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What is Ghazal Singing : My Favourite Indian Ghazal Singers

Updated on November 9, 2017
ChitrangadaSharan profile image

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

Jagjit Singh--The king of Ghazals
Jagjit Singh--The king of Ghazals | Source

'Ghazal' : A Form Of Poetry!

© Chitrangada Sharan , July, 2016

All Rights Reserved.

When I was in my teens, it is then that I was attracted to Ghazals and 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 Ghazal singing.

What is 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 heartfelt feelings and so on.
  • So it is important to understand the lyrics to enjoy the ghazals or the ghazal mehfils.(the gathering for listening to 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 is a very ancient form of singing and has its origin in Arabia. Later on it spread in South Asia roughly around the 12th century.
  • Basically it was influenced by 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 masses who take keen interest in Ghazals. Especially the language has become easier.

Ghulam Ali
Ghulam Ali | Source
Mehdi Hassan
Mehdi Hassan | Source

Classical Ghazal or 'Ghazal Gayaki'

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

It is 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

Penaz Masani
Penaz Masani | Source

Ghazal Singing in India

  • The modern Ghazal singing in India has undergone tremendous changes as far as lyrics or 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 classical style comprising of 'Raga', 'Thumri', 'Khayal' and other genres of classical music.
  • Ghazal singers like 'Jagjit Singh' first used some Western musical instruments and the results were amazing.
  • Even people with little understanding of complex words of Urdu poetry were able to enjoy the Ghazal mehfils or concerts.

Some of the contemporary Ghazal singers who have given a new identity to the experience of 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 stage performances or 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 | Source

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 soulful music and not noise.

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

© Chitrangada Sharan, 14th July, 2016

All Rights Reserved.

PROTECTED: PLEASE DO NOT COPY!

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

Who is your favourite Ghazal Singer?

See results

© 2016 Chitrangada Sharan

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    • ChitrangadaSharan profile imageAUTHOR

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      3 months ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • swalia profile image

      Shaloo Walia 

      3 months ago from India

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

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile imageAUTHOR

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      12 months ago from New Delhi, India

      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 profile image

      Athlyn Green 

      12 months ago from West Kootenays

      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.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile imageAUTHOR

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      13 months ago from New Delhi, India

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

    • Indian Chef profile image

      Indian Chef 

      13 months ago from New Delhi India

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

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile imageAUTHOR

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      24 months ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 

      24 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      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

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile imageAUTHOR

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 

      2 years ago from Peru, South America

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

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile imageAUTHOR

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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 W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      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.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile imageAUTHOR

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      2 years ago from California

      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

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile imageAUTHOR

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      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.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile imageAUTHOR

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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 profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      2 years ago from southern USA

      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

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile imageAUTHOR

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      2 years ago from Dubai

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

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile imageAUTHOR

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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 jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      2 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      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.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile imageAUTHOR

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      2 years ago from USA

      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.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile imageAUTHOR

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      2 years ago

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

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile imageAUTHOR

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile imageAUTHOR

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

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

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

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

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile imageAUTHOR

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

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

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile imageAUTHOR

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile imageAUTHOR

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile imageAUTHOR

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile imageAUTHOR

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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!

    • emge profile image

      Madan 

      2 years ago from Abu Dhabi

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

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      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.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile imageAUTHOR

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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 profile image

      Dana Tate 

      2 years ago from LOS ANGELES

      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.

    • profile image

      Surabhi Kaura 

      2 years ago

      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 profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

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

    • profile image

      Surabhi Kaura 

      2 years ago

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

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

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

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