Ok I don’t have to justify my obsession with Coke Studio, but I kind of have to. I love how they bring classical poetry and music from the Sub-Continent to western audiences ( and better sound quality than the classic stuff). It is such a rich tradition, with personal value for me (it’s almost a link to my grandfather from my dad’s side who was into this getting lost in poetry lifestyle). A commentor puts the value of reviving the tradition very well:
Today I came across an episode from Season 5, where Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammed have taken Amir Kusrou‘s, a magnanimous figure in the Indian Sub-Continent’s musical Sufi tradition, Farsi ghazal titled Khabaram Raseeda. AAAHH. This rendition is long, around 16 minutes, but listening to it in its entirety is like taking psychedelics- not that I would know but if I had done so I assume it would be something like listening to this- and walking over a bridge to an alternate universe with gazelles and beheaded lovers.
A side note I found out about Ragas this week after coming across Ravi Shankar ( I would also recommend giving his stuff a listen). Raga’s are the basis for classical music from the subcontinent, proving a melodic framework which musicians can manipulate to form their pieces largely by improvisation. Each Raga is connected with its own imagery ( in the Hindu tradition with deities ect) and emotional affiliations- enter Youtube comments debate over which Raga was used in this rendition.
Anyway back to the poem, the words the musicality are what we are here for. I’m not going to try and capture everything I feel from this- it’s alot and words ( or at least my capacity to string them together )won’t do it justice. A short poem, the imagery is repeated by the singers with different inflections, melodies and surrounding lyrics- the singers comment on some of the verses and also bring in another poet by the name of Fakhr-al-Din Iraqi – embodying the ‘improvisation’ that is pivotal to the Qawwali tradition. Listen to it yourself (no distractions), watch them perform, BASK in the poetic glory and read this blog post for more detail. au-revoir.
Khabaram raseed imshab ki nigaar khuahi aamad;
Sar-e man fidaa-e raah-e ki sawaar khuahi aamad.
Ham-e aahwan-e sehra sar-e khud nihada bar kaf;
Ba-umeed aanki rozi bashikaar khuahi aamad.
Kashishi ki ishq daarad naguzaradat badinsaa;
Ba-janazah gar nayai ba-mazaar khuahi aamad.
Balabam raseed jaanam fabiya ki zindah maanam;
Pas azan ki man na-maanam bacha kar khuahi aaamad.
Tonight there came a news that you, oh beloved, would come –
Be my head sacrificed to the road along which you will come riding!
All the gazelles of the desert have put their heads on their hands
In the hope that one day you will come to hunt them….
The attraction of love won’t leave you unmoved;
Should you not come to my funeral,
you’ll definitely come to my grave.
My soul has come on my lips (e.g. I am on the point of expiring);
Come so that I may remain alive –
After I am no longer – for what purpose will you come?