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Qawwali Ensemble

In the Indian Music Ensemble (a one-credit repeatable course) we learn to sing Qawwali and Kirtan. Qawwal is Islamic devotional singing and Kirtan is Hindu devotional dinging. Students do not need any prior training in Indian music, nor do they need experience in singing. Students who have some experience with drums (tabla, dhol or other Indian drums), keyboard (harmonium or western keyboard instruments) or other Indian instruments are encouraged to join. Through the ensemble, students will learn aboutRaga(melodic modes),Tala(rhythmic cycles) andKalam(poems in Hindi, Urdu and Persian) but no prior experience with these musical and poetic forms are necessary to join.

Qawwali is Islamic devotional music of South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan) that Sufi Muslims use as meditation, worship, and ethical refinement. Popular culture in South Asia as adapted Qawwali as entertainment in films, stage shows, and celebrations.Qawwali is a South Asian art form that is at least eight centuries old. It is sung poetry in Hindi, Urdu and Persian (and sometimes other South Asian languages like Punjabi and Sindi) accompanied by drums, harmonium and rhythmic clapping.

The music is structured according to the rules of classical Hindustani (North Indian) music.This performance genre integrates love poetry, praise for God, and celebration of the saints through vivid imagery, rhythm and melody. Its goal is to inspire in listeners joy, insight, and hope.

Kirtan is Hindu devotional singing from Bhakti traditions which developed in parallel to Sufi music. The lyrics are in Hindi and Braj Bhasha, consisting of poems composed by Hindu saints. The Indian Music ensemble focuses on Qawwali and Kirtan together to foster interfaith understanding and communal harmony,since these singing traditions bring together people from diverse religious backgrounds including Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims and Christians.

The ensemble's music instructor is Dr. Isaac Mirza, who studied Qawwali performance with Ustad Hyder Baksh Sahib in Lucknow, India. The course is administered by Prof. Scott Kugle (Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies at Emory) who studies and teaches about Sufis music and poetry.