sunday sounds

Love six ways: Songs that explore this basic human emotion from different angles

Love, ultimately, is the source and purpose of music.

God is Love. Love is God. Love is. Love is All. All you Need is Love. Love is the Answer. Love will Find a Way.

Love is always in season and love, ultimately, is the source and purpose of music.

Go ahead and listen to these songs, each of which look at this basic human emotion from slightly different angles.

Mere Ranjha
Akhtar Ali

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Love as Sacrifice. The story of star-crossed lovers is one of the oldest and most enduring human stories. In Punjab and Sindh, the tale is told in many ways with the lovers adopting many names: Sohni and Mahiwal, Sassi and Pannu, Umar and Marvi and, Mirza and Sahiban. Of course, the most well-known version of the story is that of Heer and Ranjha, the beauty and the young flute player-turned-jogi. This version of the tale is told in the voice of beautiful Heer, who in the end is poisoned by her own family in order to stop her love for Ranjha. Akhtar Ali is a folk musician from Punjab who has been recorded by the amazing De Kulture label out of Jaipur. Ali’s earthy voice is full of longing and heartbreak, making this track a much underappreciated gem.

Love, Love, Love
Shaukat Ali

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Love as Pure Joy. This instrumental number by Punjabi harmonium ace Shaukat Ali is unadulterated bliss. Love may sometimes be beyond words, but it is never beyond expression as this gorgeous solo demonstrates. Ali makes your soul scamper and skip and almost leap for joy as he cajoles the keyboard with his bewitching light touch.

Ek pardesi much aank bagi
Dana Bharmal

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Unrequited Love.

My eyes met those of a stranger from a faraway land and it was like a bullet piercing my heart. O beloved, I know not from which land you come. I know not anything else about you. I cannot understand your language. Please learn Sindhi otherwise our romance will never progress. 

So sings Kutchi musician Dana Bharmal after spotting a Western woman in the crowd. Was she a tourist or one of the thousands of aid workers who flooded into Kutch after the horrible Bhuj earthquake of 2001? Bharmal doesn’t say, but he conveys his infatuation powerfully and with a wry sense of humour. He sings solo while accompanying himself on clay pot and tin washing basin, a percussion combination referred to locally as ghadho gamelo.

Pir Pagaro
Bijal Khan Mehar

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Love as Loyalty. The 7th Pir of Pagara, Syed Shah Mardan Shah II, was a larger-than-life figure in Pakistan. Ace player and developer of Pakistani cricket, ruthless politician (Muslim League), excellent bridge player, master horseman, lover of Western classical music, and wealthy zamindar. He was also the hereditary spiritual leader of the Hurs (Free) community that lives on both sides of the 1947 border.

Bijal Khan Mehar is a Sindhi-speaking member of the Pir community in Rajasthan. Here he leads his fellow musicians in a song, praising the Pir in anticipation of a much longed for visit.

Lambi Judai
Reshma

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Love as Sweet Separation. Reshma, Queen of the Desert, almost needs no introduction. In this sensational and lively clip, one of the subcontinent’s great folk voices expresses the anguish of millions of separated lovers and broken hearts:

Lambi judaai (What a long separation)
Chaar dinaan daa pyaar ho rabba (Just four days of love, oh God)
Badi lambi judaai (What a long separation)
Bichhde abhi toh hum bass kal parson (We are separated yesterday and the day before)
Jiyungi mein kaise is haal mein barson (How will I manage to live in this state for years?)

Yaar dadhi, ishq lai hai
Mohammad Jumaan

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Love as Devotion. A kafi of Ghulam Farid sung by Ustad Mohammad Jumaan, a traditional Sindhi musician. Jumaan came from a musical family with roots in the Lasbela region of Baluchistan. Though he sang from boyhood, taking after his father, his initial entrance into the music scene was a surando player. Surando is an ancient Kutchi/Sindhi "fiddle" played with a bow, similar to the sarangi.

Ishq aur aag dono baraabar 
[Love and fire are the same]
At ishq da ta wadera
[The heat of love outweighs the heat of fire]
Aatish sarre kakh te kaan ate ishq sarre dil jaira
[Fire burns material, but love burns the heart]
Aatish paani naal bujhe, di...
[Fire can be put out with water, but…]
Ishq da daru kera?
[What is the remedy for love?]

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