The Qawwali Experiment

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Qawwalis are far lengthier than a typical modern song. They average 15 minutes, with the longest single track being on the upwards of 70 minutes! Audiences today are used to listening to short pieces. The Experiment aims to bridge the gap.

The effort will also introduce modern musical elements, traditionally not heard in qawwali. The purpose: to give these compositions a similar texture to what is found in pop music today. While, we will not abandoning the traditional elements of qawwali (like harmonium, clapping, tabla-dhamma, etc.), the modern elements will be used to enhance the pieces.

The plan is to have quarterly releases from May 2016.


  1. The first track: Shahbaaz Qalandar- an essential piece to every successful qawwali concert. The Riyaaz Experiment version will highlight the dhamaal (the tabla solo), which is the most important part of the composition.
  2. The second track: Man Laagyo- a new composition using Saint Kabir’s lyrics. In this piece, we take two elements from Punjabi devotional and folk music: chimta to musically represent the wandering Saint Kabir and singing the chorus an octave higher like shabad kirtan. The composition is in Raga Bhairavi.
  3. The third track: Allah- a new composition using poetry from Jigar Moradabadi and Tahir Feraz. We have used the chimta, which brings in a unusual sound for qawwali. The composition is in Raga Miya ki Todi.
  4. The fourth track: Ishq Mujhko- a qawwali version poetry by Rehman Faris and Mirza Ghalib. The composition is set in Raga Yaman Kalyan.


Riyaaz Qawwali