Muzna Moiza

The Patterns and Rhythm of Qawwali

Video Thesis


Music is a form of art and cultural activity that propagates through sound. It is often functional and can promote human well-being by facilitating human contact, human meaning, and human imagination of possibilities, tying it to our social instincts. I started with the rhythm of different types of music which led me into discovering Qawwali in depth. Qawwali is a style of Sufi devotional music marked by rhythmic improvisatory repetition of a short phrase intended to arouse a state of mystical ecstasy. Qawwali speaks of the spiritual and worldly love and through it trance-like state, makes people aware of their relationship with themselves and God. My choice for this genre is supported by the argument that the definition of pure Qawwali has changed over the decades. It has lost its interactivity and spiritual content and is flooded by fusion and innovation. These changes are justified as commercial requirements and necessity of a mainstream musical genre to have a shorter duration and faster tempo. I probed the rhythm of Qawwali and observed the patterns in it. The aura and architecture of various Darbars and Qawali-Gah also contained a variety of geometric patterns symbolizing infinity of God, language of the universe, greatness of creation, unity, ultimate source of diversity and spiritual understanding. This led me into studying Islamic geometry.

My work is named “Geometric Patterns and Rhythm of Qawwali”. The concept is to identify and bring to light the original spiritual essence of Qawwali and the goal is to execute the significance of various Islamic geometric patterns in a physical form. My work is based on extensive research and a variety of fabrics, materials and techniques.

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