Music, Religion, and Power

Rokus De Groot

in Powers

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780823231560
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235537 | DOI:

Series: The Future of the Religious Past

Music, Religion, and Power

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This chapter examines various forms of qawwali, paying special attention to changes in concepts of spiritual disempowerment and the transmission of spiritual power, the seemingly paradoxical relationship between the two, and the role of music in both. Qawwali, a musical genre that originated in Pakistan and India, is ritual of poetry originally performed to music in Sufi shrines, but developed by a single practitioner, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, into performances on a global scale. The chapter analyzes musical events, poetical texts, audience responses, and the spirituality of the music in its original as well as its (com)modified Western settings. It explains how qawwali is traditionally performed in dargahs, tombs of the saints, epiphanic places where time and eternity intersect. The transfer of qawwali practices from shrines to the concert stage has important consequences not only for the performers and their audiences, but also for the spiritual role of the music.

Keywords: Pakistan; India; music; qawwali; ritual; disempowerment; Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan; Sufi; shrines; spiritual power

Chapter.  9926 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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