A ghazal is composed of five or more ashaar (singular she'r), which are complete texts even when pulled from the rest of the ghazal. In the vast majority of ghazals, there is not logical connection or flow between ashaar in terms of content or theme.
They are often described as couplets by Western audiences and critics, yet using the word "couplet" to describe a she'r is not entirely accurate, as ghazals do not have the rhyme scheme of couplets, nor are they a Western poetic form.
The poetic form derives its name from the first and the second etymological roots, One particular translation posits a meaning of ghazal as 'the wail of a wounded deer', which potentially provides context to the theme of unrequited love common to many ghazals.
The ghazal is a short poem consisting of rhyming couplets, called bayt or sher. Most ghazals have between seven and twelve bayts. For a poem to be considered a true ghazal, it must have no fewer than five couplets. Almost all ghazals confine themselves to less than fifteen couplets (poems that exceed this length are more accurately considered as qasidas). Ghazal couplets end with the same rhyming pattern and are expected to have the same meter. The ghazal's uniqueness arises from its rhyme and refrain rules, referred to as the 'qaafiyaa' and 'radif' respectively. A ghazal's rhyming pattern may be described as AA BA CA DA, and so on.
The nature of the ghazals also changed to meet the demands of musical presentation, becoming briefer in length. Lighter poetic meters, such as khafîf, ramal, and muqtarab were preferred, instead of longer, more ponderous meters favored for qaṣīdas (such as kâmil, basît, and rajaz). Topically, the ghazal focus also changed, from nostalgic reminiscences of the homeland and loved ones, towards romantic or erotic themes. These included sub-genres with themes of courtly love (udharî), eroticism (hissî), homoeroticism (mudhakkar), and as a highly stylized introduction to a larger poem (tamhîdî).
With the spread of Islam, the Arabian ghazal spread both westwards, into Africa and Spain, as well as eastwards, into Persia. The popularity of ghazals in a particular region was usually preceded by a spread of the Arabic language in that country. In medieval Spain, ghazals written in Hebrew as well as Arabic have been found as far back as the 11th century. It is possible that ghazals were also written in the Mozarabic language. Ghazals in the Arabic form have also been written in a number of major West African literary languages like Hausa and Fulfulde.
However, the most significant changes to the ghazal occurred in its introduction into Iran in the 10th century. The early Persian ghazals largely imitated the themes and form of the Arabian ghazal. These "Arabo-Persian" ghazals introduced two differences compared to their Arabian poetic roots. Firstly, the Persian ghazals did not employ radical enjambment between the two halves of the couplet, and secondly, the Persian ghazals formalized the use of the common rhyme in both lines of the opening couplet ("matla"). The imitation of Arabian forms in Persia extended to the qaṣīda, which was also popular in Persia.
It is said that Atul Prasad Sen pioneered the introduction of Bengali ghazals. Residing in Lucknow, he was inspired by Persian ghazals and experimented with a stream of Bengali music which was later enriched profusely by the contribution of Kazi Nazrul Islam and Moniruddin Yusuf.
Many of the major historical ghazal poets were either avowed Sufis themselves (like Rumi or Hafiz), or were sympathizers with Sufi ideas. Somewhat like American soul music, but with melancholy instead of funk, most ghazals can be viewed in a spiritual context, with the Beloved being a metaphor for God or the poet's spiritual master. It is the intense Divine Love of Sufism that serves as a model for all the forms of love found in ghazal poetry.
Traditionally invoking melancholy, love, longing, and metaphysical questions, ghazals are often sung by Afghan, Pakistani, and Indian musicians. The form has roots in seventh-century Arabia[unreliable source?], and gained prominence in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, thanks to such Persian poets as Rumi and Hafiz, and later to Indian poets such as Mirza Ghalib. In the eighteenth-century, the ghazal was used by poets writing in Urdu. Among these poets, Ghalib is the recognized master[unreliable source?].
Ghazal "Gayaki", the art of singing or performing the ghazal in the Indian classical tradition, is very old. Singers like Ustad Barkat Ali and many other singers in the past used to practice it, but the lack of historical records make many names anonymous. It was with Begum Akhtar and later on Ustad Mehdi Hassan that classical rendering of ghazals became popular in the masses. The categorization of ghazal singing as a form of "light classical" music is a misconception.[why?]
Classical ghazals are difficult to render because of the varying moods of the "shers" or couplets in the ghazal. Amanat Ali Khan, Begum Akhtar, Talat Mahmood, Mehdi Hassan, Abida Parveen, Jagjit Singh, Farida Khanum and Ustad Ghulam Ali, Moinuddin Ahamed, are popular classical ghazal singers.
Understanding the complex lyrics of traditional ghazals required education typically available only to the upper classes. The traditional classical rāgas in which the lyrics were rendered were also difficult to understand. The ghazal has undergone some simplification in recent years, in terms of words and phrasings, which helps it to reach a larger audience around the world. Modern shayars (poets) are also moving towards a less strict adherence to form and rules, using simpler language and words (sometimes even incorporating words from other languages, such as English - see Parveen Shakir), and moving away from a strictly male narrator.
Most of the ghazals are now sung in styles that are not limited to khayāl, thumri, rāga, tāla and other classical and light classical genres. However, those forms of the ghazal are looked down on by purists of the Indian classical tradition.
In Pakistan, Noor Jehan, Iqbal Bano, Abida Parveen, Farida Khanum, Ghulam Ali, Ahmed Rushdi, Ustad Amanat Ali Khan, Parvez Mehdi and Mehdi Hassan are known for ghazal renditions. Indian Singers like Jagjit Singh (who first used a guitar in ghazals), Ahmed and Mohammed Hussain, Hariharan, Adithya Srinivasan, Pankaj Udhas, Umbayee and many others have been able to give a new shape to the ghazal by incorporating elements of Western music.
In addition to Urdu, ghazals have been very popular in the Gujarati language. For around a century, starting with Balashankar Kantharia, there have been many notable Gujarati ghazal writers including Kalapi, Barkat Virani 'Befaam', Asim Randeri, Shunya Palanpuri, Amrut Ghayal, Khalil Dhantejvi and many more. Some notable ghazals of those prominent writers have been sung by Bollywood playback singer Manhar Udhas.
Renowned ghazal singer, and pioneer of Telugu ghazals, Ghazal Srinivas popularized the ghazal in Telugu. Ghazals in the Kannada language were pioneered in the 1960's by poet Shantarasam, though recordings of their poetry only began to be made in the early 2000's. Legendary musician Umbayee composed ghazals in Malayalam and popularized this form of music across Kerala.
Suresh Bhat popularized ghazals in the Marathi language. Some of his amazing ghazals were sung by famous artists like Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosale. He was known as Ghazal Samrat (the Emperor of ghazals) for his exposition of the ghazal form of poetry and its adaptation to the Marathi language. His disciple Ilahi Jamadar continued the tradition, blending Urdu and Marathi verses in his work.
In 1996, Ali compiled and edited the world's first anthology of English-language ghazals, published by Wesleyan University Press in 2000, as Ravishing DisUnities: Real Ghazals in English. (Fewer than one in ten of the ghazals collected in Real Ghazals in English observe the constraints of the form.)
Traditionally invoking melancholy, love, longing, and metaphysical questions, ghazals are often sung by Iranian, Indian, and Pakistani musicians. The form has roots in seventh-century Arabia, and gained prominence in the thirteenth- and fourteenth-centuries thanks to such Persian poets as Rumi and Hafiz. In the eighteenth-century, the ghazal was used by poets writing in Urdu, a mixture of the medieval languages of Northern India, including Persian. Among these poets, Ghalib is the recognized master.
In the 19th century, the Russian poet Afanasii Fet translated ghazals by the Persian poet Hafiz from German into Russian. Later, in the 20th century, many Russian poets have created individual works, or entire cycles resembling this type of oriental poetry.
These include Vyacheslav Ivanov, Igor Severyanin, Eduard Bagritsky. For centuries, says the Russian scholar, ghazal has remained a favorite genre for everyone who speaks Urdu or is studying the language. Russians who are interested in the culture of the East in general, and the Indian subcontinent in particular, endeavor to get acquainted with this literary genre and experience the enchanting harmony of sounds in ghazals. For me, the originality, depth, and melody of ghazals appear in their entirety in the works of Wali Muhammad, says Dr. Vasilyeva in an interview with Natalia Benyukh, correspondent of "Sputnik".
Analyzing the history of Urdu ghazal, the Indian scholar Kamil Qureshi, she singles out Mir, Saud and Dard as successors of Wali. They showed to the world the extraordinary virtuosity of the poetic word. Height of thought and depth of feeling amaze and delight modern researchers, listeners and readers of the ghazals of Ghalib, Momin and Zauq. 350c69d7ab