down,  toss  about 

sustain  +  bring 
to  completion 

b)  Link  manifestations 

offering,  +_  prostration  — >  any  state 

embrace,  goffering  —^ecstatic  or 



— ^  sustain  + 
sustain  +  bring 
to  completion 

*  In  order  of  increasing  intensity 








©  -  State  dynamic  in  time/  space  context 

Pa  st 


impact  on/from 

F  uture 














•  rH 


•  H 




increase / 

other  listeners 

- - - -  _ - > 

proje  cted 


[space  dimension) 



structuring  principle  is  repetition. 

That  repetition  is  indeed  a  primary  structuring  principle  for  the 
Qawwali  idiom  has  already  been  established  in  the  musical  analysis  of 
Chapter  3.  It  remains  here  to  show  how  specifically  repetition  with  its 
concomitants  expresses  and  conveys  intensification,  or,  put  in  more 
systematic  terms,  how  the  semantic  referent  of  intensification  is  applied 
to  Qawwali  music  through  the  medium  of  repetition. 

As  outlined  in  Chapter  3  (pp.  50  and  59)  and  summarized  on  Table  8, 
repetition  in  Qawwali  music  takes  the  form  of  three  processes:  simple 
reiteration  ( dohrana) ,  multiple  repetition  ( takrar)  and  recurrence  based 
on  recombination  and  insertion  ( gi rah  1 agana) .  All  three  represent  and 
embody  facets  of  intensification  which  operate  both  within  and  between 
stages  of  arousal.  All  repetition  basically  works  the  same  way:  it 
intensifies  by  re- impressing  on  the  listener  the  same  message  over  and 
over.  As  schematized  in  Table  35,  different  types  and  degrees  of 
intensification  are  represented  by  three  types  of  musical  repetition.  To 
show  how  they  are  differentiated  requires  to  call  to  mind  that  in  Qawwali 
they  operate  on  a  musical  idiom  which  gives  primacy  to  text  over  music. 
Thus,  reiteration  serves  to  impress  the  message  on  the  mind  ( samjhana)  by 
means  of  simple  re-statements.  Insertion-recurrence  serves  to  make  the 
message  explicit  by  the  insertion  of  an  amplifier  between  recurrent 
statements.  Multiple  repetition,  finally,  is  the  intensifier  par 
excellence  in  a  Qawwali  performance,  by  impressing  the  message  fully  and 
conti nuously . 

In  relation  to  the  arousal  continuum,  different  types  of  repetition 
are  associated,  more  or  less  loosely,  with  different  stages:  Reiteration 

■  -m 



On  Basis  of  Intensification  Principle 



a)  Repetition  Process  Dimension 

-  types  of  repetition 
(cf.  table  8,  Ch.  5) 

-  kinds  of  intensification 

1)  Reiteration,  restatements 

Reinforcement,  Clarifications  of 

<  state 

2)  Insertion  -  recurrence 

Amplification,  Enhancement  )t  of 

3)  Multiple  repetition 

!  arou' 

-+  Increase,  culmination  1  sal 

b)  Acoustic  Presentation  Dimension 

1)  Accentuation  > 

2)  Acceleration  > 

Secondary  intensification 
(supplementary  to  repetition) 

3)  "Actions"  > 

belongs  at  the  bottom  where  no  or  little  arousal  is  present.  It  also 
serves  the  simple  physical  clarification  of  a  message  where  an  audience 
is  noisy.  Insertion-recurrence  generally  presupposes  that  some 
reiteration  has  already  taken  place  and  some  enthusiasm  or  mild  arousal 
is  present.  Multiple  reptition,  finally,  implies  intense  arousal  and 
even  ecstasy. 

There  are  a  few  non-structural  attributes  of  the  musical  idiom  which 
also  serve  the  expression  of  intensification  as  related  to  spiritual 
states  and  their  management;  two  are  aspects  of  acoustic  presentation  and 
therefore  can  be  employed  simultaneously  to  underscore  repetition, 
particularly  multiple  repetition.  One  constitutes  the  prototype  of 
repeti tion--strong  rhythmic  accentuation  in  which  the  existing  beat 
pattern  is  emphasized  by  extra  heavy  drum  beats  or  by  more  frequent 
accentuation  in  the  form  of  drum  accents  or  handclaps  (beating  or 
clapping  "double").  As  explained  in  Chapter  3  and  outlined  on  Tables  3 
and  6,  the  Qawwali  durational  framework  already  contains  these  basic 
ingredients  of  rhythmic  intensification,  so  that  here  they  need  merely  to 
be  placed  in  the  context  of  the  performer's  intensification  strategy. 

The  second  intensifying  device  performers  use  deliberately  to  make 
multiple  repetition  more  effective  is  very  gradual  acceleration.  Both 
devices  are  used  sparingly,  because  they  retain  their  effectiveness  only 
in  contrast  to  the  unaccented  or  unaccelerated  norms  respectively.  Thus, 
performers  like  to  reserve  them  for  high-intensity  repetition.  Also, 
these  devices  not  only  aren't  textual  but  can  interfere  acoustically  with 
the  text  message;  therefore  Sufis  consider  their  excessive  use 
inappropriate,  if  not  vulgar,  and  the  aware  performer  restricts  their  use 






accordingly,  though  he  may  choose  to  fire  on  a  common  audience  with  their 
hel  p . 

Finally,  there  is  a  non-acoustic  as  well  as  non-structural 
intensifier:  the  performer's  gestures  and  facial  expressions, 
collectively  called  "actions"  by  performers  and  Sufis.  Their  use,  even 
more  than  that  of  the  other  two  non-structural  intensifies ,  is  subject 
to  strict  constraints  by  Sufis.  Though  they  may  be  used  judiciously  at 
early  stages  of  arousal  in  the  audience,  their  excess  is  seen  as  a 
distortion  of  the  spiritual  message  to  a  personal,  human  level  (see  Ch. 

7:  164). 

On  the  basis  of  the  link  established  by  the  criterion  of 
intensification  between  audience  arousal  and  repetition,  different  types 
of  repetition  represent  different  stages  of  arousal  and  constitute  an 
appropriate  response  to  them.  But  the  performer's  strategy  consists  of 
more  than  responding  to  listeners'  states;  he  is  as  much  concerned  with 
evoking  such  states.  This  means  that  he  may  in  fact  use  repetition 
expressing  intense  arousal  before  such  arousal  is  actually  present,  in 
order  to  evoke  it.  As  a  result,  the  use  of  all  repetition  becomes  far 
more  flexible,  for  it  continuously  reflects  both  initiative  and  response 
to  the  states  of  the  audience.  This  flexibility  is  greatest  at  the 
lowest  levels  of  arousal,  for  once  intense  arousal  or  ecstasy  occur,  the 
rules  of  Sufism  give  the  performer  little  choice  but  to  sustain  that 
state  by  multiple  repetititon.  On  the  other  hand,  where  no  or  little 
arousal  is  present,  he  is  likely  to  run  the  gamut  of  repetition. 

Starting  with  reiteration,  he  hopes  to  increase  the  enthusiasm  for  a 
message  unit,  perhaps  by  underscoring  it  with  appropriate  "actions".  His 



next  move  will  be  to  introduce  amplifying  text  inserts  between  recurring 
statements  of  the  repeat  unit  or  to  float  the  occasional  melodic  or 
rhythmic  insert  to  impress  sophisticated  listeners.  Most  of  all,  where 
intense  arousal  can  be  anticipated  at  all,  the  performer  will  top  off 
either  reiteration  or  recurrence  after  a  text  insert  with  multiple 
repetition,  intensified  by  rhythmic  accents,  if  appropriate. 

No  less  a  motivation  for  multiple  repetition  is  the  performer's  hope 
to  get  offerings  following  an  effective  reiterated  text  unit  or,  even 
more,  an  appropriate  insert.  Continuing  repetition  serves  to  invite  and 
facilitate  the  mechanics  of  multiple  offerings.  Indeed,  once  offerings 
are  coming,  no  matter  what  level  of  arousal  stimulates  them,  the 
performer  will  keep  up  multiple  repetition  of  the  text  unit  that 
generated  them,  hoping  for  more. 

So  far  it  has  been  shown  that  the  dynamic  principle  which  underlies 
the  listener's  state  of  arousal  is  intensification,  and  that  this 
principle  is  also  expressed  musically  in  the  form  of  repetition,  the 
principal  structuring  device  of  Qawwali  music  in  performance.  This  makes 
it  possible  for  the  performer  to  apply  the  principle  of  intensification 
as  a  semantic  referent  between  audience  and  music:  he  uses  it  to  assess 
the  state  of  his  listeners  and  accordingly  selects  an  appropriate  type  of 
musical  intensification.  Since  this  intensification  takes  the  form  of 
repetition,  he  thereby  also  structures  the  song. 



3 .  Repeat  Unit  Identification 

For  the  sake  of  analytical  clarity,  intensification  has  so  far  been 
dealt  with  in  isolation,  so  as  to  identify  it  as  the  principal  semantic 
referent  operating  between  audience  and  music  during  the  performance 
process--and  also  to  interpret  it  in  parallel  terms  to  the  referents  for 
setting  factors  (i.e.,  status  and  identity).  However,  this  does  not 
complete  the  interaction  process  between  audience  and  music  yet.  While 
applying  the  intensification  principle  to  music  results  in  the 
identification  of  the  appropriate  structuring  process,  i.e.  repetition, 
it  leaves  open  the  question  of  what  uni t  of  structure  is  to  be  repeated. 

As  recalled  earlier,  he  process  leading  to  the  decision  to  repeat 
takes  place  at  the  same  time  as,  and  with  reference  to  the  ongoing  song 
performance,  starting  as  soon  as  the  song  is  selected  and  continuing  to 
its  end.  As  outlined  in  Chapter  3  (pp.  63  ff)  and  summarised  on  Table  7, 
a  Qawwali  song  performance  proceeds  on  the  basis  of  structural  units 
derived  from  the  text  which  are  all  repeatable.  The  performer, 
recognizing  the  need  for  comprehensibility  and  immediacy  in  conveying  the 
Qawwali  message,  follows  a  norm  of  proceeding  line  by  line,  restating 
each  line  in  sequence  and  then  repeating  the  entire  verse.  Line  segments 
are  repeated  only  to  emphasize  special  phrases.  Li steners ,  in  accordance 
with  the  function  of  Qawwali,  express  states  of  arousal  in  response  to 
these  units  of  content,  as  they  hear  the  performers  sing  them.  Given  the 
immediacy  of  the  listener's  response,  it  is  logical  for  the  performer  to 
identify  as  the  repeat  unit  whatever  he  is  singing  at  the  point  he 
perceives  the  response.  Normal ly--and  in  conformity  with  the  performer's 
expectation-- that  unit  is  a  verse  line,  and  it  is  this  verse  line  the 



performer  proceeds  to  repeat,  occasionally  adding  a  restatement  of  the 
entire  verse  to  complete  the  message. 

Following  this  standard  process,  then,  the  performer  arrives  at  the 
unit  of  repetition  by  the  simple  timing  of  the  listener's  response.  In 
analytical  terms,  this  means  that  by  its  very  occurrence  a  response 
expressing  arousal  identifies  the  unit  of  repeat  in  addition  to 
signalling  the  need  for  repetition  as  such.  The  same  is  the  case  for  the 
offering  response  where  the  performer  will  automatically  identify  and 
then  repeat  the  same  verse  line  during  which  an  offering  is  first  made. 

While  standard  procedure,  this  process  of  unit  identification  is 
nevertheless  not  invariable  for  the  performer.  Given  the  unpredictable 
quality  and  individualized  outward  expression  of  spiritual  arousal,  the 
performer's  standard  assumption  regarding  the  correct  repeat  unit  may  not 
correspond  to  the  listener's  requirement.  To  correct  his  perception--or 
to  confirm  it--the  performer  therefore  expands  the  process  of  unit 
identification  by  monitoring  the  listener's  outward  expressions  for 
relevant  signals.  Such  signals  may  be  contained  within  the  range  of 
expressive  responses  at  an  implicit  level;  they  also  take  the  form  of 
explicit  reference  through  verbal  requests  or  even  commands. 

Table  36  presents  an  overview  of  the  types  of  identification  signals 
available  to  the  performer  along  with  the  range  of  their  physical 
manifestation.  The  three  types  of  signals  fall  into  two  distinct 
categories.  On  one  hand  there  are  signals  basically  expressing  the  state 
of  arousal  while  at  the  same  time  referring--directly  or  indi rectly--to 
the  message  statement  which  is  sustaining  the  response.  In  this  case, 
the  particular  outward  manifestation  of  the  general  inner  state  may 





With  Reference  to  Ongoing  Musical  Message  Statement 

Expressive  Response  as  Signal  Signal  Evaluation 

L  Signalling  Responses  i.  e.  Direct  Response  to  Message  Statement 



face  expression,  arm/ 
hand  move 

exclamation,  verbal  ex¬ 
pression  V  — >  approve :  "I  like  this,  hence  repeat  it.  " 


symbolizing  gestures 
(cf0  Table  20) 
offering  y 

(response  discontinued  _ ^  disapprove :  "I  don't  like  this  one, 

hence  repeat  another  one.") 

II.  Emotive  Responses 

indirect  Response  to  Message  Statement 

(through  expression  of  resultant  state) 

weep,  shout 
move  abruptly 
get  up,  dance,  etc. 

approve :  "I  am  strongly  moved,  hence 
keep  repeating.  " 

(response  discontinued 

disapprove:  "I  am  not  moved  now, 
hence  repeat  another  one.  ") 

III.  Referential  Response  as 

verbal  statement/com¬ 

Direct  Message 

request/ confirm:  "repeat  this" 
correct:  "don't  repeat  this,  repeat 
that.  " 

*  While  subject  to  the  same  process  of  context  evaluation  and  musical 
expression.  Repeat  Unit  Identification  is  not  an  independent  semantic 
referent  but  merely  an  operational  requirement  adjunct  to  the  re¬ 
ferent  of  Spiritual  State /Intensification. 

*.  i'  r, 



convey  communicative  content  over  and  above  expressing  a  degree  of 
spiritual  arousal.  Listed  in  Boxes  I  and  II  on  Table  36,  the  two  types 
of  signals  more  or  less  coincide  with  the  stage  of  incipient  and  intense 
arousal  or  ecstasy  respectively.  During  incipient  arousal  it  is  through 
signalling  responses,  including  symbolic  gestures,  that  approval  or 
disapproval  of  the  repeat  unit  is  communicated  to  the  performer.  Once  a 
state  of  intense  arousal  has  been  reached,  the  manifestations  of  the 
state  are  entirely  expressive,  not  referential,  so  that  it  is  the 
unambiguous  intensity  that  links  the  response  more  clearly  to  the  unit  of 
content.  This  becomes  altogether  self-evident  at  the  extreme  stage  of 
ecstasy,  where  repetition  of  a  clearly  identified  message  unit  is  already 
presupposed  and  simply  needs  to  be  continued  as  long  as  the  expressive 
utterance  lasts. 

The  other  category  comprises  the  type  of  signals  listed  in  Box  III  on 
Table  36:  a  direct  verbal  message  of  referential  communication  which  may 
or  may  not  have  any  expressive  content.  Such  direct  requests  or 
assertion  of  control  are  normally  limited  to  listeners  with  high 
spiritual  status,  except  where  a  state  of  intense  arousal  gives  even  a 
lowly  devotee  the  spiritual  justification  to  assert  his  wish  or  need. 

The  performer  monitors  all  these  signals  throughout  the  performance 
and  realizes  them  musically  in  a  process  which  is  schematized  on  Table 
37.  Analytically  speaking,  this  process  of  repeat  unit  identification 
constitutes  yet  another  semantic  referent  for  linking  audience  and  music 
in  the  performance  process.  Closely  related  to  the  primary  performance 
goal,  intensification,  it  in  fact  serves  that  goal  by  leading  to  the 
identification  of  the  message  unit  that  operates  as  the  tool  of 


»  i  ! 




Signal  Content* 

a)  Referential  Response: 

-  confirm 

-  request 

-  correct  -r 

Musical  Repeat  Unit  Identified 

repeat  ongoing  unit 
repeat  new/ suggested  unit 
repeat  new/ suggested  unit 

b)  Signalling  Response: 

-  approve 

-  disapprove 

repeat  ongoing  unit 

try  different  unit  (same  couplet,  differ¬ 
ent  line,  part  of  line,  entire  verse) 

c)  Emotive  Response: 

-  approve  repeat  ongoing  unit 

-  disapprove  return  to  previous  unit,  find  unit  with 


*  In  order  of  decreasing  specificity 



As  in  the  case  of  intensification,  however,  the  use  of  this  referent 
does  not  merely  translate  a  listener's  needs  into  musical  expression,  by 
means  of  identifying  for  repetition  the  text  unit  that  is  affecting  him. 
Rather,  the  performer  also  tries  to  stimulate  such  an  impact  by  himself 
singling  out  for  repetition  text  units  with  a  known  appeal.  How  the 
performer  uses  both  audience-music  referents  "in  reverse"  is  in  fact  a 
major  aspect  of  the  interaction  process  in  performance.  A  systematic 
consideration  of  this  strategy  is  therefore  in  order  before  proceeding  to 
analyse  the  performance  in  its  total  context  of  a  multiple  audience. 

Both  intensification  and  unit  identification,  the  semantic  referents 
underlying  the  process  of  performance,  operate  by  translating  audience 
states  and  requirements  into  musical  expression,  or,  stated  more 
generally,  context  into  music.  In  turn,  then,  the  music,  by  giving 
expression  to  those  contextual  aspects,  confirms  or  intensifies  them. 
Since  the  musical  idiom  is  semantically  capable  of  such  expression,  it  is 
equally  possible  for  the  performer  to  generate  with  it  the  same  semantic 
content  independently,  not  in  response  to,  but  in  anticipation  of 
corresponding  audience  reactions.  Examples  of  this  "reverse"  strategy 
abound,  especially  in  the  form  of  text  unit  selections,  whether  for 
repetition  or  for  inserts.  Predictably,  the  performers  use  it  most  of 
all  to  generate  offerings.  To  the  extent  that  this  strategy  represents 
initiative  on  the  performer's  side,  it  is  always  open  to  criticism  and 
even  censure  from  the  assembly  leader,  especially  when  he  uses  it  all  too 
obviously  for  his  material  objective.  If,  on  the  other  hand,  he  hits 
just  the  right  note,  generating  enthusiasm,  particularly  in  the  spiritual 





notables  present,  then  he  is  praised  for  his  ability  to  perceive 
correctly  the  "colour  of  the  assembly"  (mahfil  ka  rang  dekhna,  DL:  12). 
Observation  suggests  that  consistently  successful  performers  take  a  good 
amount  of  initiative  of  this  sort,  informed,  of  course,  by  a  continual 
assessment  of  their  audience,  and  tempered  by  immediate  responsiveness  to 
their  reaction.  This  aspect  of  the  Qawwali  performance  brings  the  Qawwal 
in  line  with  any  other  type  of  performer  whose  initiative  is  ultimately 
responsible  for  his  success. 

Referent  4:  Selective  Focus 
1 .  Evaluation  of  Context 

The  stage  is  now  set  to  proceed  to  the  performance  in  its  total 
context  of  a  multiple  audience  with  whom  the  performer  interacts  over 
time.  Three  semantic  referents  have  been  identified  as  to  their  function 
and  domain,  and  their  interrel ation  or  intersection  has  been  outlined. 

All  aspects  of  the  context-music  relationship  have  been  mapped  out  in 
terms  of  a  one-to-one  interaction  between  performer  and  listener.  This 
procedure  is  entirely  in  tune  with  the  individual  basis  of  the  Sufi  quest 
as  well  as  its  realization.  Indeed,  even  where  many  listeners  are 
present,  the  performer  in  principle  always  interacts  with  individual 
members  of  his  audience,  even  though  he  is  dealing  with  the  entire  body. 
How  he  copes  with  this  requirement  of  multiple  interaction  in  fact,  and 
what  results  from  it  musically  remains  to  be  dealt  with  in  order  to 
complete  this  analytical  consideration  of  the  performance  process. 

The  performer  faces  an  entire  audience  of  individuals  who  respond  to 
his  singing  on  an  individual  basis,  expressing  their  respective  states  of 



arousal.  These,  as  has  been  shown,  require  different  types  of  musical 
responses--in  accord  with  the  basic  function  of  Qawwali:  to  arouse 
listeners  by  serving  their  diverse  and  changing  needs.  The  range  of 
needs  is  essentially  the  same  for  all  listeners;  only  they  arise  at 
different  times  during  a  performance.  But  what  it  takes  to  satisfy  the 
same  need  may  differ  between  listeners,  depending  on  their  particular 
status  and  identity  as  well  as  their  personal  preference. 

What  the  performer  has  at  his  disposal  for  responding  to  this 
multiplicity  of  needs  is  in  essence  one  channel  of  communication  albeit  a 
composite  and  structurally  very  flexible  one:  the  Qawwali  musical  idiom. 
The  structural  flexibility  occurs  at  all  levels  of  the  musical  idiom,  but 
it  is  determined  at  the  level  of  the  text.  True,  the  musical  setting 
and,  to  a  lesser  extent,  the  performance  style  can  be  varied 
independently  of  the  text,  but  the  application  of  this  musical  and 
presentational  flexibility  occurs  essentially  at  the  point  of  the  song 
selection.  Once  a  song  is  under  way,  the  total  constellation  of  text, 
music  and  presentation  remain  constant,  with  only  a  limited  scope  left 
for  variation  in  the  area  of  melodic  and  rhythmic  elaboration  or  of 
presentational  emphasis. 

In  essence,  then,  the  performer  can  only  make  one  musical  response  at 
any  one  point  in  time,  using  the  structuring  options  that  govern  the 
idiom  both  as  regards  text  units  and  their  musical  equivalents.  What 
these  options  do  permit  him  is  the  flexibility  to  switch  between 
structural  units  instantly.  He  can  thereby  not  only  accommodate  the 
changing  needs  of  one  individual  but  also  respond  to  the  differing  needs 
of  several,  though  doing  so  in  immediate  succession  rather  than 


I  ,'^P 


simul taneously . 

The  range  and  number  of  alternative  options  available  for  use  to 
respond  to  different  listeners  in  turn  is,  however,  limited,  given  the 
structural  and  stylistic  parameters  of  any  one  song.  In  practical  terms, 
this  means  that  at  any  one  time  the  number  of  listeners  a  performer  can 
cater  to  specifically  has  to  be  limited.  Clearly,  a  selection  process 
operates  to  identify  those  listeners  whose  needs  are  to  be  given  first 
consideration.  Two  criteria  of  assessment  are  already  established  which 
rank  the  individual  listener  on  a  continuum,  each  of  a  different  sort. 

One  is  spiritual  status,  the  other  spiritual  state  of  arousal  (spiritual 
identity  cannot  contribute  to  this  assessment  directly,  since  it  is  not 
applied  against  a  continuum  that  would  serve  as  a  ranking  scale).  The 
performer  uses  the  two  criteria  in  conjunction  with  each  other  to  make 
his  selections  in  a  process  that  continues  throughout  the  performance. 

To  begin  with,  he  has  already  assessed  his  audience  according  to 
general  status  categories  as  well  as  to  individual  status.  On  the  basis 
of  this  categorization,  then,  the  performer  individually  monitors  all 
special  listeners,  including  of  course  the  leader,  while  keeping  only  a 
casual  eye  on  the  common  audience.  He  does  this  monitoring  by  applying 
the  criterion  of  spiritual  state,  evaluating  expressive  as  well  as 
offering  responses  in  terms  of  the  continuum  of  increasing  arousal.  At 
the  same  time,  the  performer  is  continuously  aware  of  the  relative 
spiritual  status  position  of  each  listener  thus  evaluated.  The  result  is 
a  combined  state  and  status  assessment  according  to  which  he  can  rank  all 
listeners.  This  ranking  procedure  is  schematized  in  Table  38,  where 
numericaly  values  represent  the  relative  rank  or  degree  of  priority 




TABLE  38: 


Based  on  Status  and  State  Referents 
and  Ranked  Accordingly 

Focus*  derived  from  State  +  Status  Referents 


top  rep. 




catego  ry 








































Numerical  Values 
1  to  9: 

F ocus  Types: 

(Collective  Focus 
Plural F  ocus 

Priority  F ocus 
Single  F ocus 

represent  lowest  to  highest  degree 
of  priority  assigned  to  state/status 

No  individual  catering) 

Cater  to  several  listeners  by 
turn,  equal  attention  (maximum 
5-6,  usually  no  more  than  3) 

Cater  to  plural  needs  but  give 
priority  to  one 

Cater  to  single  listener,  dis¬ 
regarding  all  others  (audience 
usually  focussed  on  single  person) 



assigned  to  each  combined  state-status  category.  It  is  in  relation  to 
these  combined  state-status  categories  that  the  performer  then  decides  on 
one  of  the  three  types  of  selective  focus  for  his  musical  response.  As 
Table  38  shows  clearly,  there  is  a  consistent  correlation  between  status 
category  and  type  of  focus  accorded  by  the  performer;  the  pattern  is 
broken  only  at  the  stage  of  extreme  arousal.  There,  every  listener,  from 
leader  to  common  backbencher,  is  accorded  sole  attention  by  the 
performer.  While  this  represents  the  stage  to  be  given  highest  priority, 
the  performer  often  prefers  the  less  intense  stages  which  allow  him  to 
shift  his  focus  between  a  number  of  high  status  listeners.  The  obvious 
reason  is  economic:  it  generally  results  in  more  earnings.  Having  to 
cater  to  a  single  person  in  an  ecstatic  state  may  yield  definite 
blessings,  but  economically  it  can  be  risky,  especially  where  a  low 
status  person  is  in  ecstasy. 

2 .  Expression  in  Music 

What  effect  does  the  performer's  selective  focus  have  on  the  shape  of 
the  song  being  performed?  The  only  new  elements  introduced  are  the 
simultaneous  catering  to  several  listeners  and  the  quick  shift  from  one 
listener  to  another.  Musically,  both  are  handled  as  successive  shifts  of 
focus,  as  has  been  mentioned  (p.  285),  so  that  the  performer  who  wishes 
to  satisfy  the  needs  of  more  than  one  listener  at  once  will  do  so  by 
repeating  or  emphasizing  the  musical  units  desired  by  each  in  close 
alternation.  Shifts  in  the  selective  focus  itself  further  add  to  the 
flexibility  of  musical  structuring  which  is  already  serving  to  cater  to 
the  changing  needs  of  the  individual  listener.  In  sum,  what  is  added  by 
the  multiple  audience  dimension  is  the  motivation  for  more  flexibility. 


simply  because  more  factors  are  thereby  identified  and  isolated.  For  the 
performer,  this  means  making  more  choices,  but  within  the  basic  range  of 
options  already  established  to  deal  with  the  individual  listener. 

Hence,  the  effect  of  the  selective  focus  dimension  on  the  musical 
performance  can  only  be  seen  in  conjunction  with  that  of  the  other 
criteria  of  audience  evaluation. 

C  Summary 

This  completes  the  analytical  reduction  of  the  context-music 
interaction  process.  Four  salient  principles  have  been  shown  to  operate 
as  semantic  referents,  each  used  by  the  performer  to  link  context 
evaluation  with  musical  expression.  Individual  referents  have  also  been 
considered  in  relation  to  each  other:  in  the  case  of  referents  3  and  4— 
spiritual  state  and  selective  focus--,  where  this  relationship  is 
particularly  relevant,  the  operation  of  one  has  been  plotted  in 
conjunction  with  the  other.  As  for  incorporating  all  referents  and  their 
music-context  application  into  one  comprehensive  model,  that  is  a  task 
beyond  the  scope  of  this  study  and  its  essentially  musicol ogical  focus. 

What  the  musicol ogical  focus  requires  is  that  the  results  of  the 
analysi s--which  focusses  essentially  on  the  interaction  between  context 
and  music--shoul d  now  be  considered  from  the  perspective  of  the  music, 
thus  putting  these  findings  to  their  intended  use  of  explaining  how 
context  affects  music.  This  change  of  perspective  is  best  represented 
graphically,  in  the  form  of  tables.  Tables  39  and  40  show  at  two  levels 
how  the  process  of  structuring  Qawwal i  music  in  performance  is  affected 
by  the  context  by  means  of  the  four  semantic  referents--and,  by 


TABLE  39: 

Music  Varies  According  to  Context 

Text  Dimension 

Music  Dimension  Presentation  Dimension 

Language  varies: 

tune  tvpe  varies:  performance  style  varies: 

acc.  to  status  (la) 

acc.  to  status  (la)  acc.  to  status  (la) 


Stvi e  va  rie s : 

rhythm  type  varies: 

acc.  to  status  (la) 

acc.  to  status  (la) 

Content  varies: 

acc.  to  identity  (la) 


acc.  to  state  (3b) 

Association  varies: 

acc.  to  identity  (2a) 

acc.  to  state  (3b) 


r . 

tvpe  of  repetition  varies:  accentuation  varies: 


acc.  to  state  (3a)  arc.  to  state  (3a) 

(observed  or  desired) 

acc.  to  sel.  four  (4b)  acceleration  varies 

acc.  to  state  (3a) 


unit  of  repetition  varies: 

unit  of  repetition  varies: 

acc.  to  state  lia) 

acc.  to  state  lob;  actions  vary 

(observed  or  desired) 

(observed  or  desired)  acc.  to  state  (3b) 

acc.  to  sel,  focus  (4b) 

acc.  to  sel.  focus  (4b) 


insert  varies: 


(acc.  to  state  (3a) 


(observed  or  desired) 


acc.  to  status  (la) 

insert  -  melodic  varies: 


acc.  to  identity  (2a) 

acc.  to  status  (la) 

word  call  sicnals  vary: 

acc.  to  status  (lb) 

elaboration  varies: 

acc.  to  identity'  (2a) 

acc.  to  status  (la) 


1  Status 

2  Identity 

3  State  of  arousal 

4  Selective  focus 

a  Primary  cause 


Secondary  cause 


Vii  Semantic  Referents 



implication,  their  specific  operation,  as  explained  earlier  in  this 
chapter.  Table  39  presents  a  model  of  the  performance  idiom,  showing  how 
individual  features  are  constrained  by  means  of  the  four  semantic 
referents.  In  Table  40  the  performance  process  is  schematized,  showing 
how  the  same  contextual  input--via  the  semantic  referents--affects  the 
shape  of  a  song  unfolding  in  performance. 

The  visual  summary  contained  in  these  tables,  backed  up  by  the 
foregoing  analysis  and  the  entire  preceding  investigation  of  the  Qawwal i 
performance  process,  sufficiently  explains  and  illustrates  "the  musical 
application  of  the  contextual  constraints  of  'changing  audience 
demands'",  as  demanded  in  Chapter  3  (p.  69).  Both  tables  together 
contain  the  jist  of  what  answer  this  analysis  has  been  able  to  provide  to 
the  question  posed  at  the  outset;  i.e.,  "how  the  musical  sounds  (of 
Qawwal i )  which  musicologists  can  set  out  as  abstract  rules  are  communited 
in  practice"  (Ch.  1:2). 

What  remains  is  to  formally  complete  a  context-sensitive  grammar  of 
Qawwal i  which  incorporates  the  entire  contextual  input,  both  as 
manifested  in  the  distinctive  features  (Ch.  3  B)  and  in  the  performance 
interaction  (Ch.  10).  On  the  basis  of  the  analytical  presentation  of 
these  two  aspects  and  their  visual  summaries  on  Tables  6  and  39/40 
respectively,  it  should  be  possible  to  construct  such  a  grammar  with 
reference  to  the  musical  framework  (Ch.  3  A)  and  expand  the  Standard 
Model  of  Qawwal  music  (Tables  7-11)  accordingly.  That,  however,  will 
have  to  be  the  result  of  a  more  formally  oriented  study.  The  information 
for  it  is  all  laid  out,  but  the  task  of  formalizing  it  into  a  single 
scheme  is  too  formidable  to  be  undertaken  here. 





This  study  has  attempted  to  introduce  the  dimension  of  performance 
into  the  analysis  of  musical  sound,  with  the  specific  aim  of 
demonstrating  how  the  context  of  performance  affects  the  music  being 
performed.  For  this  purpose  an  analytical  approach  was  developed  on  the 
basis  of  a  theoretical  framework  encompassing  both  musicology  and 
anthropology.  This  essentially  anthropological  approach  was  then  applied 
to  the  Qawwali  focussing  on  the  idiom  and  context  of  performance  and 
arriving  at  an  integrated  analysis  of  the  two  in  the  performance  process. 
The  outcome  in  terms  of  the  theoretical  aim,  is  a  set  of  contextual 
dimensions  that  serve  as  a  grid  for  the  contextual  input  into  the  music, 
so  that  this  input  can  be  incorporated  into  an  analytical  model  of  the 
performance  idiom.  At  a  more  basic  level,  such  an  operation  has  required 
approaching  musical  sound  analysis  from  a  perspective  compatible  with  the 
anthropological  analysis  of  context.  This  was  done  by  analysing  the 
sound  structure  itself  with  reference  to  the  a  priori  contextual 
constraints  operating  upon  it,  and  then  dealing  with  the 
operationalization  of  this  structure  through  a  contextual  analysis  of  the 
musical  process . 

The  outcome  of  this  effort  appears  to  validate  substantively  the 
initial  hypothesis,  at  least  for  the  musical  tradition  analysed  here,  the 
Qawwali.  This  validation  rests  on  the  conclusion  that  contextual 
variables  are  identified  and  given  expression  through  significant  musical 




variables.  The  process  of  translating  one  into  the  other  has  been  found 
to  be  based  on  criteria  of  interpretation  that  function  as  semantic 
referents  for  the  context-music  interaction.  Those  referents  have  been 
shown  to  operate  in  a  particular  way,  contingent  upon  relevant  factors  of 
ideological  and  socio-economic  import  as  mediated  by  the  performer.  How 
specifically  the  process  works  is  illustrated  in  the  Ethnographic  Section 
which  at  the  same  time  provides  concrete  exemplification  for  the  findings 
of  the  analysis.  As  a  final  step,  the  results  of  the  analysis  have  been 
incorporated  into  the  music  analysis  of  Qawwali,  thus  rendering  the 
musical  grammar  context-sensitive,  enabling  the  reader  to  account  for 
Qawwali  as  encountered  in  performance  and  even  to  generate--at  least  in 
theory--such  a  performance  himself. 

If  the  premises  of  the  analysis  are  accepted, then  this  approach 
constitutes  a  means  of  dealing  with  both  sound  and  context,  thereby 
proposing  an  application  of  the  ethnomusicol ogical  postulate  that  the 
contextual  dimension  must  be  introduced  into  the  analysis  of  music. 

Looking  back  on  the  entire  analytical  procedure  it  is  relevant  at 
this  point  to  examine  the  validity  of  the  analytical  approach  in  terms  of 
the  results  obtained  for  Qawwali  music.  Such  an  assessment  is  necessary 
before  the  crucial  question  of  its  wider  applicability  can  be  considered. 

Starting  with  the  most  basic  level  of  validity  for  an  analysis,  that 
of  ethnographic  validity,  this  analysis  has  been  clearly  related  to  its 
ethnographic  roots  at  all  stages.  In  addition,  the  availability  of 
unanalysed  data  has  made  possible  the  continuous  ethnographic  testing  of 
the  ongoing  analysis.  This,  of  course,  does  not  constitute  independent 
evidence--that  would  have  to  be  arrived  at  independently,  and,  indeed,  an 



ultimate  validation  may  well  elude  any  investigation  of  this  sort.  For 
there  is  one  claim  for  which  all  theoretical  and  analytical  rigor  can 
achieve  no  more  than  partial  validation:  the  claim  to  control  the 
variable  of  the  performer's  strategy  or  intent.  While  neither  performers 
nor  analyst  had  an  illusion  about  the  ultimate  elusiveness  of  this 
factor,  even  during  the  investigation,  the  point  needs  here  to  be  made  in 
order  to  place  the  resulting  findings  into  the  human  perspective 
of  individual  autonomy  and  unpredictability. 

The  validity  of  the  analytical  approach  itself  must  be  considered 
with  reference  to  the  goal  and  method  of  the  analysis  as  well  as  its 
actual  results.  An  analytical  framework  of  both  musicology  and 
anthropology  has  proved  to  be  appropriate  to  the  goal  set,  each  at  its 
own  level.  These  levels  of  applicability  are  reflected  already  in  the 
theoretical  discussion  in  Chapter  1:  musiciology  is  applicable  at  the 
formal  descriptive  level  of  dealing  with  sound  and  its  analysis: 
anthropology  at  the  substantive,  analytical  level  of  providing  the  entire 
theoretical  basis  as  well  as  the  appropriate  analytical  tools  for  an 
approach  that  links  music  with  context  in  analysis.  Indeed,  this  thesis 
may  therefore  be  considered  a  contribution  to  ethnomusicol ogy ,  the  field 
that  claims  such  a  joint  intellectual  parentage  although,  substantively 
speaking,  it  consists  of  anthropological  thinking  applied  to  music  and 
incorporating  musicol ogical  thinking  into  that  application. 

It  has  been  the  goal  of  this  study  to  add  to  the  scope  of 
musicology,  i.e.  the  analysis  of  musical  sound,  by  expanding  it  to  deal 
with  musical  process,  i.e.  the  process  of  performance.  Demonstrating  the 
relevance  of  the  contextual  dimension  to  the  programming  of  this  process, 



the  analysis  proposes  a  procedure  for  actually  incorporating  contextual 
variables  into  the  analysis  of  musical  sound.  By  itself,  this  represents 
not  much  more  than  a  formal  expansion  of  the  musicol ogical  model,  as  long 
as  such  variables  pertain  to  music  structure.  This  is  shown  by  the  use 
of  functional  variables  in  the  analysis  of  distinctive  features  of  the 
Qawwal i  musical  structure.  However,  when  contextual  input  is  introduced 
into  a  music  sound  analysis  to  account  for  process,  it  makes  the  music 
very  immediately  dependent  upon  the  context  at  every  moment  of  its 
creation  in  performance.  Because  there  is  variability  in  the  contextual 
cues  as  well  as  in  the  musical  choices  made  in  response,  the  contextual 
input  can  only  be  represented  in  terms  of  the  flexible  principles  that 
govern  this  variability  at  each  end.  The  basis  on  which  these  principles 
operate  is  semantic. 

It  is  at  this  point  that  meaning  enters  the  analysis  of  music,  for 
it  is  meaning  that  puts  consistency  into  the  selection  and  correlation  of 
variables,  contextual  and  musical.  As  stated,  the  process  of  a  performer 
making  musical  choices  on  the  basis  of  contextual  cues  is  a  process  of 
translation,  he  is  translating  meaning.  And  the  meaning,  as  clearly 
emerges  from  the  Qawwal i  analysis,  is  essentially  non-musical,  perceived 
by  the  performer  in  the  context  of  performance,  and  expressed  or 
responded  to  in  the  musical  performance.  To  understand  this  translation 
processs  to  know  the  meaning  system,  both  at  the  level  of  context  and 
music.  Obviously,  this  task  goes  beyond  the  scope  of  musicology, 
(although  cues  to  meaning  in  music  can  be  found  in  systems  of  musical 
aesthetics  where  they  apply--in  Qawwal i  they  do  not).  The  fact  is  that 
the  semantic  content,  even  of  music,  appears  to  be  found  outside  of 



music,  for  the  dynamic  that  ultimately  motivates  the  context-to-music 
input  can  only  be  understood  with  reference  to  the  socio-cul tural 
framework  of  which  the  musical  tradition--and  the  actors  in  it— are  a 
part.  This  is  why  what  is  essentially  a  music  analysis  has  to  delve  so 
extensively  into  the  contextual  and  background  dimensions.  For  it  is 
within  the  framework  of  these  dimensions  that  the  music  of  Qawwali 
communicates  social  meaning. 

Considering  the  Qawwali  musical  language  from  this  perspective  one 
can  say  that  the  context-linked  traits  are  the  ones  that  make  Qawwali 
music  distinct  from  other  closely  related  musical  idioms  of  North  India 
and  Pakistan.  Furthermore,  the  basic  features  of  this  musical  idiom  are 
relatively  limited  in  number  and  complexity.  This  corresponds  perfectly 
to  the  limited  role  the  musician  actually  plays  in  shaping  the  Qawwali 
event.  The  most  prominent  feature  of  the  music,  its  variable  structure, 
is  controlled  not  by  the  musician  but  by  the  listeners,  although 
indirectly.  The  findamental  question  that  arises  from  these  facts  is 
whether  type  and  number  of  musical  features  in  Qawwali  may  in  fact  be 
related  to  the  type  of  social  relations  that  govern  the  participants  and 
the  amount  of  musical  message  the  performer  has  in  his  power  to  transmit. 
In  general  terms,  this  suggests  that  the  semantic  dimension  of  Qawwali 
music,  if  not  of  other  types  of  music,  needs  to  be  explored  from  a 
social -structural  perspective.  Clearly,  the  explanatory  power  inherent 
in  this  approach  to  music  analysis  constitutes  its  own  best  validation, 
and  that  power  rests  in  the  concrete  results  the  approach  generates. 

There  is  one  central  question  of  validity  in  the  analytical  approach 
that  arises  directly  from  the  socio-economic  background  context  of 


Qawwal i :  the  question  whether  centering  the  entire  performance  process 
analysis  on  the  performer  has  not  resulted  in  a  distorted  picture, 
especially  given  his  socially,  economically  and  religiously  depressed 
position  in  Qawwal i .  To  an  extent  it  has  been  a  fallacious 
western-centric  premise  that  the  artist  is  the  catalyst  of  the  musical 
event  since  at  the  surface  he  does  generate  the  stimulus  or  dynamic  for 
the  audience  to  respond.  But  in  Qawwal i  it  becomes  clear,  once  the 
interaction  between  them  is  analysed  from  the  perspective  of  the  socio¬ 
economic  structure,  that  the  Qawwal's  musical  choices  themselves  are 
largely  predicated  on  what  he  perceives  to  be  the  audience's  will.  Thus 
social  dependence  means  musical  dependence.  What,  then  are  the 
implications  of  this  dependence  on  the  decision  to  build  the  analysis  of 
Qawwal i  around  the  musician?  Since  he  is  both  the  exclusive  maker  of  the 
music  and  the  perceiver  of  the  audience  responses,  focussing  on  the 
musician  and  his  strategy  of  performance  has  certainly  provided  a  key  to 
dealing  with  the  music-context  relationship  in  an  analytically  clean  way. 
It  has,  at  the  same  time,  also  make  it  possible  to  avoid  the  conceptual 
fal 1 acy--common  in  structural -functional i st  analysis--of  presenting  a 
bird's  eye,  or  analyst's,  view  of  a  performance  process  which  is  really  a 
composite  of  the  perceptions  and  actions  of  its  different  participants. 
However,  the  dependent  position  of  the  performer  has  required  a 
considerable  ethnographic  emphasis  on  those  participants  and  structural 
elements  on  which  he  depends;  indeed,  this  emphasis  arises  from  the 
performer's  very  vantage  point  of  dependence. 

To  validate  the  decision  of  predicating  the  analysis  on  the 
performer  by  putting  him  "in  perspective"  socio-cul tural ly  is,  however, 




no  more  than  an  operational  decision.  There  still  remains  the  more 
fundamental  question  whether  any  single  vantage  point  can  generate 
knowledge  that  is  more  than  a  point  of  view  predicated  on  the  demands 
that  originate  with  that  vantage  point;  whether  indeed  the  knowledge  of  a 
musical  event--or  any  event--must  not  be  derived  from  a  view  in  the 
round;  whether  such  a  view  is  epistemologically  possible;  and  whether 
ultimately  knowledge  is  indeterminate.  Here  is  not  the  place  to  delve 
into  this  issue  but  only  to  raise  it,  as  a  backdrop  agains  which  to  view 
the  limitations  of  an  analytical  endeavour  such  as  this  study  of  Qawwal i . 

Having  acknowledged  the  problematic  of  establishing  the  validity  of 
this  analysis  at  a  substantive  level,  it  may  nevertheless  be  suggested 
that  the  approach  should  be  useful  operationally  beyond  the  specific 
musical  system  analysed  here,  at  least  in  terms  of  its  basic  postulates. 
The  most  appropriate  starting  point  for  testing  such  a  claim  would  be 
other  musical  performance  traditions  within  the  Indian  culture  area. 
Indeed,  the  presence  of  common  basic  musical  and  contextual  features  in 
related  performance  traditions  makes  them  a  particularly  promising  target 
for  applying  the  same  approach.  India  abounds  in  a  great  variety  of 
clearly  defined  contexts  for  musical  performance  which  form  part  of  the 
"cultural  performance"  tradition  central  to  social  and  cultural  life;  it 
is  therefore  an  ideal  ethnographic  domain  for  further  refining  the 
analysis  of  the  performance  process.  Within  this  domain,  common  features 
of  socio-economic  structure  also  make  it  possible  to  adapt  the  same 
analytical  framework  governing  both  contextual  background  and  occasion  of 
performance.  The  same  applies  to  the  music,  so  that  such  an  analysis  can 
then  be  incorporated  into  the  already  existing  indigenous  framework  of 

c  <•-- 



musical  sound  concepts.  On  this  basis  the  Qawwal i  analysis  can  serve  as 
a  prototype  for  the  analysis  of  other  Indian  performance  traditions. 

From  the  specific  perspective  of  Indian  Musicology,  I  visualize  that 
further  applications  of  this  contextual  approach  could  contribute 
directly  toward  refining  the  concept  of  an  Indian  music  area,  with  its 
related  musical  idioms--anal ogous  with  the  existing  concept  of  an  Indian 
language  area.  Here  a  basic  musical  framework  underlies  two  supra- 
regional  musical  languages,  i.e.  classical  and  popular  music,  as  well  as 
a  number  of  regional,  communal  or  functional  musical  dialects,  i.e. 

Qawwal i  and  others.  The  prospect  of  analysing  these  idioms  on  the  basis 
of  context-related  features  and  thus  accounting  for  the  musical 
differences  between  them  is  a  promising  one.  It  is  in  this  area  of 
analysing  musical  variation  in  performance  where  Indian  musiciology  may 
thus  lead  the  way  to  new  advances  in  musicology  generally. 

As  the  the  applicability  of  this  model  outside  the  Indian  area  the 
logical  place  to  start  are  musical  cultures  that  have  a  verbalized 
theory.  From  the  perspective  of  music  analysis  this  makes  Western 
musical  traditions  appear  suitable  for  this  type  of  analysis.  However, 
there  is  no  doubt  that  Western  performance  occasions  and  their  socio¬ 
cultural  background  context  will  be  found  to  generate  a  different  type  of 
dynamic  to  motivate  the  contextual  input  to  the  music,  which  in  turn  will 
be  manifested  in  different  semantic  referents.  The  special  problem  to  be 
considered  in  Western  music  is  that  of  the  alienation  of  the  music  maker 
from  his  audience.  This  starts  in  the  classical  tradition  with 
precomposed  music  into  which  the  composer  already  incorporates  contextual 
input,  in  anticipation  of  its  actual  performance,  leaving  the  performer  a 



minimal  area  of  musical  variability  to  do  the  same  in  response  to  the 
live  context.  The  alienation  of  the  performer  from  the  context  of 
performance  becomes  complete  under  the  influence  of  recording  technology 
and  industry,  where  all  kinds  of  music,  even  the  most  functionally 
context-linked,  end  up  by  being  subject  to  total  pre-control.  This 
constitutes  a  qualitatively  different,  more  total  subordination  of  the 
performer  to  socio-economic  controls,  leading  to  the  crucial  question 
whether  the  maker  of  te  music  is  still  a  performer  even  when  he  does  not 
control  the  sounds  the  audience  hears.  In  the  light  of  this  question, 
the  Qawwali  model  would  certainly  have  to  be  modified;  however,  even  if 
the  very  concept  of  performance  context  and  performer  may  need  to  be 
redefined,  this  does  not  mean  that  the  same  basic  postulate  is  not 
testable,  i.e.  that  the  music  is  constrained  by  its  context  of 
performance,  varying  with  contextual  variation  in  accordance  to  semantic 
referents  that  convey  soci o-cul tural  meaning.  To  carry  out  an  analysis 
of  a  western  musical  tradition  on  the  basis  of  this  hypothesis  may 
involve  dealing  with  more  complexly  organized  and  articulated 
relationships,  but  that  would  not  alter  the  process  of  analysis 

Finally,  there  are  the  majority  of  the  world's  musical  systems 
lacking  a  musical  theory  or  even  verbalized  conceptualizations  about 
music.  Can  the  approach  used  for  Qawwali  contribute  to  the  analysis  of 
such  music  in  performance?  There  is  no  reason  why  music,  like  any 
communication  system,  cannot  be  subject  to  elicitation  and 
systematization  in  terms  that  are  appropriate  to  the  culture's  own 
meaning  system.  Such  a  process  of  elicitation  can  be  pursued  just  as 




languages  and  other  meaning  systems  can  be  elicited;  the  process 
will  simply  take  more  time,  patience  and  musical  sensitivity  than  most 
researchers  can  put  out.  The  important  point  is  that  such  elicitation 
has  to  be  governed  by  a  conceptual  model  to  make  it  useable  analytically. 
The  investigation  of  contextual  constraints  for  the  identification  of 
distinctive  or  salient  musical  features  in  Qawwali  adumbrates  a  promising 
approach  for  this  purpose.  To  identify  such  features  without  reference 
to  a  pre-existing  musical  theory  or  grammar  is  theoretically  possible; 
their  identification  may  even  be  facilitated  by  the  absence  or 
pre-established  musical  categorizations.  On  the  other  hand, 
context-derived  features  alone  can  never  account  for,  let  alone 
programme,  a  piece  of  music,  simply  because  such  features  only  represent 
a  small  part  of  the  total  musical  system.  Every  musical  system,  no 
matter  how  simple,  consists  of  a  culturally  prescribed  sound 
structure--units  and  rules--with  only  certain  variables  governed  by 
contextual  meaning.  Thus  to  actually  programme  music,  the  entire  system 
has  to  be  accounted  for  analytically.  That  the  Qawwali  analysis  does  not 
claim  to  do,  although  it  does  provide  a  framework  which  can  be  used  for  a 
systematic  analysis  of  musical  sound,  provided  some  musical 
conceptualizations  supply  the  necessary  clues  to  its  application.  How  to 
get  at  such  conceptualizations  in  the  absence  of  a  musical  theory  is 
another  question,  to  be  considered  in  a  different  context. 

What,  then  can  be  concluded  about  the  wider  applicability  of  the 
approach  taken  in  this  analysis  of  Qawwali  music?  I  do  believe  that  this 
approach  may  provide  a  means  of  explaining  how  musical  systems  are  used 
in  performance  on  the  basis  of  contextual  meaning.  It  remains  for 



further  applications  to  show  whether  this  indeed  is  a  first  step  toward  a 
general  theory  of  musical  performance. 



Because  of  the  special  need  for  clarity  in  the  analysis  of  an  inter¬ 
actional  process  as  complex  and  multidimensional  as  Qawwali,  ethnographic 
exemplification  has  been  left  out  of  it  entirely.  This  Ethnographic 
Section  is  meant  to  provide  concrete  evidence  for  what  has  been  presented 
in  the  abstract,  in  the  form  of  a  coherent  ethnographic  account  of 
Qawwali  music  in  context,  centering  on  the  Qawwali  performer. 

At  the  core  are  examples  of  actual  performances  in  which  the 
performer's  strategies,  based  on  his  assessment  of  the  performance 
context,  can  be  seen  reflected  in  the  song  he  is  performing.  To  follow 
this  process  in  actuality,  however,  requires  familiarity  with  the 
particular  song  as  well  as  the  particular  contextual  setting,  and  of 
course  with  the  performer  as  well.  Accordingly,  I  have  attempted  to 
integrate  the  examples  as  far  as  possible,  using  material  from  the 
performance  process  examples  to  illustrate  the  musical  idiom  as  well  as 
the  performance  context.  This  means  that  the  particular  songs  and  their 
performance  events  which  constitute  the  examples  of  the  performance 
process  are  also  shown  as  examples  of  the  Qawwali  performance  idiom  and 
the  Qawwali  performance  occasion  respectively,  so  that  they  will  have 
been  described  adequately  and  placed  in  their  respective  context  by  the 
time  they  are  seen  as  interacting  dimensions  in  the  performance  process. 

As  for  the  performer,  who  is  the  hub  of  the  entire  interaction,  his 
background  and  repertoire  are  crucial  to  an  understanding  of  his 


4  : 

,  i  !• 


strategies.  In  order  to  best  present  concrete  evidence  of  the  musical 
and  contextual  range  that  characterizes  Qawwal i ,  the  performance  examples 
--and  hence  the  core  song  and  context  exampl es--are  linked  through  one 
performer  who  has  performed  each  of  the  core  songs,  and  in  each  of  the 
core  contexts.  In  addition,  the  performance  versions  of  other  performers 
are  added  to  provide  a  focus  on  the  performing  community  as  well. 

The  one  performer  is  Meraj  Ahmad  Nizami,  affiliated  with  the  shrine 
of  Nizamuddin  Auliya  in  Delhi.  The  core  songs  are  part  of  his  repertoire 
and  shared  by  his  lineage  group;  the  core  performance  events  are  those 
traditionally  held  at  the  Nizamuddin  shrine;  and  the  core  performances 
were  recorded  there.  Together,  then,  these  Exemplifications  also 
constitute  a  capsule  ethnography  of  Qawwal i  in  this  important  Sufi 
centre,  although  the  larger  ethnographic  context  of  Qawwal i  is  touched 
upon  as  wel 1 . 

A  second,  important  purpose  of  the  Ethnographic  Section  is  to  account 
for  the  analysis  the  audido-vi sual  data  (/video  recorded  performances) 
which  has  constituted  an  important--and  somewhat  novel--tool  for  this 
study.  This  purpose  is  best  served  by  a  graphic  presentation  of  the  two 
methods  developed  for  transcribing  and  interpreting  the  Qawwal i 
performance  process  from  video  recordings,  along  with  a  verbal 
explanation  of  the  interaction  thus  transcribed.  Presented  and  discussed 
in  Performances  1  and  2  below,  the  two  methods  of  transcription  yield 
two  types  of  visual  representation  of  the  interplay  between  music  and 
context.  The  first  type--the  graph--provides  an  accurate  visual  recordd 
of  audience  behavior  as  it  occurs  in  response  to  the  ongoing  song 
performance  which  provides  the  temporal  axis  for  plotting  that  behavior. 

1 1 


The  second  type--the  chart--  traces  the  interaction  between  the 
musician's  ongoing  performance  decisions  and  the  audience  responses  as  he 
perceives  them;  along  with  the  resulting  song  sequence.  The  two 
notational  system  are  thus,  complimentary  in  emphasis:  the  graph 
effectively  portrays  the  complexity  of  multiple  audience  responses  while 
the  chart  focusses  on  the  interactional  dynamic  of  the  performance.  Yet 
the  particulars  of  each  system  convey  the  same  general  notion  of  the 
highly  context-constrained  nature  of  Qawwali.  The  entire  Ethnographic 
Section,  culminating  in  Performances  1  and  2,  is  built  to  provide  the 
reader  with  the  concrete,  detailed  evidence  for  reaching  this  conclusion. 

A  The  Shrine  and  Its  Performers 

The  Nizamuddin  Auliya  Shrine 

The  shrine  ( dargah)  of  Nizamuddin  Auliya  is  one  of  India's  great 
centres  of  Sufi  tradition  whose  importance  is  further  enhanced  by  its 
location  in  the  capital  city.  Situated  in  what  was  once  the  walled 
village  ( bastT)  of  Nizamuddin,  it  is  surrounded  by  the  suburbs  of  New 
Delhi  and  within  easy  access  from  the  old  city.  At  the  centre  of  the 
large  compound  of  white  marble  stands  the  white  marble  tomb  of  the  saint 
Nizamuddin  Auliya,  ( d . 1325 ) ,  fourth  in  the  line  of  spiritual  descent  from 
the  founder  saint  of  the  Chishti  si  1  si  la  in  India  (see  Table  2;  for  back¬ 
ground  cf.  Nizami,  K.  1973b,  Nizami,  P.  n.d.,  Dehlavi  1964). 

Standing  near  is  the  smaller  tomb  of  his  most  famous  disciple,  Amir 
Khusrau,  the  great  Sufi  poet,  and  musical  innovator  (cf.  Askari  1967, 

£1'  <|  jU  Ij  I  •'  \ 


Mirza,  1935,  Nizami,  K.  1973a,  Nizami,  P.  1975,  Sarmadee  1975).  Numerous 
other  tombs  surround  the  shrine  and  the  entire  area.  The  compound  also 
contains  a  large  mosque  and  a  bathing  tank,  and  buildings  or  "cells" 
(hujra)  of  various  sizes  surround  it,  many  dating  back  to  the  time  when 
the  saint  was  living  and  teaching  there. 

The  shrine  is  managed  and  controlled  collectively  by  a  group  of 
descendants  who  trace  their  descent  from  the  saint's  nearest  relatives 
(he  never  married).  Called  Pirzade  (sing:  pi rzada ,  offspring  of  a  Pi r) 
they  live  in  the  bastT  outside  the  shrine.  They  are  organized  into  three 
operative  family  groups  who  share  the  income  of  the  shrine  from  offerings 
made  by  devotees  according  to  a  complicated  system  of  week-long  "turns" 

( bar!,  their  holder  is  called  barTdar,  for  details  see  Dehlavi  1964). 
Individually,  they  act  as  agents  or  advocates  (wakil )  to  families  of 
devotees  and  receive  their  personal  offerings  at  the  shrine.  In 
addition,  a  number  of  pi rzade  are  themselves  spiritual  guides  or 
advisors,  catering  to  seekers  and  Sufi  devotees  of  various  socio-economic 
levels.  Most  prominent  among  these  are  three  leading  figures,  one  of 
each  family  group,  each  of  whom  claims  to  be  the  sole  legitimate 
successor  of  the  saint  ( saj jadanashTn) .  Each  has  a  personal  following  of 
disciples  or  devotees  and  uses  one  or  more  shrine  cells  to  minister  to 
them.  Two  of  these  leaders  are  the  principal  patrons  of  Qawwal i 
occasions;  Pir  Zamin  Nizami  and  Khwaja  Hasan  Nizami  each  own  or  control  a 
large  hall  situated  just  outside  the  shrine  and  built  expressly  for  large 
public  Qawwali  performances  during  'urs  celebrations.  Khwaja  Hasan 
Nizami  also  manages  the  adjacent  tomb  of  his  own  father  who  was  a  well 
known  spiritual  guide;  he  is  the  most  committed  of  the  three  to 

maintaining  the  Qawwali  tradition  in  face  of  changing  conditions  of 
patronage  (cf.  Ch.  5:99). 

Also  attached  to  the  shrine  are  a  number  of  service  professional s-- 
sweepers,  water  carriers,  and,  of  course,  Qawwals.  While  they  have  a 
hereditary  right  to  their  work  and  its  rewards,  they  also  stand  in  a 
dependent  client  relationship  to  the  Pirzade  insofar  as  the  Pirzade 
control  the  shrine  and  all  its  activities  and  manage  the  devotees,  who 
are  the  only  source  of  income  for  all. 

The  prime  activities  of  the  shrine  are  the  two  anniversaries  of 
Nlizamuddin  Auliya  and  Amir  Khusrau  which  fall  exactly  six  Islamic  months 
apart,  on  the  17th  of  the  Islamic  months  of  Rabi-us-Sani  and  Shawal 
respectively.  They  are  celebrated  over  five  days  with  numerous  Qawwali 
events  and  include  ritual  offerings  to  the  saint  in  the  form  of  special 
food  blessed  and  dedicated  to  the  saint  and  distributed  publicly 
( tabarruk ) .  The  1 urs  celebrations,  along  with  the  adjacent  fair  (me! a) 
attract  hundreds  from  Delhi  and  outside,  in  addition  to  the  steady  numbe 
of  poor  people  who  live  in  and.  around  the  shrine,  benefitting  from  food 
offerings  and  charity. 

Other  annual  events  of  local  importance  include  Basant  (Spring 
Festival,  cf.  p.  46  above),  the  anniversaries  of  Hazrat  Ali,  son-in-law 
of  the  Prophet  and  preceptor  of  Sufism,  and  of  the  Saint's  own  spiritual 
guide.  Baba  Farid,  as  well  as  the  weekly  Thursday  and--less  regularly-- 
Friday  Qawwali.  All  these  include  proper  Qawwali  performances .  Monthly 
ritual  days  ( khatam) ,  finally,  are  simply  occasions  for  a  food  offering 

and  one  or  two  ritual  Qawwali  songs. 

A  special  aspect  of  the  Nizamuddin  shrine  is  its  total  lack  of  any 



r  I0l  fcf  il  -IS  v  '1  ,  f  fl  )  •  'I  :  '  ‘  M  ‘  fl'  ^ 


property  endowments.  The  only  income  therefore,  even  for  the  Pirzade, 
comes  from  offerings  and  gifts.  On  the  other  hand,  there  is  a  great 
political  potential  to  be  utilized  in  this  capital  city  of  a  state 
professing  a  secularism  which  is  partly  expressed  in  the  official 
patronage  of  minority  religions.  Officials  and  functionaries  therefore 
constitute  important  sources  of  direct  and  indirect  support,  as  do 
foreign  Muslim  visitors.  In  general,  visiting  devotees  can  also  benefit 
performers  who  may  be  singing  in  front  of  the  tomb  at  the  right  time  to 
receive  their  offerings,  but  it  is  the  Pirzade  who  have  direct  access  to 
their  donations. 

The  Qawwal  Bachche  Performers 

Parallel  to  the  Pirzade  there  is  a  group  of  Qawwal s  who  are  attached 
to  the  Nizamuddin  shrine  by  hereditary  right.  This  means  that  they  are 
entitled  to  perform  at  all  shrine  events  and  rituals  and  to  sing  for 
devoteees  visiting  the  shrine  at  any  time.  In  turn  they  are  collectively 
responsible  to  provide  Qawwali  singing  at  all  shrine  rituals  and  at  the 
anniversary  celebrations  in  particular. 

The  23  adult  male  members  of  this  Qawwal  community  trace  their 
descent  to  the  original  Qawwali  singers  trained  by  Amir  Khusrau  himself 
and  known  as  Qawwal  Bachche,  "the  (original)  Qawwal  Offsprings".  Specif¬ 
ically  they  belong  to  several  family  groups  ( kbandan) ,  identified  by 
their  four  towns  of  origin  near  Delhi  (Dasna,  Si kandarabad,  Khurja, 

Hapar)  and  collectively  belong  to  the  same  endogamous  group  or  bradrT 
(i.e  community  of  brothers,  see  Ansari  1960  and  also  Neuman  1974,  Chs.  4 
and  5).  Professionally,  their  identity  vis-a-vis  the  dargah  is  defined 



in  terms  of  the  lead  singers  of  their  family  performing  groups.  Most 
illustrious  among  these  is  the  group  led  in  the  past  by  Tan  Ras  Khan,  the 
famous  19th  century  court  singer,  a  dasnewala  (from  Dasna),  Head  of  the 
Delhi  Gawayya  lineage  (Neuman  1974:  109),  his  performing  group  has  the 

traditional  head  position  ( sar  chauki )  at  performance  events. 

Senior-most  among  his  descendants  is  Meraj  Ahmad  Nizami,  Bui bul -e-Chi sht 
("nightingale  of  Chisht",  i.e.  where  the  Chishti  silsila  originated), 
normally  known  as  Meraj.  "Nizami"  indicates  his  attachment  to  the  saint 
Nizamuddin  Auliya,  while  Bul bul -e-Chi sht  is  his  honorific  title  conferred 
upon  him  by  Khwaja  Hasan  Nizami,  a  leading  spiritual  guide  and  Khwaja 
Hasan  Sani's  father,  many  years  back.  Meraj  is  the  chief  informant  and 
performer  of  the  examples  chosen  for  this  study,  who,  as  leader  of  his 
own  party,  is  also  the  inheritor  of  the  Tan  Ras  Khan  pedigree. 

While  most  Nizamuddin  Qawwals  live  in  Old  Delhi,  Meraj,  along  with  a 
few  of  his  close  relatives,  lives  at  the  shrine  where  he  and  his  wife 
with  four  young  childred  share  a  small  one-room  house  built  on  a  plot 
owned  by  Khwaja  Hasan  Sani ,  his  patron.  He  is  thus  one  of  the  few 
performers  always  present  to  sing  at  minor  rituals  and  also  to  benefit 
from  a  generous  visiting  devotee.  Of  the  others,  only  those  with  no 
other  engagements--mostly  the  old  men — come  to  the  shrine  on  ordinary 
days  (sadhe  din),  but  on  days  with  scheduled  performances  the  entire 
group  attends,  though  in  varying  numbers,  depending  on  earning  prospects 
and  personal  need. 

For  Meraj,  as  for  all  members  of  the  bradn  (as  the  Qawwal  Bachche 
informally  call  themselves)  there  are  two  kinds  of  singing  engagements, 
mushtar  ka  gana  or  panchayat?  gana  ("communal  singing")  and  ban  k3  gana 

.Wtetn  !>♦*)»  t***  it  *W  V«m  iiom-iof**} 

V-  '44* 


or  part?  ka  gana  ("singing  by  turn"  or  "party  singing").  The  first 
covers  all  singing  directly  in  front  of  the  shrine  sanctuary,  i.e.  all 
ritual  days  as  well  as  Thursday  and  Friday  singing.  In  addition,  there 
is  ritual  singing  at  the  outset  of  all  the  Qawwali  events  held  by 
individual  saintly  representatives  at  various  other  locations  in  and 
around  the  shrine.  That  ritual  singing  too,  is  communal,  but  is  then 
followed  by  party  singing  for  the  bulk  of  the  performance  event. 

The  communal  singing  group  is  fluid;  leading  members,  or  a  shrine 
representative  present,  assign  on  the  spot  who  leads,  but  there  may  be 
competition  both  for  fun  or  to  "push  down"  ( dabana)  an  antagonistic 
colleague.  The  earnings  from  all  communal  singing  are  divided  equally, 
strictly  to  those  present  at  the  time  of  receipt--i .e .  Meraj  becomes 
eligible  for  a  share  from  the  moment  he  sits  down  to  sing,  even  if 
moments  before  a  big  offering  has  come  in.  Like  all  members  of  the 
group,  he  is  sharp  at  instantly  calculating  the  share  for  any  number  out 
of  any  amount  of  money.  This  is  for  self-protection,  lest  the  money  "get 
lost  in  the  maze  of  the  pickup  man's  fingers"  (ungliyon  ke  bhUl  bhulayye 
ban  jate  hain,  i.e.  literally,  the  fingers  become  a  maze  or  labyrinth 
--Meraj ) . 

A  somewhat  different  sharing  system  governs  the  big  anniversaries  at 
the  shrine:  all  those  who  are  present  on  the  first  evening  are  entitled 
to  a  share,  even  though  with  the  many  and  simultaneous  events  everyone 
cannot  or  need  not  be  present  everywhere,  as  long  as  all  ritual  singing 
is  carried  out  properly.  The  main  point  about  mushtar  singing  is  the 
equal  right  of  each  member  to  a  share,  as  long  as  he  contributes  his 
part--this  includes  old  men  with  failing  voices  and  even  the  deaf  mute 


■'  •  *  ■•1  1  9  1  ^ 


son  of  a  senior  performer.  For  Meraj,  as  a  lead  performer  with  his  own 
party,  community  singing  is  obviously  a  secondary  source  of  income, 
although  it  does  have  the  advantage  of  providing  a  baseline  of  more  or 
less  assured  earnings. 

Party  singing  is  what  counts  for  Meraj.  He,  like  the  three  other 
parties  in  the  bradrT ,  has  an  assured  "turn"  to  perform  in  the  various 
anniversary  occasions  led  by  the  principal  representatives  at  the  shrine. 
His  own  patron  among  them,  Khwaja  Hasan  Sani ,  gives  him  first  place  after 
the  ritual  singing,  but  that  can  be  superseded  on  special  occasions. 

Meraj  also  has  a  customary  right  to  sing  at  various  other  annual 
assemblies  or  mahfi 1 s  in  and  near  Delhi  as  well  as  in  shrines  around 
Hyderabad  where  his  ancestor  Tan  Ras  Khan  had  settled.  Such  rights, 
however,  are  subject  to  validation  by  the  assembly  leader  which  entitles, 
but  also  obligates,  the  performer  to  attend. 

Meraj 's  party  always  includes  his  younger  brother  Iqbal  Ahmad  Nizami 
who  plays  the  dhol ak  and  sings  well,  so  that  the  two  brothers  can  perform 
as  a  complete  team.  In  addition,  Meraj  normally  adds  a  senior  member, 
Nasiruddin  Khan  Gore,  called  Gore  Khan,  and  one  or  two  young  relatives. 
Meraj  controls  his  party  and  makes  all  performing  decisions;  he  also 
takes  a  double  share  of  the  earnings,  while  giving  equal  share  to  the 
others,  in  accordance  with  the  bradrT  rules  ^  . 

In  general,  for  Meraj,  as  for  other  lead  performers  in  the  bradri , 
his  close  personal  associates  and  relatives  are  also  his  keenest 
competitors.  To  a  degree,  the  hereditary  allocation  of  rights  regulates 
their  professional  interaction,  but  they  all  need  more  work  and 
performance  opportunities  are  limited.  Hence  Meraj  needs  to  cultivate 


'  ■*09 


his  patron  who  will  favour  him  over  his  colleagues  and  pass  any  private 
performing  work  to  him  (kam  dilana).  As  a  special  service,  Meraj  offers 
a  weekly  performance  at  the  tomb  of  his  patron's  father. 

Meraj  is  one  of  the  few  highly  cultured  Qawwali  performers  today  who 
know  and  truly  appreciate  the  repertoire  of  Sufi  poetry  along  with  their 
singing  knowledge.  Indeed,  it  is  because  of  his  intelligent 
understanding  and  remarkable  memorey  of  Sufi  poetry  that  his  father  chose 
to  train  him  as  a  lead  singer  "giving  him  the  harmonium"  (i.e.  to  lead-- 
baja  dedia),  while  his  brother  was  made  an  accompanist,  playing  the  drum, 
even  though  he  had  a  far  superior  singing  voice  but  could  never  remember 
or  understand  verses  well.  Meraj 's  sophistication  and  his  exclusively 
Sufi  orientation  has  also  made  it  difficult  for  him  to  adapt  to  the 
recent  popularizing  trends  that  inevitably  followed  the  demise  of  the 
Muslim  landed  aristocracy,  the  socio-economic  backbone  of  Muslim  cultural 
traditions.  That  trend  is  exemplified  by  the  singing  of  other  performers 
within  and  outside  the  Dargah,  many  of  them  not  hereditary  professionals. 
On  the  other  hand,  some  of  Meraj 's  relatives  have  managed  to  increase  the 
immediate  appeal  of  a  sophisticated  style  of  Qawwali  singing  by  making  it 
more  attractive  musically  (cf.  ex.  2  by  Aziz  Warsi  discussed  below). 

Two  other  performers  are  represented  with  examples  to  round  out  the 
musical  range  of  Qawwali  at  Nizamuddin;  both  come  regularly  to  perform  at 
this  shrine  and  were  recorded  there.  One  is  Aziz  Ahmad  Khan  Warsi  of 
Hyderabad,  perhaps  the  most  famous  Qawwal  (popular  Qawwali  or  filmT 
singers  excluded)  in  India  today  and  honoured  by  the  Government  of  India. 
A  member  of  Meraj 's  family  and  descendant  of  Tan  Ras  Khan's  sister  he 



adds  special  musical  and  performance  ability  to  a  sound  hereditary 
background.  Even  though  today  he  commands  high  fees  for  his  concert 
performances,  Aziz  Warsi  still  values  his  hereditary  tie  with  the 
Nizamuddin  shrine  and  "offers"  his  performance  to  the  saint  whenever  he 
visits  Delhi. 

The  second  additional  performer  represents  the  new  amateur  Qawwal 
who,  untutored  but  endowed  with  a  musical  inclination  and  a  pleasant 
voice,  acquires  a  limited  repertoire  of  Qawwal i  songs  by  imitation, 
picking  up  tunes  and  verses  as  best  he  can.  Iftekhar  Amrohvi ,  a  young 
man  with  a  hereditary  artisan  background,  comes  from  the  nearby  town 
Amroha  (hence  his  chosen  second  name  Amrohvi,  i.e.  "of  Amroha",  in  the 
absence  of  a  saintly  lineage  affiliation),  and  regularly  visits  shrines 
in  the  vicinity. 

B  The  Music 

The  Qawwal  Bachche  Repertoire 

Meraj  and  the  other  lead  performers  of  the  bradrT  share  a  repertoire 
extensive  in  range  that  includes  every  kind  of  poem  and  musical  setting. 
All  these  Qawwal s  identify  their  repertoire  primarily  in  terms  that  are 
non-musical --textual  or  functional--and  only  secondarily  in  musical 
terms,  although  they  are  perfectly  able  to  isolate  tunes  as  musical 
entities.  Accordingly,  my  presentation  of  this  repertoire  follows  the 
non-musical  criteria  relevant  to  its  performers,  while  musical 

categorizations  are  appended  subsequently. 

Every  Qawwal  of  Nizamuddin  Auliya  has  been  taught  a  basic  repertoire 

,  tuOJWB  *H«r  otf  *«r*«wqr  w’m  .wo  •■’  wn 



by  his  elders.  At  the  core  are  what  he  calls  panchayatT  gane  ("songs  of 
the  community"),  or  shamil at  ke  gane  ("songs  of  [group]  presence"),  i.e. 
the  ritual  songs  that  he  is  required  to  sing  communally  at  the  shrine  and 
at  other  ritual  duties  (see  ex.  1:  320,  Performance  1:  376  ff ) .  Then 

he  knows  a  number  of  standard  Sufi  songs.  Among  them  are  "classics"  by 
the  great  Persian  mystics  well  known  to  Sufi  audiences.  A  majority  are 
beloved  Farsi  and  Hindi  verses  composed  by  Amir  Khusrau.  In  fact,  this 
is  what  distinguishes  the  repertoire  of  Qawwal  Bachche  performers  from 
those  of  other  shrines:  they  not  only  know  a  great  many  of  Amir 
Khusrau' s  Farsi  poems  which  can  be  found  in  standard  written  collections, 
but  also  the  poems  in  classical  Hindi  ascribed  to  him  and  handed  down  in 
their  families  through  oral  tradition,  along  with  their  authentic  musical 
settings  (exs.  2  and  3).  Their  repertoire  also  includes  more  recent 
poems  in  all  three  languages  which,  because  of  their  spiritual 
association  or  authorship,  have  also  come  to  be  considered  "classics" 

(ex.  5). 

Finally  there  is  the  category  of  Urdu  Qawwal  i  which  contains  poems  of 
essentially  two  types.  One  comprises  those  with  a  good  spiritual  and 
literary  content,  through  association  with  a  recognized  Sufi  poet  (ex. 

6).  The  other  much  larger  category  encompasses  songs  with  poems  of  a 
less  sophisticated  or  popular  style  (ex.  7).  But  the  Qawwal i  song  list 
would  not  be  complete  without  the  mention  of  the  so-called  filmi  Qawwal i : 
popular  love  longs  with  texts  in  Urdu  or,  sporadically,  in  Hindi,  which 
in  the  Sufi  context  are  simply  assumed  to  address  the  spiritual  Beloved 
while  providing  entertainment  to  unsophisticated  "common"  audiences. 

An  integral  part  of  the  song  repertoire  is  the  collection  of  verses 

■  •  '  Y  f'  '  "> 


Nizamuddin  Auliya  performers  use  as  adjunct  items,  both  as  introductory 
verses  or  as  inserts.  With  each  category  of  Qawwal i  text  goes  a  basic 
number  of  stylistically  and  thematically  appropriate  verses,  one  or  more 
couplets  long;  in  addition  such  verses  they  may  be  taken  from  longer 
poems  as  well . 

The  repertoire  of  musical  settings,  while  tied  to  that  of  texts, 
falls  into  categories  overlapping  with  textual  ones,  since  Qawwal i  tunes 
are,  for  the  most  part,  moveable.  For  Nizamuddin  Auliya  performers, 
there  is  first  of  all  a  stock  of  standard  tunes,  most  of  which  are 
associated  with  standard  poems.  This  tune  repertoire  encompasses  what 
Qawwal s  call  "old"  tunes  (puranT  dhunen,  puranT  bandi shen) .  Within  that 
general  category  the  "special"  (makhsus ,  khas)  settings  of  particular 
poems  are  identified  by  their  texts,  but  many  are  moveable  and  adapted  to 
different  poems  (e.g.  ex.  4).  Not  moveable  are  musical  settings  of 
ritual  songs  (ex.  1)  or  of  songs  with  a  special  shrine  associated  (ex. 

3).  Also  included  in  this  general  category  of  what  Nizamuddin  Auliya 
Qawwal  s  call  "typical  Qawwal  i  tunes"  (QawwTlT  kT  thet  dhunen)  are  tunes 
for  common  use  (  'am  dhunen)  that  can  suit  any  poem  within  a  given  range 
of  structural  features. 

In  addition  to  the  old  stock  repertoire  there  is  an  expanding 
repertoire  of  what  are  called  "tunes  of  nowadays"  (ajkal  kT  dhunen). 

Some  of  them,  too,  are  settings  of  particular  poems,  mostly  modern  ones; 
often  these  are  also  known  by  their  composers,  usually  well-known  Qawwal s 
(most  outstanding  is  the  famous  Ghulam  Farid  Sabri  of  Pakistan). 
Recordings  of  such  newly  composed  songs  have  helped  generate  a  new 




musical  repertoire  of  songs  mostly  popular  in  style  which  also 
constitutes  a  source  of  new  tunes  for  adapting  to  suitable  poems. 
Nizamuddin  Auliya  Qawwals  are  always  on  the  lookout  for  new  tunes, 
"picking  them  up"  ( urana--to  snatch)  from  listening  to  performances  or, 
more  rarely,  by  making  them  up.  All  make  sure  of  learning  what  is 
currently  popular,  but  differences  in  personal  preference  and  training 
result  in  a  more  popular  orientation  in  some,  while  a  strictly  classical 
Sufi  orientation  is  represented  by  Meraj,  whose  repertoire  of  classical 
Sufi  poems  as  well  as  of  authentic  old  tunes  is  the  most  extensive. 

In  concrete  terms,  the  repertoire  which  is  actually  heard  in 
performance  from  Meraj  and  the  other  Qawwal  Bachche  is  a  collection  of 
songs  covering  all  the  above  categories  of  poems  and  tunes  of 
representing  both  family  heritage  and  individual  acquisition.  For  any 
one  individual  within  the  group  this  means  he  knows  four  types  of  songs: 

a)  Songs  specifically  associated  with  Nizamuddin  Auliya,  including 
ritual  songs  and  Amir  Khusrau  compositions.  These  constitute 
the  essence  of  the  Qawwal  Bachche  tradition. 

b)  Sufi  classics  known  to  Sufis  and  Qawwals  all  over  India. 

c)  Songs  that  form  part  of  the  performer's  personal  repertoire, 
either  handed  down  in  his  immediate  family  or  acquired  on  his 
own,  including  own  compositions.  Such  songs  may  be  picked  up  by 
his  colleagues,  but  they  remain  associated  with  his  name,  and 
they  most  clearly  reflect  his  performing  personality. 

d)  Songs  with  popular  success  added  to  the  repertoire  to  keep  up 
with  the  trend  of  the  day. 

The  proportion  between  these  types  of  songs  varies  from  one  Nizamuddin 

pnrtuar!  but  Mwialrfl  jswwwWb  fud  - 1  r---v'A  ^Wowiid 




performer  to  the  next:  Meraj,  being  oriented  to  classical  Sufism  and 
having  a  particularly  rich  background,  is  extremely  well-versed  in  types 
a)  and  b)--the  latter  also  because  of  his  extensive  exposure  to  shrines 
all  over  India.  He  excels  in  type  c),  particularly  with  his  knowledge  of 
old  songs,  but  has  kept  type  d)  to  a  minimum. 

In  the  music  examples,  each  of  the  first  three  types  is  represented 
by  two  songs,  the  last  type  by  one:  a)  is  represented  by  ex.  2  and  3;  b) 
by  ex.  1  and  4;  c)  by  ex.  5  and  6;  d)  by  ex.  7. 

Among  adjunct  items,  neither  introductory  nor  inserted  verses  are 
identified  in  terms  of  individual  musical  setting.  Rather,  each 
performer  has  his  personal  melodic  and  rhythmic  style  by  which  he 
musically  realizes  the  registral  structure  of  these  recitatives  (cf.  Ch. 
3,  Table  10).  Except  for  some  pre-composed  introductory  verses  in  the 
popular  song  style,  used  with  modern  Qawwali  tunes,  there  is  no  musical 
difference  among  verses  of  different  textual  categories.  The  one 
exception  is  one  famour  classical  Sufi  tune,  the  masnavT  (ex.  4),  which 
is  often  sung  in  recitative  with  classical  Farsi  verses  (ex.  11). 

The  musical  examples  include  introductory  and  inserted  verses  in  two 
personal  styles  (ex.  9  and  ex.  10),  as  well  as  a  recitative  of  the 
masnavT  (ex.  11) . 

Preludes,  finally,  are  distinctly  a  part  of  the  Qawwal ' s  musical 
repertoire.  Of  the  two  traditional  naghma  tunes,  most  Nizamuddin 
performers  mostly  use  the  modernized  version,  although  they  also  are 
familar  with  the  venerable  old  A1 1 ahu  hymn  which  is  hardly  ever  called 
for.  Those  who  cultivate  a  more  popular  repertoire  are  conversant  as 
well  with  a  variety  of  "modern"  naghma  tunes  mostly  based  on  popular 



melody;  others  simply  intone  the  tune  of  the  song  they  are  planning  to 

Prelude  examples  include  a  full  version  of  the  modernized  traditional 
version  (ex.  8a)  as  well  as  a  sample  of  its  predecessor  (ex.  8b). 


The  Music  Examples 

The  ten  examples  selected  to  illustrate  the  idiom  and  its  use  in 
performance  are  all  part  of  Meraj  Ahmad's  repertoire.  They  have  beene 
chosen  out  of  a  large  number  of  recorded  and  documented  Qawwali  songs 
(see  Data  Collection)  so  that  altogether  they  provide  a  representative 
cross  section  of  a  Nizamuddin  Auliya  performer's  repertoire. 


This  is  the  basic  ritual  song  of  Sufism  in  India;  indeed  one  can 
call  it  the  0pening--or  Cl osing--Hymn  of  Qawwali.  At  Nizamuddin  Auliya 
no  Qawwali  event  can  start  any  other  way,  while  elsewhere  in  India  and 
Pakistan  the  Qaul  serves  as  a  conclusion.  The  hymn  expresses  the  basic 
tenet  of  Sufism  that  the  principle  of  spiritual  succession  in  Sufism  was 
instituted  by  the  Prophet  himself,  as  recorded  in  one  of  his  sayings 
( hadTs) .  It  is  this  saying  which  constitutes  the  main  text  of  this  brief 
hymn  therefore  called  qaul  ("saying"  in  Arabic,  cf.  Ch.  5:  1 05  f ) . 
According  to  all  Sufis  in  India,  it  is  Amir  Khusrau  who  set  this  hadTs  to 
music,  extending  it  with  zikr-1 ike  phrases  in  Farsi  which  today  remain 
only  partly  intelligible. 

Musically,  the  Qaul  is  set  to  a  version  of  raga  shudh  kalyan.  The 
Qawwal  Bachche's  explanation  for  the  deviation  of  the  song  from  today's 
standard  version  of  the  raga  is  that  the  raga  may  have  changed  over  time 
while  the  Qawwali  hymn  tune  has  been  carefully  preserved  and  passed  on  in 
an  unbroken  succession  of  hereditary  shrine  performers  (Gore  Khan  1:36). 

The  song  consists  of  six  lines,  and  the  setting  comprises  a  complete 
tune  with  asthayT  and  antara  and  their  extensions.  However,  in  this  song 


<  r-~  HJC  S  r*  >  ^  fi  I  m  V  Is 


the  entire  textual  meaning  is  contained  in  the  first  two  lines,  so  that 
the  remainder  is  rarely  repeated  more  than  cursorily.  In  fact,  the 
entire  emphasis  in  performance  falls  on  the  core  opening  statement  set  to 
the  asthayT  and  is  expressed  through  every  kind  of  repetition. 

Reiteration  as  well  as  intense  repetition  are  enhanced  musically  by 
a  good  number  of  alternate  tune  versions  which  allow  the  performer  to 
create  variety  and  to  structure  the  repetition  into  somewhat  larger 
musical  units  that  the  extremely  short  repeat  unit  by  itself  permits. 

Most  important,  they  enable  him  to  raise  the  intensity  level  by  raising 
the  pitch  level  of  this  low- register  asthayT  tune. 

Amplifying  inserts  are  prominently  used  in  the  performannce  of  the 
Qaul .  Since  the  message  of  the  song  is  so  basic  and  its  implication  so 
profound  for  Sufism,  extension  through  inserts  is  normally  expected,  so 
that  every  performer  at  Nizamudin  Auliya  has  in  his  memory  a  stock  of 
appropriate  gi rahs ,  many  of  which  are  Sufi  classics  in  their  own  right. 
Because  of  their  number  and  length,  most  of  these  are  traditionally 
performed  to  a  regular  musical  rhythm,  although  moving  melodically 
according  to  tonal  centres,  as  in  the  standard  recitative. 

Another  aspect  of  the  extended  repetition  standard  for  this  hymn  is 
the  use  of  musical  improvisation.  Nizamuddin  performers  prefer  melodic 
inserts,  while  performers  elsewhere  also  use  rhythmic  improvisation  to 
the  Farsi  syllables  (in  the  tar ana  style,  cf.  recording  of  Ghulam  Farid 
Sabri  EMI  LKCA  20000). 

The  version  presented  here  is  identical  for  all  Qawwal  Bachche  and 
recognized  by  performers  and  Sufis  generally  as  the  one  that  most 
authentically  represents  the  original  by  Amir  Khusrau.  This  version  is 



f  t 

also  presented  as  part  of  Performance  Ex.  1,  in  a  very  brief  performance 
( see  pp.  389  f ) . 

The  Qaul  was  recorded  21  times  in  performances  by  the  Qawwal  Bachche 
varying  in  duration  form  a  few  minutes  to  almost  one  hour. 


Arabic-Farsi  Original: 

HsJ  <y  c>* 

A  ^  •  A 

Transl iteration: 

Man  kunto  Maula 

Fa  AlT-un-Maul 3 

Dar  dil  dar  dil  dar  danT 

Ham  turn  tanana  nana  tananana  rT 


Transl ation: 

Whoever  accepts  me  as  master 
Ali  is  his  master  too 

(for  interpretation  of  the  rest,  see  Note1  ) 

Form  and  Structural  Realization: 

Irregular,  6  1  ines--fitted  into  asth~ayT-antara  scheme 
Text  Music 

Line  1  asthayT  Ao1 






asthayT  extension 
asthayT  extension 

antara  extension 
antara  extension 

Meter  and  Rhythmic  Realization: 

Irregul ar--set  to  8/8  kaharva 



Musical  Setting 

p,/^-  J  < 

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Section  A  -  Alternative  Endings/ 

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Section.^  -  Melodic  Al-ternatW»5  » 
(Al-tern«tive  Tunes) 

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Remaining  Sections  -  Alternative  Endings 

omitted  here,  since  these  sections  are  repeated 
rarely  and  then  only  for  structural  reasons,  not 
in  response  to  listeners  due  to  the  absence  of 
recognized  semantic  meaning  in  their  text. 



This  is  one  of  the  most  famous  and  stirring  Qawwali  classics  in  the 
repertoire  of  the  Qawwal  Bachche.  The  poem,  a  gjjazal  by  Amir  Khusrau, 
conveys  the  ecstasy  and  mystery  of  mystical  love  through  the  rich  imagery 
of  traditional  Persian  love  poetry,  enhanced  by  a  euphonious  rhyme  scheme 
and  the  pervasive  use  of  the  monorhyme  1 ajabe  (strangely  wonderful),  a 
term  which  so  aptly  characterizes  the  mystical  experience. 

The  musical  setting  is  characterized  by  a  strongly  motivic  melody 
typical  of  many  "special"  or  "old"  Qawwali  tunes.  It  is  highly 
structured  into  parallel  phrases  and  sequential  rhythmic  patterns,  both 
traits  being  favoured  by  a  long  verse  line  and  a  regular  metric  pattern. 
Of  the  two  tune  portions,  the  asthayT  is  clearly  the  dominant  one, 
melodically  and  motivically,  while  the  antara  simply  introduces  the 
contrasting  upper  octave  register  and  then  joins  into  the  concluding 
phrase  of  the  asthayT  tune. 

A  parti cul ari ty  this  musical  setting  shares  with  many  other  Qawwali 
tunes,  especially  those  associated  with  Farsi  Ghazals,  is  a  musical 
realization  of  the  poetic  meter  which  renders  the  final  long  syllables  of 
every  rhythmic  phrase  into  extended  durational  values.  This  extra 
duration  permits  the  lead  performer  to  insert  word  calls  or  even  a  fast 
repetition  of  the  preceding  text  phrase  (see  below)  at  the  end  of  that 
phrase,  thus  rendering  the  musical  setting  particularly  suited  to  varied 
takrar  repetition. 

The  version  presented  is  Aziz  Ahmad  Khan  Warsi's.  Both  tune  outline 
and  alternative  endings  are  identical  with  Meraj  Ahmad's  version,  since 
both  performers  have  received  their  training  from  the  same  illustrious 

family  tradition.  Deviating  versions  can  be  heard  by  performers  outside 
Nizamuddin  Auliya,  but  the  Qawwal  Bachche  version  is  recognized  as 
standard.  Elaborations  are  often  heard  in  renditions  of  this  song  by 
Qawwal  Bachche;  in  addition,  Aziz  Warsi  excels  in  inserting  melodic 
improvisations  outlining  raga  phrases  that  match  the  song  setting. 

In  addition  to  Aziz  Warsi s'  version,  5  performances  of  Chashme  Maste 
were  recorded,  four  sung  by  Meraj  Ahmad  and  one  by  a  hereditary  performer 
from  outside,  singing  at  Nizamuddin  Auliya. 


(5  verses  out  of  a  possible  8) 

Farsi  Original: 

Trans! iteration: 

Chashm-e-maste  'ajabe  zul f  taraze  'ajabe 
Maiparaste  'ajabe  fitna  taraze  'ajabe 

Bahr-e-qatl am  chu  kashad  tegh  neham  sar  basujud 
0  banaze  'ajabe  man  banyaze  'ajabe 

Waqt-e-bismil  shudanam  chashm  baruyash  baz  ast 
Mehrbane  'ajabe  banda  nawaze  'ajabe 

Turk  taze  'ajalTe  shoba  babaze  'ajabe 
Kajkulahe  'ajabe  'arbada  sage  'ajabe 

Haq  mago  kalma-e-kufr  ast  dar  Tn  ja  Khusrau 
Razdane  'ajabe  sahi b-e-raz-e- ' ajabe 

Transl ati on : 

0  wondrous  ecstatic  eyes,  o  wondrous  long  locks, 

0  wondrous  wine  worshipper,  o  wondrous  mischievous  sweetheart. 

As  he  draws  the  sword,  I  bow  me  head  in  prostration  so  as  to  be 

0  wondrous  is  his  beneficence,  o  wondrous  my  submission. 

In  the  spasm  of  being  killed  my  eyes  beheld  your  face: 

0  wondrous  benevolence,  o  wondrous  guidance  and  protection. 

0  wondrous  amorous  teasing,  o  wondrous  beguiling, 

0  wondrous  tilted  cap  (symbol  of  beauty),  o  wondrous  tormentor. 

Do  not  reveal  the  Truth;  in  this  world  blasphemy  prevails,  Khusrau 
0  wondrous  Source  of  mystery,  o  wondrous  Knower  of  secrets. 

Form  and  Structural  Realization: 

ghazal  and  asthayi -ant ara  scheme 



Line  a 

asthayT  -  antara  A 
asthcfyT  A 

b  antara  B 

a  asthayT  A 

(etc)  (etc) 



Meter  and  Rythmic  Realization: 
rami  3-  -set  to  8/8  kaharva 

-  -  -  -i 

1  u  — 

f  f  t  f'°l  f  r  pip  f if  r  pi°» 


#  # 

l  } 

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Musical  Setting 






Chashyir-e-vnei  -  iie 


'a-j«  -  be. 

♦  a — o 




ZajI-  £ *  cl<*>-re^  -  it 




£ViaiV\»<*C»««  -  .sle. 



do  -  ra  —  le 

Section.  B  -  Alternative  Endin^s 
(B^.i  P  '-iif  }  ®2t  identical  with  their  A  equivalents  above) 


Section  £>  —  MtlodLc  Alternatives 






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^  -  /r»ti  p<*mjU  /r^'pa 




-pa.—  roL}  —  -ft 



Perhaps  the  most  dearly  beloved  Amir  Khusrau  Qawwali  in  Hindi,  this 
song  most  directly  conveys  the  mystical  love  experience  through  the  Hindi 
devotional  idiom  in  which  the  devotee  speaks  as  a  bride,  giving  up  the 
self  to  merge  with  the  beloved  saint  Nizamuddin,  and  also  touching  on  the 
supplication  and  invocation  of  spiritual  seniors. 

The  form  is  typical  for  many  Hindi  songs:  here,  as  often,  the 
opening  line  stands  by  itself,  is  used  as  a  refrain  and  epitomizes  the 
entire  song.  It  is  therefore  highlighted  by  a  distinctive  asthayT  tune, 
setting  it  apart  from  the  remaining  musical  setting,  all  of  which  is 
antara  material  with  extensions. 

Melodically,  this  is  a  typical  "raga-like"  tune  or,  as  Meraj  puts 
it,  the  tune  is  raga-related  (yeh  dhun  rag  se  wabasta  hai ,  Meraj  3-16). 
The  motivic  pattern  of  the  opening  is  unmistakeably  raga  kafT,  later 
phrases  suggest  raga  bahar ,  but  no  consistency  obtains  throughout. 

The  rhythmic  setting  of  the  tune  is  simple  in  its  long- short 
arrangement  typical  of  Hindi  poetry--anapaestic  for  the  refrain  and 
dactylic  for  the  stanzas.  But  the  musical  meter  governing  this  setting 
is  the  asymmetrical  pashto  (7/8)  of  classical  or  "old"  Qawwali  songs,  so 
that  the  long-short  relationship  becomes  3:2,  rather  than  the  2:1  more 
common  in  Hindi  songs. 

This  song,  both  text  and  music,  is  part  of  the  Qawwal  Bachche's 
special  heritage.  It  is  widely  sung  within  the  entire  Chishti  silsila, 
however,  and  therefore  can  be  heard  in  a  number  of  variants.  The  present 
version  of  Meraj  Ahmad  is  standard  for  all  Nizamuddin  Auliya  performers 
and  may  be  considered  the  most  authentic  extant  today.  A  performance  of 




I  I 


this  song  by  Meraj  is  included  in  Performance  1  (pp.  418-442);  the 
beginning  portion  of  that  performance  is  transcribed  in  Transcription  1. 

Tor?  Surat  was  recorded  in  seven  performances ,  four  sung  by  Meraj 
Ahmad,  the  rest  by  three  hereditary  Qawwals  outside  Nizamuddin  Auliya. 


Hindi  Original 


I'ls  Gy ^  G;J> 

(Jyj>  '[<  ^  V 

Ur,  /*  if"  G/\  fcP  •'U-  rjt' 

Ut  PLV 

W.  6>l<7 

add  s'/c/dy;/ 

Uf  o-//  ^  U  4rr* 

J  6>^ 

.  <  /  *• 

W.  ci/JJ-->  0^  ■» 

I  • 

1 1  m  & 


Trans!  iteration: 

R  Ton  surat  ke  balharT  (Nijam) 

1.  Sab  sakhian  chundar  morT  mailT 
Dekh  hansTn  narnarT 

Ab  ke  bahar  chundar  morT  rang  do 
Rakh  le  T5j  hamarT  (Nijam  PTya) 

2.  Sadqa  Baba  Ganj-e-Shakar  ka 
Rakh  le  laj  hamarT  (Nijam  PTya) 

3.  Koh  sas  koh  nand  se  jhagre 
Maika  to  as  tiharT 

MerT  tiharT  sab  kahu  jane 
Laj  meri  hai  ya  tihari 

4.  Qutab  FarTd  mil  ae  baratT 
Khusrau  raj  dularT  (Nijam  PTya) 


R  Beholding  your  contenance  I  offer  myself  in  devotion 


1.  All  the  other  girls  saw  my  soiled  chundar. 

And  they  all  laughed  at  me. 

This  springtime,  die  my  chundar  and  make  it  new: 

You  protect  our  honour  (Nijam,  Beloved). 


2.  In  the  name  of  Ganj-e-Shakar 
Protect  our  honour  (Nijam,  Beloved). 


3.  Who  can  win  against  mother-in-law  or  sister-in-law  ? 

I  pine  for  your  support. 

Everyone  knows  what  I  am  and  what  you  are: 

My  honour  reflects  yours  (Nijam,  Beloved). 


4.  Qutab  and  FarTd  both  came  in  the  wedding  procession; 
Khusrau  is  the  crown  of  darlings  (Nijam,  Beloved). 



Form  and  Structural  Realization: 
Refrain  and  Stanzas--fitted 

line  a  (mukhfa) 





(etc. ) 

Meter  and  Rhytmic  Realization: 

to  asthayT  -  antara  scheme 

asthayT  A 

antara  B  ^ 

antara  extension  Bei 

antar?  B 

antarg-  extension  Be^ 

(etc . ) 

2  versions  of  standard  Hindi  meter--set  to  7/8  pashto 


\J  —  \  VJ  \J  —  \  O 

vj  -  [ 

V>  — 




1  If’  f 

l  ‘  1  1 

f  If 












»J  — 





f  •  1  f.  •  •  1 

11*1  l  11 

*  •  1  0* 

1  1  1  ! 

p 1 





Musical  Setting 


Section  A  -  Alternative  £^^inps 


S t ction  A-  Hclo5ic  dl-temeti ve$ 



A  classic  throughout  the  history  of  Sufism,  this  song  is  said  to  be 
from  the  Masnavi  of  Maul  ana  Rum,  i.e.  JalaluddTn  RumT,  mystic  of  mystics 
and  founder  of  the  Mevlevi  order  in  Konya,  Turkey.  At  Nizamuddin  Auliya 
the  tradition  is  to  sing  only  two  verses  of  the  Masnavi  and  then  to 
continue  with  a  short  and  equally  favourite  poem  by  Amir  Khusrau  which  is 
composed  on  the  MasnavT  model,  using  the  same  poetic  meter  and  rhyme 
scheme.  Together,  the  five  verses  form  a  sort  of  "mystic's 
self-statement",  expressing  his  stance  toward  the  spiritual  Beloved  and, 
in  conclusion,  invoking  the  Saint  Nizamuddin  Auliya  as  the  perfect 
manifestation  of  both  Lover  and  Beloved. 

What  is  important  about  this  song  is  that  here,  more  than  in  any 
other  Qawwali  song,  the  musical  setting  itself  has  a  very  specific 
association  with  classical  Sufism.  Performers  even  consider  this  one 
tune  as  being  of  non- Indian  or  Persian  origin,  if  not  the  original 
setting  of  Rumi's  Masnavi  itself. 

The  tune  indeed  does  have  a  distinctive  melodic  contour  in  which  a 
rise  to  the  fourth  allows  an  initial  fall.  There  is  parallelism,  but  a 
raga-like  motivic  structure  is  missing.  Furthermore,  the  structural 
balance  between  the  two  tune  sections  runs  counter  to  the  standard 
asthayT-antara  format,  for  the  high  register  section  is  here  clearly  the 
primary  tune  portion  while  the  asthayi  section  is  rather  a  low-register 
extension.  Indeed,  the  Masnavi  song  always  starts  directly  with  the 
antara  tune  sung  to  the  opening  line,  not  with  the  asthayT,  as  is  the 

The  song  exemplifies  a  rhythmic  setting  and  pace  true  and  proper  for 



an  authentic  Qawwal i :  the  poetic  meter  is  realized  literally  to  a  7/8 
meter.  The  presentation  is  at  a  slow  and  measured  pace,  so  that  in  the 
execution  of  this  7/8  theka  every  beat  is  articulated  on  the  drum: 

etc.  This  stands  in  contrast  to  faster-paced 
songs  like  ex.  3  where  only  principal  beats  are  usually  provided: 

The  Masnavi  as  a  tune  has  such  a  strong  associative  power  as  the 
Sufi  tune  par  excellence,  that  the  same  tune  is  also  used  when  a  Farsi 
poem  of  this  structure  serves  as  introductory  verse  or  insert;  in  that 
case  it  is  recited  in  free  rhythm  (as  shown  in  ex.  11).^  On  the  other 
hand,  the  Masnavi  itself,  when  sung  as  a  song,  is  itself  not  normally 
preceded  by  a  ruba 1 i  or  introductory  verse;  rather,  the  opening  verse  is 
sung  in  slow  recitative  style  and  then  converted  into  a  rhythmic  setting 
to  turn  it  into  a  song.  This  is  illustrated  in  the  Masnavi  performance 
in  Performance  1  (pp.  397-417). 

Because  of  its  high  stature  (uncha  maqam,  in  Meraj  '  s  words)  the 
Masnavi  tune  is  favoured  as  a  setting  for  other  Farsi  poems  with  the  same 
meter  to  lend  them  its  enhancing  power. 

Meraj 's  version  presented  here  is  considered  standard;  it  forms  part 
of  Performance  1  (song  3:397  ff ) .  Other  recordings  of  the  Masnavi 
include  a  demonstration  of  Meraj  as  well  as  performance  by  a  hereditary 
Qawwal  from  Hyderabad  and  four  performances  using  the  Masnavi  tune  in 
recitative  form  (see  Note  17). 




Farsi  Original: 

)  l> ,  JU;  J  JijJ 

V1  f- 

J  *->/  ly* 

tv  '-V  d>  ’’Z 



A.  W 

y^y  cjlrty  l> 


31  ov^O'3'r1^- 

/  •  ‘  ♦•  I  ^ 

Transl iteration: 

Muflisanem  amada  dar  kue  to 
Lai-l-Illah  az  jamal-e-rue  to 

Ka'ba-e-dil  qibla-e-man  rue  to 
Sajdagah-e-ashiqln  abrue  to 

Amir  Khusrau  verses: 

Idgah-e-ma  gharTban  kue  to 
Imbisat-e-fd  dTdam  kue  to 

Sad  hilal-e-Tci  qurbanat  kunam 
Ai  hilal-e-ma  kham-e-abrue  to 

Ya  NizamuddTn  Mahbub-e-Il ah 
Jumla  mahbuban  fida  bar  rue  to 



Transl ation : 

Deprived  in  love  we  have  come  to  your  threshold, 

To  perceive  God's  glory  from  the  beauty  of  your  face. 

The  ka 1 ba  of  my  heart,  my  prayers  are  oriented  to  your  countenance: 
For  lovers  the  place  of  adoration  is  your  presence. 

Amir  Khusrau  verses: 

For  us,  the  humble  and  poor,  the  place  to  congregate  in  prayer  is 
your  threshold; 

The  joy  of  i*d^,  I  see  it  at  your  threshold 

I  offer  up  a  thousand  crescent  moons  of  vd 

For  us  the  crescent  moon  is  the  curve  of  your  eyebrow 

0  Nizamuddin,  Beloved  of  God 

All  the  beloveds  in  the  world  are  nothing  as  compared  to  your  face. 

Form  and  Structural  Realization: 

gjiazal  and  asthayT-antara  scheme 



line  a 

antara  (not  asthayT!) 







Meter  and  Rhythmic  Realization: 
rami  2  --  set  to  7/8  pashto 



S  I 

C  0 

1/  1 

0  0 


0  0 

1  1/  I 

*  *  *  X  A 





Musical  Setting  and  Alternative  Endings 


XT’  i  t  »  b#^l- 

rj-fr  |  ,  - 

—  K  1  J— 

W  T 

WH  -  c.  - 


£>  «*>«) 


i  * 




y  =  Kr :  fe 

•  I  I  T  /  ^ 

1  V  \~U- 

«Ja r  k*-  e  -  *«>/ 



1. ;  3^  |  - 

a  , 

xrxn  i  r-^. 

— i — r»  1 - 

V  1  L  it 

i — r  1 - 

w  1 — E-J-  »  J 

J  ~4-  -A-  » 

'  #  V  J. 

J  J  — « — — — 

A',  U>  -  a*.  f'J-  "  -t  -  4« 





_  y>  o»  *fe>  :  £ 

(aU A 


nftA~t~ :  ait  ioTv^S  *p  ^ 



This  song  is  part  of  Meraj's  personal  repertoire.  Considered  an 
"old"  song,  it  is  currently  little  heard,  but  Meraj  likes  to  revive  it 
for  "special"  listeners. 

The  poem  is  folksong-like,  drawing  from  Hindi  devotional  as  well  as 
folk  idioms  to  address  the  beloved  Mahbub,  i.e.  Mahbub-e-Il ahT  (Beloved 
of  God,  the  title  of  Nizamuddin  Auliya),  expressing  qualities  of  mystical 
love.  In  form,  it  follows  the  ghazal  scheme;  accordingly,  the  musical 
setting  falls  into  standard  asthayT  and  antara  portions. 

The  melodic  frame  of  the  tune  is  traditional,  i.e.  common  to  other 


Qawwali  songs  as  well  as  folk  and  light  classical  song  tunes  with  mixed 

raga  elements.  Because  of  the  long  verse  line,  alternative  endings 
clearly  indicate  repeat  units,  each  one  half  line  long.  Rhythmically  the 
musical  setting  corresponds  entirely  to  a  syllabic  representation  of  the 
poetic  meter.  Its  anapaestic  character  fits  flexibly  into  a  musical 
meter  of  8/8. 

Two  versions  of  this  song  were  recorded  at  Nizamuddin  Auliya,  both 

sung  by  Meraj  Ahmad. 



Hindi  Original: 

•  •  ^  • 

&  Ob> 

*-r~  ^  \p  C-^y 

4  i  .  • 

<*-  si  ^ 

c  —  ( 

5-  c-iAr 

erf  s^-"  £* 

<;■'  " 

J  fL 

•  #  ** 

••  • 

'  *•  /.  ^ 

^  6?  £j 

Transl iteration: 

Kachhjagmag  jagmag_howat  ha i ,  woh  to  orh  chundaria  sowat  hai 
Ganj-e-Shakar  ke  rup  men,  Mahbub  piy3r3  sowat  hai 

Sukh  nTnd  se  akhiyan  khol  zara,  kho  gJiaflat  Rab  se  dhyan  laga 
Yeh  prTt  karan  kT  rTt  nahTn,  Rab  jagat  hai  tu  sowat  hai 

Jo  kal  kare  to  aj  hT  kar,  jo  aj  kare  so  ab  karle 

Jab  chirian  khet  chugat  dari ,  phir  pachhtae  ka  howat  hai 

Transl ation: 

-1  9 

How  glittering  is  the  chundaria  ,0  it  covers  one  who  is  asleep. 
In  the  likeness  of  Ganj-e-Shakar  ,  the  dear  Beloved  is  asleep. 

From  a  sound  sleep  open  your  eyes;  become  conscious  and  focus  on 

This  is  not  the  way  of  loving;  God  is  awake,  yet  you  are  asleep. 

Whatever  you  would  do  tomorrow,  do  it  today;  what  you  would  do 
today,  do  it  now; 

Once  the  birds  have  picked  the  field  clean,  what  will  repenting 




Form  and  Structural  Realization: 

flbazal  and  asthayT-antara  scheme 


line  a 





asthayT  -  antarcf 

(etc . ) 

Meter  and  Rhythmic  Realization: 

mutadarik--set  to  8/8  kaharva 

u  u 

—  I  o  V# 

—  1  U  -J  — 

|  yj  \i 


( >  | 


L-J  1 

l  LJ 

•  r  lj  *  i 










Musical  Setting 
(verse  1  complete) 







w  ~~y  ~w  — 

K«U  «»$>  6*9-  -  W)'  Uo  -  W«t>  te,  o  -?W*  <WW 

-SL — 

so  «*  *ool+>  K«u 





w— ; TM — if 

— *i4 - ** 

t  n 

i  * 

- - -  « - *  » - #  ' - — 

^-4^  —  u»a.k*  Va'»  •>  ooU^e  o>  — rW*  fcV>u*»^r',  -  yof 

4M  '  H 

>o  —  voaV*  Va* 



#  ; 

G**, j-  r 


*  V^‘ 



5U'  V<*»  fee  t\L  -  f>»  ^  MaV,»  -  k.^  -  b’  P'~Y 

>'<  -  >jK  —  r*- 

J"o  -  X^*t  *  )**i 

5ec4-.‘ov\  A-  AUcrttaiiv*  £.»v);«^s 



Sc-^/Hov*  £>  — 


^tc‘tcQi\2>—  H  g  i  o  d  ic  *-£• 


»  ♦ 

« — # 

#  # — #- 



a  vvin-dlare.  a  Hm  -  y3  n  WV>©  -  la  ia-  vo. 


T&d  alt  a<Jju;V*e*~0 


Htg'rna'frvg-  ■4,*<A"v^2S) 


t  J  -  refach  TtB  afM 

tg>ag^(A*V»^eS  aAyxWevd 


This  song  is  known  to  all  Nizamuddin  Qawwals,  but  it  is  definitely 
Meraj's  song  and  he  always  leads  its  performances  at  the  shrine.  The 
poem  in  Urdu  is  by  one  of  the  few  good  contemporary  Sufi  poets  who  have 
literary  as  well  as  spiritual  standing.  Kamil  Shatari  was  himself  the 
sucessor  of  a  saintly  lineage  in  Hyderabad  where  Meraj  learned  this  poem 
expressing  the  Sufi's  devotion  to  Hazrat  Ali. 

The  tune  shares  its  frame  and  tonal  arrangement  with  several  other 
Qawwali  tunes  as  well  as  tunes  used  in  Urdu  poetic  recitation  where  a 
clear  pitch  distinction  between  asthayT  and  antara  is  of  semantic 

The  rhythmic  setting  is  originally  in  a  meter  of  7/8,  resulting 
naturally  from  a  literal  realization  of  the  poetic  meter.  But  Meraj 
reserves  the  option  to  convert  the  setting  to  an  "easy"  or  "light"  8/8 
meter,  depending  on  the  type  of  listener  before  him.  The  two  versions 
are  ill  us ted  below. 

Because  this  song  is  exclusively  oriented  toward  one  spiritual 
personage,  it  particularly  well  exemplifies  the  use  of  takrar  repetition 
in  which  appellations  of  Ali  are  sung  in  responsorial  alternation  with 
text  phrases,  in  the  classical  takrar  style  Meraj  masters  well. 

Batufai 1 -e-Daman-e-Murtaza  was  recorded  in  two  performances  at 
Nizamuddin  Auliya  as  well  as  one  demonstration,  all  by  Meraj  Ahmad. 




(Verses  1-4  out  of  7) 

Urdu  Original: 

jl*  U  ^  Ij  o.>lfor  ^ /■  < 


J  <k  (S  -S  Jt(_ $ '  J  cfS 


‘T-^  p?  <J?  U  I  3 

^£jP  JP  (_f(  J*  <S-  S  S' 

'  S  /  lm  '  '  , 

S  of'  ^  *x-6*  <P  JS'J 

(S  ^  j  r'..  U  <jj  Ss  ^ 

Transl iteration: 

Batufail -e-daman-e-Murtaza ,  main  bataun  kya  mujhe  kya  mila 
Keh  All  mile  to  NabT  mile,  jo  NabT  mile  to  Khuda  mila 

Tere  naqsh-e-pa  se  qadam  qadam,  woh  maqam-e-sabr-o-raza  mila 
KahTn  khak-e-alie-e-junun  mill,  kahTn  khun-e- rang- e-wafa  mil5 

Tu  amTr  ibn-e-amTr  hai ,  tera  faiz  faiz-e-azTm  hai_ 

Tere  dar  se  jo  bhT  mila  mujhe,  mere  hausle  se  siwa  mila 

Tu  sharTk-e-hal  e  butul  hai,  tu  rafTq-e-al -e-rasul  hai 
Mai-e-maVi fat  kas-e-ashiqT,  yeh  to  jam  kis  ko  mila  mi  1*3 . 





Transl ation: 

Through  my  attachement  to  Murtaza  (title  of  Ali) ,  how  can  I  say  what 
I  have  attained! 

Since  I  reached  A1 i ,  I  reached  the  Prophet;  when  I  reached  the 
Prophet,  I  reached  God. 

Following  your  example,  step  by  step  I  have  attained  perseverance 
and  submission^ 

Somewhere  I  encountered  the  traces  of  the  ecstatic,  somewhere  the 
blood  of  the  colour  of  faithfulness. 

You  are  a  lord  of  lords,  your  beneficence  is  greatest  of  all. 

Whatever  the  blessings  I  have  received  from  your  bounty,  they  have 
been  beyond  my  aspirations. 

You  are  joined  with  the  daughter  of  the  Prophet,  you  are  close  to 
the  Prophet's  kin. 

You  are  the  wine  of  cognition,  the  object  of  love;  fortunate  is  he 
who  receives  this  goblet! 

Form  and  Structural  Realization: 

ghazal  and  asthayT--antara  scheme 



line  a 

asthayT-antara  A  B 
asthayt  A 


(etc . ) 

(etc . ) 



Meter  and  Rhythmic  Realization: 

kamil  (same  as  nom-de-plume  of  poet!)--set  to  either  7/8  pashto  or 
8/8  kaharva. 

“  lOSj"  VCr&'DVv 


•  *5*— 


r.pTnj  a\nn  n\n:) 

x  v  xx.  xxx* 

u'lll  '  u1'  t  T  U1#JJ  '  ti'r 


Musical  Setting 
(both  rhythmic  realizations) 

Section  A-  ft Htm~ native  Erdinqs 


Section  E  -  Alternative  Endings 


Mu*  +a  -  Za 




«;+k  Axf 

Section  B  -  Alternative  Version  To  fiepeat  Entire  Section 


k  -  .  4 


,  V7  =  n 

h  \  h  1   1 

l>~f . t>  - 

C  j=& 

h  r  J  t  ! 

H  f  v  *  : 

— v — # — # 

*  l  f -  — 

— — 1 - f  - -1— - — 

# — # - # — #— 


i  in  u 

/m«,  - 


Wa>*  -  ta  / 

Section  8  -  Melodic  Alternatives 

U  1 1  1  ut~t^= 

da -  t- -  da-  WvaVi-e 

V.  — — — — T - 

iVr  i  p  -j  l^i :  n 

-  har  -+a  -  ZA  JfaU  '  •Hi.  '  u»»  kya  **a}Wt  *u»  la 


T akrar  Alternation  wi/th  Word  Calls 



L EflDrR  (tuorj  cajQ:  ♦ 

VgrSg  Ij  |  ,*  rvC  2L.  •• 


KeU-  A -fir 


M«m-Ia  -A-tC  i*U{  —It, 


j  -  ft 

Kciv  A-£  Mi 




VerSe  2.»  li‘ne.1 : 



LEADER  ^caiQ: 



Utre  ndcjsk-e- pa. 

*%+  #  ; V 

1  17 1  1  If 

Ht  —  tie  twH«^ 


hr  l  / 


itrc  i^^'e  / 


LEAPED  CwortlcaiO:  GROUP: 


VerSe  2.^  f i'nc  1 :  W«R  r*rRA«*~  «■  -JaW 


h«  -  rc  M<ux.  -IS. 

Wok  f 




The  only  na 1 t--or  Qawwal i  addressing  the  Prophet--among  these 
examples  is  a  song  recently  composed  by  a  Panjabi  Qawwal,  Rahmat  Khan. 

The  poem  belongs  to  the  more  popular  type  of  religious  praise  song, 
straightforward  in  meaning  as  well  as  in  expression  or,  as  one  Nizamuddin 
Auliya  performer  puts  it,  "totally  obvious"  ("ek  dam  khul a"— Inam) . 

The  musical  setting  is  one  of  those  "composed"  tunes  with  a 
distinctive  melodic  progression  in  both  tune  sections.  Like  many 
"modern"  or  western-influenced  tunes,  this  setting  is  characteri zed  by 
disjunct  melodic  motion,  although  it  also  alludes  to  a  traditional  raga 
scale  ( bhai ravT,  see  Table  3).  Rhythmically  the  song  exemplifies  the 
"Panjabi  style"  (ang,  see  Ch.  3:  58  f). 

This  song  is  extremely  popular,  appreciated  by  "common"  audiences. 
But  its  simple  appeal  can  cut  across  all  levels  of  audience;  hence  Meraj 
has  learned  it,  along  with  several  other  such  songs.  A  melodious  tune  on 
one  side,  and  the  absence  of  text  phrases  with  strong  spiritual  impact 
make  this  song  a  favourite  solo  for  young  boy  Qawwal s  who  can  thus 
display  a  nice  voice  without  having  to  be  prepared  for  extensive  takrar 
repetition  which  they  would  not  have  the  experience  to  provide.  Hence, 
among  Nizamuddin  Auliya  performers  the  song  is  most  often  heard  sung  by 
Chand,  the  young  brother  of  Meraj 's  wife.  It  is  also  favoured  by  amateur 
performers . 

Because  of  its  less-than-traditional  melody,  the  tune  of  this  song 
is  heard  in  a  variety  of  versions,  as  presented  below.  One  of  these,  is 
by  the  young  amateur  performer  Iftekhar  Amrohvi  (see  above  p.  314)  who 
modified  the  original  tune  considerably--due  to  his  limited  musical 




ability  and  training  rather  than  compositional  originality  (such 
modifications  are  typical  for  songs  with  some  ambiguity  as  to  tonality, 
of  which  "KisT  ko  kuchh"  is  an  example). 

A  total  of  nine  performances  of  this  song  were  recorded:  one  each 
of  versions  1  and  3,  three  each  of  versions  2  and  4,  and  one  more 
performance  by  a  Nizamuddin  Auliya  Qawwal . 


(Verses  1-3,  4  rarely  sung) 

Urdu  Original: 


Transl i terati on : 

KisT  ko  kuchh  nahTn  milt?  ten  ata  ke  baghair 
Khuda  bhT  kuchh  nahTn  deta  ten  raz5  ke  baghair 

Kaho  gada  se  na  dast-e-talab  daraz  kare 

Keh  in  ke  dar  se  to  milta  hai  ilteja  ke  baghair 

Agar  namaz  men  shamil  nahTn  surur-e-Huzur 
To  jan  lo  keh  yeh  kashtT  hai  nakhuda  ke  baghair 

Transl ation: 

No  one  get  anything  without  your  benefaction; 

Even  God  gives  nothing  without  your  pleasure. 

Tell  the  humble  seeker  that  he  need  not  stretch  out  his  hand  in 

For  His  court  grants  benefice  without  supplication. 

He  who  in  his  prayers  is  not  ecstatic  with  Muhammad, 

Consider  him  like  a  boat  without  a  helmsman! 

Form  and  Structural  Realization: 

ghazal  and  asthayT-antara  scheme 



line  a 

asthayT  -  antara 



(etc. ) 



(etc. ) 

Meter  and  Rhythmic  Realization: 

mujtass  -  set  to  8/8  kaharva ,  usually  executed  in  4/4  'Panjabi 

u  — 

•  9 

W  1 

;if  *j  flf  ;  r 



0  0 



Musical  Setting 
(Four  Versions) 

— ■  * 


The  standard  Sufi  Prelude  ( naghma )  of  today  is  the  one  presented 
here,  as  performed  by  Meraj  Ahmad  on  the  start  of  his  appearance  in  a 
Qawwal i  Assembly  (i.e.  Performance  2:  446).  The  prelude  consists  of 

parts  which  can  be  variously  repeated  and  extended  until  a  rapid  descent 
to  the  tonic  brings  about  a  conclusion  (cf.  Ch.  3:86  and  Table  11).  The 
sequential  repetition  of  short  patterns  underlies  the  entire  composition 
and  includes  a  somewhat  embellished  version  of  the  Allahu  motive. 

Appended  for  comparision  is  a  partial  outline  of  the  original  Sufi 
Prelude,  the  naghma-e-QuddusT,  which  consists  entirely  of  AllahiT  motives. 

Prelude  recordings  by  Meraj  and  other  performers  in  and  outside 
Nizammudin  Auliya  are  too  numerous  and  varied  to  be  listed. 

Musical  Setting 

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— ej^Cu-Ko*  w>  perform  «»nC-«. 




This  is  one  of  the  verses  that  serve  to  introduce  Qawwali  Songs 
dealing  with  mystical  love  and  its  ecstasy  (as  e.g.  ex.  2  and  4);  indeed, 
Meraj  uses  it  to  preface  ex.  4  in  Performance  2.  In  the  strict  technical 
sense  this  verse--like  many  others  of  its  type--is  not  a  ruba1 i ,  since  it 
follows  a  standard  metric  pattern  used  in  other  poetic  forms  (rami  3,  see 
below),  rather  than  one  of  the  distinct  and  somewhat  more  irregular 
meters  assigned  to  the  ruba'i  form  (see  Browne,  1956).  However,  the 
structure  of  its  message  is  standard  for  a  four-line  introductory  verse 
of  Qawwali  songs.  The  author  is  not  identified. 

The  musical  setting  corresponds  to  the  basic  pattern  outlined  in 
Chapter  Three  (pp.  86  ff  and  Tables  9/10).  Two  versions  are  presented; 
one  is  a  minimal  statement  in  which  only  the  first  line  is  repeated,  the 
second  an  extended  rendition  where  every  line  is  recited  twice  and  then 
the  last  two  lines  are  re-stated,  setting  up  the  musical  conclusions  and 
lead-in  into  the  song  which  follows  immediately.  Appended  to  this  second 
version  is  a  modification  option  restating  the  last  line  at  an 
intermittent  pitch  livel  in  order  to  obliterate  the  suggested  conclusion 
so  that  a  further  introductory  verse  may  be  added. 

The  two  versions  differ  in  the  musical  treatment  of  the  penultimate 
line,  in  accordance  with  the  two  options  indicated  in  the  Model  (Ch.  3, 
Table  10).  In  the  extended  version  the  penultimate  line  ascends  to  the 
upper  tonic,  setting  up  the  high  register  for  the  final  line  to  descend 
from;  the  minimal  version  marks  the  penultimate  line  by  only  a  relative 
ascent  (after  a  descending  cadence  in  the  preceding  line),  so  that  the 
last  line  alone  starts  in  a  higher  pitch  register  in  order  to  make  its 


concluding  descent. 

All  versions  are  performed  in  alternation  between  leader  and 
accompanist,  but  beginning  and  end  are  always  intoned  by  the  leader. 

Shud  dilam  shefta  was  recorded  in  a  total  of  4  performances ,  all 
Meraj . 


Farsi  Original: 

Transl iteration: 

Shud  dilam  shefta-e-zul f-e-chalTpae  kase 
Kard  bimar  maraT  nargi s-e-shahlae  kase 
Ai  khusha  tala-e-man  gird-e-sarash  mT_gardam 
Khun-e-man  rang-e-hin3  shud  bakaf-e-pae  kase. 


Transl ati on : 

My  heart  became  ensnared  in  the  curved  locks  of  Someone 
They  have  made  me  lovesick,  the  mesmerizing  narcissus  eyes  of 

0  happy  is  my  fortune;  my  being  revolves  around  You 

My  blood  became  the  color  of  henna  to  decorate  the  soles  of  Someone 

Form  and  Structural  Realization: 
ruba* i  and  Recitative  Scheme 
Text  Music 

Line  a  Initial  and  -  (Penultimate 




ascent  P 

Intermittent  -(Final  descent 


stationary  -  L 
levels  -  L 

Meter  and  Rhythmic  Realization: 

rami  3,  recitative  rendering 


Secfio*  '< 





fc  M«l 

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This  insert  is  one  of  many  famous  classical  Farsi  verses  which  have 
inspired  later  Sufi  poets  to  elucidate  them  with  additional  verse  lines, 
often  in  Urdu  or  Hindi,  to  clarify  their  meaning  to  unlettered  devotees 
( tazmTn) .  This  tazmTn  consists  of  three  verse  lines  in  Hindi  and 
culminates  in  the  Farsi  couplet  whose  meter  and  rhyme  scheme  prevail 
throughout.  Its  first  line  was  composed  by  Nizamuddin  Auliya  himself, 
while  observing  from  the  Chilla  (see  Performance  1:  372,  376)  how  Hindu 

worshippers  bathed  in  river  Jumna: 

"Every  people  has  its  right  path,  its  faith,  and  its  focus  of 
worshi p" . 

Amir  Khusrau,  who  was  with  him,  at  once  completed  the  couplet  with  a 
verse  line  which  has  come  to  represent  a  poetic  statement  of  the  Sufi 

"I  focus  my  worship  on  the  tilted  cap  of  my  Beloved" 

This  final  line,  known  to  every  Sufi  in  India,  has  a  great  potential 
impact  as  an  insert,  suddenly  adding  its  own  depth  of  meaning  to  a 
related  word  or  phrase  in  the  main  song. 

In  the  version  presented  below,  the  insert  is  linked  in  a  very 
literal  way  to  a  word  phrase  containing  the  very  word  that  symbolizes  the 
focus  of  the  entire  insert:  kajkulahe ,  the  tilted  cap  symbolizing  the 
Beloved  and  His  attraction.  The  song  is  Chashme  Maste  (see  ex.  2,  verse 
4,  p.  328  f ) .  Both  Meraj  Ahmad  and  Aziz  Warsi  (singer  of  ex.  2)  like  to 
insert  this  girah  at  this  point  in  the  song;  presented  here  is  the 




version  of  Aziz  Warsi ,  as  inserted  in  his  version  of  ex.  2. 

Musically,  the  insert  is  sung  in  a  recitative  style  at  a  somewhat 

brisker  pace  than  an  introductory  verse.  Here,  too,  the  penultimate  line 
is  only  marked  by  a  slight  ascent,  so  that  the  high  pitch  register  of  the 
final  line  makes  its  textual  message  stand  out  musically  as  well:  the 
effect  is  that  of  a  "punch  line".  The  actual  descent  is  limited  by  the 
starting  pitch  of  the  song  line  that  is  being  picked  up  anew. 

Because  of  the  impact  of  this  last  line,  it  not  only  enhances  the 

song  line  to  follow  but  itself  may  inspire  ecstatic  arousal.  Thus  it 

serves  here  to  exemplify  the  musical  conversion  of  such  an  insert  line 
from  recitative  to  a  unit  of  rhythmic  repetition.  The  rhythmic  version 
of  the  last  line,  as  sung  by  Aziz  Warsi  in  the  same  song,  is  appended 
both  in  its  final,  descending  setting  as  well  as  in  a  lower-pitched 
setting  used  by  the  singer  to  save  his  voice  during  extended  multiple 

The  five  recorded  performances  of  this  insert  include  two  by  Aziz 

Warsi,  and  three  by  Meraj . 





Hindi-Farsi  Original: 

c y> 

Transl iteration: 

kajkulahe  'ajabe 

Hi ndi--Sansar  kar  ho  puje  kul  ko  jagat  sarShe 

Makke  men  koi  dhundhe  KashT  ko  koi  cheihe 
Duniya  men  apne  pT  ke  payyan  parun  na  kahe 

Farsi--Har  qaum  rast  rahe  dTne  wa  qiblagahe 

Man  qibla  rast  kardam  bar  simt-e-kajkul ahe:  kajkulahe  'ajabe 




0  wondrous  tilted  cap _ 

Let  all  the  world  worship  God,  let  humanity  prai sejthe  Divine. 

One  may  seek  Him  in  Mekka,  one  may  search  Him  in  KashT  (Benares). 

I  have  found  my  Beloved,  should  I  not  prostrate  before  Him? 

Every  people  has  its  right  path,  its  faith  and  its  focus  of  worship; 
I,  however,  focus  my  worship  on  the  tilted  cap  of  my  Beloved: 

0  wondrous  tilted  cap 

Form  and  Structural  Realization: 

khamsa  and  Recitative  Scheme 



Line  a 





Initial  and 
stationary  levels 
Penultimate  ascent 
Final  descent 





Meter  and  Rhythmic  Realization: 

muzarT  1,  recitative  rendering 





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This  is  an  example  of  a  longer  insert  taken  from  a  Farsi  poem  of 
Amir  Khusrau.  The  four  couplets  express  facets  of  that  basic  emotion  in 
Sufism:  giving  up  the  self  as  an  offering  of  love.  As  an  insert,  the 
set  of  verses  can  serve  the  elaboration  of  this  emotion  in  any  Sufi  song; 
here  it  is  applied  to  the  opening  line  of  To rT  Surat  (ex.  3,  and 
Performance  1,  song  4:  418),  a  particularly  fortuitous  choice  because 

the  message  of  the  final  couplet  (seeing  and  yet  not  seeing  the  Beloved) 
directly  and  profoundly  expands  the  meaning  implied  in  the  core  concept 
of  the  song  line  (the  Beloved's  Countenance). 

The  poetic  meter  of  this  poem  is  that  of  the  Masnavi  ( rami  2,  see 
Table  14  above  and  ex.  4:  336).  The  preferred  musical  setting  for  such 

poems  is  the  Masnavi  tune  (cf.  ex.  4),  even  when  the  poem  is  an 
introductory  verse  or  insert.  Accordingly,  it  is  the  Masnavi  tune  which 
serves  as  a  tonal  frame  for  the  recitative  presentation  of  these  verses, 
replacing  the  standard  tonal  pattern  for  such  recitatives.  Only  in  the 
final  line  of  the  insert  the  Masnavi  tune,  which  is  characterized  by  a 
final  ascent,  has  to  be  modified  so  that  the  necessary  descent  back  to 
the  main  song  can  be  achieved.  How  Meraj  Ahmad  deals  musically  with  this 
insert  in  the  process  of  performance  is  shown  in  Performance  1  (pp. 
421-431  ). 



(first  three  verses  omitted) 

Farsi  Original: 

(j/\^  Jr  (S/j} 

CX*Uf. /o; s  <s  A 

Transl iteration: 

TorT  surat  ke  balharT. . . . 

(first  three  verses  omitted) 

Man  tura  dTdam  wale  na  dTda  am 

Ai  sarapa  raz  qurbanat  shawam:  TorT  surat  ke  balharT 

Transl ation : 

On  your  countenance  I  offer  myself  in  devotion.... 

(first  three  verses  related  in  content) 

I  see  you,  yet  I  see  you  not; 

0  you  who  are  totally  secret,  I  sacrifice  myself  on  you: 

On  your  countenance  I  offer 
myself  in  devotfon 



Form  and  Structural  Realization: 

Stlaza'1  and  asthayT  -  antara  turned  into  recitative  scheme 



Line  a 








in  recitative 










+  Final  Descent  F 

Meter  and  Rhythmic  Realization: 

rami  2  and  recitative  rendering 

—  o 

\j  — 

Musical  Setting 
(cf.  Performance  1:  348) 

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C  Qawwal i  Performances 

The  Performance  Occasions  at  Nizamuddin  Auliya 

At  the  Nizamuddin  Auliya  shrine  a  wide  and  representative  variety  of 
Qawwal i  occasions  form  part  of  the  established  tradition  that  governs  the 
entire  Islamic  year,  including  both  the  two  great  anniversaries  as  well 
as  the  in-between  periods  of  other,  minor  events.  These  occasions  fall 
into  four  major  categories  representing  distinctions  significant  to  both 
performers  and  listeners. 

1. )  The  intimate,  "special"  Qawwal i  occasion,  or  the  Sufi  gathering 
par  excellence,  held  by  one  spiritual  leader  in  a  special  location,  most 
typically  a  shrine  cell  (hujra) . 

2. )  The  major  celebrational  Qawwal i  assembly  sponsored  by  a  shrine 
representative  in  a  large  public  place  or  hall. 

3. )  The  major  ritual  Qawwal i  occasion  held  in  front  of  the  shrine 


4. )  The  minor  ritual  and  non-ritual  occasion  for  singing  Qawwal i  in 
front  of  the  sanctuary  ( hazi rT) . 

1.)  The  Intimate,  "Special"  Assembly  (mahfil -e-kjjas) 

These  assemblies  really  represent  the  heart  of  Sufi  Qawwal i  at 
Nizamuddin  Auliya.  Both  major  representatives  of  the  saint  hold  them  in 
locations  around  the  shrine  during  the  1 urs  at  fixed  times.  Pir  Zamin 
Nizami  holds  an  early  morning  assembly  in  the  small  cell  where  the  Saint 
is  said  to  have  taught  and  meditated;  on  this  occasion  he  restricts  the 
use  of  instrumental  accompaniment  to  the  harmonium,  as  the  saint  is  said 
to  have  been  critical  of  drumming.  But  it  is  Khwaja  Hasan  Nizami, 


Merzj  s  patron,  who  maintains  the  true  Sufi  tradition  with  his  special 
gatherings  both  in  the  huj ra  opposite  the  tomb  of  Amir  Khusrau,  and  at 
the  Chil fa  ,  a  most  remarkable  cell  and  gallery  nearby,  overlooking  the 
Jumna  river  where  Nizamuddin's  sheikh,  the  saint  Fariduddih 
Ganj-e-Shakar ,  is  said  to  have  performed  ascetic  exercises,  (i.e.  chilla, 
a  forty-day  seclusion). 

In  these  assemblies,  no  uninitiated  audience  component  imposes 
restraint  on  the  sense  of  spiritual  elation  which  is  evoked  by  the 
sounding  of  the  Qawwali  message.  Only  choice  Qawwals  are  admitted, 
whether  it  is  Meraj  who  always  performs  at  the  Chilla  assembly,  or 
selected  performers  visiting  the  shrine  during  the  1 urs.  The  audience 
regularly  includes  major  spiritual  representatives,  as  well  as  cultured 
and  well -placed  devotees  from  Delhi  and  elsewhere.  These  gatherings  are 
relatively  short  and  held  during  daytime. 

There  is,  however,  another  type  of  intimate  "special"  assembly  not 
primarily  associated  with  the  shrine,  though  held  there  as  well:  the 
gathering  of  disciples  around  their  sheikh.  At  Nizamuddin  Auliya  a  few 
such  assemblies  are  held  when  disciples  of  one  guide  visit  the  shrine  for 
an  occasion  like  the  1 urs  and  meet  there  to  share  the  experience  of  a 
Qawwali  assembly  or  mahf il .  Spiritually  at  the  same  level  as  the  other 
type  of  "special"  assembly,  this  type  of  gathering  may  not  always 
include  high-status  listeners,  but  the  spiritual  bond  between  those 
present  is  particularly  intense.  Meraj  sings  at  several  such  assemblies 
by  customary  arrangement;  indeed,  the  setting  suits  him  most 
particul arly . 

The  Performance  Examples  consist  of  two  events  that  serve  to 




exemplify  each  of  the  two  kinds  of  special  assembly:  One  is  the  Chill  a 
mahfi 1  led  by  Khwaja  Hasan  Sani ,  the  other  is  a  gathering  of  visiting 
disciples  at  the  shrine;  both  take  place  during  the  'urs  of  Nizamuddin 
Aul iya . 

2.)  The  Major,  Cel ebrational  Assembly 

At  Nizamuddin  Aul iya  the  major  Qawwali  occasions  celebrating 


anniversaries  are  sponsored  by  the  three  leading  shrine  representatives 
and  held  at  a  large  public  hall  or  location  immediately  near  the  shrine. 
These  are  the  mainstay  of  every  1 urs  celebration.  Held  at  night  and 
lasting  for  hours,  they  attract  the  largest  number  of  devotees  and  their 
sound  is  spread  wide  by  loudspeakers. 

Two  of  the  three  principal  leaders  at  Nizamuddin  Aul iya  each  own  or 
control  a  performance  hall  accommodating  hundreds  of  listeners,  an 
appropriately  named  "Qawwali  Hall"  and  '"Urs  Mahal"  (palace) 
respectively.  The  third  leader,  Qazi  Safdar  Ali,  holds  his  assembly  in 
the  open;  it  attracts  a  more  entertainment-oriented  crowd  such  as  gathers 
at  the  fair  surrounding  the  shrine  during  the  1 urs ,  for  Qazi  Safdar  Ali 
is  a  highly  popular  spiritual  guide.  The  other  two  leaders,  Pir  Zamin 
Nizami  and  Khwaja  Hasan  Nizami  (see  p.  307  above),  hold  assemblies  at  Urs 
Mahal  and  Qawwali  Hall  which  always  include  considerable  a  "special" 
audience  component  as  well  as  a  large  common  one. 

It  is  Khwaja  Hasan  Sani  who  holds  the  most  strictly  Sufi  gatherings, 
dominated  throughout  by  the  "special"  audience.  His  cel ebrational 
assemblies  are  characterized  by  a  special  audience  of  high  status, 
including  saintly  representatives,  sophisticated  devotees,  and  also  a 
Sufi  poet,  Anwar  Sabri .  Khwaja  Hasan  Sani,  at  these  events,  represents 



not  only  the  saint  Nizamuddin  Auliya  but  also  his  own  father,  Khwaja 
Hasan  Nizami,  whose  tomb  Qawwali  Hall  faces. 

Each  of  the  three  major  leaders  is  the  special  patron  of  one  lead 
performer  whose  group  he  gives  priority  or  first  turn  after  the 
communally  sung  ritual  hymns. 

3.)  The  Major  Ritual  Qawwali  Occasion 

These  are  always  held  in  front  of  the  sanctuary  and  they  attract 
great  numbers  of  devotees  due  to  the  auspiciousness  of  the  ritual 
occasion.  They  are  generally  of  a  limited  duration  and  have  a  set 
sequence  of  ritual  and  traditional  songs.  Of  course,  the  ritual 
recitation  preceding  Qawwali  singing  is  given  special  importance  here, 
since  the  saint  is  being  addressed  directly. 

Due  to  the  peculiar  situation  of  collective  representational  rights 
shared  between  Pirzada  families,  no  one  person  leads  or  is  in  charge  of 
these  events.  Rather,  the  leading  shrine  representatives  share  in  the 
honour  of  receiving  all  offerings.  The  numerous  Pirzadas  who  attend  show 
thereby  their  commitment  to  the  saint,  thus  validating  before  a  large 
public  their  claim  to  represent  him.  This  demonstration  takes  the  form 
of  passing  offerings  between  Pirzadas,  juniors  showing  respect  to 
seniors,  or  minor  to  prominent  descendants.  This  type  of  offering 
procedure  also  characteri zes  ritual  singing  during  all  other  types  of 
Qawwali  occasions.  The  result,  to  the  performer,  is  much  offering 
activity,  though  sometimes  little  money  actually  circulates.  A  few 
Pirzadas  regularly  express  their  attachment  to  their  saintly  ancestor  in 
various  characteristical ly  personal  forms  of  self-abandonment,  and  even 
the  oldest  Nizamudin  Qawwal  joins  in  this  expression--though,  as  he 


himself  explains,  his  ecstasy  is  only  caused  by  the  drum  rhythm  (zarb  ke 
Opar ) ,  since  he  lays  no  claim  to  spiritual  advancement. 

These  events  are  usually  characterized  by  large  crowds  of  a  general 
audience,  including  women  who  are  not  excluded.  The  performers  sing 
commual ly ,  therefore  they  generally  all  cooperate  to  create  as  successful 
a  performance  as  possible.  But  occasions  for  dispute  also  arise,  either 
when  lead  singers  try  to  cut  each  other  out,  or  when  backbenchers  let 
others  do  all  the  work,  knowing  that  they  are  entitled  to  a  share  of 
income  anyway.  However,  even  here--though  there  is  no  actual  assembly 
leader--the  performer's  freedom  of  action  is  limited  by  control  from  the 
Pirzadas.  Their  compliance  is  very  willing,  for  both  Pirzadas  and 
Qawwals  have  a  collective  interest  to  enhance  the  value  of  their  shrine 
and  its  ritual  to  the  visiting  devotees  in  this  most  public  context  of  a 
Qawwali  performance. 

4.)  The  Minor  Ritual  and  Non-Ritual  Occasion 

These  include  a  variety  of  Qawwali  occasions  all  held  before  the 
sanctuary  and  characterized  by  the  absence  of  individual  leadership  and 
by  an  audience  which  is  either  very  scant,  as  during  minor  rituals  and 
informal  shrine  singing,  or  extremely  fluid,  as  during  Thursday  and 
Friday  Qawwali.  Because  of  this,  they  are  of  least  significance  as 
performance  occasions  of  Qawwali,  just  as  they  also  mean  little  to  the 
performers,  although  someone  like  Meraj  derives  his  daily  minimum  intake 
from  them  and  he  may  depend  on  them  for  his  subsistence  when  no  larger 

events  are  scheduled. 





This  first  and  primary  performance  example  is  a  short  but  complete 
Qawwal i  event  during  which  Meraj ,  the  sole  performer,  sings  three  of  the 
seven  song  examples  discussed  above  (ex.  1,  3,  and  4).  One  of  these  is 
transcribed  into  musical  notation  in  part  (ex.  3  in  Transcription  1). 
Recorded  on  videotape,  this  performance  is  presented  here  in  such  a  way 
as  to  also  show  how  the  process  of  observing,  coding  and  interpreting 
videotape  performances  has  served  as  an  important  data  base  for  this 
study  (cf.  p.305f  above).  Accordingly,  the  literal  video-transcription 
is  written  out,  together  with  an  interpretative  text  discussing  the  event 
as  a  performance  example. 

In  relation  to  the  analytical  portion  of  the  study  this  performance 
exemplifies  particularly  well  the  following  aspects  of  music-context 

general  features  -  single  performer  managing  an  event,  both  as  to 

the  sequence  and  relative  dudration  of  songs 

-  performer's  focus  switching 

-  performer's  catering  to  status  and  identity 

of  salient  listeners 

-  performer's  evaluation  of  listener's  state 
in  light  of  status  and  identity 

-  performer's  response  to  important  spiritual 

musical  strategies  -  using  alternate  tunes 

-  converting  recitative  to  song 

-  making  a  successful  early  insert 




-  manipulating  length  of  song 

-  using  alternative  endings  to  signal  repeat 

-  increasing  performance  tempo 

a)  Setting 

The  Chill  a  Mahfil  is  held  on  the  second  day  of  the  1 urs  of  both 
Nizamuddin  Auliya  and  Amir  Khusrau;  this  is  the  actual  death  day  of  both, 
"the  Auspicious  Seventeenth"  (sattarvTn  sharTf),  i.e.  the  17th  day  of  the 
Islamic  month  of  Rabi-us-Sani  and  Rajab  respectively.  As  instituted  by 
Khwaja  Hasan  Sani  (henceforth  referred  to  as  K),  this  assembly  is  timed 
to  precede  the  anniversary  ritual  ( qul  ,  Lbatam)  which  is  held  at  the 
sanctuary  after  11  a.m.  on  that  day;  accordingly,  it  is  slated  to  begin 
at  about  10  a.m.  and  to  last  for  at  most  one  hour,  so  that  the 
participants  can  return  to  the  shrine  in  time  for  the  ritual.  Because  of 
this  special  situation,  the  Qawwali  performance  at  this  event  is 
exclusively  Meraj's  to  manage. 

The  Chill  a  Mahfil  is  perhaps  the  most  exclusive  or  intimate  Qawwali 
event  at  Nizamuddin  Auliya.  Due  to  its  somewhat  remote  location  (see 
above  p.  372)  only  a  limited  number  of  committed  devotees  attend,  all 

connected  in  some  personal  way  to  the  leader  K. 

At  this  particular  event  Meraj  finds  the  expected  components  of 
special  listeners  among  his  audience  of  nearly  30  (see  list  of 
participants  p.383f  below).  Representing  the  spiritual  status  hierarchy 
are  not  only  his  patron  with  his  two  brothers,  but  also  two 
representati ves  from  the  shrine  in  Ajmer,  abode  of  the  Chishti 
founder-saint.  One  of  these,  Syed  Haleem  Chishti  (H),  is  a  special 
friend  of  the  leader  (K)  and  a  regular  visitor  at  Nizamuddin  Auliya 



h  >  , 


anniversaries;  he  is  well  known  for  his  sophistication  and  receptive 
sensitivity  to  Qawwali,  as  well  as  for  his  generosity.  The  other,  Syed 
Zainul  Abedin  (Z),  is  a  first-time  visitor,  young  and  newly  installed  as 
the  titular  representative  (dTwan)  of  the  Ajmer  saint  after  his  father's 
death.  He  formally  tops  the  hierarchy  at  this,  and  indeed  at  any  Qawwali 
assembly  in  India,  therefore  he  is  the  final  recipient  of  all  offerings, 
even  though  in  personal  standing  and  seniority  H,  the  other  Ajmer 
representative,  is  far  above  him.  Meraj  is  aware  of  this  constellation 
and  especially  of  his  own  patron's  close  association  with  the  senior 
representative  whom  he  is  therefore  prepared  to  favour  with  special 
consi deration . 

Another  special  listener  who  claims  and  gets  Meraj 's  attention  is 
Anwar  Sabri  (A),  a  well-known  Sufi  poet  who  is  always  part  of  Khwaja 
Hasan  Sani's  special  audience.  Meraj  notes  a  number  of  other  spiritual 
personages,  including  local  representatives  of  lesser  saints.  Two  of 
them  are  distinctly  newcomers;  one  was  already  identified  to  Meraj  as  a 
first-time  visitor  from  a  shrine  in  Eastern  India  (R),  the  other  one, 
from  his  apparel,  looks  like  a  Sufi  visiting  on  the  1 urs  from  Pakistan. 

Both  are  yet  to  be  assessed  as  listeners. 

Other  prominent  listeners  belong  to  the  worldly  status  category. 
Meraj  notes  with  satisfaction  the  presence  of  several  well-to-do  devotees 
and  disciples  of  his  patron's  father  who  had  a  large  circle  of  followers; 
some  of  them  are  businessmen  from  Bombay  attending  the  urs .  Also,  as 
expected,  the  author's  husband  is  present  whose  literary  preference  Meraj 
knows  and  appreciates  as  well  as  his  invariable  generosity  which  Meraj 
knows  to  be  tied  to  the  author's  study  with  him.  There  is  further  the 


Ml  v  9 

usual  group  of  local  devotees,  some  businessmen,  others  of  a  literary 
bent,  and  finally  a  few  religious  old  men  who  have  no  particular  standing 
other  than  their  age. 

In  addition  to  the  audience  Meraj  also  considers  the  two  important 
setting  factors  of  the  Chill  a  mahf i 1 :  it  is  the  first  formal  assembly  of 
the  1 urs ,  and  its  duration  is  limited--especially  today,  due  to  a  late 
start.  Meraj  therefore  can  expect  time  for  at  most  three  songs,  possibly 
only  two,  in  addition  to  the  two  obligatory  ritual  hymns  which  are  sung 
communally.  All  the  more  it  is  important  for  Meraj  to  curtail  the 
duration  of  the  ritual  hymns,  so  that  enough  time  remains  for  the  more 
profitable  "party"  singing. 

At  this  occasion,  only  Meraj 's  own  performing  group  is  present  so 
that  they  sing  the  communally  sung  ritual  hymns  as  well.  Meraj  therefore 
likes  to  take  special  care  to  let  his  senior  accompanist  lead  the 
community  singing,  so  that  he  himself  appears  as  leader  only  at  the  start 
of  his  own  party  singing  and  uninformed  listeners  may  not  have  the 
impression  that  Meraj  already  led  and  received  offerings  during  the 
ritual  hymns,  which  would  reduce  the  impact  of  his  party  singing.  But 
this  time  Meraj  is  making  an  exception  because  only  recently  his  leader-- 
and  at  an  earlier  occasion  the  Sufi  poet  ( A)--expressed  annoyance  at  the 
unsatisfactory  vocal  quality  of  the  senior  accompanist,  rather  an  old 
man.  Indeed,  that  annoyance  had  at  that  time  resulted  in  Meraj  losing 
his  initial  turn  and  being  relegated  to  the  end  of  a  large  Qawwal i 
assembly.  So  he  himself  leads  the  hymns  today,  thinking  that  at  least 
this  will  enable  him  to  control  their  duration  more  effectively. 


b)  Format  and  Presentation 

The  Qawwali  performance  sequence  of  four  songs  which  are  transcribed 
and  analysed  here  rests  within  a  framework  that  corresponds  to  the 
standard  format  of  a  Qawwali  occasion  (see  Table  18:130).  Thus  an 
outline  of  the  complete  event,  as  recorded,  reads  as  follows: 


Reci tati on : 

Qira't  - 

(Koranic  Passages) 

-  by  various  participants 

Shi j ra 
( Geneal ogy) 

-  by  Ashur  MTyan  (S,  see  legend 
bel  ow) 

Du 'a 
( Prayer) 

-  by  Kftwaja  Hasan  SanT  leader 
of  the  event 


Qawwal i : 

1.  Qaul 

-  by  communal  Qawwal  group,  led 
by  Meraj 

2.  Rang 

3.  MasnavT 

-  by  Qawwal  party,  led  by  Meraj 

4.  Ton  Surat 




-  by  Khwaja  Hasan  SanT,  leader 
of  the  event 

The  entire  Chill  a  event  is  shown  as 

transcribed  from  the  video 

recording,  while  the 

text  underlying  each 

transcribed  section  interprets 

the  transcription.  In  this  way,  the  event  may  be  followed,  both 
acoustically  and  visual  1 y — i .e .  including  the  Qawwal's  singing  and  the 
listeners'  respecti vely--by  reading  the  graph  sections  in  sequence.  Or, 
the  interpretive  text  may  be  read  in  sequence  with  or  without  reference 

to  the  graphs  it  interprets. 




Transcri pti on 

Prerequisite  to  discussing  a  transcription  is  the  identification  of 
the  recording  that  the  transcription  represents.  The  recording  of  the 
Chill  a  Mahf il — 1  ike  all  recordings  used  for  this  study--was  made  by  the 
author  with  the  simple  basic  purpose  of  obtaining  a  visual  record  of  the 
audience  responses  as  they  occur  along  with  the  Qawwali  song  performance 
--which,  of  course,  is  recorded  simultaneously.  The  main  goal  was  to 
approach  an  approximation  of  the  performer's  visual  perception  of  his 
audience,  though  at  times  complementary  recordings  were  made  to  show  the 
performer's  behavioral  "actions"  as  well.  In  spite  of  inevitable  flaws 
arising  from  the  limitations  of  a  camera  angle  and  from  obstacles  to 
visibil  ity--especial ly  in  large  assembl ies--this  goal  was  generally 
achieved,  thanks  mainly  to  the  tolerance  for  which  Sufis  are  rightly 

The  transcription  of  these  recordings  was  designed  to  make  the 
recording  useable  for  analysis;  hence  it  represents  on  paper  as 
accurately  as  possible  not  every  move  of  each  listener,  but  the 
behavioral  information  relevant  to  the  Qawwali  performance  interaction. 
This  information  is  visually  presented  in  relation  to  the  structural 
units  of  the  song  which  provide  a  mechanically  as  well  as  semantically 
appropriate  durational  framework  for  it. 

The  transcription  thus  proceeds  as  follows:  Along  the  top  of  the 
graph  the  structural  song  units  are  written  out  along  a  horizontal  axis 
in  which  a  unit  of  the  musical  meter  of  the  song  corresponds  to  a 
specific  graph  length.  This  represents  the  Qawwal's  part  of  the 
interaction.  The  listeners  are  lined  up  vertically  in  accordance  with 
their  status  posi tion--rather  than  the  seating  order  of  the  assembly, 


'  t 

although  that  too  has  some  relevance.  With  any  one  song  segment  only 
those  listeners  observed  in  some  kind  of  response  are  recorded,  for  the 
sake  of  space  economy  and  clarity.  Therefore  the  presence  of  the 
remaining  number  of  non-responding  listeners  must  be  kept  in  mind  during 
an  assessment  of  those  listeners  whose  responses  are  recorded.  These 
visible  responses  are  plotted  against  the  sequence  of  musical  units  which 
runs  along  the  top  of  the  transcription.  Their  timing  is  accurate  to  the 
metric  unit  or  half  unit,  depending  on  the  duration  of  the  meter,  a 
sufficient  degree  of  precision  in  relation  to  the  shortest  meaningful 
text  unit,  and  even  adequate  to  represent  the  more  subtle  interaction 
based  on  musical  communication  (see  p.428  ff).  Thus  each  listener's 
state  can  be  followed  along  both  time  and  space  dimensions,  as 

illustrated  below. 


Legend  for  Transcription 

1  Participants  List  (according  to  spiritual  hierarchy  and  status): 

highest  J 
saintly  S 
atives  1 






Syed  Zainul  AbedTn,  descendant  and  titular 
representative  (dTwan)  of  founder  Saint  MuTnuddTn  ChistT 
at  Ajmer. 

Syed  Haleem  Chishty,  official  representative  (gaddT 
nashTn)  of  founder  Saint  Muinuddin  Chishti  at  Ajmer. 

Khwaja  Hasan  SanT,  descendant  and  principal 
representati ve  of  Saint  Nizamuddin  Auliya;  also  titular 
representative  ( saj jadanashTn)  of  his  father's  shrine 
(Khwaja  Hasan  NizamT);  Assembly  leader  and  patron  of 
Me raj . 

P  Pasha ,  K's  elder  bother. 

M  MehdT,  K's  younger  brother. 

A  Anwar  SabrT,  Sufi  poet  and  devotee  of  Saint  AlauddTn 
Sclbir,  much  patronized  by  K. 

'•S  Ashur  Mian,  devotee  representing  Kachocha  saint,  in 
Awadh,  tastern  India. 

/L  AIT  Se^h,  disciple  of  K's  father,  Bombay  businessman. 

T  Tyeb  Se$h,  disciple  of  K's  father,  Bombay  businessman. 

Q  Sal eem  M.M.  Qureshi ,  author's  husband,  visiting  from 
Canada . 

decreasi ng 
order  of 
combi ned 
spi ritual 
and  worldly 

wi thi n 

thi  s 







Young  Kashmi ri ,  devotee. 

Bombay  devotee,  youngish  businessman. 

Delhi  devotee,  from  old  city,  businessman/storekeeper. 

American  Sufi,  converted  while  in  Afganistan. 

Gaswala,  has  gas  lantern  business,  traditionally  donates 
services  for  Chill  a  Mahfil  arrangements. 

D  Delhi  devotee,  youngish  companion  of  Gaswala,  looking 
after  tray  of  food  offerings. 

0  Old  devotee,  companion  of  Anwar  SabrT,  age  standing. 

C  Old  devotee,  local,  no  standing  otherwise. 




'i  V  Very  old  devotee,  companion  of  S,  age  standing. 

U  Sufi  disciple  attached  to  Kanpur  saint,  some  spiritual 
standing  and  age. 

J  Junior  devotee,  mundane  garb  (tight  shirt). 

N  Nizamuddin  neighbourhood  devotee,  starched  turban,  age 
status  but  no  actual  Sufi . 

I  Pakistani  visitor,  acts  like  saint's  representative  but 
no  proper  interaction,  no  offerings. 

R  Rudauli  saint's  descendant  and  lawyer  from  Lucknow,  but 
behavior  defies  status. 

X  Small  devotee,  Gandhi  cap,  unidentified. 

X  Black-bearded  devotee,  unidentified. 

£  Dignified  devotee,  shervani  coat  and  cap,  mostly 
invisible  to  camera. 

va  Corpulent  devotee,  local  businessman,  mostly  invisible  to 
camera . 

Total  listeners:  29 

q  Qawwal  who  picks  up  offering  money  and  makes  change. 


ii  Participants1  Index  (arranged  alphabetically  for  ease  of  reference): 

A  Anwar  SabrT,  Sufi  poet  and  devotee  of  Saint  AlauddTn 
Sabir,  much  patronized  by  K. 

B  Bombay  devotee,  youngish  businessman. 

C  Old  devotee,  local,  no  standing  otherwise. 

D  Delhi  devotee,  youngish  companion  of  Gaswala,  looking 
after  tray  of  food  offerings. 

E  Delhi  devotee,  from  old  city,  businessman/storekeeper . 

F  American  Sufi,  converted  while  in  Afganistan. 

G  Gaswala,  has  gas  lantern  business,  traditionally  donates 
services  for  Chilla  Mahfil  arrangements. 

H  Syed  Haleem  Chishty,  official  representative  (gad^T 
nashTn  of  founder  Saint  Muinuddin  Chishti  at  Ajmer. 

I  Pakistani  visitor,  acts  like  saint's  representative  but 
no  proper  interaction,  no  offerings. 

J  Junior  devotee,  mundane  garb  (tight  shirt). 

K  Khwaja  Hasan  SanT,  descendant  and  principal 

representative  of  Saint  Nizamuddin  Auliya;  also  titular 
representative  ( saj jadanashtn)  of  his  father's  shrine 
(Khwaja  Hasan  NizamT);  Assembly  leader  and  patron  of 
Mera j . 

L  AIT  Seth,  disciple  of  K's  father,  Bombay  businessman. 

M  MehdT,  K's  younger  brother. 

N  Nizamuddin  neighbourhood  devotee,  starched  turban,  age 
status  but  not  actual  Sufi . 

0  Old  devotee,  companion  of  Anwar  Sabri ,  age  standing. 

P  Pasha,  K's  elder  brother. 

Q  Saleem  M.M.  Qureshi ,  author's  husband,  visiting  from 
Canada . 

R  Rudauli  saint's  descendant  and  lawyer  from  Lucknow,  but 
behavior  denies  status. 

S  Ashur  Mian,  devotee  representing  Kachocha  saint,  in 
Awadh,  Eastern  India. 



T  Tyeb  Seth,  disciple  of  K's  father,  Bombay  businessman. 

U  Sufi  disciple  attached  to  Kanpur  saint,  some  spiritual 

standing  and  age. 

V  Very  old  devotee,  companion  of  S,  age  standing. 

W  Awadh  devotee,  cultured  bearing,  but  no  prominence. 

Y  Young  Kashmiri  devotee. 

Z  Syed  Zainul  AbedTn,  descendant  and  titular 

representative  (dTwan)  of  founder  Saint  MuTnuddTn  ChTstT 
at  Ajmer. 

Corpulent  devotee,  local  businessman,  invisible  to 
camera . 

X  Small  devotee,  Gandhi  cap,  unidentified. 

Black-bearded  devotee,  unidentified. 

Dignified  devotee,  shervani  coat  and  cap,  mostly 
invisible  to  camera. 

i  i  i 

Responses  (listed  alphabetically: 
a  arm/hand  raised 

b  bow  head 

c  clap  hands 

d  dig  in  pocket  (for  offering  money) 
e  feet  touched  (of  other  person) 

f  face  expression 

h  head  movement  (side  to  side) 

i  signalling  (hand)  gesture 

j  join  hands 

k  kneel  in  prostration 

1  lay  hand  on  chest 

m  love  restlessly 





n  nod  head 

o  exclamation,  shout 

p  pat  devotee  (usually  on  back) 

r  rub  face 

s  sway 

t  tap  rhythmically  (hand) 
v  verbal  expression 

w  weep  (hand  on  eyes) 

x  hand  on  heart 

AK  A  makes  offering  to  K 

Application  and  Combinations: 



raises  arm 






sways  very  intensely 

As - ■ 


continues  to  sway 



pats  B 



makes  offering  to  K 



presents  A 1 s  offering  to  H 



gets  up,  rises 



raises  B 

A - 


changes  place,  moves  away 



sits  down 



seats,  puts  down  B 



remains  standing/walking 



qB  Qawwal  picks  up  money  from  B 

v  Musical  Symbols:  (see  Legend  p.  xxiii) 

vi  Transcription  Layout  of  Graph 

Me-ko  *0<mA  ica)t  up. 


1.  QAUL  (Lines  1  to  3/  Section  A).... 

1.  QAUL  (cf.  ex.  1) 

During  the  Qaul  the  spiritual  leaders  pay  their  respects  to  the  hierarchy 
by  offering  to  the  highest  representatives  present  as  well  as  to  honour 
each  other.  Since  it  is  the  short  first  line  (A)  which  carries  the 
message  of  the  song,  its  presentation  must  be  extended,  to  give  all  the 
opportunity  to  respond  to  it.  This  Meraj  does  by  using  alternate  repeat 

endings . 


- 1 .  QAUL  (Li nes  1  to  3/A) _ 

But  he  is  also  most  keen  to  use  the  precious  time  of  this  short  event  for 

party  singing,  so  that,  as  soon  as  he  guages  the  high  point  of  offerings 
to  be  over,  he  moves  on  to  complete  a  minimal  statement  of  the  reaminder 

of  the  song 


••••!•  QAUL  (Lines  3-6/B  and  A).... 

A^2.  + 


t  B 

Bei  + 



VAK  . 


kA  - 








- - 


FT  ■' 





i-Hh  |o$ 

while  his  pickup  man  is  already  standing  by  (see  -q-  on  top  of  chart). 
Waiting  for  two  more  offerings  to  be  completed,  he  repeats  the  opening 
phrase  just  enough  times  (A  above)  to  have  his  man  pick  up  the  last 
offering,  immediately  proceeding  to  the  second  ritual  song,  the  Rang . 


_ 2.  RANG  (Verse  I) - 

2.  RANG  (no  Music  ex.) 

Meraj  follows  much  the  same  strategy  during  the  Rang,  though  this 
hymn  is  both  longer  and  of  more  immediate  importance  to  the  _uri 
celebration,  since  it  celebrates  Amir  Khusrau's  joy  at  finding  Nizamuddin 
Auliya  as  his  guide.  An  even  greater  number  offers  (20  persons)  a  total 
of  51  rupees,  so  that  it  all  takes  more  time  (see  following  pages). 


. . . .2.  RANG  (Verse  I ) _ 






-r  + 

-r  ATT  •>  ' 

tA*  -t  At  -+ 

AS  tAMt 

fftf  •»  AM-  f 

M  +  At  + 

Ht - 

- UK — 






^  i — k 

V»HT — 

- Vtt. 


....2.  RANG  (Verse  II) 

•  •  •  • 

(J*  MH  W) 

— - 

&  -r  %l  •» 

frit  ^  %2t  t 











WL  H* 












r/H  -r  Ai  + 

l&1  -f  E>2.  •»  'Si  f  foaUfklt  ■>  ^atft 


tdC  H" 

aKH  <,KH 



«“  h° 



k  j-tft'iovif 







A  * 

AS _ 




r\  * 

u  » 

r - fk 


_ f' 

7  r\ 

- — _  — —  i 













_ 2.  RANG  (Verse  III) _ 




f&l . +  IfAi  ♦  Ai 

*kHZ  fcKJ  tt°v 


m  iMtt-tte 

^  ! 

u  |U - uc 





1 1 







IT--...:  lie  - 



- 2.  RANG  (Verses  III-V) _ 

;  nn) 







C 1  -f 


-Git  * 


- - 

Ca  t 



uAl'  — 


=  HK - 






The  end  of  this  song,  which  also  marks  the  end  of  ritual  singing,  is 
announced  by  the  briefest  of  cadence--an  extension  of  the  last  note  of 
the  song--and  then  Meraj  is  free  to  begin  his  own  personal  "turn"  to 
sing.  During  the  Rang  Meraj  has  been  considering  the  choice  of  his 
first  song.  Given  the  spiritual  and  literary  standing  of  his  audience  he 
deems  it  appropriate  to  begin  with  that  most  auspicious  Sufi  classic,  the 

^  ■*  •» 

£>9  -+ 



C*  -+  Cadtvsct. 

_ Ut=- 



—  LS - U- - IM 

Masnavi . 

....3.  MASNAVI  (Verse  I  as  Recitative) 

•  •  •  • 


IAIU  j 


y>a  dlru^N*  /  rgc>i<x4>ve-^ 





3.  MASNAVI  (cf  ex.  4) 

To  start  this  song  Meraj  needs  to  lower  the  tonic  from  the  previous 
song,  because  of  the  Masnavi  tune's  high  register  emphasis  (cf  ex  4: 
340).  Meraj  first  intones  the  opening  couplet  as  a  recitative,  as  is  the 
custom  for  this  particular  song.  If  the  response  is  good,  he  plans  to 
convert  the  recitative  into  a  song  by  reiterating  it  in  regular  rhythm 
with  the  drum  (cf.  ex.  4:340).  Almost  immediately  Meraj  sees  H  respond 
in  a  reverential  gesture,  bowing  his  head  and  joining  his  palms,  to 
express  symbolically  his  identification  with  the  poetic  message;  then  H 
begins  to  sway.  Also  three  listeners  signal  to  the  Qawwals,  two  to 
change  money--which  indicates  their  wish  to  make  more  offerings. 



....3.  MASNAVI  (Verse  I  as  recitative) _ 

By  the  second  line  (A)  of  the  verse,  K,  the  leader,  rises  to  make  an 
offering  to  H,  in  deference  to  his  superior  spiritual  status.  Meraj 
therefore  quickly  decides  to  turn  the  Masnavi  recitative  into  a  song. 

....3.  MASNAVI  (Verse  I,  Statement  1- 

Lines  1  and  2/Sections  B  and  A).... 

As  soon  as  the  drum  signals  the  start  of  the  song,  L,  following  his 
leader's  lead,  also  offers,  but  to  the  Sufi  poet  A,  followed  on  the 
second  line  (A)  by  Q's  offerings  to  all  three  leading  personages.  Mean¬ 
while,  Meraj  observes  that  both  his  patron  and  H  are  tapping  alongwith 
the  drum  rhythm  and  H  now  bows  again  and  starts  weeping,  then  returns  to 


!  *.:j 


- 3.  MASNAVI  (Verse  I,  Statement  2).... 


£>t  ♦ 

£>  + 





G* - ~~ 



(yu>  ' 


t#) - 

- - -  — 


(?) - 




Meraj  therefore  repeats  the  entire  verse,  observing  H  weep  with  more 
intensity,  while  others  show  light  arousal.  Knowing  that  K,  the  leader, 
never  gives  free  expression  to  his  mystical  emotion,  Meraj  observes  a 
response  in  K's  face  and  therefore  decides  to  repeat  the  verse,  to  bring 
out  its  full  impact. 


....3.  MASNAVI  (Verse  I,  Statement  3) _ 











K's  emotion  prompts  him  to  make  two  more  offerings  to  H  who  weeps 
intermittently.  Q,  in  appreciation  of  the  verse,  offers  again. 



- 3.  MASNAVI  (Verse  I,  Statement  4).... 

Nothing  warrants  multiple  repetition  at  this  time,  but  Meraj 
nevertheless  is  attempting  to  generate  some  intensification  through  a 
gradual  increase  in  tempo,  while  repeating  once  more  the  opening  verse. 
No  change  occurs  in  the  level  of  arousal  all  around,  so  that,  after  a 
dual  statement,  Meraj  decides  to  proceed  to  the  second  verse  which  he 
knows  to  be  particularly  effective. 



....3.  MASNAV I  (Verse  II,  Statement  1).... 

The  first  line,  stated  three  times  (B.),  brings  no  response,  except 
for  one  senior  devotee  changing  money,  an  indication  of  intended 

offerings . 


....3.  MASNAVI  (Verse  II,  Statement  1).... 

It  is  on  the  second  line  that  spontaneously  H  rises  and  kneels  down 
before  K  with  an  offering,  thus  acting  out  the  poet's  textual  message  of 
submission  in  love  (see  translation  p.  339).  K,  deeply  moved  by  the 
verse  and  by  this  gesture  from  a  spiritual  superior,  reciprocates  the 
gesture,  at  the  same  time  showing  his  deepest  submission  by  touching  the 
feet  of  H.  H  then  rises  and  touches  the  wall  behind  him,  hallowed  abode 
of  the  saint  Nizamuddin  Auliya. 

Several  other  offerings  are  received,  and  Meraj  fully  expects  the 
heightened  emotion  of  the  leaders  to  have  its  impact  on  the  audience, 
particularly  on  those  who  are  personally  linked  to  the  saint  by 
discipleship.  One  older  disciple  (U)  is  visibly  moved,  even  calling  out 
the  text  of  the  verse,  but  he  is  not  offering  yet  (though  he  has  changed 
money  earlier  in  the  verse  and  might  wish  to  offer).  Meraj  therefore 

decides  to  repeat  the  entire  verse. 


3.  MASNAV I  (Verse  II,  Statement  2-Line  1/B).... 

In  the  light  of  the  second  line,  once  stated,  the  first  line  (E5)  has 
now  a  greater  impact;  several  offer  in  order  to  add  a  validation  of  their 
mystical  love,  to  that  of  the  two  leaders. 


- 3.  MASNAVI  (Verse  II,  Statement  2-Line  2/A) _ 

On  the  restatement  of  the  second  line,  however,  the  impact  subsides, 
except  for  the  continued  arousal  of  H  and  repeated  exclamations  and 
gestures  coming  from  R,  the  visiting  saintly  representative.  D  moves  the 
tray  of  food  offerings  to  be  distributed  later,  but  that  is  of  no  concern 
to  Meraj.  Meraj  is  beginning  to  discount  R's  frequent  responses,  for  R 
is  expressing  himself  almost  continuously,  yet  he  has  not  focussed  his 
enthusiasm  on  any  part  of  the  song,  nor  validated  his  link  with  an 
offering  even  once.  Obviously,  his  behavior  is  not  in  keeping  with  his 
status  and  spiritual  identity. 

However,  Meraj  always  takes  H's  responses  most  seriously  and  thus 
decides  to  repeat  this  verse  once  more  now,  also  hoping  for  some  more 
offeri ngs. 

I  ' 


- 3.  MASNAVI  (Verse  II,  Statement  3-Lines  1  and  2/B  and  A) _ 

In  this  last  attempt  to  generate  more  enthusiams  for  the  second  line 
(A),  Meraj  introduces  multiple  repetition,  first  introducing 
intensification  by  means  of  a  higher  pitch  in  the  alternative  ending  Aft  . 


. ...  3.  MASNAVI  (Verse  II,  Statement  3-Line  2/A).... 

But  only  one  rupee  comes  to  K  who  rises  to  offer  it  to  his  elder  brother , 
in  recognition  of  his  chronological  seniority.  So  as  soon  as  this 
offering  has  reached  its  destination  in  the  hands  of  the  pickup  man, 

Meraj  moves  on,  now  deciding  to  make  the  switch  into  the  closely  related 
poem  by  Amir  Khusrqu  which  addresses  the  saint  Nizamuddin  directly. 


....3.  MASNJAV I  (Verse  III,  Statement  1  -  Line  1/Section  B) - 

H  immediately  responds  by  covering  his  face  and  expresses  his 
emotion.  The  senior  disciple  (U)  who  was  moved  earlier  and  had  continued 
to  sway,  now  finally  offers  to  both  K  and  H.  Another  offering  by  Q  is 
received,  but  Meraj  is  missing  out  on  responses  from  those  listeners  who 
do  not  understand  Farsi,  though  they  are  not  many. 




-  3.  MASNAVI  (Verse  III,  Statement  1-Line  2/A) _ 


A  ^ 


x  L 





(&)'-' - - — - — 










-t it S 





The  second  line  yields  no  offerings  at  all,  yet  Meraj  repeats  it 
even  intensifying  it  with  the  high  pitched  alternate  ending,  because  now 
not  only  H  but  another  very  senior  Sufi  is  showing  strong  emotion  (V): 
swaying,  even  weeping  and  gesticulating.  He  also  notes  the  local 
disciple  G's  emotion,  but  sees  no  intensification  in  any  state  to  warrant 
continuing  the  repetition. 

....3.  MASNAVI  (Verse  IV,  Statement  1) 

•  •  •  • 

This  verse  is  one  reinforcing  the  message  of  the  first  one  and 
indeed  it  evokes  strong  responses  in  a  number  of  the  "special  listeners, 
including  the  foremost  among  them,  H.  On  the  second  line  even  K  cannot 
contain  himself  from  verbalizing  his  delight. 


. ...  3.  MASNAVI  (Verse  IV,  Statement  2) _ 

But  only  one  offering  is  received  which  H  uses  to  once  more  express  his 
deep  respect  to  the  saint  by  standing  up  to  offer  it  to  K,  the  saint's 
representative.  Meanwhile  Meraj  is  making  just  one  repeated  statement  of 
the  verse,  and  as  soon  as  that  offering  has  reached  Z  and  is  picked  up, 
he  moves  on  to  the  last  verse,  even  though  several  Sufis  are  still 
responding--because  time  is  passing  fast. 


....3.  MASVANI  (Verse  V,  Statement  1  -  Line  1/B).... 

In  this  verse  the  name  of  the  Saint  Nizamuddin  has  the  expected 
immediate  impact  of  exclamations  and  gestures.  Here  the  Bombay  disciple, 
who  has  been  less  affected  by  this  Persian  poem,  responds  again, 
expressing  his  devotional  link  through  offerings  made  to  those  he 
cherishes  as  being  close  to  the  saint. 

to  c  *>  r*  ^  a 

•  •  •  • 

3.  MASNAVI  (Verse  V,  Statement  1-Line  2/A) - 

^  _ 
A  A. 

«  H* 







pKu  K  Kt- 






kHZ  «• 








fi*a  ~r 



iKf  -^7> 





On  the  second  line  Meraj  notes  more  offerings  as  well  as 
expressional  responses,  so  he  repeats  the  verse. 


....3.  MASNAVI  (Verse  V,  Statement  2  -  Line  1/B).... 

Ready  to  set  off  into  multiple  repetition  of  the  first  line 
containing  the  saint's  name,  Meraj  uses  the  higher  pitched  tune  ending 
( Bfr  )  for  impact.  But  nothing  much  happens.  A  Bombay  devotee  (T)  as 
well  as  the  American  Sufi  (F),  not  knowing  Farsi,  have  understood  the 
saint's  name  and  make  an  offering.  The  intensity  of  other  expressions 

subsides . 



-  3.  MASNAVI  (Verse  V,  Statement  2-Line  2/A).... 












A  * 

At  T 

A4  -r 

A  + 


(s*)  - 






to<) - " — ~ 


V  " 

. .  £“v _ 


— — — — — —  — — i 

By  the  second  line,  L  has  just  obtained  change  again,  for  more 
offerings;  so  Meraj  decides  to  repeat  the  verse  once  more,  in  case  L 
wishes  to  offer  again. 


....3.  MASNAV I  (Verse  V,  Statement  3).... 

L's  offering  does  not  materialize,  although  he  shows  some  arousal. 
But  the  leading  Sufis  are  no  more  aroused.  Meraj  therefore  decides  to  go 
on  immediately  to  the  next  song. 

During  the  last  statement  of  the  last  verse,  Meraj  has  also  had  to 
decide  on  the  next  song.  If,  as  is  normally  the  case  in  a  Chi 11a 
assembly,  there  had  been  time  for  three  songs,  Meraj  might  now  have 
considered  it  appropriate  to  insert  a  song  in  praise  of  the  senior  saint 
of  the  Chishti  hierarchy,  Muinuddin  Chishti,  in  recognition  of  that 
saint's  presence  in  the  person  of  his  two  highest  representatives.  But 
today  only  one  more  song  can  be  added,  and  that  must  express  devotion  to 
Nizamuddin  Auliya.  Meraj  decides  to  complement  the  Farsi  poem  with  the 
more  direct  appeal  of  Hindi,  while  contuining  the  thematic  link  with  the 
preceding  song. 

He  concludes  the  MasnavT  and  introduces  the  new  selection  by  a  brief 
melodic  bridge,  leading  down  to  the  tonic  where  the  next  song  starts. 

rtl  efod'c-  br  i'JvG. 




4.  TORI  SURAT  (Opening  Line/A) _ 

4.  TORI  SURAT  (cf.  ex.  3  and  Transcription  1). 

On  the  very  start  of  the  opening  line  of  this  favourite  song  the 
audience  comes  to  life  with  immediate  spontaneous  response,  most  of  all 
from  L,  who  shouts,  raises  his  arm  and  then  cannnot  restrain  himself  from 
seeking  his  saintly  guide's  son  (K)  thus  demonstrating  his  devotion  and 
allegiance  by  a  prostration  ( qadambosT,  cf.  Table  21).  In  response  to 
L's  state,  Meraj  repeats  the  complete  first  line  several  times,  to  enable 
him  to  complete  his  offerings  to  all  three  leaders  on  the  same  message. 

•  I 


. ...  4.  TORI  SURAT  (Opening  Line/A).... 

Then  he  inserts  a  brief  responsorial  repetition,  using  the  initial  part 
of  the  line  with  the  salient  word  surat  (face— of  the  Beloved), 
alternating  with  appellations  of  the  saint  ya  Mahbub  .  This  he 
intersperses  with  restatements  of  the  complete  line,  while  observing  L's 
continued  state  of  arousal,  as  well  as  H  being  moved  to  tears. 


•  'i- 


....4.  TORI  SURAT  (Opening  Line/A).... 

Meraj's  focus  has  remained  on  several  other  special  listeners 
showing  incipient  arousal.  To  intensify  the  impact  of  the  repeated 
statements  he  therefore  employs  the  higher-pitched  alternate  tune  (A  alt) 
and  also  restates  the  responsorial  repetition  of  A1 .  But  no  increase  of 
their  arousal  is  coming  about;  so  he  decides  to  insert  a  girah  to  expand 

on  the  range  of  meaning  inherent  in  the  opening  line. 


4.  TORI  SURAT  (Opening  Line:  INSERT) _ 

There  is  a  Farsi  giiazal  by  the  very  author  of  Tori  Surat,  Amir 
Khusrau,  which  Meraj  finds  particularly  suited  to  this  purpose  and  the 
associ ational  link  between  the  two  poems--through  their  common  author  and 
his  disci  pi eship  to  the  saint--is  further  enhancing. 

First,  however,  he  waits  for  a  prosperous  devotee  (E)  to  complete 
his  offering  to  the  leader  and  for  it  to  be  passed  up  the  hierarchy,  to 
K,  to  H,  and  finally  to  Z(see  chart  on  preceding  page),  so  that  his 
pickup  man  can  receive  and  deposit  it  on  the  harmonium  and  no  distraction 
interferes  with  the  recitation  he  is  about  to  begin. 

After  the  briefest  melodic  transition  on  the  harmonium  (see  chart  on 
preceding  page),  Meraj  intones  the  first  of  four  couplets  that  the  insert 
consists  of.  Since  the  poem  is  set  to  the  same  poetic  meter  as  the 
Masnavi  (see  Table  14),  Meraj  likes  to  enhance  its  associational  impact 
further  by  singing  it  to  the  Masnavi  tune,  but  of  course  in  recitative 
style,  using  a  free  rhythm  and  omitting  alternative  endings,  as  befits  an 
inserted  verse.  The  only  place  where  such  an  ending  will  be  needed  is  at 
the  end  of  the  insert,  to  signal  the  return  to  the  main  song. 

This  tune  does  not  correspond  to  the  melodic  frame  of  a  girah, 
however.  A  girah  must  at  the  end  descend  from  a  high  pitch  so  as  to  lead 
back  into  the  main  song,  whereas  the  last  line  of  every  Masnavi  couplet 
starts  low  and  actually  rises  in  pitch.  This  means  that  Meraj  will  have 
to  modify  the  tune  of  the  last  line  of  the  insert,  starting  it  high,  in 
order  to  allow  it  to  descend  and  lead  back  into  the  main  song. 


The  four  couplets  of  this  insert  are  all  variations  on  the  recurrent 
theme  of  self-sacrifice  in  love,  as  expressed  in  the  reiterated  monorhyme 
qurbanat  shawam  ("I  sacrifice  myself  on  You",  see  ex.  11).  But  it  is 
the  last  couplet  which  introduces  in  its  first  line  a  second  dimension, 
related  most  ingeniously  to  the  meaning  of  the  opening  line  of  the  song 
and  expanding  it  in  an  unexpected  and  profound  was  (see  translation,  p. 

Meraj  is  expecting  the  entire  insert  to  affect  spiritually 
sophisticated  listeners  and  thus  keeps  a  sharp  eye  on  the  senior  Sufis  in 
the  audience  as  he  begins  the  eight-line  sequence. 



- 4.  TORI  SURAT  (Opening  Line:  INSERT  Verse  I  and  II) _ 


I — I — I 

By  the  second  verse  there  is  the  beginning  of  a  response  and  K  makes 
the  poetic  statement  his  own,  expressing  the  emotion  of  sacrificing  the 
self  in  love  by  means  of  the  gesture  of  an  offering  to  the  one  who  to  him 
represents  the  closest  link  with  the  Beloved,  i.e.  H.  Meraj  of  course 
repeats  the  line  (II,  2/GA)  until  the  gesture  is  completed  in  its 
enti rety . 



-  4.  TORI  SURAT  (Opening  Line:  INSERT,  Verse  III)  _ 

Meraj  also  gives  the  two  subsequent  lines  a  restatement,  expecting  K  to 
respond  further.  But  this  does  not  happen,  so  that  then  he  moves  on  to 
the  culminating  last  couplet  without  waiting  for  the  completion  of  Q's 
offering  whose  gesture  he  knows  to  be  motivated  by  personal  consideration 
for  him  rather  than  by  the  quest  for  a  spiritual  link. 

....TORI  SURAT  (Opening  Line:  INSERT  Verse  IV,  Statement  1-Line  1/B). 


On  the  opening  line  of  the  last  couplet  Meraj  sees  both  K  and  H 
react  with  fervour,  as  well  as  several  others,... 


- TORI  SURAT  (Opening  Line:  INSERT,  Verse  IV,  Statement  1-Line  2/A) _ 


and  on  the  second  line  H  even  gives  Meraj  a  signal  to  continue  on.  Then 
he  offers  L's  offering--which  has  reached  him  through  K's  brother  M--to 
K,  showing  his  utter  devotion  to  the  saint  Nizamuddin  Auliya  (rather  than 
passing  it  on  to  Z,  as  is  standard  procedure).  K  accepts  in  the  name  of 
his  saint,  but  he  does  so  while  touching  H's  feet  to  express  his  own 
submission  to  his  spiritual  senior.  Meraj  of  course  decides  to  repeat 
the  couplet. 


- 4.  TORI  SURAT  (Opening  Line:  INSERT  Statement  2-Line  1/B) _ 


IY-2  Js'ov 

While  mild  responses  continue  another  offering  comes  from  a  local 
devotee  who  has  not  responded  so  far  and  is  not  expected  to  become 



••••  4.  TORI  SURAT  (Opening  Line:  INSERT,  Verse  IV,  Statement  2- 
Line  2/A) _ 

By  the  second  line  the  various  swaying  responses  subside,  except  for  R's 
continued  gestures  and  exclamations  which  Meraj  by  now  disregards 
entirely  as  not  showing  any  spiritual  basis.  He  therefore  decides  to 
give  the  gi rah  its  final  impact  by  leading  it  back  into  the  first  line  of 
the  song.  This  he  does  by  re-stating  the  last  line  of  the  insert  with  a 
high  starting  pitch  (  GA  above),  in  order  to  make  its  tune  a  descending 
one,  as  is  appropriate  for  the  leadback  of  an  insert.  However,  something 
unexpected  happens:  H,  as  soon  as  he  hears  the  high  pitch,  moves  his 

h  i 

head  and  finger  disapprovingly  (H  above).  Meraj  immediately--and 
correctly-- i nterprets  this  as  a  signal  not  to  conclude  the  insert  but  to 
go  on  repeating  its  last  couplet  which  had  moved  H  particul arly . 



....4.  TORI  SURAT  (Opening  Line:  INSERT, 

attempted  return  to  opening  line).... 

Verbally,  returning  to  the  beginning  of  the  insert  couplet  is  an 
easy  task,  but  musically  Meraj  has  already  introduced  the  descending  tune 
that  indicates  the  completion  of  the  gi rah .  The  only  thing  he  can  now  do 
is  to  modify  the  tune,  steering  it  away  from  the  melodic  leadback  into 
the  main  song  line,  in  order  to  avoid  giving  the  audience  a  contrary 
structural  signal.  This  he  does  as  written  out  below  (along  with  signal 
and  response  by  H): 

a)  Standard  concluding  line  (asthayT)  of  MasnavT  tune 

with  alternative  ending  marking  return  to  beginning  of  couplet 
( antara) . 

INSERT,  Verse  IV,  Statement  1,  Line  2 


»  O  * 

o — # 

larcL  -  pa  ra.'Z3  qari>a.  -  r*f  NJoh  Lra 

b)  Substitute  concluding  line  (antara  pitch  and  descending) 

with  melodic  leadback  into  opening  line  (asthayT )  of  main  song. 



INSERT,  Verse  IV,  Statement  2  INTENDED  Line  2 

c)  Modified  substitute  concluding  line  (descending  movement  reversed) 

with  melodic  anticipation  of  return  to  beginning  of  couplet  ( antara) 
INSERT,  Verse  IV,  Statement  2,  ACTUAL  Line  2 


o  o  — 



o  # 



4  a 

i ITT  u  3 

t-i  I :  I  I  )  i; 

A;  fara-pot  raz.5  cjurfca  -  Ha*  Wcl 

No  sooner  that  he  changes  the  direction  of  the  tune  upward,  he  sees 
H  nod  approvingly,  having  instantly  understood  Meraj's  intended 

compliance  with  his  wish. 




....TORI  SURAT  (Opening  Line:  INSERT,  return  to  Opening  Line) 

•  •  •  • 

The  fact  that  Meraj  had  to  interupt  the  formal  leadback  once  started 
means  that  a  truly  effective  linkup  between  insert  and  main  song  has  been 
thwarted.  On  the  other  hand,  Meraj  has  helped  sustain  the  arousal  of  one 
of  the  spiritual  leaders  of  the  assembly.  H  once  again  responds  visibly 
to  the  first  line  of  the  restated  couplet,  and  so  does  K;  but  Meraj  does 
not  see  any  potential  for  intensification,  he  therefore  moves  on  to  the 
final  line  and-- this  time  without  melodic  leadback,  so  as  not  to  invite 
another  signal  requesting  a  repeat--unceremoniously  returns  to  the  main 
song,  thus  avoiding  to  give  any  indication  of  his  intent,  since  he  does 
not  wish  to  comply  with  another  request  for  a  repeat. 


- 4.  TORI  SURAT  (Opening  Line  cont'd.) _ 

The  unexpected  repetition  of  its  concluding  verse  has,  however, 
reduced  the  impact  of  the  insert  on  the  opening  line  of  the  song.  The 
response  to  its  restatements  is  minimal,  even  though  Meraj  does  his 
utmost  to  intensify  them  by  using  higher  pitched  melodic  alternatives  of 
the  asthayT.  He  decides  therefore  to  continue  into  the  body  of  the  song 
where  he  can  expect  supplicatory  stanzas  to  rekindle  his  audience's 
fervour.  Also,  time  is  running  short. 


- 4.  TORI  SURAT  (Verse  I,  Statement  1-Lines  1  &  2/B  ).... 

Initially,  the  first  verse  appears  almost  as  an  anticlimax. 


....4.  TORI  SURAT  (Verse  I,  Statement  1-Line  3/B) _ 

It  takes  until  the  third  line  of  this  stanza  to  generate  responses. 
Since  it  symbolically  expresses  the  quest  for  being  filled  and  purified 
with  the  mystical  love  of  the  saint  (by  means  of  the  saint's  "colour", 
see  translation  p.  333),  link  responses  are  appropriate. 


. ...  4.  TORI  SURAT  (Verse  I,  Statement  1-Line  4/  ).... 

I  <2- 

The  link  responses  continue,  predictably,  into  the  supplicatory  closing 
line,  so  that  Meraj  decides  to  repeat  both  lines  without  returning  back 
to  the  first  half  of  the  verse  (lines  1  and  2  above). 


- 4.  TORI  SURAT  (Verse  1,  Statement  2-Lines  3  &  4/B  &  D) _ 

The  effect  of  this  repeat  is  minimal,  hence  Meraj  moves  on  to  the 
next  stanza  which  is  certain  to  yield  offerings,  since  it  constitutes  an 
appeal  to  the  saint  in  the  very  name  of  his  own  spiritual  guide,  Baba 




- 4.  TORI  SURAT  (Verse  II,  Statement  1-Lines  1  &  2) _ 

Meraj  dwells  on  the  line  containing  the 
completing  the  couplet  decides  to  repeat,  to 

saintly  name  and  on 
allow  for  its  full  impact. 


....4.  TORI  SURAT  (Verse  II,  Statement  2-Lines  1  &  2/B  ).... 

During  the  second  statement  he  observes  how  M,  the  leader's  younger 
brother,  makes  an  offering  to  the  Pakistani  Sufi  who  has  so  far  failed  to 
respond,  either  expressively  or  with  an  offering  showing  his  deference  to 
the  saint  at  whose  darbar  (royal  court)  he  is  a  visitor.  By  thus 
initiating  L's  participation  in  the  hierarchical  presentation  of  respect, 
M  finally  causes  L  to  rise  and  to  present  the  offering  he  received  to  K, 

the  leader. 



- 4.  TORI  SURAT  (Verse  III,  Statement  1-Lines  1 

The  third  stanza,  of  four  lines  again,  is  one  not  familiar  to  most 
performers  and  Sufis  today,  and  Meraj  takes  pride  in  inserting  it  into 
his  performance  of  this  song,  showing  his  special  knowledge. 


....4.  TORI  SURAT  (Verse  III,  Statement  2-Lines  3  &  4/B  ).... 




- - ^ - 

B‘zT  . 






/,  ✓ - - , 



i  Lt  . 



- — - —  L. 


Lr‘  ' — - 




A  U  A  If 


»_  _ _ _ _ 





((=?) - 1 









- f 

But  at  this  point  not  enough  time  is  left  for  his  listeners  to  be  deeply 
affected  by  a  new  dimension  in  the  song,  although  H  does  bow  deeply  and 
join  his  palms  on  the  supplicatory  last  line.  Just  as  Meraj  has  already 
introduced  the  final  descent  of  the  tune,  Q  gets  up  to  offer,  so  that 
Meraj  decides  to  repeat  the  last  two  lines  which  contain  another 
supplication.  After  waiting  for  the  offerings  to  reach  their  destination 
and  allowing  the  mild  arousal  of  several  Sufis  to  abate,  Meraj  concludes 

the  verse. 


....4.  TORI  SURAT  (Verse  IV,  Lines  1  &  2/B  1.... 



The  final  couplet  again  contains  saintly  names;  those  of 
Nizamuddin's  spiritual  preceptors.  But  it  is  the  name  of  Khusrau,  the 
disciple  par  excellence,  that  evokes  another  offering  response  from  the 
devoted  disciple  L. 




....4.  TORI  SURAT  (Conclusion) _ 

Meraj  extends  repetitions  of  the  line  until  the  offering  is  complete. 
Then,  anticipating  the  leader's  command  from  his  countenance,  he  replaces 
the  repeat  alternative  ending  of  the  last  tune  section  which  he  has  been 
using  to  introduce  its  repeat  statements.  Using  the  regular  ending,  he 
leads  back  to  a  final  statement  of  the  opening  line  (AJ.  Just  then  K 
exchanges  a  remark  with  H  which  M  knows  to  be  a  signal  to  end  the 
performance.  He  therefore  brings  the  ending  of  the  opening  tune  down  to 
the  tonic  which  his  brother  Iqbal,  not  needing  any  separate  prompting, 
instantly  contributes  a  threefold  closing  cadence  ( tTya)  on  the  dholak. 



This  example  complements  the  first  one  by  presenting  an  excerpt--one 
song--from  the  other  type  of  intimate  assembly  of  "special"  listeners,  a 
gathering  of  disciples  all  focussed  on  one  spiritual  leader  and  thus 
linked  by  a  bond  of  mystical  "brotherhood"--they  are  all  pirbhayT, 
brothers  through  their  pTr. 

This  assembly  constitutes  a  group  of  Sufis  all  related  by  two 
generations  of  discipleship  to  the  "Kanpur  si  1  si  la"  of  the  late  Babu  Haya 
of  Delhi  who  was  himself  a  follower  of  Nizamuddin  Auliya.  Every  year 
these  disciples  travel  to  Delhi  from  Kanpur  and  other  parts  of  India  to 
attend  the  1 urs  of  Nizamuddin  Auliya,  joing  in  brotherly  commemoration  of 
their  own  sheik]]  in  an  assembly  they  hold  late  at  night  on  the  19th  of 
Rabi-ul-Awwal ,  the  third  day  of  the  1 urs  celebrations.  The  place  is 
auspicious;  a  huj ra  within  the  shrine  belonging  to  the  third  leading 
representative  at  Nizamuddin  Auliya  who,  however,  is  not  present  there. 

The  mTr-e-mahfil  or  leader  of  their  assembly  is  Khalil  Mian  who  is 
the  spiritually  senior  among  them  and  himself  has  the  authority  to  act  as 
a  spiritual  guide  ( khil afat) .  The  other  members  of  the  group  are  of 
varying  ages  and  material  standard.  Outstanding  among  them  are  two  more 
disciples  with  spiritual  leadership  authority;  they  are  also  among  the 
few  who  are  able  to  make  generous  offerings.  The  only  senior  person  from 
the  Nizamuddin  Auliya  shrine  community  is  Mi  skin  Shah  who,  in  the  absence 
of  a  descendant,  takes  on  their  role  in  an  unofficial  way. 

Because  of  its  location  at  the  shrine,  the  Qawwal  Bachche  have  a 
first  right  to  perform  at  this  assembly.  It  is  Meraj  among  them  who,  by 


customary  right,  functions  as  the  principal  performer,  although  the 
assembly  leader  also  gives  occasional  "turns"  to  visiting  performers. 
Meraj  values  this  group  of  listeners  for  their  serious  commitment  to  the 
mystical  path  and  their  respect  for  his  own  special  competence  of 
classical  Qawwali  singing. 

During  this  assembly,  intense  emotional  arousal  comes  about 
repeatedly  because  of  the  strong  and  mutually  reinforcing  spiritual  bond 
among  the  participants.  The  excerpt  presented  here  serves  to  show  the 
entire  course  of  an  ecstatic  state  during  a  performance,  set  within  the 
context  of  the  larger  performance  sequence.  In  addition,  it  exemplifies 
the  following  specific  features  of  interaction,  most  of  them  connected 
with  the  management  of  the  ecstatic  state: 

general  features  -  song  choice  considering  setting  and 

situational  factors 
focus  change  between  single  and  plural 
special  listener's  suggestion  for  insert 
musical  strategies  -  application  of  all  types  of  repetition 

replacement  of  takrar  by  girah 

alternate  tunes  used  for  emphasis  and  ease  of 


introducing  Song  with  Prelude  and 
Introductory  Verse 

a)  Setting 

The  assembly  begins  at  midnight,  after  devotees  and  performer  have 
taken  part  in  a  large  public  assembly  in  the  Urs  Mahal  hall.  By  the  time 




Meraj  arrives,  however,  a  Qawwal  visiting  from  Rampur  is  already  singing 
an  extended  turn  of  three  songs.  During  the  second  song,  Meraj  appears 
at  the  open  door  of  the  hujra;  then  he  signifies  his  presence,  making  an 
offering  to  the  leader  and  withdrawing  until  he  is  called  upon  to 
perform.  Meanwhile  he  has  time  to  assess  the  elements  in  the  setting 
which  he  considers  relevant  to  his  choice  of  a  first  song.  The  two  songs 
he  hears  his  predecessor  sing  are  both  devotional  in  theme;  the  first  one 
is  a  traditional  Hindi  song  praising  the  saint  Nizamuddin  Auliya  and 
expressing  the  love  and  longing  that  activate  the  mystical  bond.  This 
song  evoked  fervent,  even  ecstatic  responses  from  the  audience.  The  song 
following  it  picked  up  the  theme  of  mystical  love  in  general,  in  the  form 
of  a  contemporary  Sufi  song  poem  in  Urdu.  The  response  was  general 
enthusiasm  and  a  number  of  offerings. 

It  is  obvious  to  Meraj  that  the  same  thematic  orientation  of 
devotional  mysticism  should  be  continued.  And  he  considers  that 
addressing  the  saint,  whose  closeness  all  have  come  to  experience,  would 
also  be  appropriate.  For  this  purpose  the  more  familiar  Hindi  or  Urdu 
would  be  more  suitable  than  Persian;  between  the  two  Meraj  gives 
preference  to  Hindi,  because  its  association  with  classical  mysticism  is 
certain  to  appeal  to  this  initiated  audience. 

Before  making  a  final  decision  Meraj  must  take  into  account  yet 
another  factor  in  the  situation,  the  composition  of  the  audience  at  the 
time  of  his  singing.  The  familiar  group  is  assembled,  but  he  notes  that 
one  of  the  more  affluent  members  is  absent  from  the  assembly.  And  from 
those  who  remain  there  seems  no  definite  directive  as  to  the  choice  of  a 
particular  song.  However,  in  the  doorway  he  has  already  noted  the  author 



operating  her  recording  equipment  with  her  husband,  an  important  personal 
patron  at  the  present  time.  This  reminds  Meraj  of  an  old  song,  kachh 
jagmag  jagmag  howat  ha i  (see  ex.  5  and  Transcription  2),  which  is 
appropriate  to  this  occasion  and  had  been  brought  to  his  attention 
earlier  by  the  author's  husband  on  behalf  of  a  Sufi  friend  in  Pakistan 
who  had  asked  for  a  performance  of  this  song.  Meraj  recognizes  an 

opportunity  to  respond  to  this  request  and  thus  begins  his  turn  as  soon 
as  the  leader  calls  him  in. 

b)  Prelude  and  Introductory  Verse  (cf.  ex.  8  and  9) 

For  this  first  song  Meraj  is  accompanied  only  by  his  brother  Iqbal 
who  complements  his  singing  and  also  provides  the  dholak  accompaniment. 
Later,  they  will  be  joined  by  two  junior  partners.  Having  taken  his 
place,  Meraj  perceives  a  momentary  pause  of  relaxation,  following  the 
very  intense  song  just  concluded.  To  allow  for  a  breathing  space  and  to 
attract  the  attention  of  the  audience  to  himself,  he  decides  to  begin  his 
performance  with  a  prelude  on  the  harmonium;  it  is  the  modernized  version 
of  the  naghma-e-Quddusi  (see  ex.  8).  As  Meraj  begins  to  play,  he 
observes  Khalil  Miyan,  the  leader,  still  exchanging  expressions  of 
delight  with  other  disciples  over  the  previous  song.  But  gradually  the 
zikr  rhythm  of  the  prelude  begins  to  make  its  impact  upon  the  listeners. 
While  the  high-pitched  phrases  of  the  prelude  are  repeated  with 
continuing  acceleration,  two  younger  devotees  start  clapping  to  the  beat; 
some  others  sway. 

These  reactions  tell  Meraj  that  his  listeners  are  now  ready  for  the 
message  of  his  song.  Immediately  he  brings  the  naghma  to  a  conclusion  on 
the  lower  tonic  and  the  drumming  ceases.  As  one  listener  exclaims 




"subhanal  1  ah11  (praise  be  to  God),  Meraj  begins  to  sing.  On  the  spur  of 
the  moment  he  has  decided  to  preface  the  song  with  one  of  his  favourite 
introductory  verses  in  Farsi,  Shud  dilam  (see  ex.  9).  Appropriate  to  the 
chosen  song's  focus  on  love,  this  ruba 1 i ,  he  feels,  is  sure  to  appeal  to 
his  sophisticated  audience  and  and  will  set  the  right  tone  for  the  song. 
He  begins  by  intoning  a  brief  wordless  melodic  formula  connecting  the 
conclusion  of  the  naghma  to  the  initial  pitch  of  the  ruba ' i ,  the  fifth. 
Accompanying  himself  on  the  harmonium  he  declaims  the  first  line  of  the 
verse  and  then,  with  a  slight  nod,  signals  his  partner  Iqbal  to  repeat 
it.  This  he  does,  moving  on  to  sing  the  second  line  and  concluding  the 
first  couplet  by  a  descending  melodic  movement.  Now  Meraj  again  takes 
over,  moving  back  to  the  fifth  for  the  third  line  and  then,  without 
waiting  for  a  repeat  by  his  brother,  he  starts  the  last  line  directly  on 
a  higher  pitch  (the  Fth)  in  order  to  make  the  final  descent  into  the 
first  line  of  the  song  (cf.  ex.  9,  minimal  version  p.  301).  His  brother 
now  immediately  joins  in,  the  dhol ak  providing  the  appropriate  rhythmic 
framework  of  an  8/8/  musical  meter,  and  the  song  has  started. 

c)  The  Song:  Synopsis  (cf.  ex.  4  and  Transcription  2) 

Verse  I.  The  opening  verse  evokes  immediate  enthusiasm,  especially 
from  the  older  listeners  who  cherish  this  old  song.  Incipient  arousal  is 
manifest  on  both  verse  lines  and  one  elderly  disciple  is  particularly 
touched  by  this  song.  Few  offerings  are  made,  however. 

Verse  II.  A  heightened  state  of  arousal  among  the  devotees  as  a 

whole  culminates  in  an  ecstatic  state  experienced  by  the  elderly 
disciple.  During  the  four  extended  statements  of  this  verse  Meraj  sees 




the  disciple  move  through  gradually  intensifying  arousal  to  the  total 
abandonment  of  ecstasy,  expressed  through  ecstatic  dancing,  and  brought 
to  a  conclusion  through  an  offering  and  then  an  intense  embrace  of  the 

During  the  first  presentation  of  this  verse  the  elderly  disciple  is 
already  showing  signs  of  more  intense  arousal  which  increase  as  Meraj 
starts  the  verse  a  second  time.  However,  rather  than  catering  to  the 
disciple  by  continuing  to  repeat  the  salient  second  verse  line,  Meraj, 
due  to  his  concern  for  other,  more  prominent  members  of  his  audience 
(including  the  foreign  patron),  decides  instead  to  enhance  this  verse 
line  by  inserting  a  Farsi  verse  as  a  girah.  But  he  is  immediately 
stopped  by  Mi  skin  Shah,  the  senior  Sufi  of  the  shrine,  and  made  to  return 
to  repeating  the  verse  line  so  that  the  disciple's  arousal  is  further 
intensified,  until  he  is  dancing  ecstatically  ( rags)  while  the  other 
listeners  stand  in  reverence. 

Statement  1  and  2  of  this  verse  are  transcribed  in  Transcription  2. 

Meraj  now  complies  with  the  requirements  of  this  state  of  ecstasy 
(kaifiyat)  by  providing  takrar  repetitions  of  the  same  line  and  closely 
monitoring  the  needs  of  the  ecstatic  person.  In  response  to  a  signal 
from  him,  Meraj  returns  to  the  beginning  of  the  verse  a  third  time.  Well 
into  the  second  line  the  ecstatic  disciple's  rags  culminates  in  an 
embrace  of  Khalil  Miyan,  the  leader.  This  suggests  to  Meraj  that  he 
should  make  a  final  statement  of  the  entire  verse,  this  time  with  a  new 
antara  tune  lower  in  pitch  to  give  the  strained  voices  of  only  two 
rest.  But  even  while  locked  in  embrace,  the  ecstatic  Sufi 

persons  a 



continues  his  dancing  movements,  so  that  the  performer  is  required  to 
continue  his  takrar  of  the  second  line  until  the  state  finally  subsides. 
At  this  Khalil  Miyan  sits  down  and  the  rest  follow  his  example,  whereupon 
Meraj  immediately  terminates  the  verse  to  go  on  to  the  next  one. 

Verse  III.  As  Meraj  begins  the  third  and  last  verse  of  the  song, 
Miskin  Shah--in  the  absence  of  any  recognized  descendants  representing 
the  local  saint--sei zes  the  rare  opportunity  to  assert  his  control  over 
the  Qawwals.  His  command  to  insert  a  single  verse  line,  inspired  by  the 
meaning  of  the  previous  verse,  complicates  but  also  enhances  the  song 
presentation.  The  line,  originating  in  Hindu  devotional  poetry,  fits  the 
song  in  both  meaning  and  form:  (cf.  ex.  5,  text  and  translation). 


~  07  ^  CJ  If  C*-r  07 

Jo  sowat  hai  woh  khowat  ha i ,  jo  jagat  hai  woh  pawat  ha i 

Transl ation 

He  who  is  asleep,  loses;  but  he  who  is  awake,  finds. 

Given  the  thematically  and  structurally  conclusive  character  of  this 
single  line,  Meraj  decides  to  integrate  it  into  the  song  by  treating  it 



musically  as  a  concluding  line  set  to  the  asthayT  tune  of  the  song.  The 
response  from  the  devotee  is  mild,  so  that  Meraj  soon  reverts  to  the 
beginning  of  the  verse.  Indeed,  as  a  sophisticated  Qawwal  extremely 
well-versed  in  the  classical  Qawwali  repertoire  he  appreciates 
appropriate  inserts  but  is  critical  of  interruptions  with  incomplete  or 
inappropriate  materials  and  sometimes  resents  having  to  comply  where  he 
considers  the  initiator's  status  insufficient  and  where  no  financially 
beneficial  response  is  forthcoming. 

The  correct  second  line  of  the  verse  brings  another  wave  of 
enthusiasm,  especially,  once  again  from  the  elderly  disciple,  so  that 
Meraj  decides  to  sing  the  complete  verse  once  more.  But  the  elderly 
disciple  is  now  the  only  one  who  expresses  excitement.  Expecting  nothing 
more  in  emotional  response  or  in  offerings,  Meraj  decides  to  end  the  song 
with  a  last  statment,  in  slower  tempo,  of  the  extra  line  inserted  earlier 
by  the  local  Sufi.  Educated,  as  he  is,  in  the  Sufi  tradition,  Meraj 
realizes  that  in  this  concluding  position  the  inserted  line  sums  up 
appropriately  the  message  of  the  whole  song. 

d)  Performance  Interaction  Sequence 

In  order  to  illustrate  now  how  the  salient  interaction  sequence 
during  this  song  comes  about  step  by  step,  a  transcription  in  chart  form 
follows  for  verses  II  and  III,  modelled  on  the  schematic  presentation  of 
a  performance  interaction  shown  on  Table  26:  235,  and  discussed  on  p. 




Verse  II 


(cf.  Transcription  2)  INTERACTION: 

Statement  1 


Line  1/B: 

(2x)  _B1_  Introduces  line  half  by  half, 

(3x)  B_2  then  moves  on  to  A 

Line  2/A: 

1  ” 

^  Elderly  disciple  (D) 
responds  by  moving 
forward,  kneeling 

Attention  aroused  for 
conclusion  of  verse 

( 2 x )  Al_  Expects  line  to  have  impact. 

(3x)  A2  especially  A 2_  ("God  is 


(5x)  Al_  Restates  line,  expanding 
each  half 

General  approval 

D  turns  toward 
assembly  leader  (L) , 
raises  arm  and  shouts 

D  exlaims,  turning  to 
Local  Sufi  (S) 
receives  offering, 

presents  to  to  another 
senior  disciple  who 
offers  it  to  L. 

(2x)  A2 

Keeps  line  going  during 
offering  sequence. 

While  receiving  offering  with 
humility,  his  brother  takes 
opportunity  to  lead, 
initiating  another  statement 
of  verse  before  offering 
sequence  complete. 

L  offers  same  nazrana 
formally  to  S  who  rises 
in  respect,  so  that  both 
pass  it  to  performer. 






Statement  2 

Line  1/B: 


(lx)  Blalt  Brother  sings  higher-pitched 
antara  (see  p.  345)  showing 
quality  of  his  voice 

(2x)  J32  - >  D,  still  kneeling,  grasps 

his  chest  with  emotion. 

(lx)  B1 

(lx)  B2 
Line  2/_A: 

Single  statement  of  complete 
line  1(B_),  serves  to  re¬ 
introduce  line  2  (A) 

Listeners  expectant 


(2x)  A1  Settles  into  A1 

?  General  response,  heads 
shaking,  arms  raised 

(3x)  A2_  Drummer  accentuates 
arrival  of  A2 

7  D  more  intensely  aroused, 
turning  on  knees  and 
bowing  in  reverence 





Statement  2 


( 3 x )  Al_  Expects  to  expand  this  line' — ^  D  moves  with  increasing 

to  allow  full  meaning  to  intensity 

sink  in 

(l/2x)  A2_  Interrupts  A2^  to  insert  - >  D  becomes  still  instantly 

Farsi  verse  as  girah,  to 
amplify  meaning  of  line 
and  impress  sophisticated 
1 i steners 


( l/2x) 
Line  1 

( 3x)  A2 


( 3x)  A1 

( 3x)  A2 

Begins  gi rah  in  solo  - >  S  immediately  signals  per- 

presentation  S  formers  to  stop  insert 

and  continue  repeating 
A2,  giving  priority  to 
IT's  aroused  state 

Instantly  obeys  S  and 
returns  to  repeating  A2 

D  instantly  turns  round  to 
performers  and  breaks 
into  loud  weeping 

Returns  to  beginning  of 
line  to  keep  its  message 
i ntact 

D,  shaking  head,  searches 
pocket,  stands  up  with  a 

shout  and  makes  offering 
to  L,  bowing  low 

Waits  for  offering  to  reach 
him,  repeating  A2 

L  passes  offering  to  S  who 
hands  it  on  to  performers 
D,  meanwhile,  stands  up, 
raises  arm  and  shouts 
several  times  while 
starting  to  turn  on  the 
spot,  having  reached 

L  and  S  rise  in  recogni¬ 
tion  of  D's  state 

Completes  A2  as  soon  as 
everyone  is  standing 

Everyone  follows  L's  lead 
and  stands  up 






Line  2/_A: 


(3x)  A1 

(3x)  A2 


( 4x)  A1 

(1  l/2x) 




Fulfils  duty  to  accompany 
ecstatic  state  for  its 
duration  by  repeating  _A, 
amplified  by  B_  inter¬ 

■>  D  continues  turnning  with 
small  steps,  arms 
extended  upwards  in 
classic  posture  of  raqs, 
shouting  repeatedly 
Entire  audience  focussing 
on  D 

S  urges  on  performers  by 
handcl aps 

Intensifies  arrival  on  « - ^ 

salient  A2  by  drum  accents 


General  response  to  A2 , 

S  motions  to  performers 
with  rhythmic  arm  move¬ 

D,  now  one  arm  raised, 
continues  raqs 

Returns  to  reiterate 
entire  line 

Several  approving  exclam¬ 
ations  but  no  offerings 
D's  turning  slows  down, 
bows  head 

S  tries  to  shelter  D 
while  in  uncontrolled 

Plans  extended  run  of  A2 

Approving  exclamations 
D  shouts  out  to 
performers  between  inter¬ 
mittent  movements 

Interrupts  instantly  to 
comply  with  D's  need, 
interpreting  his  shout  as 
request  for  entire  verse 





Line  1/B: 

(2x)  Bl_ 

(3x)  B2 

Line  2/_A: 

( 3  x )  A1 

( 3x)  A2 


( 3x)  A1 

(lx)  A2 




Goes  back  to  beginning  of 
verse,  but  only  briefly, 
to  return  soon  to  A 

D  responds  with  renewed 
fervor  shaking  his  head 
and  raising  his  arm 

D  begins  to  turn  again 
Remaining  audience  quiet 

Gives  each  half  line  three 

Observing  D  and  general 
reaction  he  decides  to 
repeat  line 

D  turns  slowly,  arm  raised 

General  response  to  _A, 
individual  devotees  sway, 
smile,  call  out 
S  urges  on  performers 

General  focus  still  on  D, 
someone  steadies  him 

D  now  alternately  stops 
and  raises  arm,  then 
turns  toward  L 
searchingly  who 
receives  him  in  his  arms 
L  holds  the  swaying  D 
securely  and  nods  to  the 
performers  to  continue 
takrar  repetitions 

Noting  the  signal  from  L. 
during  first  statement  of 
A2  he  decides  to  repeat 
TFfe  entire  verse 






Line  1/B: 


( 2  x )  Baltl 

(lx)  Balt 2 

Line  2/ A: 

(lx)  Al 

(2x)  A2 


(lx)  A1 




Introduces  lower-pitched 
antara  tune  (see  p.  34 5  ) 
composed  on  the  spot,  to  — 
lessen  strain  on  voice, 
in  anticipation  of  more 
lengthy  repetitions. 

Interprets  S's  signal  as 
request  for  A2,  so  he  cuts 
short  B2_  and  immediately 
continues  on  to  line  A 

^  L  nods,  encouraging  per¬ 
formers  on,  still  holding 
D  securely 

S  loudly  reciterates  the 
phrase  "jagat  hai"  from 
A2  which  reminds  him  of 
extra  line  (see  verse 
III,  1,  A) 

Sings  Al_  only  once  since  A2 
contains  S's  request  phrase 

D  starts  stamping  feet 
slowly,  still  locked  in 

Expects  to  sing  A2_  over  and 

Picks  up  signal  from  L  for 
reiteration  of  Al,  hence 

S,  hearing  "jagat  hai" 
again,  shows  his  enthu¬ 
siasm  by  rhythmical  hand 

D  stamps  and  bounces 
rhythmical ly 

L  shares  in  D ' s  arousal , 
raising  arm,  but  verbally 
indicating  Al 

Restates  the  entire  line  2 
once,  responding  to  the 

(lx)  A2 

needs  of  both  L  and  S,  then: 





Line  2 /A: 


( 4x)  A1 

( 3x)  A2 


( 2x)  A1 

( 2  x )  A2 


( 2x)  A1 
(lx)  A2 




For  L,  he  sings  fkl_  4  times 
then  goes  on  to  sing  A2 
for  S 

L  raises  arm,  expresses 
approval,  delight,  then 
pats  D 

D  is  still  bouncing,  arm 
rai sed 

S  addresses  performers 
again  with  his  phrase 
"jagat  hai",  suggesting 
extra  line  (see  verse 

III,  1,  A) 

Instead  of  responding  to  S's 
request  for  something  new, 
he  completes  A,  in  support 
of  D's  renewecT  arousal 

D  shouts,  turns  to  per¬ 
formers  and  points  to 
them,  acknowledging  the 
source  of  his  delight 

L  holds  D  fast 

Given  D's  state  provides 

him  with  repeated  A,  but  - > 

without  wishing  to  pro¬ 
long  verse 

D  cries  out  once  more 
at  beginning  of  _/U,  then 
just  sways,  his  ecstasy 
abati ng 

Observes  L  move  toward 
concluding  the  ecstatic 
episode,  hence 

D  is  swaying  gently  as  he 
becomes  calm 

L  now  guides  D  to  his 
ting  place 


Restates  A1  just  enough  times 
times  toTinish  the  verse 

with  a  single  A2_  while  all 
sit  down 

D  sits  down  limply 
L  sits  down  and 

< - -  All  the  other  devotees 

follow  suit 





( i ncompl e 

Line  1/B: 


( 2 x )  Bl_ 

( l/2x)  B2 


(insert  1 
set  tolA) 


(lx)  IA1 

( 2 x )  TA2 


(lx)  IA1 

( 2x)  IA2 

Verse  III 






Immediately  proceeds  to 
state  B,  by  halves 

Audience  still  settling 

Begins  B2 

S  interrupts,  loudly 
shouting  out  the  verse 
line  he  has  been  trying 
to  introduce 


Interrupts  B2_  immediately, 
to  comply  now  with  S's 
command,  deciding  to  set 

extra  line  to  asthayT  - >  S  raises  arm  in  rhythm, 

tune  becoming  visibly  aroused 

No  particular  response 
from  others 

In  the  absence  of  a  general 
response  he  restates  the 

entire  insert,  to  let  it - >  S  nods  repeatedly  in 

make  its  full  impact  delight 

Several  devotees  respond 
with  raised  arm 

Expects  nothing  more,  since 
not  even  S  has  made  an 
offering  in  appreciation 
of  his  insert,  hence 

No  offering  indicated 



Line  Ik 

(lx)  IA1 
(lx)  IA2 

Line  1/B: 

(2x)  jU 

( 3x)  B2 

Line  2/A_: 


(2x)  Al_ 

(3x)  B2 




Makes  final  complete  state - ^ 

ment  of  extra  line,  then 
goes  back  to  begin  verse 
III  over 

D,  after  sitting  still 
with  bowed  head,  now 

shakes  head  in  response 

Reiterates  first  line  as 
originally  intended. 

D,  mildly  aroused  again, 
nods  and  raises  arm 
S  does  likewise 

Giving  second  half  proper 

Could  respond  to  call  by 
repeating  B2_,  but  decides 
to  go  on  instead 

D  and  another  disciple 
enthusicastical ly  call 
out  the  concluding  phrase 
ab  karle--"do  it  now." 

Concluding  statement  of  >  D  raises  arm,  speaking 
verse  is  finally  stated  and  shouting 

Others  listen  expectantly 

General  response, 
expressing  delight  in 
gestures  and  shouts,  but 
no  offerings 

D  more  intensely  aroused, 
shakes  head,  calls  out 
loudly,  raises  arm 





Statement  2 

Line  a/_A: 


( 3x)  A1 

( 2  x )  A2 

Repeats  entire  line  as 
indicated  by  response, 
but  has  little  hope  of 
monetary  reward 

General  response  less 
fervent  this  time 
One  disciple  makes  a 
praying  gesture 

D  too  responds  less 

Statement  3 

Line  1/B_: 
(lx)  Bl_ 

( 3 x )  B2 

Gives  verse  last  try,  for 
effect,  dwelling  on 
second  half 

Since  nothing  is  forth¬ 
coming,  he  moves  on 

No  response,  only 
S  nods  in  approval 

Statement  3 

Line  2/ A: 


(3x)  A1  Sings  his  last  presentation - ^  D  once  again  responds  to 

of  A,  this  line,  nodding 

( 4  x )  A2 

D  raises  arm,  shouts 
enthusiastic  comment  on 
this  last  statement 

Extends  last  part  of  message, 
allowing  D  to  express  his 

reaction,  also  allowing  - >  Among  the  rest,  hardly  a 

last  chance  for  offering  responding  gesture 

Concludes  that  song  has  made 
its  impact  and  will  yield  no 
further  spiritual  or  financial 






Li  ne  J_A: 
(lx)  IA1 

(lx)  IA2 

Decides  to  end  song  with  the 
extra  line  inserted  earlier, 

realizing  its  effective  use 
in  summarizing  the  message 
of  the  song. 

Indicates  the  conclusion 
formally  by  slowing  down 
the  tempo,  mindful  of  the 
fact  that  performance  is 
being  recorded 



Opening  Line 

TORI  SURAT  KE  BALHARI  (ex.  3:  331  ff) 

Performance  1  (Song  4:418-420) 


r.  O 


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KACHH  JAGMAG  JAGMAG  HOWAT  HAI  (ex.  5:  341  ff) 

Performance  2  (Song  1:  451-453) 

(Note  melodic  and  rhythmic  variability  in  performance) 



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KACHH  JAGMAG  JAGMAG  HOWAT  HAI  (ex.  5:  286  ff) 

Performance  2  (Song  1:  364-5) 

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-Fg^-T2: -  t  ^  ffcxQ'  - 1  - 

n*>  vw^irv^VjtU  Itamw  fca-ro"  kt  rfte 

- [^1  {6/w*> 

f  LI  f  U  t  ^ 

U  r‘w*w+*  ^  f  Jb-^  ^ 

YeVi  fr3--»  korav.  VI  n*>  fca^*,ytU  p^> 

RaV  »  3“3*^ 













In  the  sense  of  "concluding  portion",  but  not  implying  finality  as 
the  term  suggests  in  its  standard  appl icati on  to  Western  music. 

This  required  particular  care  on  the  part  of  the  analyst  not  to 
evince  too  much  familiarity  with  classical  music,  for  to  do  so  would 
invite  the  Qawwal  informant  to  instantly  adapt  his  musical  knowledge 
into  that  formal  framework. 

The  term  Qawwal i  assembly  is  the  English  rendition  of  the  two 
variant  terms  normally  used  by  Sufis  and  educated  laymen;  one  is  the 
Farsi  mahf i 1 -e-qawwal T,  the  other  the  Urdu  qawwalT  kT  mahfil. 
Colloquially,  the  term  qawwalT  is  used,  while  in  formal  religious 
parlance  the  proper  term  is  mahfil -e-sama'  or  simply  sama'  (see  Ch. 
5:79  ff).  -  - 

A  parallel  idiom  is  darwesh  aur  ra'usa  (darwesh,  i.e.  religious 
ascetic,  derwish;  ra'usa,  plural  of  ra'is,  l .e.  person  of  of  great 
status  and  wealth. 

The  one  well-known  exception  of  this  was  an  unusual  Qawwal  whose 
personal  religious  interpretations  in  performance  earned  him  the 
title  Waiz  (preacher,  religious  interpreter) ,  while  to  his  name  was 
added  the  epiteth  Sufi--,  Sufi  Abdur  Rahman.  Both  title  and  epiteth 
indicate  an  exception  confirming  the  rule. 

Muslim  Tombs  are  always  orientedd  toward  the  Kaaba:  the  body,  lying 
on  its  back,  has  the  face  turned  to  the  right,  so  as  to  face  in  the 
direction  of  Mekka.  The  tomb  itself  is  aligned  with  the  body;  and 
the  entrance  opening  is  placed  at  the  foot  end.  In  India,  then,  all 
tombs  open  toward  the  south,  and  have  a  north-south  orientation, 
usually  with  a  mosque  to  their  West. 

This,  at  Nizamuddin  Auliya  and  other  shrines,  appropriately  gets  to 
benefit  the  entire  group  of  shrine  performers,  since  they  sing  the 
first  song  collectively  and  all  share  equally  in  its  "take". 

How  the  performer  deals  with  this  requirement  of  takrTr  repetition 
is  discussed  below  (p.  246  f ) ,  in  conjunction  with  parallel  musical 
procedures  in  the  song  proper  which  are  being  replicated  here. 

The  double  share  for  the  leader  is  a  relatively  recent  practice 
running  counter  to  the  traditional  bradrT  rule  of  equal  shares,  a 
development  regretted  but  practised  by  all  Nizamuddin  Qawwal s  and  by 
other  hereditary  Qawwal i  groups  as  well. 

Lines  2-6  are  composed  of  Farsi  words  and  syllables  forming  part  of 
a  Sufi  "vocabulary"  of  spiritual  expression  which  has  been  out  of 
use  for  some  time  and  remains  only  partly  intelligible  today.  The 
textual  meaning  of  these  lines  is  in  no  way  emphasized  in  the 













Qawwali  usage  of  today.  For  a  brief  treatment  of  this  Farsi 
vocabulary  as  used  in  the  tarana  musical  genre  see  Amir  Khan  1966). 

Urdu  rather  than  Devanagari  script  is  used  purposely  for  the  Hindi 
selections  because  they  are  part  of  an  entirely  Urdu-speaking  and 
writing  community  which  uses  Persian  rather  than  Devanagari  script. 
All  collections  of  Sufi  poetry  are  in  Persian  script  for  all  three 
languages  (e.g.  Naghmat-e-Sama‘,  n.d.,  IdrTs  Khan  1973,  NizamT,  K. 
1973a  and  NizamT,  P.  1975). 

Clothing  covering  a  woman's  head  and  chest,  symbolizing  the  self 
which,  in  mystical  devotion,  becomes  immersed  in  the  Beloved 
( col oured  by  Him) . 

The  spiritual  guide  of  Nizamuddin  Auliya,  (see  Table  12:  101). 

The  bride's  hardship  here  symbolizes  the  Sufi's  struggles  of  the 
worl  d. 

Qutab  Sahib  is  the  spiritual  guide  of  Farid,  also  known  as  Ganj-e- 
Shakar  (see  Note  14  andd  Table  12:  101);  the  wedding  symbolizes 
spiritual  union  in  which  Khusrau,  the  poet,  is  represented  as  the 
bride  and  Nizamuddin  Auliya  as  the  groom. 

In  the  performing  traditions  of  certain  Sufi  si 1  si  las  (spiritual 
lineages)  the  MasnavT  is  always  performed  as  a  recitative,  without 
any  drumming  (e.g.  KakorT  in  Eastern  UP). 

The  festival  of  breaking  the  fast  after  Ramadan,  starts  on  sighting 
the  new  moon. 

e.g.  the  Urdu  ghazal :  us  ne  kaha  hast!  ten,  main  ne  kaha  jalwa 

A  woman's  head  covering,  used  in  Sufism  to  symbolize  the  link  with 
the  Beloved.  This  translation  is  no  more  than  a  simple  rendition 
and  in  no  way  reflects  the  depth  of  associational  meanings  inherent 
in  each  of  the  verses.  The  last  verse,  for  example,  is  based  on  a 
famous  doha  of  the  15th  century  mystical  poet  Kabir. 


These  are  among  the  legendary  qualities  of  Ali. 





a)  Recordings  and  Equipment 

1.  Audio  Recordings:  Uher  4000  Report  L 

-  68  5"  reel  tapes,  1.5  mil.,  recorded  at  3  3/4  i.p.s. 

-  Collection  labelled  U-76-1  to  U-76-68 

2.  Audio  Recordings:  Song  CF  320 

-  33  cassette  tapes 

-  Collection  labelled  S-76-1  to  S-76-33 

3.  Video  Recordings:  Sony  Videocorder  AV  3400 

-  28  video  tapes,  recorded  at  7  1/2  i.p.s. 

-  Collection  labelled  V-76-1  to  V-76-28 

b)  Song  Transcriptions 

Music  File 

mf  Outline  Transcriptions  of  all  Qawwali  Songs  Recorded. 
Indexed  according  to  language  and  alphabetically. 

Text  File 

tf  Texts  and  Bibliographic  References  of  Selected  Qawwali 
Songs.  Indexed  according  to  language  and 
al phabetical ly . 

c)  Translation  Notebooks  and  Field  Notes 

1.  Nizamuddin  Auliya,  Delhi 
Meraj  Ahmad 

M-l  Talks  and  Lessons.  Recorded  in  Delhi,  1975-6.  3  vol s 



Gore  Khan 

G-l  Talks  and  Lessons.  Recorded  in  Delhi,  1975-6.  2  vol s 




Delhi  Performers 

DP  Talks  and  Lessons  with  Performers  at  Nizamuddin  Auliya. 
Recorded  in  Delhi,  1975-6. 

Delhi  Listeners 

DL  Talks  and  Interviews  with  Sufis  and  Devotees  at 
Nizamuddin  Auliya.  Recorded  in  Delhi,  1975-6. 

Delhi  Urs  Events 

DU  Log  and  Observations.  Recorded  at  Nizamuddin  Auliya 

Delhi  Qawwali  Events 

DQ  Long  and  Observations.  Recorded  in  Delhi,  1975-6. 

2.  Other  Locations 

Ajmer  Qawwali  (MuTnuddTn  ChishtT  Shrine)  ^ 

Fatehpur  Sikri  Qawwali  (SalTm  ChishtT  Shrine) 

Hyderab^d/Gul barga  Qawwali  (Syed  Muh.  / 

Gesudaraz  Shrine) 


Karachi  Qawwali  (Yusuf  Shah  Shrine) 


Lucknow/Kakori  Qawwali  (Shah  MTna  and  ^ 

Shah  Qazim  Shrines) 


Talks  and  Inter¬ 
views  with  Sufis, 
Devotees  and 
Performers;  and 
Log  and 

Observations  of 
Performances . 
Recorded  1975-6. 





Qawwali  Occasion 


1  og  & 

vi  deo 


Events  Observed  and  Recorded 




-  Events  at  Nizamuddin  Auliya 

-  Outside  Events  with  Nizamuddin 




Auliya  Performers 




-  Other  Outside  Events 





Nizamuddin  Auliya  Events  by 




-  Intimate,  "Special"  Occasion 




-  Major,  Cel ebrational  Occasion 




-  Major  Ritual  Occasion 




-  Minor  Ritual  Occasion 





Qawwali  Songs 


Songs  Recorded 




-  in  Context  of  Performance 




-  Demonstrations,  Elicited 





Songs  Recorded  in  Context 
-  Number  of  Performances 


-  Number  of  Poems 


-  Number  of  Tunes 



Songs  Associated  with  Nizammudin 


-  Niz.  A.  Performers  at  Niz.  A. 


-  Niz.  A.  Performers  Elsewhere 


-  Outside  Performers  at  Niz.  A. 



transl ation 


c)  Qawwali  Informants 





Talks/Lessons  with  Performers 
-  Meraj  Ahmad 




-  Gore  Khan 




-  Other  Niz.  A.  Performers 

-  Outside  Performers 





Talks  with  Listeners 


-  Niz.  A.  Sufis 




-  Niz.  A.  Devotees 



-  Other  Sufis  -  with  Niz.  A. 




-  Other  Devotees  -  experience 





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