This Qawwali singer can translate musical compositions into ghungroo sounds


Having mastered the art of vocal percussion, he takes his listeners to a realm of disbelief. With his unique ability to translate musical compositions into the sounds of a ghungroo (musical bracelet) using only his vocal cords, Ehsaan Ahmed Bharti not only gave a unique dimension to qawwali, but also carried the art of fading towards new heights.

What began as a new way to popularize qawwali not only made Ehsaan a renowned name in the music arena, but also earned him a place in the Guinness World Records for his extraordinary talent in producing the sound of ghungroo and pajeb (payal), in no less than 84 different styles.

Born into a family of traditional Sufi Qawaals in Meerut, Ehsaan, known throughout the country as Ghungroowala, began playing music at an early age.

“It took me seven years of tireless practice to master this art. I locked myself in a room and trained for hours to put my head in a ghada (pitcher). People, including my family, thought I had gone mad but I didn’t give in, ”Ehsaan told IANS on the sidelines of a FICCI Ladies Organization event here.

Also a follower of Persian, Sanskrit, Hindi, Urdu and Pali, Ehsaan sprinkles his qawwalis with alliterative compositions and ghungroo sounds, taking his listeners on a completely different musical journey.

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So how did he get the idea for the novel?

“It all started about thirty years ago when an ascetic came to tell me that I was the chosen one, chosen to spread the message of love. He made me realize my abilities and with tireless practice over the years, I can now bring out 84 different sounds from ghungroo and pajeb, ”he said.

As a participant in “India’s Got Talent”, Ehsaan had fascinated the judges, including Bollywood star Dharmendra.

Not wanting to accept that qawwali’s popularity had waned, Ehsaan expressed his displeasure with the remixes.

“Qawwali is an integral part of Bollywood music, which is testament to its popularity. But nowadays, they are distorted, people remix Sufi compositions and often they are used without any credit, ”he lamented.

He was also dismayed by the murder of famous Pakistani qawwal Amjad Sabri, shot dead in Karachi last week.

“What could be more unfortunate than having musicians killed, that too a Sufi singer?” Music has no religion and neither do those who practice it. I lost a friend in Amjad. It is sad and frightening to see the hatred that has taken hold of the world. Only music can heal, ”said Ehsaan.

Qawwalis belong to the Ehsaan family and the next generation is now preparing to carry on this unique art.

“My son Kamran has trained hard to emulate me, but it will take him a little longer to be skilled,” Ehsaan concluded.

About Madeline J. Carter

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