The traditional music of Pakistan tells the tale of the country’s geographic location at a crossroads between South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East, drawing on Pashto, Farsi, Punjabi and many other folk styles. The most widely known traditional Pakistani musical style is Qawwali, pulsating Sufi devotional music performed by a “humnawa,” a group of eight or nine men (and, throughout the ages, they have always been men), in a religious assembly session known as a “mehfil-e-sama,” that is supposed to create a link to the divine for both the performer and listener.
The undisputed master of Qawwali is Pakistan’s Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Referred to widely as “the Bob Marley of Pakistan” and “the Elvis of the East,” Khan became internationally known in the ’80s and ’90s through his compilations with Peter Gabriel and his contributions to the film soundtracks of “Last Temptation of Christ,” “Dead Man Walking” and “Natural Born Killers.” See a rocking YouTube video of Khan performing “Mustt Mustt.”
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