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National College of Arts, Lahore
Department of Musicology

Music of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

An Interpretation of Punjab Ang Qawwali

Thesis Report

By Atta Ul Hayee


Music of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

An Interpretation of Punjab Ang Qawwali

By Atta Ul Hayee

Thesis report submitted to the Department of Musicology, National College of Arts, Lahore, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Musicology

December, 2017

Internal Advisor

Dr. Usman Malik


Music of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

An Interpretation of Punjab Ang Qawwali

By Atta Ul Hayee

This study explores qawwali music of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. It argues that his music was an interpretation of Punjab ang qawwali, a unique qawwali singing style that is practiced by the Punjabi qawwals. I substantiate the argument by providing ethnographic information on the Punjab ang, followed by a detailed analysis of the salient features of Khan’s music. A biography of Khan covering his family history and career is also a part of this study.


I want to say thanks to my advisor Dr. Usman Malik for his systematic guidance for this research and writing, and for making this manuscript fluid with his editing suggestions. I would like to thank National College of Arts (NCA), Lahore, for partially funding my research. Thanks to NCA’s Musicology faculty, Sir Sirwat Ali, Sir Ajmal Hussain, and Sir Zafar Iqbal, for their constructive feedback on my work. The tabla teacher, Sir Raza Shaukat, the vocal teacher, and Sir Habib U Rehamn, assisted me in interpreting qawwali rhythm and structure. The Piano teacher, Sir Arshad Khokar helped me notate Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s qawwalis.

Thanks to the musicians, musicologists, and music industry people for sharing their knowledge with me. Nadeem Salamat qawwal taught me major techniques and structure of qawwali. The nephews of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Rizwan Ali Khan and Muazzam Ali Khan qawwals shared their family history, and stylistic peculiarities with me. They also told me facts on Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan life and music. Asif Ali Santoo Khan qawwal and Sher Ali qawwal gave me information about qawwali structure, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s music, and Punjab ang of qawwali. Musicologist, Ustad Badar U Zaman gave me a detailed interview about Punjab ang qawwali. Special thanks to the Punjab Gramophone House, the Rehmat Gramophone House (RGH) (Faisalabad, Pakistan), who gave me audio recordings of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan for this research. Thanks to their old employee M. Saddique who gave me information regarding Khan’s initial recordings at RGH.

Thanks to my friends for helping me with various technical and writing issues. Danyal Shah, 4th year Musicology, helped me with Logic Pro X transcription of musical examples. Ahmed Shehryar, University of the Punjab, assisted me with the grammatical issues in this document. Sakhi Samna, 4th year NCA, helped me make family tree of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Fawad Jafri, 4th year NCA, assisted me in making teaching line chart and qawwali ensemble chart of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.


Acknowledgements………………………………………………………………………………………………… ii

List of figures………………………………………………………………………………………………………… v

Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 1

Literature Review………………………………………………………………………………………………. 1

My background…………………………………………………………………………………………………. 2

Chapter outline………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 2

Chapter 1: Biography…………………………………………………………………………………………….. 4

Lineage and family……………………………………………………………………………………………… 4

Music Education………………………………………………………………………………………………. 10

Performances and Recognition……………………………………………………………………………. 12

Recordings………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 13

Qawwali Ensemble……………………………………………………………………………………………. 15

World Music and Western Music Industry…………………………………………………………… 18

Summary………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 20

Chapter 2: Punjab Ang Qawwali…………………………………………………………………………… 21

Punjab ang in musicology literature…………………………………………………………………….. 21

Rizwan Ali Khan and Muazzam Ali Khan…………………………………………………………. 23

Nadeem Salamat……………………………………………………………………………………………. 25

Sher Ali……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 29

Summary………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 31

Chapter 3: Salient Features of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s Qawwali Singing……………. 33

Sargam and layakari…………………………………………………………………………………………. 33

Bolbant…………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 47

Girah………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 49

Complex thekas………………………………………………………………………………………………… 53

Summary………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 56

Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 58

Glossary of musical terms……………………………………………………………………………………… 59

List of Musical Examples………………………………………………………………………………………. 62

Bibliography……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 65

Discography………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 67

List of interviews………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 70

List of figures

Figure 1: Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan……………………………………………………………………….. 5

Figure 2: Family tree of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan…………………………………………………….. 9

Figure 3: Teaching line chart of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan…………………………………………. 11

Figure 4: Qawwali ensemble of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan…………………………………………………. 17

Figure 5: Rizwan Ali Khan (right), Muazzam Ali Khan (middle), Author (left)…………………… 24

Figure 6: Nadeem Salamat during his interview…………………………………………………………… 26

Figure 7: Asif Ali Khan Santoo (right), author (left)……………………………………………………… 28

Figure 8: Sher Ali (rigt), author (left)………………………………………………………………………… 30


While Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (1948-1997) posthumously stands as one of the most celebrated contemporary qawwals, locally and internationally, his music remains a mystery, as no attempt has been made to read it. This study decodes his music through a combination of music analysis and ethnographic information, and it demonstrates that his qawwali singing was deeply connected to Punjab ang qawwali, the qawwali singing style that originated and flourished in the Punjab region. He inherited this style from his family and represented it eclectically. Punjab ang qawwali is recognized for the qawwali compositions in Punjabi language and complex thekas, and excessive use of improvisation techniques, like layakari, bolbant, sargam singing, and tans, which are also the characteristic features of Khan’s1 music.

Literature Review

Qawwali music is an established academic area of interest. In her groundbreaking work, Regula Qureshi’s (1986) studies the sound, context and meaning of qawwali in India and Pakistan. Her research is focused on the Delhi ang qawwali, a style of qawwali which originated in Delhi and affiliated with Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya2 though she briefly sketches the Punjab ang as well (ibid: 53). Hiromi Sakata (2000:751-3) outlines the spiritual function of qawwali in Pakistan in her entry for Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. She identifies the meaning of the composition text as the most important factor that performs the function of qawwali. Evidently, information about Punjab ang qawwali is insufficient. My research fills in the gap by highlighting the prominent features of this style.

1 To avoid confusion among musicians with the last name Khan, I only mention Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan as Khan. The rest of them are called by their full name.

2 Muhammad Nizamuddin Auliya also known as Khwaja Nizamuddin Auliya was a Sufi saint of India in the late 13th and early 14th century.

Virinder Kalra (2014) describes Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s music in the context of Punjabiyat, the Punjabiness that is defined by Punjabi language. Kalra explores how Khan’s music celebrated this identity through the qawwali music in Punjabi language. In this study, I demonstrates that musical sound is another marker of Punjabiness that manifests itself in Khan’s music, situating his music in the Punjab ang.

My background

I have been studying North Indian classical music for the last three and a half years at Musicology Department, National College of Art, Lahore, as a bachelor degree course student. There I learnt khayal singing from Ustad Habib Ur Rehman, who is from Patiala gharana. I got rhythm and tabla education from Raza Shaukat, son of a famous tabla player of Punjab gharana, Ustad Shaukat Hussain (1930-1996). These are the principal source of my musical knowledge in this research. I also have the privilege of sharing a common ethnic background with Khan. I am a Punjabi from Faisalabad, Khan’s hometown. His music is a household commodity in Faisalabad and I grew up listening to his music. Apart from my year-long concentrated research on Khan, my long-run connection to his music and my grounding in Punjabi culture also inform this study.

Chapter outline

Chapter one establishes a biography of Khan, focusing the important developments of his career from a child learner to an internationally applauded musician of exceptional fame. I collected his life history from his extended family members and the secondary sources. I specify the major, familial, cultural, and musical influences on him and his response to them. I also demonstrate how he inherited the Punjab ang.

Chapter two decodes Punjab ang of qawwali through the information I collected from different Punjab ang qawwalis. This chapter also describes how Khan inspired those musicians with his own interpretation of the Punjab ang. They unanimously acknowledge his music as the ideal representation of this style.

Chapter three analyzes Khan’s qawwali singing style in the Punjab ang perspective to decode the prominent features of his music. There is an elaborated analysis of sargam, layakari, palta, takrar, girah, and bolbant techniques of Khan in this chapter.

Chapter 1: Biography

In this chapter, I outline a biography of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan on the basis of the information I collected from Khan’s nephews, Rizwan Ali khan and Muazzam Ali Khan, and the secondary sources. The history of Khan’s family and his own music is a story of being receptive to various cultural and musical influences.

Lineage and family

Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was born on 13th October, 1948, in Faisalabad (then Lyallpur), now an industrial city of Pakistani Punjab3. Music has been in his family for the last 700 years. Ethnically Pashtoon (or Pakhtoon), Khan’s forefathers originally hailed from Afghanistan and later migrated to India. In Afghanistan, they used to sing qawwali, but its musical form is unknown (Rizwan and Muazzam Ali, interview: 2017).4 The family was also known as Sarodi family because one of its member was a sarod player in Afghanistan. After coming to India, the family settled in Jalandhar (now Indian Punjab). They continued the tradition of singing qawwali. Its style was simple, no layakari, bolbant, girah and variations, and they called it Mehfil-e-Sama. They performed authentic Sufi poetry and spread the message of Sufis. Then some of the family elders learnt dhrupad from Dagar Family5 and khayal from Qawwal Bachon ka Gharana to master the mainstream Indian music. However, their qawwali performance practice was confined to reciting consecrated poetry in musically an uncomplicated manner (ibid.).

Figure 1: Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

3 In modern history of the Punjab, the British colonial administration divided this region between the nation states of Pakistan and India in 1947.

4 Rizwan and Muazzam Ali represent the contemporary generation of the family. They do not know about their ancestors’ music in Afghanistan and the time of their migration to India. It demonstrates the general lack of information on the movement of Khan’s family. The secondary sources are also without this information.

5 The Dagars is a lineage of Indian musicians specializing in dhrupad singing.

Khan’s father, Ustad Fateh Ali Khan (1901-1964), born in Jalandhar, was a famous qawwal of his era who also won laurels as a virtuoso khayal singer. Fateh Ali Khan’s elder brother, Ustad Mubarak Ali Khan (1881-1974) was a dhrupad singer and a qawwal as well. They both together made a qawwali ensemble (Fateh Ali-Mubarak Ali qawwali party), which later became one of the most famous qawwali ensembles in the sub-continent. Before making Fateh Ali-Mubarak Ali qawwali party, Mubarak Ali Khan was a member of his father Maula Bukhsh and his father in law Pir Dad Khan’s qawwali party. In 1920, when Fateh Ali Khan was 19 years old and Mubarak Ali Khan was 39 years old, they performed for the first time at the shrine of Imam Nasir U Deen Yousuf Chishti in Jalandhar, as the lead singers of Fateh Ali-Mubarak Ali qawwali party. Fateh Ali Khan started to learn qawwali in his early age from his father Maula Bukhsh. His elder brother Mubarak Ali Khan had already got music training from his father because of his 20 years age difference from his younger brother. North Indian classical style and features can easily be identified from their qawwalis (ibid.).

An anecdote shows that Fateh Ali Khan and Mubarak Ali Khan successfully established their Punjabi credentials parallel to the dominant style, Delhi ang qawwali. A famous qawwali poet of India, Waiz Khan used to say that the Punjabi qawwals could not sing Urdu and Persian qawwali because they would not pronounce the words of Persian and Arabic languages perfectly. He called Punjabi qawwals as Punjabi tuggay (Punjabi wild oxen).Once Fateh Ali Khan and Mubarak Ali Khan performed at Bedam Shah Warsi’s (Sufi poet) mehfil in Uttar Pradesh (now India). Waiz Khan was also there but both brothers did not know about his presence and neither had he known who they were there. When they performed qawwali in front of him, he gradually went into wajd (trance). He presented all his personal belongings, rings, watch and even his kurta to them. When their performance ended, he asked people about the qawwals and wished to see them. When Fateh Ali and Mubarak Ali got to know that those all things were of Waiz Khan, they promptly returned all his personal belongings to him and stood in his respect. They asked him that we knew you do not like Punjabi qawwals. He replied that he would love to listen Punjabi qawwali because they too pronounce Urdu and Persian

languages perfectly. The anecdote also indicates the significance of right pronunciation in Fateh Ali Khan and Mubarak Ali Khan’s qawwali singing. The succeeding generations followed this attribute, including Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan who gave it a prime importance in his qawwalis (ibid.).

Fateh Ali Khan and Mubarak Ali Khan expanded their repertoire by singing non- Sufi poetry in qawwali style. They sang poetry of Allama Iqbal (1877-1938)6, like the famous poem, Shikwa, Jawab e Shikwa. They performed Iqbal’s poetry all over British India and spread his message. Muslim hai to Muslim League me aa (If you are a Muslim then come to Muslim League7) was a famous political slogan at that time, and Fateh Ali Khan and Mubarak Ali Khan sang this slogan in their performances to gain popular support for Muslim League. It shows the influence of political nationalism over them and their interest towards it. They actually participated in this political movement through qawwali. Their political rivals decided to harm them and put a handsome amount as the head money. Because of all this tension, their sympathizers smuggled them to Pakistan in boxes after the partition of British India into India and Pakistan in 1947. Afterwards, they permanently settled in Lyallpur (now Faisalabad) (ibid.). There Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan born to Fateh Ali Khan. Khan was the eldest son and the fifth child of the family.

Though it was Fateh Ali Khan’s wish that Khan would become a medical doctor, but then he later could not. He was naïve and innocent in his childhood and, it was true as well that he was a quiet person throughout his life. He had no aptitude for games like other youngsters. He was a food lover from his childhood. To watch Indian films and to listen North Indian classical music was his favorite pastime. He got married in 1979 to his first cousin Naheed, who was the daughter of his uncle Ustad Salamat Ali Khan (1934-2001). The couple has one daughter Nida, who now lives in Canada (Missolz 1996).

6 Sir Muhammad Iqbal or Allama Iqbal was a Muslim poet, politician and a philosopher of British India who pioneered the idea of an independent Muslim state in India.

7 The Muslim political party that struggled for an independent Muslim state.

Figure 2: Family tree of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan


Rubi 1992: 104

Rizwan and Muazzam Ali Khan, interview: 2017

Music Education

Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan got his initial music training from his father at the age of eight years. Initially his father gave him lessons in tabla playing. In his family, it is necessary to learn tabla playing first. Occasionally, they perform with the other artists to get outside feedback. While Khan was getting trained from his father, Ustad Munawar Ali Khan (1930-1989)8 was on a trip to Pakistan. Fateh Ali Khan invited him at his house, and asked him to sing something for them after dinner. Munawar Ali Khan asked who would accompany him as the percussionist. Fateh Ali Khan asked Khan to play the tabla with him. Due to Khan’s little age, Munawar Ali Khan reluctantly agreed on it.

However, when they performed, Munawar Ali Khan got amazed with his playing, and said that there was something unique in this boy and he would be a shining star for his family one day (Rizwan and Muazzam Ali, interview: 2017). This was the first time when Khan played tabla with Munawar Ali Khan. At that time he was not singing. He used to play tabla with his father for hours and got some basic training in North Indian classical music from him as well. He learned raga vidya and bol bandish from him (ibid.).

After his father’s death in 1964, Khan came under the tutelage of his two uncles, Mubarak Ali Khan and Salamat Ali Khan. They put him on tireless qawwali training.

After three to four years of tough training, he began to establish his musical credentials. Around 1967 or 1968, Mubarak Ali Khan changed the name of his party to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Mubarak Ali Khan party (Rizwan and Muazzam Ali, interview: 2017). He sang under the supervision of Mubarak Ali Khan till the latter’s death in 1974. By then, he had gained command over qawwali performance practice and laid foundation of his own qawwali style (ibid.).

8 Indian classical singer from Kasur Patiala gharana. He was the son of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan (1902- 1968).

Figure 3: Teaching line chart of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Performances and Recognition

Although Khan formally performed first time before the chehlum (40th day after death) of his father in 1967, it was not a public performance. He gave his first public performance on 23rd march 1965 with his uncles and their qawwali party on Radio Pakistan. He performed for the first time as a deray-dar on the request of Shakoor Baidil, a local producer. Earlier, his uncles did not let him perform as a leading qawwali because of his lack of skills in qawwali singing (Rubi 1992, 61). He performed a ghazal of Hazrat Amir Khusrau9 (1253-1325), man banda e aan ruh e ke didan na gozarand (I am person with the soul who could not see) composed in raga Bahadur Kauns. He gave this performance in front of the renowned singers, like Ustad Chote Ghulam Ali Khan10, Ustad Amanat Ali Khan (1922-1974)11, Fateh Ali Khan (1935-2017)12, Ustad Salamat Ali Khan (1934- 2001) and Nazakat Ali khan (1928-1984)13 and Roshan Aara Begum (1917-1982)14. After this performance, the audience appreciated and encouraged him. This led him to work hard under the supervision of his uncles to fine-tune his musical skills through the several hours of riyaz (ibid.).

The forth-coming era was also a struggling period for him and his party, as they had to perform beside Sabri brothers15 who had dominated the qawwali muic in Pakistan after the release of their famous qawwali, Tajdar e Haram (The king of holy shrine) in 1975. The other famous Pakistani qawwals, like Manzoor Niazi, and Ustad Bahauddin Khan, proved tough competitors of Khan and his party. Khan’s performance of Khusrau’s less popular kalam, mein tou piya sey naina mila aayi re (I met his eyes with min for eternity), at the Amir Khusrau Festival at his 700th anniversary in 1975 in Islamabad

9 He was a South Asian Sufi musician, poet and scholar, and a disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi. He is an iconic figure in the cultural history of the Indian subcontinent.

10 A famous Pakistani musician of Pakistan.

11 He was a Pakistani classical singer and ghazal gayak from Patiala gharana of North Indian music.

12 Renowned khayal singer of Pakistan from Patiala gharana of North Indian music.

13Salamat Ali Khan and Nazakat Ali Khan were Pakistani khayal singers who belonged to Shamchurasi

gharana of North Indian music.

14 She was a khayal singer from Kirana gharana of North Indian music.

15 A Pakistani qawwali ensemble (1956-2016) led by two brothers, Ghulam Farid Sabri and Maqbool Ahmed Sabri. They represented Delhi ang qawwali, a qawwali singing style that is associated with Nizamuddin Auliya’s shrine in Delhi.

proved to be a turning point for him and his party. Though the party arrived a bit late when their competitors had chosen some famous kalam of Khusrau, this performance brought them big fame among the qawwali listening audience (Rubi 1992, 67).

After the death of his uncle Mubarak Ali Khan in 1974, Khan did several performances with Mujahid Mubarak Ali Khan (d. 1996)16 and Farrukh Fateh Ali Khan (1952-2004)17. In 1974, he changed the name of his qawwali party to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan-Mujahid Ali Khan qawwali party. Mujahid Ali Khan was older than Khan and he performed with four succeeding generations of the family, Pir Dad Khan, Mubarak Ali Khan and Fateh Ali Khan, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and Rizwan Ali Khan and Muazzam Ali Khan. He remained a member of the party until his formal retirement in 1990 (Rizwan and Muazzam Ali, interview: 2017).

Khan performed internationally for the first time in 1980 (Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, interview Asaro: 1999). In 1981, he and his party performed in Festival des Arts Traditionnels, France. He performed in Colchester, England, in 1983. He performed in Japan several times between 1987 and 1993. His famous album The Ecstatic Qawwali (1987) was released from there. He made numerous trips to India as well (ibid.). He got various international awards, like Grand Prix in 1989 in Deols France, Pride of Performance award by the government of Pakistan in 1987 for his outstanding contributions to Pakistani music, and Grand Prix des Amériques at Montreal World Film Festival for exceptional contribution to the art of cinema in 1996.18


In 1971, HMV gramophone, Lahore, made his first studio recording in EP (extended play vinyl record) format. He recorded two albums, marhaba Syed e makki madni ul arabi (welcome to Muhammad, who is the happiness of the whole Arab) and ni mein jana jogi

16 Cousin of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and son of Mubarak Ali Khan.

17 The younger brother of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and the leading harmonium player in the party. 18 Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Retrieved December 7th, 2017. titles/.

de naal (I want to go with hermit) and the duration of a track was strictly limited to six minutes only. In the first EP, there were two naats, one in Urdu and the other in Punjabi language. In the other EP, there were two Punjabi tracks, ni mein jana jogi de nal and kiwein mukhray to nazran hatawan tere wichon rab disda (how can I stop looking at your face when I see god in it) (Khan’s Interview to Zee TV India: 1996)19.

In 1976 Khan started to record his qawwalis at the Rehmat Gramophone House (RGH)20, Faisalabad. Haq Ali Maula, (Hazrat Ali is the true companion of Allah) his famous qawwali is also one of the RGH recordings. The label used to release a qawwali volume after every two months. Khan had recorded eight volumes in almost two and a half-year since 1976. The recordings were made on audio spools. RGH released a total number of 80 albums of Khan and his qawwali party, both live performances and studio recordings, Khan leisurely recorded dozens of compositions with the label, including famous alif Allah chambe de booti (the jasmine of Allah’s name), mast nazron se Allah bachaye (God save us from the intoxicated glances), charkha naulakha (existence is priceless), nami danam (I don’t know), disdi kulli sonay yar de (The small home of my beloved seems so beautiful) and many more. He ventured into other genres like qawwali, ghazal, folk songs, classical music and so on (Muhammad Saddique21, interview: 2017).

The Oriental Star Agencies (OSA) of the United Kingdom signed Khan in the 1980s under the label of OSA, and released a number of DVDs, cassettes and videotapes of his music along with organizing his concerts in the UK and Europe. Some of his prominent albums with OSA include: House Of Shah 3 (1994), Kali Kali Zulfon Vol. 27 (1993), Dam Dam Ali Ali Vol 9 (1991), House of Shah (1991), Sham Savere (1992) and so on22. In 1990, Khan worked on the Real World23 Records’ album, Mustt Mustt (lost in


20 A record label and company, founded by Chaudhry Rehmat Ali in 1949. They recorded qawwalis and other songs of famous Pakistani singers including Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Before him, Ustad Fateh Ali Khan, and Ustad Mubarak Ali Khan recorded their music on vinyl records with the company. RGH has run out of business and there is now a warehouse of old records at its recording studio place.

21 An old employee and salesman at RGH.

22 Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Discogs. Accessed: 13 March, 2017. Nusrat-Fateh-Ali-Khan.

23 It was founded by Peter Gabriel in 1989.

trance), with the Canadian guitarist, Michael Brook (b. 1951) who produced this album. In the album, Brook used Senegalese djembe (a percussion instrument), Brazilian Surdu (a large Brazilian drum) with traditional South Asian instruments, like tabla, and harmonium. Khan performed North Indian classical and qawwali improvisation techniques in the accompaniment of western instruments, for example, tarana, sargam, and alap in the third song Tracery.

Qawwali Ensemble

Khan’s qawwali ensemble was different from his father and uncle’s qawwali ensemble, Fateh Ali Khan-Mubarak Ali Khan qawwali party. The latter generally consisted of singers, violin, swarmandal, tabla and harmonium. Whereas Khan’s ensemble typically consisted of singers, tabla, and harmonium in live qawwali. In studio recordings and in his later works for the world music industry, he included a variety of indigenous instruments, like tabla, sarod and non-indigenous instruments, like guitar, keyboard, flutes, and drums. Secondly, the number of musicians performing in Fateh Ali Khan- Mubarak Ali Khan qawwali party was smaller than in Khan’s party. He increased the number of musicians, from eight to eleven or sometime twelve, performing chorus and clapping in his party. He kept modifying his ensemble throughout his career (Rizwan and Muazzam Ali, interview: 2017).

At a glance, Khan’s ensemble was consisted of skilled musicians, like Farrukh Fateh Ali Khan, who was his younger brother and a renowned harmonium player.

Trained in North Indian classical music, Farrukh Fateh Ali Khan interpreted singing of Khan on harmonium. He also contributed by composing and arranging music with Khan. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan24 (b. 1974), son of Farrukh Fateh Ali Khan and a nephew of Khan, has been a permanent member of Khan’s party. He used to sing tans, akar, and sargam besides vocal support to Khan. The harmonium player and singer, Rehmat Ali, joined the

24 Grandson of Ustad Fateh Ali Khan. Now he does playback singing in Bollywood and Pakistani film industry.

party in 1974. Then there is another important member of the party, Dildar Hussain (b. 1956)25, the table player. Mujahid Mubarak Ali Khan who was the cousin of Khan was also the team member, deputy leader, and a kanni wala. The kanni wala’s job was to follow the lead singer and repeat what the leader sang besides displaying occasionally in a performance. Similarly, Maqsood Hussain did vocals and Rehmat Ali was on second harmonium and vocal. Kokab Ali and Asad Ali did chorus in the ensemble (ibid.).

25 He belongs to the Punjab gharana of tabla players.


Figure 4: Qawwali ensemble of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

World Music and Western Music Industry

For the world music audience, he changed the way of qawwali a little bit by fusing his tradition with the western styles.

Khan got popular internationally, from his WOMAD (World Music and Dance) performance in London (1985). The organizers of WOMAD gave him 30 minutes to perform, but the audience loved the performance and he continued to perform for four hours. He performed some of his famous qawwalis there, like Haqq Ali Ali (Honorable Ali), Shabaz Qalander (Free King of the Falcons), Yaadan Vichre Sajan Diyan Aiyan (Recalled the memories of a lost friend) (Live India TV)26.

He collaborated with British composer Peter Gabriel (b. 1950) on a soundtrack of Martin Scorsese’s film, The Last Temptation of Christ (1988). He then signed more albums with Gabriel’s record label, the Real World. Famous albums of Khan with this label included Shahen-Shah (1989), Mustt Mustt (1990) and Night Song (1996). Gabriel acknowledges Khan’s improvisation skills;

Working with him was fascinating. In fact he is a great improviser, he was capable of coming up with great melodies spontaneously. I think there are two or three musicians I have ever met who can do that, but I think what he had better than them was the sense of overall structure as he was going into an improvisation. It seem that he had sense of timing, the build, the peaks, the values and all the climax was all over in his head, and if he didn’t carry that in his head it wouldn’t have been a great composition (In A Tribute to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: 1998)27.

Later he sang for other Hollywood and international films, like Natural Born Killer (1994), Dead Man Walking (1995), and Bollywood’s Bandit Queen (1994). In Bandit Queen’s tracks, Phoolans revenge and the passion, he sang alap to create a sad feeling. Generally in Bollywood, Khan applied his understanding of the Bollywood style of music through his arrangement and composition skills. Saanwre Tore Bina (Oh beautiful! without you) and Sajna Tere Bina (sweetheart without you) were his other hits


27 A Tribute to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. 1998.

from Bandit Queen (1994). He performed in fund raising campaigns for Shaukat Khanum Hospital (SKMH) in 1992 and 1993. He got some more fan following and public fame too by doing this noble cause. In the same period, Khan received a golden disc for record sale in India and also received the golden disc from Mick Jagger (b. 1943) 28(Remembering King of Qawwali Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan on his 16th death anniversary)29.These achievements established his popular credentials internationally.

In 1995, he worked with Michael Brook on album Night Song that was recorded in the Real World Studios. He recorded eight songs in this album. The songs were a combination of western instrumentation, guitar riffs, keyboard sounds, bass, West African Kora, MIDI sequences, samplers and synths with harmonium, tabla, sargam and Khan’s voice. The album was nominated for Grammy Awards (1996) in the category of best world music album. In the same year, his other album, Intoxicated Spirit (1996) was nominated in the category of best traditional folk album for the Grammy. (Night song album: Michael Brook and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan)30

Khan composed music for popular Bollywood movies, but most of his composition were released after his death, like the popular song Saya Bhi Sath Jab Chor Jaye in film Dharkan (1999). He collaborated with A. R. Rahman for the song, Gururs of Peace (master of peace) in album Vande Matram (1997). The British-Indian composer, Bally Sagoo (b. 1964) produced a remix album Magic Touch (1991) of Khan’s qawwalis. Recorded in the Planet Studio (UK) and distributed by the Oriental Star Agencies, the album was a fusion of qawwali with electronic and world music. Renowned Indian sarangi player, Ustad Sultan Khan (1940-2011) remixed Khan’s live concert recordings with his vocals and sarangi music in album Pukaar (2002) that was released by Navras Records, India in 2002. Sultan Khan’s voice and sarangi music was recorded at Red Fort Studios (1999), England, and then mixed and arranged with Khan’s qawwalis later in

28 Sir Michael Phillip Jagger is a British singer and song-writer and also from one of the founder members of English Rock band, The Rolling Stones.



India. In their life, both musicians never worked together (Remembering Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: 2013)31

Khan did projects for the world music industry and collaborated with western and other famous international musicians. He represented a regional qawwali music in the international arena. He achieved the status of a leading world music artist that signifies the successful reception of his music. (Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: a Tribute (1998) by Zee TV)32


In his family history, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan perfected Punjab ang qawwali, a tradition that his elders appropriated after migrating to India from Afghanistan. He represented this style through his life combined with different musical and cultural influences. People still acknowledge him as an innovative qawwali for this. His untimely death in 1997 has created some gap in the contemporary qawwali music but people still listen to his music and remember him through his outstanding work.

31 Remembering Nusrat Fateh Ali Kan. 2013.


Chapter 2: Punjab Ang Qawwali

Punjab ang qawwali is a distinct style of qawwali singing that is related to the Punjab (both Pakistan and India). The qawwals who follow this style are called the Punjabi ang qawwals (Zaman, 2014: 33). The most prominent feature of this style is the qawwali compositions in Punjabi language. Bolbant, extensive use of tans, complex layakari, use of girah according to the context of poetry, zarb on tabla (particularly on sam), are the other prominent features of this style.33 Despite its significant presence in the qawwali tradition, the Punjab ang remains obscure as no detailed study has been done on it.

Decoding the Punjab ang is important because this is the style that Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali khan represented eclectically. Below I explain the Punjab ang based on the information I collected after interviewing the Punjabi ang qawwals, Nadeem Salamt, Asif Ali Santoo Khan (b. 1973), Sher Ali, and Rizwan Ali Khan and Muazzam Ali Khan.

They explained what Punjab ang qawwali is and how Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan represented this style through his qawwali music. However, I begin with the opinions of musicologists on this style.

Punjab ang in musicology literature

Regula Qureshi (1986: 53) differentiates between the Punjab region qawwali (India) and the Uttar Pradesh (India) or Delhi ang qawwali. In the later, qawwals give more importance to quantitative emphasis of tune, but in the Punjab, qawwalis are more focused on rhythm. Secondly, in the Punjab ang, rhythmic setting of metre is strongly stressed than in Delhi ang qawwali.

33 The Delhi ang is the dominant qawwali style (of Pakistan and India) for its association with Nizamuddin Auliya’s shrine, the place that is considered the origin of qawwali (Musicology department, Lecture: 2016), (Asif Ali Khan Santoo: Interview, 2017). Qawwalis, like Meraj Ahmed Nizami (India), Aziz Ahmed Khan Warsi (Hyderabad, India), Bahauddin Khan, Manzoor Niazi, Ghulam Farid Sabri, Maqbool Ahmed Sabri, and Aziz Mian from Pakistan represent this style. The common features of this style are compositions in Urdu language, emphasize on rhythmic setting of tune, and use of big dholak for percussion.

Pakistani musicologist, Ustad Badar U Zaman represents this style in comparatively more detail. He also talked about it in his book tappa (Zaman: 2015) about the Punjab ang qawwali and its main features. (Interview: 2017).

According to him, the Punjab ang and the Delhi ang are like two different flowers with their own nature and beauty. The difference is due to the culture. Different colors of Punjab’s soils speak through its qawwali. For instance, language is the main factor that differentiates the two styles. The Delhi ang qawwals primarily sing qawwali compositions and girah composed in Urdu language. On the other hand, the Punjabi qawwals prefer Punjabi qawwali compositions besides Urdu and Persian compositions. In the original composition, they may add Punjabi doha, rubai or qata. Back then, qawwals started to use Punjabi language in qawwali for the ease of the common listeners (ibid.).

Harmonium is the basic accompanying instrument in both styles, but for rhythm, the Delhi ang prefers bari dholak over tabla, the main rhythmic instrument of the Punjab ang. Naghma or lehra is a common feature of the two styles. In Punjabi qawwali, all twelve notes of an octave can be sung in a performance. There is possibility that there would not be any such thing in the Delhi ang (ibid.). In the Punjab, singers have chori chakri awzein (sings in falsetto and with wide vocal range, without any restrictions).

Similarly, in the Punjab ang there is a tradition of high intensity tans, paltas, sargam, layakari and bolbant as compared to the Delhi ang, which is mostly sober and steady. In both styles ending would be in a form of rung, praise to Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya.

Punjabi qawwali has been in Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s family since long time, and sargam and layakari was his stylistic peculiarity. Genetically, he was a reckless and confident qawwal. One cannot imagine what Khan would do next in qawwali, like doing layakari and sargam and abruptly landing on the sam without anticipation (ibid.).

The Punjab Ang according to the Punjabi qawwals 

Qawwal families from the (Pakistani) Punjab claim to adhere to a single stylistic tradition, Punjab ang qawwali.34 I represent here their narrative on this style.

Rizwan Ali Khan and Muazzam Ali Khan

Rizwan Ali Khan and Muazzam Ali Khan are the nephews of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and they represent the contemporary generation of Khan’s family. They got training in qawwali from Khan and their father Mubarak Ali Khan. Rizwan Ali Khan and Muazzam Ali Khan lead their own qawwali party, Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali Group, an ensemble they formed in the late-1990s, which has performed at the national and international venues. They have performed at WOMAD (1998) besides singing at the famously acclaimed Coke Studio35 of Pakistan. They enthusiastically claim to follow the Punjab ang and their uncle Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan in qawwali (Rizwan and Muazzam, interview: 2017).

According to Rizwan Ali Khan and Muazzam Ali Khan, their family uses the Punjabi word Doaba (Land of two rivers, the land that lies between the Beas River and the Sutlej River of Punjab)36 to identify the Punjab ang. The people of Punjab (India) used to call themselves doabians. Their elders in the past and now they sing qawwali with a lot of enthusiasm and their music is thrilling for that reason. Producing a high pitch sound at a high volume creates a thrill, which is sustained for a long time in a performance. In the olden times, the qawwal had to perform before the audience without the modern technological support, sound system and speakers. The number of audience used to be in several hundreds and the qawwal aim was to be audibly reach the person sitting the farthest. For this, the qawwal needed a loud voice to focus particularly the high

34 Though the basic elements of the Punjab ang are same in the qawwali families’ discourse on this style, they interpret it in their individual style in performance practice. For instance, some of them use more bolbant and alap, while the other may focus on sargam singing and layakari.

35 Pakistani television series, which produces live-recorded studio performances of different artists of Pakistan.

36 36 Their ancestral home in Punjab, Jalandhar is located in this area, which is now in India.

notes. It was something that attracted people. The qawwal focused a bol composed to high notes, or a bol that had a girah on high notes for two hours by singing the bol, girah, bolbant, and sargam in the same pitch range. This is the tradition that has been carried by their family (ibid.). Punjabi language is another key feature that defines the Punjab ang, as people expect from musicians from Punjab to sing Punjabi poetry, like Punjabi Sufi poet Bulley Shah’s poetry has been a favorite of the family (ibid.).

Figure 5: Rizwan Ali Khan (right), Muazzam Ali Khan (middle), Author (left)

There is no doubt that this is in the soil of the Punjab, and it is due to the blessing of a Walliullah (Sufi), add Rizwan Ali Khan and Muazzam Ali Khan (ibid.). If you listen to the Punjabi qawwali, it will hit you. You will enjoy it as well. It does not mean that the other people do not sing well. They sure do, but the element of thrill is missing from their qawwali, like qawwalis of Delhi, Karachi, or Bombay’s musicians (ibid.).

With the partition, this passionate singing left Indian Punjab and transferred to Pakistani Punjab. The music community in India Punjab laments this loss, claim Rizwan

Ali Khan and Muazzam Ali Khan (ibid.). The people, who came from there, transferred their music to their children, and the process continues to this day. This music is thus immortal whether its practitioners are dead or alive (ibid.).

Rizwan Ali Khan and Muazzam Ali Khan state the richness of Punjab ang in Khan’s qawwali music in these words.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan gave a considerable importance to doaba ang or the Punjab ang. In his live qawwali recording of jay tu Rab nu manana pehlay Yar nu mana (If you want to persuade Allah then prove a good relation with your Friend first), he demonstrated doaba ang. Then in another beautiful qawwali, tum ik gorakh dhanda ho (you are one tricky business), he sang politely, but in the middle of the performance, he again presented the doaba ang. Then he had sung Allama Iqbal’s kalam, dayar e ishq mein apna mukam paida kar (Build in love’s empire your hearth and your home). He is singing this kalam formally, but in the start and middle he did some variations, which were according to the Punjab ang (ibid.).

Nadeem Salamat

Nadeem Salamat (b.1969) is the leading harmonium player of his family qawwali ensemble, BJS (Bakhshi Javed Salamat). His father, Bakhshi Salmat Ali Khan was a great Punjabi qawwali. He was a student of Ustad Fateh Ali Khan, the father of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Bakhshi Salmat Ali Khan started qawwali at the age of ten years after the death of his father, Rooray Khan who was the student of the grandfather of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Thus they have a strong Punjabi connection. After the death of Bakhshi Salamat Ali Khan in 1982, his elder son Bakhshi Javed Salamat (1957- 2016) became the leader of the family qawwali group, and formed the BJS qawwali group. This group has performed internationally and worked with Peter Gabriel as well. After the death of Bakhshi Javed Salamat in 2016, Nadeem Salamat and Masood Salamat are now the official leaders of the BJS group.

Nadeem Salamat identifies Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s style as an exemplar of the Punjab ang and describes the Punjab ang as Khan has interpreted it. He says that Khan’s improvisation techniques, such as bolbant, girah, and sargam, are the key features of the Punjab ang (Nadeem Salamat, interview: 2017). Khan particularly emphasized sargam and bolbant to attract the commoners, and took the execution of these techniques to a high level of craftsmanship. It promoted Punjabi culture and language, which has a unique identity of its own, as well. Punjab’s soil was represented through Khan’s qawwalis (ibid.). Like Khan, the Salamats have a penchant for doing bolbant, and Nadeem Salamat demonstrated his own style of doing it during the interview.

Figure 6: Nadeem Salamat during his interview

Nadeem Salamat about Khan’s style:

Composition was the distinguishing trait of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. He sang wichora (poetry in which a poet explains pain of separation) in his qawwali and the Punjabi language he used in his qawwali was, simple

Punjabi, just to the ease of a common person. Khan gave some special importance to sam because it is the most important thing in qawwali of South Asia. He concentrated on the rooh dari (actual soul) of qawwali. Then there was a wakh (difference) in his qawwali and that was because of Punjab’s soil that was in his ang (ibid.).

Asif Ali Santoo Khan

Asif Ali Santoo Khan (b. 1973) is the head of the Santoo Khan qawwali family that has been singing qawwali for more than three centuries (Asif Ali Santoo Khan, interview: 2017). The family is named after Ustad Santoo Khan (d. 1988) who was the grandfather of Asif Ali Santoo Khan. Ustad Santoo Khan was known for singing qawwali in multiple languages, like Persian, Urdu, and Punjabi. Asif Ali Santoo Khan learnt qawwali from Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and was a Ganda-bandh shagird37 of Khan. His father Manzoor Hussain Santoo (d.2017) was also a qawwali of great repute. Asif Ali Santoo Khan became the second leader of the Santoo family in 1990 while his father was still alive. After the death of his father, Asif Ali Santoo Khan exclusively became the official leader of the qawwali party (ibid.).

Asif Ali Santoo Khan says that his family performs the Punjab ang, as they are Punjabis who are carrying forward the tradition of their elders (Interview: 2017). As native Punjabi language speakers, they feel proud of it. The peculiarity of the Punjabi qawwali is that it causes “a hunch” in the listener. This is primarily due to Punjabi poetry. When they sing this poetry with taranum, it has a beautiful effect on the listener, but when they compose it to a raga with its sahi-khwani, its effect increases manifold (ibid.). The complex rhythm of the Punjabi qawwali is the second factor that creates the hunch.

The talas of the Delhi ang and the Punjab ang are same, yet the thekas of the Punjab ang are complicated as compared to the Delhi ang. For this reason, the tabla player in the Punjabi qawwali should be proficient in playing complex rhythm (ibid.).

37 A student who gets attached to his teacher through a traditional knot-tying ceremony

Figure 7: Asif Ali Khan Santoo (right), author (left)

In performance practice, singing high notes at fast speed marks the Punjab ang.

To create the hunch, the Punjabi qawwals usually sing in the third octave at a rhythm that is four times faster than the original rhythm of the composition, and they may sustain this attribute for hours, claims Asif Ali Santoo Khan (ibid.). The qawwals would perform improvisation, like bolbant and girah, at the same tempo and pitch range. To do so is

difficult, and such a difficulty is commonly absent in the Delhi ang. There is Ragdari, and layakari in the Delhi ang too, but their way of qawwali is easy. They begin their performance with an asthayi, and prolong it slowly without takrar, and bolbant, which is less enthusiastic. Like this, they can sing for ten hours but the Punjabi qawwali, in comparison, causes fatigue. This is just because they have a different style (ibid.). Asif Ali Santoo Khan identifies bolbant, takrar/dohrana, zanjeer, jakar band, and naqsh as the other salient features of the Punjab ang (ibid.).

Asif Ali Santoo Khan recognizes Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan as “a whole university of the Punjabi qawwali” (ibid.). Khan’s command over variations in qawwali, such as jhol (sing something with different rhythmic mutations), and his sahi-khwani of rags were astonishing. His compositions were musically flawless. He performed spectacular bolbant, layakari, sargam and merukhand of sargam (to sing notation with different feels and variations) by considering ragas, which make him a qawwali legend (ibid.).

Sher Ali

He is the leading qawwal of Sher Ali-Mehr Ali qawwal party. His ancestors hailed from Talwandi (Indian Punjab), and they have originally been classical musicians. Sher Ali and his elder brother, Mehr Ali, introduced qawwali singing in their family for the first time. Mehr Ali was a student of Muhammad Ali Fareedi qawwali (d. 1976)38, and Sher Ali learnt qawwali from Bakhshi Salamat. Both brothers formed their own qawwali party in 1958 and started to perform at the Sufi shrines and Urs (death anniversary of a Sufi saint in South Asia). Their formal debuted was in year 1960 with a qawwali performance at Data Darbar39. After the 1965 war of India and Pakistan, they moved to Multan, the southern Punjab (Pakistan), from Kasur, the central Punjab (Pakistan) (Sher Ali, Interview: 2017).

38 Darbari qawwali at the shrine of Fariduddin Ganjshakar in Pakpattan, Pakistan.

39 Shrine of Abul Hassan Ali Hujwiri or Data Ganj Bakhsh, Lahore, Pakistan.

Sher Ali represents the Punjabi ang with the metaphor of “color” (interview: 2017). There exists no other color like Punjabi qawwali, because it has a tinge of North Indian classical music, ghazal, thumri, and kafi to it. Drawing on a variety of poetry, like Punjabi, Saraiki, Hindi, Purbi, Farsi, and Urdu, the Punjabi qawwals sing it with beautiful voices and compositions. In terms of music technicalities, Sher Ali has the opinion that the Punjab ang is synonymous with complexity (ibid.). The qawwalis in Punjab draw from the North Indian music vocabulary. They perform bolbant, layakari and sing in high octave. A good qawwali should have some characteristic: know-how of classical singing; to sing poetry with right accent and meaning; knowledge of how to do bolbant; knowledge of composition; command over laya; he should be a sureela, composition ability; and how to present the kalam. He should know how to do girah and it should be according to the context of the composition text. This all is very difficult. The qawwals other than the Punjabis also sing Sufi poetry but their style of singing is not that good as Punjabi qawwals, as they keep qawwali performance simple (ibid.).

Figure 8: Sher Ali (rigt), author (left)

Sher Ali acknowledges that all salient features of the Punjab ang were present in music of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and Khan got unparalleled fame due to this style (ibid.). Khan was a hereditary qawwali who had knowledge of North Indian classical music because of his elders who were maestros in their own right. Khan’s command over layakari, and sargam was amazing, and he could do it at very fast tempo. His qawwali was “Herculean in nature” (ibid.).


Though the qawwals of Punjab hail from different families and have their familial stylistic peculiarities, they recognize the presence of a shared regional style, the Punjab ang qawwali (doaba or Punjabi qawwali). The Punjabi qawwals adhere to this tradition in some fashion to (metaphorically) create color, hunch, or thrill in their music. Punjabi language and its poetry repertoire play a significant role in identifying this style.

Technically, the Punjabi qawwals dedicate more time of their performance to singing forcefully in the high pitch range. Emphasis on rhythm, speed, and rhythmic improvisation are the other prominent features of their singing. They have a penchant to sing at fast rhythm, and to do complex rhythmic improvisation. Interestingly, they can virtuously perform these in the high pitch range at a loud voice. Similarly, they excessively sing bolbant, sargam, and girah at the same speed and pitch. The Punjabi qawwals sing tan in which ghamak tans, sargam tans are prominent but sometimes they also use bol tans. The Delhi ang is not devoid of these features, however not as excessively as the Punjab ang.

The Punjabi qawwals unanimously revere Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan as the leading contemporary Punjabi qawwali, and his music as an exemplar of the Punjab ang. He represented this style in an eclectic manner without altering its essence, like he was at ease in singing in upper and lower octaves though he had a high pitch voice. He had skillful command over laya, rhythmic improvisation, bolbant, sargam, tan, and girah, besides having a vast repertoire of Punjabi compositions. He was formally trained in

North Indian classical tradition and could demonstrate his knowledge of this tradition in his qawwali music.

The Punjabi qawwals also admits that besides his own style and variations in Punjab ang, Khan never left the true soul of the Punjab ang. Though they all follow a shared style, enormous singing of sargam and layakari, and his unique compositional structure makes him different from the other Punjabi qawwali.

Chapter 3: Salient Features of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s Qawwali Singing

In this chapter, I analyze the salient features of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s qawwali singing as they relate to Punjab ang qawwali. The musical examples, notated on timeline, in this chapter are from selected qawwali recordings that he sang at different stages of his music career. I do analysis primarily drawing upon the music vocabulary of North Indian classical music and qawwali, using Forte 3 notation software40 and, Logic Pro X’s (music production workstation) transcription41 of the examples. The key features of Khan’s qawwali singing are sargam singing, layakari using sargam, bolbant, tans, paltas composed to sargam, use of complicated rhythms and thekas, and singing high notes.

Sargam and layakari

Sargam singing, a characteristic feature of the Punjab ang, is a common attribute of Khan’s singing. He uses sargam in the form of palta, to achieve speed, to do tonal contrast and abrupt pitch variation, to perform takrar, and to do layakari. Generally, his sargam passages are unmethodical and irregular. It means that he composed them then and there.

Example 1 is an excerpt from his qawwali Nami Danam.

Example 1

Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Fast speed sargam passage in Kehrwa tala in qawwali Nami Danam (VDP-1297) 168bpm                       6:59 to 7:03

40 My piano teacher Sir Arshad Khokar helped me notate the examples through this software. He had worked with Khan as well in 1996 at Alhamra Art Complex, Lahore.

41 Due to its technical limitations, the Logic Pro X’s transcriptions occasionally misses the notes sung by Khan at a very fast speed. So, the transcriptions should be read with the respective sound clips.

At 6:59, Khan sings a short speedy sargam passages composed in palta form before the text, baharsoo raqsey, which leads to the sam. In a constant tala cycle, Khan picking up sa note from offbeat, like from 3rd bar as mentioned above in Forte 3 demonstration and then sam is on raqsey word which come after bahrsoo. The whole sargam passage consists of 22 notes. He sings sargam off beat because he is starting sargam from the second beat of a tala cycle. Then he finishes the palta on sam after using bahrsoo raqsey words. On stave it is clear that pitch and frequency of notes varying.

While singing the sargam passage (sa ga ma pa ni sa re ni sa, pa ni sa re ni sa ni pa ma ga re ga sa), he maintains the tempo of 325bpm. Whereas, the original tempo is 168bpm and the scale is B major. The performance of this track consists of total 429 cycles of eight beat kehrwa tala. Sargam at 6:59 starts from the 94th tala cycle that indicates he introduces sargam early in his performance and keeps it intact through the performance.

Example 2

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Layakari in dadra tala in qawwali kali kali zulfon key (RWCD3 0777 7 86136 2 6)

280bpm                       5:34 to 6:01

These two figures are showing the layakari in sargam, which starts from 2nd bar and it is till 43rd bar. These two figures are extracted from Forte 3 software and all the notes are carefully observed and listened from Khan’s qawwali Kali Kali and notated on forte 3 manually by the help of Sir Arshad Khokar (pianist). In first figure, it shows from bar 2 to 9 that Khan is repeating notes patterns, then again 39th to 44th bar again repeating notes while constant tala cycles are going on and if we listen to the audio it will get clear that tabla player doing jugalbandi with Khan’s sargam singing. From bar 2 to 3 notes Khan singing are, sa re sa ni sa re, then he sings sa re sa ni ni sa from 4 to 9 bars and

doing jugalbandi with tabla and again while doing it comes back to sa re sa ni sa re phrase and then continues with small changes of notes in sargam passages as score sheet describing it too. Point is Khan is playing with laya and tabla player accompanying him through it.

Example 3

Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Layakari with sargam in tala Kehrwa in qawwali Nami Danam (VDP-1297) 144bpm                       8:06-8:29

The sargam passage (example 3) consists of four tala cycles of eight beat kehrwa tala in which Khan demonstrates his rhythmic virtuosity by composing sargam notes to dissimilar rhythm patterns in each cycle. The first tala cycle starts exactly at 8:06 minute and Khan sings 7 notes in it. Notes ni and dha are on the first matra while dha prolongs to some territory of the 2nd matra. Note re is on the 2nd matra, and notes ni and dha are on the 4th and 5th matra respectively. Again note ni is on the 7th. . The rest of the time duration of the eight matra is assigned to note dha. Khan sings note pa and ni on the first matra of the next cycle, note dha and ga are on the second matra, and notes ma, dha and, ma on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th matra respectively. Then he sings notes dha and ma on the 6th matra, pa and ga on the 7th matra, and ma on the 8th matra with a brief pause on the last part of the 8th matra part. He sings total ten notes in this cycle. In the third tala cycle, notes are on eight beats exactly as they are in their sequence of pa, ga, re, ga, ma from 8:08 to 8:10, so five notes equally distributed on eight matra. In the last cycle, the first two notes re and ga are almost on the 1st matra. The next two notes ma and pa are on the 2nd and 3rd matra respectively whereas the next two notes re and ga are on 3rd matra and ga is taking the territory of the 4th matra as well. The following three notes ma, dha and ma are on the 7th and 8th matras, in which ma and dha are on 7th matra and the second ma is on the 8th matra, which is at 8:12. He sings total nine notes in this cycle.

In examples 4 and 5, Khan exhibits his penchant for sudden pitch variation singing sargam. Generally he does it by abruptly approaching a tone an octave apart or so, and singing multiple notes to one syllable.

Example 4

Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Pitch variation with sargam in qawwali Mast Nazron Sey Allah Bachaye (0777 7 86561 2 8)

104bpm                       13:18 to 13:30

In example 4, application of note sa, for instance, demonstrates the abrupt rise of pitch. While singing note sa in madhya saptak, Khan abruptly sings note sa in ati- tarsthan saptak (see 13:26 to 13:30). Similarly, Khan merges notes sa and re into a single syllable ni (see 13:22 to 13:26), the note he intends to sustain for a while. The display of pitch variation continues through the sargam passage in different forms in the same performance (example 5).

Example 5

Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Pitch variation in Mast Nazron Sey Allah Bachaye (0777 7 86561 2 8)

104bpm                       13:42 to 14:06

Khan skillfully places note dha in taristhan between two notes ni in madhyasthan (see 13:46 to 13:50). Similarly, he abruptly approaches note sa from note pa (see 13:58 to 14:02), covering a tonal interval of one and a half octave.

Example 6

Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Use of sargam to simultaneously achieve fast tempo and pitch variation in multiple octaves in qawwali Kali Kali Zulfon Key (RWCD3 0777 7 86136 2 6)

96bpm             8:39 to 8:47

Example 6 demonstrates Khan’s virtuosity to use sargam to simultaneously achieve fast tempo and pitch variation in more than one octave. Emphasizing notes ga and re, he continuously sings back and forth in mandra saptak while occasionally exploring madhya saptak. The rhythm of the performance is 96 bpm, and he bypasses it at various points by singing this passage at 120bpm.

To show multiple speeds in a single sargam passage is another peculiarity of Khan. Example 7 demonstrates it.

Example 7

Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Multiple speeds in a single sargam passage in qawwali Kali Kali Zulfon Key (RWCD3 0777 7 86136 2 6)

124bpm                       7:35 to 7:59

From 7:43 to 7:51, Khan sings notes in lowers octave but with multiple speeds. From 7:51 to 7:59, there are again some rhythm variations. He slows down his pace but promptly increases it to sing along the beat of tabla in the form of sangat. In this example bpm changes to 195.

Example 8

Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Multiple speeds in a single sargam passage at fast speed in Kali Kali Zulfon Ke (RWCD3 0777 7 86136 2 6)

152bpm                       09:09 to 09:32

Example 8 shows the pitch variations and multiple speeds of notation singing in another qawwali, kali kali zulfon ke. From 09:09 to 09:16, Khan sings sargam notes alternatively in the normal speed and fast speed. After this, he takes rest of half notes at two points, and then he starts to sing sargam at a fast tempo. From 09:24 to 09:32, the repetition of fast sargam singing is going on. Again in these all three segments of notation singing, Khan’s sargam singing speed varies from 232bpm to 180bpm.

Example 9

Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Sargam singing palta form in qawwali Lajpal Nabi (Vol. 1 of RGH) 148bpm                       8:30 to 8:36

Khan also sings sargam as a palta. Example 9 demonstrates a palta42 composed to

sargam (syllables ga, re, ma, sa, dha, and pa).

Takrar or repetition of notes or lyrics is another improvisation technique of the Punjab ang. In example 10, khan performs takrar with sargam. He repeats notes sa and re interspersed with rest and notes dha and ni.

Example 10

Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Repetition in qawwali Nami Danam (VDP-1297) 144bpm                       9:51 to 9:57

42 According to my vocal teacher, Ustad Habib U Rehman, a palta is a composition of notes in any shape that can be combined with text to arrive at the sam.

In example 10, Khan is doing repetition of sargam notes ma ga re ni sa, which starts from 4th bar and continues till 15th bar.

Example 11

Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Takrar with sargam in qawwali, Mast Nazron sey Allah Bachaye (0777 7 86561 2 8)

136bpm                       14:29 to 14:45

In example 11 again Logic transcriptions shows the repetition of notes, ni sa sa re re dha sa re continuously. Khan using takrar for improvisation and he used to do greatly by repeating sargam passages and then again by changing sargam patterns a bit with variation of notes continuously in a performance.


Like the other Punjabi qawwals, Khan shows a penchant for bolbant. In example 12, he performs bolbant to the line, shab jaye key man boodam, and successfully lands on the sam at 2:49. The bolbant segment begins from the 43rd tala cycle and spans over six matras time duration. He allocates 5 matras to word man, but reserves 1 matra for word boodam to conclude this segment at the sam at a rhythm of 240bpm that is nearly three times faster than the original rhythm of the composition, 88bpm.

Example 12

Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Bolbant in qawwali Nami Danam in kehrwa tala (VDP-1297) 88bpm             2:45 to 2:50

Example 12A

Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Rhythmic composition of bols man boodam in qawwali Nami Danam in tala kehrwa


88bpm             2:07 to 2:11

On the other side, the original rhythmic composition of bols, man boodam, is different than the bolbant segment. Bols, man boodam comprises are composed to two matras just before the sam.

Example 13 is a bolbant from his performance of the qawwali, kali kali zulfon key. He performs bolbant to the phrase, Aaey-Aey Husan Walo (1:31-1:35). He prolongs the last syllable “o” of the word, walo, which sounds like a murki and then reaches the sam. He starts this word from the 3rd matra of kehrwa tala. Similarly, he repeats the first word, aey, twice, and thus skillfully places the whole segment of three words, aey, husn, and walo, on the tala beats. The original composition of the phrase, aey husn walo, is an example 13A for comparison. In this, the four words opening phrase of the composition, aey husn walo kali, is composed to a complete tala cycle.

Example 13

Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Bolbant in qawwali Kali Kali Zulfon Key in tala dadra (RWCD3 0777 7 86136 2 6)

104bpm                       1:31 to 1:35

Example 13A

Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Rhythmic composition of bols aey husn walo in qawwali Kali Kali Zulfon Key in tala dadra (RWCD3 0777 7 86136 2 6)

104bpm                       1:21 to 1:24


Girah is one of the main features of qawwali music in general. Khan also presented this feature in his qawwali in accordance with the actual definition of girah, the poetry a

qawwal appropriates then and there from other languages or another piece of poetry to endorse the central idea of the original text43.

Example 14

Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Girah in qawwali Kali Kali Zulfon Key (RWCD3 0777 7 86136 2 6)

96bpm             03:22 to 04:58

43 The definition of girah by Nadeem Salamat qawwal.
In example 14 (3:22-4:46), Khan sings girah in the original composition text followed by the original text (04:50 to 04:58). The original text is:

Kali kali zulfon key phanday na dalo (don’t ensnare me in your dark tresses) humain zinda rehnay do aey hussan walo (let me live, o beautiful one) karein kya husn waalon se muhabbbat (how can I love the beautiful one) hamein maloom hai anjaam e ulfat (when I know the end of love story) tumhhein achchi tarah ham jaante hain (I know you very well)

par hamse na kro tum aisi sharaarat (don’t toy with me)

Kali kali zulfon key phanday na dalo (don’t lock me into your tresses)

humain zinda rehnay do aey hussan walo (let me be alive, o beautiful) The girah text is:

na chero humain hum sataye huyeye hain (Don’t tempt us, we are broken)

bohat zakhm seenay pe khayeye huyeye hain (We have been wounded at our Heart) sitam gar ho tum khoob pehchantay hain (We very well know you hurt us) tumhari adaon ko hum jantay hain (We very well know your enchanting tricks) dhaga-baz ho tum sitam dhanay walay (You are unfaithful, you pain me)

fareib e mohabbat mein uljhanay walay (You capture us in your web of love)

yeh unki kahani unhi ko mubarak (It’s their love story, leave it to them) ye unki kahani tumhi ko Mubarak (It’s their love story, I’ll leave it to you) tumhari nishani tumhi ko Mubarak (It’s your sign, I’ll leave it to you) tumhari jawani tumhi ko Mubarak (It’s your beauty, I’ll leave it to you)

tumhari emani tumhi ko Mubarak (it’s your faith, I’ll leave it to you)

hamari tarf se nigahain hata lo (Keep your eyes away from me)

Girah’s text meaning corresponds to the composition text because Khan identifying the main context of original composition words, don’t ensnare me in your dark tresses in girah words like I will get tempted by them and then you will at the end leave me so this is why he is doing girah to explain the meaning of the original composition’s text.

Complex thekas

Another prominent feature of the Punjab ang is the use of complex thekas. Khan also uses complex thekas in his compositions. His permanent tabla accompanist, Dildar Hussain, is known for his rhythmic virtuosity and his command over complex thekas, relas, tihai, and paran (Raza Shaukat, interview: 2017). Example 15 shows such complexity in a theka.

Example 15

Complex theka and rhythm in dadra tala in qawwali Kali Kali Zulfon Key (RWCD3 0777 7 86136 2 6)

98.18bpm                    5:34 to 5:56

The bass line denotes the table rhythm. The tabla player doing jugalbandi with Khan, while khan sings sargam (5:44-5:56). The density of (rhythm) notes and their

composition in a bar vary from the previous section of this example. Such a display of rhythmic complexity can be examined through the performance.

Example 16

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Tihai in dadra tala of qawwali Kali Kali Zulfon Key (RWCD3 0777 7 86136 2 6)

280bpm                       6:10 to 6:18

Tihai starts from the 15th bar of the Forte 3 software. Tihai finishes at the first matra of 28th bar. There is a 1 beat rest after first phrase of tihai and then 2 beats rest after second phrase of tihai then at the Khan finishes before two beats of sam. The next asthayi starts from the 29th bar which is sam. Though tihais ends on sam always according to Indian classical music but when you are doing improvisations in live qawwali performances, it couldn’t go with the plan and Khan is doing tihais through his own varying style.

Notes are showing the repetition of notes in tihai form where, ma ma ga ma ga re pa phrases repeats 9 times, which means there are total 3 tihais because every tihai should have 3 sargam phrases of same notes, so according to this it fulfills the definition of tihai.


I summarize the prominent features of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s qawwali singing in the perspective of the above analysis and also include here my observation of his music in general.

Khan had a flexible voice through which he could abruptly change his pitch register according to his choice. Khan had an instinctual characteristic of oscillating his voice through different timbres by using high and low pitch voices alternatively, not only in lyrics singing but also in improvisational parts without lyrics such as sargam. He sang in every octave in vilampat laya, madh laya, durat laya and ati-durat laya. He was proficient at singing takrar.

At some stage of a composition he used to display a cluster of sargam singing, a common element of his qawwali music. In his compositions, sargam passages and the palta vary according to the nature of the composition. He particularly focused on sargam and introduced it short after the asthayi and then kept it intact through the rest of the performance. In his later works with modern instruments he performed less sargam. He

had the capability to accelerate the speed of the sargam within an octave range. He could achieve multiple speeds within a single sargam passage at a constant rhythm. He had tremendous control over rhythm, and performed bolbant and palta composed to various talas such as, kehrwa, dadra. The sargam composition technique, which he used in his qawwali, was a compact arrangement of long and short pulses sections of metre.

Long performances of Khan’s qawwali usually consisted of the exaggerated long improvisational sections like bol-alap, akar-alap, tans, tihais, paltas, layakari in sargam and sargam singing. Instrumental prelude or naghma has been the main introduction to his compositions, and it generally consisted of the combination of harmonium and tabla, or sometimes harmonium and akar-alap. His improvisational techniques vary according to the nature of his performance and taste of the listeners.

According to my general observations of Khan’s work, he performed differently in his live performances and in his studio recordings. In live performances, he performed for longer duration and did improvisation generously. However, in studio recordings, his performance was time bound. He kept the duration of qawwalis short, emphasizing lyrics with comparatively less improvisation, but with more instruments in the ensemble, such as guitar, keyboard, tabla, harmonium, and drums. He could sing tan in the upper octave that was a characteristic feature of his style. Though he sang in all three octaves but he also did chalat phirat (moving around melodically). He used North Indian embellishment techniques, such as murki, and ghamak.


The musical history of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s family extends over 700 years, as the family claims. Originally, they were not qawwalis, but after migrating to India from Afghanistan, they appropriated qawwali music and gradually embraced and developed Punjab ang qawwali. Basically, this is a story of transformation, accepting the local cultural influences. In other words, they have been receptive to the local cultural practices.

There is regionalism in qawwali performance practice. The Punjab ang is a unique musical style followed by the Punjabi qawwalis with pride and ownership. By this style, they differentiate themselves from the qawwalis of other regions, such as Delhi.

Khan’s music that snaffled the attention of the audience originated and flourished within the Punjab ang. The musical feature that made him one of the most renowned contemporary qawwalis, such as sargam, layakari, tan, palta, bolbant, and singing in three octaves with ease are the distinct elements of the Punjab ang. Yet, he displayed his mastery over these elements in an eclectic way. He used sargam in his qawwali vigorously and in a variety of ways. However, layakari was more aggressive component of his music. His qawwali music established the model of Punjab ang qawwali for the other Punjabi qawwalis. The Punjab ang has now firmly put its mark on the international music in the form of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s interpretation of this style.

Glossary of musical terms

AkarSinging with syllable “aa”
AlapSlow melodic elaboration of a raga
AngMusical style
AsthayiThe first section of a melodic composition in North Indian classical music that is generally composed in the lower tetra chord
BandishA fixed melodic composition in North Indian classical music
BolbantUse of lyrics for rhythmic improvisation
ChughanTempo that is four times faster than the original tempo
DarbariA raga of Indian classical music
Deray DarLeading qawwal
DoabiansThe people who live in the area of the Indian Punjab that lies between the River Beas and River Sutlej
DhrupadA vocal genre of North Indian classical music
DohaAn autonomous Punjabi couplet
GhamakForceful vocal oscillation on a single note or a group of notes
GhazalA genre of semi-classical North Indian music
GirahInserted verse
Jakar BandTo fasten various components of a performance in an organic whole
JugalbandiA call and response performance of two solo musicians in North Indian classical music
KafiA Punjabi Sufi music genre
Kanni walaSide singer in a qawwali ensemble


KhayalA vocal genre of North Indian classical music
LayaMusical rhythm
LayakariRhythmic improvisation
MehfilMusical gathering or congregation
Mehfil e samaA gathering held to listen Sufi music, such as qawwali
Merukhand of sargamPermutations of a fixed set of Indian solfege
MurkiAn ornamentation, involving rapid singing of two or three notes
NaatPoetry in praise of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad
NaghmaIntroductory instrumental part of a qawwali performance
NaqshFeature of qawwali composition
PaltaA group of melodic passages composed to a mathematical formula
Patiala gharanaA lineage of classical musicians of North India, specializing in singing khayal
QawwaliSufi music genre of South Asia
QawwalA qawwali singer
Qawwal Bachon Ka GharanaA lineage of qawwali musicians that is associated with the shrine of Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi
QataA genre of Urdu poetry, which means a segment or a detached piece
RagaNorth Indian musical scale
RiyazMusic practice
RubaiIntroductory verse of qawwali
Raga vidyaCorrect knowledge of Raga
SazMusical instrument
Sahi-khwaniAccurate recitation of poetry, which could not be read easily
SarodSouth Asian String instrument


SarangiSouth Asian bow instrument
SargamIndian Solfege
Sargam tanTan sung with sargam
SureelaOne who sings in tune with proper expression
SawarmandalZither like North Indian accompanying instrument
SamThe first beat of a tala
TablaSouth Asian percussion instrument
Takrar/DohranaMultiple repetitions of either sargam or lyrics
TalaMeter in North Indian music
TansRapid melodic passage, using the notes or lyrics
TaranaA vocal genre of North Indian music
ThekaRhythmic phrase of a particular tala
ThumriA semi-classical vocal genre of North Indian music
TilangA raga of North Indian classical music
TihaiRhythmic improvisation to reach the sam, repeating a melodic phrase thrice
ZarbTabla strike

List of Musical Examples



Example 1Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Fast speed sargam passage in Kehrwa tala in qawwali Nami


VDP-12976:59 to 7:03
Example 2Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Layakari in

dadra tala in qawwali kali kali zulfon key

RWCD3 0777

7 86136 2 6

5:34 to 6:01
Example 3Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Layakari with sargam in tala Kehrwa in qawwali Nami


VDP-12978:06 to 8:29
Example 4Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Pitch variation with sargam in qawwali Mast Nazron Sey

Allah Bachaye

0777 7 86561 2


13:18 to 13:30
Example 5Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Pitch variation in Mast Nazron Sey Allah


0777 7 86561 2


13:42 to 14:06
Example 6Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Use of sargam to simultaneously achieve fast tempo and pitch variation in multiple octaves in qawwali Kali Kali Zulfon


RWCD3 0777

7 86136 2 6

8:39 to 8:47
Example 7Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Multiple speeds in a single sargam passage in

qawwali Kali

RWCD3 0777

7 86136 2 6

7:35 to 7:59



Kali Zulfon


Example 8Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Multiple speeds in a single sargam passage at fast speed in Kali

Kali Zulfon Ke

RWCD3 0777

7 86136 2 6

09:09 to 09:32
Example 9Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Sargam singing palta form in

qawwali Lajpal Nabi

Vol. 1 of RGH8:30 to 8:36
Example 10Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Repetition in qawwali Nami


VDP-12979:51 to 9:57
Example 11Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Takrar with sargam in qawwali, Mast Nazron sey

Allah Bachaye

0777 7 86561 2


14:29 to 14:45
Example 12Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Bolbant in qawwali Nami Danam in

kehrwa tala

VDP-12972:45 to 2:50
Example 12AUstad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Rhythmic composition of bols man boodam in qawwali Nami Danam in tala


VDP-12972:07 to 2:11
Example 13Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Bolbant in qawwali Kali Kali Zulfon Key in tala


RWCD3 0777

7 86136 2 6

1:31 to 1:35
Example 13AUstad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Rhythmic composition of bols aey husn walo in qawwali Kali

Kali Zulfon

RWCD3 0777

7 86136 2 6

1:21 to 1:24



Key in tala


Example 14Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Girah in qawwali Kali Kali Zulfon


RWCD3 0777

7 86136 2 6

03:22 to 04:58
Example 15Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Complex theka and rhythm in dadra tala in qawwali Kali Kali Zulfon


RWCD3 0777

7 86136 2 6

5:34 to 5:56



Books and Articles:


Baud, Pierre-Alain. 2015. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: The Messenger of Qawwali. Noida, UP: Harper Collins.

Kalra, Virinder S. 2014. “Punjabiyat and the Music of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.” South Asian Diaspora 6/2:179-192.

Qureshi, Regula Burckhardt. 1986. Sufi Music of India and Pakistan: Sound, Context and Meaning in Qawwali. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Rubi, Ahmad Aqeel. 1992. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: A Living Legend. Lahore: Words of Wisdom.

Sakata, Hiromi Lorraine. 2000. “Devotional Music.” In Alison Arnold, Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, Volume 5: South Asia the Indian Subcontinent; Punjab (751-761). London; New York, Garland Publishing, INC.

Zaman, Ustad Badar U. 2015. Punjab Ki Classiki Mausiqui Ko Ata- Tappa. Lahore: Idara Farogh-e-Fun-e-Mausiqui



Asaro, Giuseppe.1999. A Voice from Heaven. New York: Winstar TV & Video Missolz, Jerome de. 1996. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: Le Dernier Prophet.

Samandar Mein Samnadar (2007). Geo TV DAWN News.2009. The King of Qawwali


Carvin, Andy. Shahen-Shah: The Spirit of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Retrieved March 23rd. 2017.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – His Life, Legacy, Ecstasy. Retrieved March 24th. 2017.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Retrieved December 7th. 2017.

Mundra, Anil. 2007. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: A Sufi Music Master Revived.

Folk Roots. 1993. The Nusrat Ramble. roots-1993/

Zee TV India. 1996. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan-Interview. Retrieved April 06, 2017.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: Tribute (1998). Retrieved October 9th. 2017.

Zee TV. 1998. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: A Tribute. Retrieved July 07, 2017.


Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Allah Hoo Allah Hoo. T-Series (SNCD 01/869) Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Bandit Queen. Milan 74321 37811-2

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & party. Body and Soul. Real World Records (7243 8 10996 2 9) Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Classic Super hit Remix Songs. Timeline Records (TLCD 449) Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & party. Devotional Songs. Virgin (0777 7 86561 2 8)

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and party. Devotional and Love Songs. Caroline Records (CAROL 2300-2)

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & party. Dust to Gold. Real World Records (72438-49178-2-1)

Gaudi, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Dub Qawwali. Six Degrees Records (657036 1137-2) Gaudi and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Dub Qawwali Remixes. Six Degrees Records (PRCDSD 7078-2)

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Ecstacy. Terrascape (TRCD 4110-2) Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. En Concert À Paris. Ocora (C 570501)

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & party. Intoxicated Spirit. Shanachie (64066)

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Mujahid Mubarak Ali Khan. Jashn e Faisalabad. RGH-Vol. 2.No 571

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Le Dernier Propete. La Sept ARTE (Arte Video – 786368)

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Live At The Royal Albert Hall. Edenways (EDE 2022-2)

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & party. Love Songs. Real World Recods (RWMCD 3, 263 234, 0777 7 86560 2 9)

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Michael Brook & Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: Night Song. Real World Records (CDRW 50, 7243 8 40683 2 5)

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Mustt Mustt (10 versions). Real World Records (0777 7862212 3)

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Michael Brook: Remixed – Star Rise. Caroline Records (CAR 2369-2)

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Opus. Vanstory (12001)

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & party, Ustad Sultan Khan, Ustad Abdul Sattar Tari. Pukaar the Echo. Navras Records Ltd. (NRCD 5507)

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Rapture. Nascente (NSCD 013) Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Reverence. Sony (88697 44795 2)

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Qawwali and Party. Shahen-Shah. Real World Records (RWCD3 0777 7 86136 2 6)

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Sham Savere. Oriental Star Agency (CD SR 046) Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Sanson Ki Mala. Jaro Medien (JARO 4181-2)

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Qawwali and Party. Shahbaaz. Real World Records (261 591) Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Sufi Qawwalis. ARC Music (EUCD 1737)

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Swan Song. Narada (72438-47857-2-7)

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & party. The Ecstatic Qawwali. JVC Aoyama studio (VDP-1297)

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & party. The Last Prophet. Real World Records (7243 8 39468 2 2)

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. The Ultimate Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: The Early Years Vol. I. EMI Music Arabia (70876-19153-2-7)

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Vird Karo Allah Allah Vol. 30. Oriental Star Agencies Ltd.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Yeh Jo Halka Halka. Jaro Records

List of interviews

Asif Ali Khan Santoo. September 8, 2017. Revenue Society, Johar Town, Lahore. Dr. Zahid Bashir. January 23, 2017. Jhang Bazar, Faisalabad.

Dularay Khan. January 23, 2017. Faisalabad.

Mian Yousuf Sallahudin. May, 01, 2017. Haveli in old city, Lahore. Muhammad Saddique. June, 20, 2017. Raza Abad, Faisalabad.

Nadeem Salamat. September 10, 2017. Pakistan Television, Lahore.

Rizwan and Muazzam Ali Khan. February 11, 2017. Qaddafi stadium, Lahore.

…………………………………. October 03, 2017. People’s Colony, Faisalabad. Sher Ali. October 03, 2017. Ghulam Muhammad Abad, Faisalabad.

Ustad Badar U Zaman. August 31, 2017. Punjab Government Cooperating Society, Lahore.