Essentially a highly structured poem, the Ghazal spans a vast reservoir of themes. It is primarily a love lyric, which embodies all shades of amour from the sparkling exuberance of hopeful and mutual ardour to the majestic profundity of hopeless, unreciprocated passion. It’s romantic flavor is alluring to all, making it a flexible choice for tastes ranging from the elite and exclusive to the popular and pedestrian. The Ghazal is characteristed by its whole-heartedness, including all the moods of love, embarrassment, flirting and obsession, submissiveness, power play and revenge. It is unashamed of its outrageousness –at one end rising above the world of phenomena into the realm of the spirit at the other, enmeshed in the drudgery of matter. Its sustained universal popularity since the middle ages is perhaps due to its openness and zeal in accepting the weakness and foibles of being in love.
The Ghazal cuts through the constructed inhibitions of society to the heart of human need-love-divine and secular. It does not shrink from the fact that the flip side of life is death and that Love alone crosses the line between existence and non-existence. Its choice of language does not differentiate between the erotic and the spiritual and each line can be interpreted as both secular and divine. This dualism lies at the heart of the Ghazal.
The language of the Ghazal has always been one of its greatest attractions-elaborate, witty, humorous or dramatic and full of conceits, double entendre and self-mockery. But most popular are its extensive thematic complexes –its symbols and images, its paired oppositions of grief and joy, life and death, wisdom and madness, spirit and matter, union and separation. These are not so much word games as an acknowledgement of the incontrovertible link between oppositions: the essence, which transcends the limitation of one condition in order to sample both. And this technique of mirroring, rising above the delimiting boundaries of human conception into a cosmic spectrum, is the remit of the Ghazal.
This album is a delight for all connoisseurs of the ghazal genre. What sets it apart is it’s confluence of artistes, who perhaps for the first time have been featured in the same album. They are symbolic of this genre. Each one of them has evolved a style that is very distinctive and that will continue to inspire ghazal lovers for generations to come. It would be fair to say that this album is perhaps the first of its kind. Hence it could not have a title more apt than ‘Sartaah’, meaning ‘the one who wears the crown’.
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was born in 1948 shortly after the independence of India and Pakistan. He comes from a distinguished family of musicians steeped in classical and mystical Islamic tradition. As a child and young boy, he was given formal training mainly in classical music and mystical sufi poetry in persian, Punjabi and urdu.
Today, he is considered the greatest living exponent of Qawwali. His art has transcended all boundaries of language and religion and has popularized his beautiful and inspirational music to audiences world wide. His rendition in this album, an excerpt from a live performance held at the Kufa Gallery, London is a Persian ghazal in raga kedar, in his trademark ‘Qawwali’ style.
Very aptly referred to as the king of ghazals, is the most revered name in the field of modern ghazals. A disciple of the great Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, his voice and style of rendering ghazals, has inspired and entertained three generations of ghazal lovers in the sub-continent and all over the world.
Hailing from Rajasthan (India), his family moved to Pakistan at the time of partition. Since then, dedicated hard work, years and years of practice under the supervision of highly qualified teachers, Mehdi Hassan has acquired a matchless voice and a style of singing that is the envy of many contemporaries both within and across the border. An excellent composer, he has mastered the art of combining classical elements with popular demands of the ghazal lovers all over the world. His melodic interpretation and clear perception of poetry makes for a perfect blend of poetic and musical sensitivity and as such every single effort culminates into the perfect Ghazal listening experience.
Born in 1940, at village Kaleke, district Sialkot, of Pakistan, Ghulam Ali is one of the greatest names among contemporary ghazal singers. His father was a vocalist as well as a sarangi player who imparted him the basic training of music. He later went on to learn from the legendary Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan but it was interrupted because of the hectic concert tours of the maestro. The Ustad referred him to Bade Mubarak Ali Khan and to the ablest guidance of his brother Barkat Ali Khan. Ali these teachers trained him to be a master of raags, taans, and complicated sargams.
His voice control over variation and musical notes in his greatest asset. Over the years, Ghulam Ali has played a vital part in extending the performance of the ghazals to a more overtly classical style approaching that of the dadra and thumri, the composed piece or cheez is set aside while the performer elaborates on the technicalities and range of the raga through improvisation. Ghulam Ali represents a select group of melodists who are slowly fading into oblivion.
The one name that has dominated and has been almost synonymous with the Indian ghazal world for over two decades. Born in Sriganganagar, Rajasthan, this redoubtable maestro lent a completely new dimension to the art of ghazal singing with his innovative use of instrumentation. From his first album ‘The Unforgettables’ way back in 1976, ghazal king Jagjit Singh has to his credit over 40 albums reflecting various moods. He has also regaled audiences the world over with his soulful live performances.
Born in Larkana, Sindh (Pakistan), Abida Parveen was brought up in an atmosphere steeped in sufi culture as well as music. Her father, Ustad Ghulam Haider, chose here from among his five disciples, when she was only five, as the most deserving recipient of his mantle.
In her singing, she exudes passion and a vitality that defies the constraints of style and gender. She floats her mastery of the classical form gently and sparingly into her performances demonstrating her skill without ever allowing it to dominate and keeping her hallmarks od spontaneity and vigour always to the fore. Today she is considered as the foremost sufi singer in Pakistan, all set to adom the throne left vacant by the sudden demise of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan saab.
Hariharan, the son of well known Carnatic musicians Smt. Alamelu Mani and late Mr. Mani had his initial training in Carnatic music but soon switched over to Hindustani style of singing which he learned from Padma Shree Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan. The eighties evoked Ghazal singing as a popular form of music and Hariharan a science graduate and qualified lawyer took this as his profession. A south Indian singing Ghazals was unthinkable to purists but Hariharan was committed himself and learned the nuances of the complex Urdu language.
Hariharan has several award winning Ghazal albums to his credit. He has also a number of film songs to his credit. He has sung over 250 hit songs under various music directors including films such as Bombay, Lamhe, Roja, Sahibaan and others. He has also sung in several Tamil films under the music direction of Rahman and Deva. Hariharan has toured all over the world having enthralled his audiences in the art of Ghazals, geets and bhajans.
1. Sochte aur jagte (Ghulam Ali)
2. Ab ke hum bichde (Mehdi Hassan)
3. Koo-bab-koo phail gayi (Abida Parveen)
4. Kyun hamein maut ke paigham (Hariharan)
5. Who Khat ke purze udaa raha tha (Jagjit Singh)
1. Ek purana mausam lauta (Jagjit Singh)
2. Jab tere nain muskurare hain (Mehdi Hassan)
3. Koi Humnafas nahin hai (Ghulam Ali)
4. Aabadiyon mein dusht ka manzar (Hariharan)
5. Kahbren rasid im shabd (Persian ghazal) (Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan)