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The Little Qawwal: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

From very early on, Nusrat was deeply interested in everything related to music. In secret, he followed the classes when his father was teaching some of his students, absorbing and storing away all the knowledge he could, even trying to play the harmonium when his father was out of earshot.

One day, while Nusrat was engrossed in his attempts to play one of the family harmoniums, he did not hear his father enter the room. When he realized he was there, behind him, he stopped playing, suddenly nervous. Fateh just smiled and gave his son permission to play the instrument, requesting him nonetheless to concentrate primarily on his studies and his future as a doctor.

Young Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Image source: 'My Historical Pakistan' Courtesy Pierre-Alain Baud
Young Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
Image source: ‘My Historical Pakistan’
Courtesy Pierre-Alain Baud

For young Nusrat, his father’s permission to play the harmonium was a blessing and he set about mastering both the harmonium and the tabla. He also, on occasion, received a few words of advice from his father, regarding the tabla to start with, as it is the source of all the ideas of rhythm so essential to qawwali; then he helped him improve his skills on the harmonium, and taught him to sing.

From Nusrat: The Voice of Faith by Pierre Alain Baud

nusrat

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