Celebrating a Milestone: Ghazal

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The ghazal is composed of a minimum of five couplets—and typically no more than fifteen—that are structurally, thematically, and emotionally autonomous. Each line of the poem must be of the same length. The first couplet introduces a scheme, made up of a rhyme followed by a refrain. Subsequent couplets pick up the same scheme in the second line only, repeating the refrain and rhyming the second line with both lines of the first stanza. The final couplet usually includes the poet’s signature, referring to the author in the first or third person, and frequently including the poet’s own name or a derivation of its meaning.

Though the origins of this beautiful genre stretch as far back into time as 7th century Arabia, it was in the middle ages of Persian cultural pre-eminence in the Islamic world (13-14th century), that the ghazal enjoyed its first glorious blossoming.

Poets of the subcontinent in the 18th and 19th centuries championed and elevated the style to new heights, with Ghalib of Delhi attaining the very oorooj (pinnacle) of the art.  Composed for recitation in intimate gatherings the ghazal began to be set to music as new technologies, especially radio, created huge new audiences.

In the 1980s, the ghazal both led and benefited the most from the musical revolution that came in the form of the cassette tape.  A lighter, less lyrically refined form of ghazal emerged which posed the first serious challenge to the dominance of the Bollywood song as the people’s music.   Many of the artists whose performances are collected in this the second volume of celebratory South Asian music, built their careers on the back of the magnetic tape.  Others, who were struggling to find fresh audiences in the high end of town or were never completely comfortable in the film studios re-established themselves as sublime interpreters of the ghazal.

A word of caution for the purists among the readers of this blog. Not every selection in this volume can be strictly defined as a ghazal. There are popular songs that were given the label by overzealous marketing departments but are closer to folk music. Others, like the selection of Faiz Ahmed Faiz are simply just wonderful examples of Urdu poetry.

I hope no one is too upset by these deviations from the straight and narrow.



Ghazal cover

Track Listing:
01 Tumne Badle Hamse [Jagjit Singh]

02 Jin Ke Hoton Pe [Ghulam Ali]

03 Justuju Jis Ki Thi [Asha Bhosle]

04 Aap Agar In Dinon Yahan Hote[Jagjit Singh]

05 Khanjer Sa Karo Na Baat [Anup Jalota]

06 Rang Pairahan [Mehdi Hassan]

07 Gulon Ki Baat Karo [Farida Khanum]

08 Hoton Pe Kabhi un Ke [Ustad Amanat Ali Khan]

09 Tu bahar-e-naghma-e-nur [Iqbal Bano]

10 Meri Nigah Chalakta Hua [Asha Bhosle]

11 Meri Dastaan e Hasrat [Asad Amant Ali Khan]

12 Teri Umeed Tera Intezar [Iqbal Bano]

13 Dil-egarm-e-man [Nashenas]

14 Woh to Na Mil Sake [Mehdi Hassan]

15 Do Ishq [Faiz Ahmed Faiz/Zia Mohiydeen]

16 Qamees Tedi Kali [Attaullah Khan Issakhelvi Niazi]

17 Tum Say Ulfat Kay Taqaazay [Nahid Akhtar]

18 Ilahi Kaash Gham-e-Ishq [Begum Akhtar]

19 Jalte Hain Jiske Liye [Talat Mahood]

20 Khamosh Ho Kyun [Ijaz Hussain Hazravi]

21 Manzil Na De Charagh Na De [Jagjit and Chitra Singh]

22 Ik Kuri Jidha Naam Nuhabat Gum Hai [Jagjit Singh Zirvi]

23 TERI ULFAT MEIN SANAM [Zubaida Khanum]

24 Insha Jee Utho Ab [Ustad Amanat Ali Khan]


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