Outing Iran: Ghazal

by Chris Bodenner

A reader writes:

I've particularly enjoyed your Outing Iran series, and really liked your post on Niyaz. I'm very interested in the cultures of South Asia and historic Persia, and especially enjoy Persian classical music.

I wanted to mention, though, that the lead singer Azam Ali isn't singing in Farsi but in Hindi / Urdu, and the music in this piece exhibits strong influences from Indian music (not least because of the tabla's rhythms and the typically Indian drone that begins the melody). Persian and north Indian classical music have much in common, and I think are particularly well suited to fusion attempts. One of the best examples of such fusion in my opinion is the group Ghazal, which includes the Persian kemancheh (spike-fiddle) maestro Kayhan Kalhor and the Indian sitarist Shujaat Ali Khan. Here's a recording of Ghazal I found on Youtube, with the words taken from the opening verses of Rumi's mathnawi (pronounced in the Indian fashion, not the modern Iranian Persian style). Kalhor is very open to experimenting with other musical styles, and has recorded outstanding albums with Kurdish, Turkish, and Western artists.

I hope you find this information useful, and I certainly hope you enjoy the music! I think Persian classical music is absolutely exquisite, but it's also definitely an acquired taste.