Updated date:

What is Ghazal Singing? My Favourite Indian Ghazal Singers

Chitrangada loves the richness of Indian art, culture and traditions. As a writer, she wants to spread information about Indian culture.

Jagjit Singh--The king of Ghazals

Jagjit Singh--The king of Ghazals

Ghazal: A form of poetry.

When I was in my teens, it is then that I was attracted to the Ghazals and the ghazal singing. I was interested in music since my childhood. But that interest was limited to rhythm, instruments and the joy of singing. When I started understanding the lyrics, I started taking keen interest in the Ghazal singing.

What is a Ghazal :

  • Ghazal is a form of poetry and the lyrics are used to express deep emotions. Those emotions can be of love and it's spiritual form, desire, longing, pain, joy, intense emotions and some heartfelt feelings and so on.
  • So, it‘s important to understand the lyrics, to enjoy the ghazals or the ghazal mehfils, (the gathering for listening to the Ghazal singing).
  • Great Ghazal singers have the capability to mesmerise their audience. The listener can get ecstatic, with tears of joy and deep emotions.
  • It‘s an ancient form of singing, and has its origin in Arabia. Later on, it had spread in South Asia, roughly around the 12th century.
  • Basically, it was influenced by the Sufi poetry, with the lyrics, mostly in Urdu, Persian or Arabic.
  • But the present day Ghazal singing has evolved and transformed a lot. It has become more easy to understand and comprehend, and thus much easier to be enjoyed by the masses, who take keen interest in the Ghazals. Especially, the language has become easier to understand, and thus it can be enjoyable too.
Ghazal Singer—Ghulam Ali

Ghazal Singer—Ghulam Ali

Ghazal Singer—Mehadi Hasan

Ghazal Singer—Mehadi Hasan

Classical Ghazal or 'Ghazal Gayaki'

The art of singing the Ghazal or performing in front of a large audience is called, 'Ghazal Gayaki.'

It‘s sad that we do not have many records of history, about the ancient Ghazal artists.

The credit for familiarising people with this rich classical musical tradition, can be awarded to artists, such as 'Begum Akhtar' and 'Ustad Mehdi Hassan' to name a few.

Some of the most popular and admired Classical Ghazal singers, can be named as follows:

  1. Begum Akhtar,
  2. Mehdi Hassan,
  3. Abida Parveen,
  4. Talat Mehmood,
  5. Farida Khanum,
  6. Ustad Amanat Ali Khan,
  7. Mallika Pukhraj,
  8. Jagjit Singh,
  9. Chitra Singh,
  10. Ghulam Ali,

The singer has everything within him. The notes come out from his very life. They are not materials gathered from outside.

~Rabindranath Tagore

Ghazal Singer—Penaz Masani

Ghazal Singer—Penaz Masani

Ghazal Singing in India

  • The modern Ghazal singing in India has undergone tremendous changes, as far as the lyrics or the instruments used in Ghazal performances, is concerned.
  • The idea was to make it more popular, for larger audiences, not only in India but all over the World.
  • Traditionally, it was sung in the classical style, comprising of the 'Raga', the ‘Thumri', the ‘Khayal' and other some genres of the Indian classical music.
  • Ghazal singers, like 'Jagjit Singh' first used, some Western musical instruments and the results were amazing.
  • Even people with little understanding of the complex words of Urdu poetry, were able to enjoy, the Ghazal mehfils or the concerts.

Some of the contemporary Ghazal singers, who have given a new identity to the experience of the Ghazals are as follows:

  1. Jagjit Singh-Chitra Singh,
  2. Mohammad Rafi,
  3. Pankaj Udhas,
  4. Adithya Srinivasan,
  5. Hariharan,
  6. Runa Laila,
  7. Pinaz Masani,
  8. Reshma,
  9. Roop Kumar Rathod-Sunali Rathod,
  10. Bhupinder Singh and Mitali Singh,
  11. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan,
  12. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.

Ghazal singing is not limited to the stage performances or the grand concerts only. It has been used extensively, in movies as well.

This has made this genre of singing, commercially popular and successful.


God sent his Singers upon earth

With songs of sadness and of mirth,

That they might touch the hearts of men,

And bring them back to heaven again.

~~~~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Jagjit Singh -Chitra Singh--The Mesmerising Ghazal singing couple

Jagjit Singh -Chitra Singh--The Mesmerising Ghazal singing couple

Jagjit Singh and Chitra Singh Ghazals, source: You tube

My Favourite Ghazal Singers: 'Jagjit Singh--Chitra Singh’

The discussion about contemporary Ghazal singing can not be complete, without a special reference, to the most admired and popular singing couple, Jagjit Singh-Chitra Singh.

I have been their admirer since long, like millions of other music lovers. Jagjit Singh was not only a singer, but also a composer and music director. He introduced new elements in Ghazal singing, to popularise this traditional classical form of music.

The couple have ruled music industry for many decades. Some of the most popular music/ Ghazal albums of Jagjit Singh is as follows:

  • The unforgettables,
  • The latest,
  • Arth,
  • Saath-saath,
  • Mirza Ghalib,
  • Mirage,
  • Marasim,
  • Silsilay,
  • Prem geet .

To Conclude few words about 'MUSIC' in any form:

How do we define Music?

Here I am referring to the soulful music and not noise.

I believe, Music is food for the soul and it has no language. If it comes from the heart, it is bound to touch the hearts.

We can not see 'God' but soulful music, can make you feel the presence of 'God.'

Music is therapeutic, and one can feel its healing properties. Here, I am talking about the healing of the heart and the soul, and not external injuries.

Enjoy the melodious Ghazals!

Ghazal by Jagjit Singh in the movie Sarfarosh, source: You tube

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2016 Chitrangada Sharan

Comments

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on September 01, 2020:

Thank you Vanita, for reading the article and appreciating it.

You have beautifully described the essence of ghazals, and how Jagjit Singh ji made it popular for the masses. Though I love listening to all the great ghazal singers, Jagjit Singh has always been my favourite among them all.

I am glad that you liked this article. Thank you so much for your insightful comments.

Vanita Thakkar on August 31, 2020:

Ghazals are beautiful, delicate pieces of the word art - poems with lyrics that refresh and refine the soul. They have a very unique feel.

Jagjit Singh was a great singer and composer. He had a very smooth-flowing, soothing voice - as if dipped in a stream of silky musical notes. He had revolutionized / reformed Ghazal singing with his musical insight. Hearing him live was a very enriching and memorable musical experience.

Now a days, Ghazals are popular in other languages as well, with Punjabi and Gujarati Ghazals leading the scenes.

Music is my life force. Especially enjoyed reading this article.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on June 09, 2018:

Thanks Shaloo, for stopping by, and I am glad you liked the hub.

I love Ghazals, and Jagjit Singh is my favourite too.

Thank you for commenting!

Shaloo Walia from India on June 08, 2018:

A delightful hub about the soulful ghazals... Jagjeet Singh is my favorite.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on September 20, 2017:

Thanks Athlyn Green for your very thoughtful comments!

I agree with your views. As someone has rightly observed, when you are happy, you enjoy the music, but when you're sad , you understand the lyrics.

Music sometimes acts as a healing source to me. Ghazals have that quality in them .

Thank You so much for your kind visit and positive feedback!

Athlyn Green from West Kootenays on September 19, 2017:

Longfellow nailed it about songs that tell stories and touch us on a much deeper level. This was an interesting read and it put me in mind of the Scottish ballads and the stories they tell that speak to the human condition. Songs like this tend to last through the centuries because they so stir their listeners.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on August 25, 2017:

Thanks Indian Chef for your comments! Jagjit Singh is my favourite too. The couple have given some most melodious ghazals.

Indian Chef from New Delhi India on August 24, 2017:

Jagjit was best Gazal singer and i like his tapi with his wife

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on September 29, 2016:

Thank you Christy for reading and commenting on this hub!

It is so nice to read comments from a celebrated poet such as you. A poet can understand and appreciate the lyrics like no one else.

Always a pleasure to see you visiting my hubs. Thanks and keep smiling!

Christy Birmingham from British Columbia, Canada on September 28, 2016:

The Ghazals are amazing! I love how the poetry is performed by the duo of Jagjit Singh and Chitra Singh Ghazals in the video you kindly embedded for us here, Chitrangada. Thank you from your poetic friend Christy xx

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on September 19, 2016:

Thanks vespawoolf for reading and commenting!

Glad to know that this hub made you familiar with Ghazal form of singing.

A very good day to you!

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on September 18, 2016:

What a beautiful artform I didn't know much about until reading your article. Thank you for introducing me to this.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on August 27, 2016:

Thanks Peggy Woods, for reading and commenting on this hub!

I appreciate your interest in Ghazal singing and I am glad I could familiarise you with this genre of music.

Music has healing powers and is therapeutic too. I feel it takes us closer to the almighty and is effective in self realisation.

Thanks for your kind comments!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 26, 2016:

Thanks for introducing me to Ghazal singing. I had never heard it before. I am listening to that first video as I write this. I agree with your statement that music is food for the soul.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on August 10, 2016:

Thanks Audrey Howitt, for appreciating the hub! So good to see your presence here. Being a poet yourself, I understand it's easy for you to enjoy the lyrics which is very important in Ghazal singing.

Thanks and have a good day!

Audrey Howitt from California on August 09, 2016:

So interesting--I know the poetic form, but didn't realize that it extended to music--but it makes sense--it is such a beautifully lyrical form

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on August 08, 2016:

Thanks Deb, for reading and appreciating the hub!

I am humbled by your generous comments. I am glad to learn that you have been enjoying Ghazals since long. This kind of music always helps to provide calmness to mind and heart.

Thanks and its always a pleasure to have your presence on my hubs!

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on August 07, 2016:

I loved this! Just think, with all my Diwali celebrations that I have attended, I have been listening to this music for years. I never knew that I had heard Ghazal until reading your fine article. Thanks for enriching my life with all the wonderful things that you have written to educate me over the years.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on August 05, 2016:

Thank you Faith, for your appreciation!

I am pleased to learn that you got familiarised with Ghazal singing. Music has no language. It is perhaps food for the soul. I always feel closer to the 'supreme' when I listen to soulful music and Ghazal is that kind of music.

Thanks for your beautiful comments!

Faith Reaper from southern USA on August 04, 2016:

How interesting! I've never heard of Ghazal before, and so I learned a lot. I love all kinds of music. Thank you for sharing your favorites here.

Peace and blessings

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on July 27, 2016:

Thank you Nithya for reading and commenting!

Jagjit Singh and Chitra Singh are my favourites too. I have a good collection of their ghazals.

Thanks and happy for your presence here!

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on July 27, 2016:

I love to listen to ghazals particularly Jagjit and Chitra Singh. A nice introduction to ghazals.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on July 23, 2016:

Thank you Rajan ji, for reading and commenting on this hub!

You are right --Not everyone can be a good Ghazal singer.

Thanks for sharing your valuable opinion.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on July 22, 2016:

Though Jagjit singh is my favorite ghazal singh, each ghazal singer is unique in his rendition of this genre of music. Truly ghazals express the feelings of pain, loss, separation and other similar feelings very strongly & beautifully.

Not all singers can be good ghazal singers.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on July 22, 2016:

Thank you MarleneB, for your kind visit and appreciation of the hub!

I feel happy that I have been able to introduce Ghazal and the Ghazal artists to you.

I am sure you would like this genre of music when you explore it since you have a keen interest in music.

Thank you so much for your comments and support!

Marlene Bertrand from USA on July 21, 2016:

It has been quite rewarding to read about this form of music. I have never heard of it until now, and reading your description invites me to want to explore more about it.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on July 20, 2016:

Thank you Dianna, for reading and I am happy that this hub familiarised you with Ghazal and Ghazal artists. This is my favourite genre of light music.

Thanks and a very good day to you!

Dianna Mendez on July 19, 2016:

I thank you for the interesting share on Ghazal artists and singers. It is my first introduction to this music style.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on July 17, 2016:

Thank you AliciaC, for your positive comments!

I appreciate your interest in music. Music does not have any barriers. It is not limited to any language. I also enjoy listening to all kinds of music.

Thanks for your visit and support!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on July 17, 2016:

Thanks Devika for appreciating the hub! I am glad this information helped you to understand Ghazal genre of singing and poetry. We must thank these artists for popularising this form of music to the young generation. I just wanted to give a tribute to them.

Your comments and support is highly appreciated!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 16, 2016:

I always enjoy learning about new styles of music. Thank you for teaching me about Ghazal singing. This is an interesting and informative article.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on July 16, 2016:

Beautiful insight here. You shared a fascinating topic. I am new to this information and you enlightened me of Ghazal singing in detail.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on July 16, 2016:

Thank you Ericdierker, for your appreciative comments!

I am glad I could be of help to introduce you to Ghazal singing.

Thanks and have a good day!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on July 16, 2016:

What a great part of life. You do me a great favor to introduce me to this. Thank you.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on July 16, 2016:

Thank you Madan Ji for appreciating the hub!

Yes I understand it is a matter of personal choice.

Thanks for your kind visit and support!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on July 16, 2016:

Thank you Dana Tete, for reading the article!

I am happy I was able to familiarise you with this genre of music. I am sorry you would enjoy this kind of music.

Thanks for your support and appreciation!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on July 16, 2016:

Thank you Venkatachari Ji for reading and commenting on this hub!

Music has immense power and I am happy to know about your interest in Ghazals.

I feel solace in listening to soulful music and music is a kind of therapy for me.

Thanks for appreciation!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on July 16, 2016:

Than you Surabhi for your refreshing comments!

You reminded me of some of my favourite, soulful and evergreen Ghazals. I am happy to note that we have similar interests as regards Ghazal Gayaki .

Thanks and have a musical day!

MG Singh emge from Singapore on July 15, 2016:

Though I am not too fond of Ghazals, this hub made interesting reading

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on July 15, 2016:

Thank you, Surabhi, for reminding that Ghazal. That was my favourite also till some years back. I mostly listen to Ghunghru Toot Gaye, Chupke Chupke, Niklo Na Benaqab, Chandi Jaisa Rang Hai Tera, Ek Taraf Uska Ghar and the like. There are many more.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on July 15, 2016:

Thank you billybuc, for your kind visit and appreciation of the hub! Glad I was able to familiarise you with Ghazal form of singing.

Have a good day!

Dana Tate from LOS ANGELES on July 14, 2016:

I have never heard of Ghazal but your article shed light on an interesting topic. I shall be looking forward to hearing more about this.

Surabhi Kaura on July 14, 2016:

Venkatachari ji, Oh yes. How can I forget Pankaj Udas! I remember his song, "Chitthi aayi hai aayi hai chitthi aayi hai..." Indians say that when they settled to abroad, they cried a lot after listening to this song since they missed their motherland. That song was in the air.

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on July 14, 2016:

Very interesting article. I love ghazals and I admire Ghulam Ali and Pankaj Udhas much. Thanks for sharing this wonderful article.

Surabhi Kaura on July 14, 2016:

Ah! Jagjit Singh and Gulam Ali come in my mind. The Ghazal Gayaks are supernal Souls, truly. Cool hub!!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 14, 2016:

Thank you for sharing your knowledge and your feelings about Ghazal..I was unfamiliar with it until this fine article.