India - Ghazal Music

by V.A.Ponmelil (All rights reserved by the author)

Ghazal Music

The Ghazal is Arabic word which means talking to women. It is a short poem with a series of couplets. Each couplet is an independent poem. It rarely has more than a dozen couplets in the same metre. It deals with the whole spectrum of human experience with its central concern being love.

The Ghazal originated in Iran in the 10th century and grew from the Persian Qasida. The Qasida was a panegyric written in praise of the emperor or his noblemen.

A part of the Qasida called the Tashbib was developed in due course of time into the Ghazal. Because of its comparative brevity and concentration, with thematic variety and rich suggestiveness, the Ghazal became the most popular form of poetry.

The ghazal came to India with the advent and extension of the Muslim influence around 12th century. Even though it is believed that the Ghazal has begun with Amir Khusro in Northern India, Deccan in the South was its real home in the early stages. It was nursed and trained in the courts of Golconda and Bijapur under the patronage of Muslim rulers. Mohammad Quli Qutab Shah, Wajhi, Hashmi, Nusrati and Wali were among its pioneers.

The various styles and forms of the Ghazal are as follows.

The Sher is a poem of two lines. It is a poem in itself without requiring anything around it to convey the message.

The Beher is the meter of the Shers. It can be considered as the length of the Sher. In simple terms, the Beher is categorized into three classes namely, the short, the medium, and the long.

The rhyme of the opening couplet is repeated at the end of second line in each succeeding verse. In a Ghazal, second line of all the Shers must end with the same word/s. The repeating of common words is referred as the Radif of the Ghazal.

The Kaafiyaa is the rhyming pattern which all the words before the Radif must have.

The Ghazal always opens with a rhyming couplet which is referred to as the Matla. It sets the mood and tone of the poem.

The last couplet of the Ghazal called the Makta which often includes the pen-name of the poet. It is more personal than general in its tone and intent.


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