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      Ishq Da Kukkar

      Ishq Da Kukkar

      Ishq da Kukkar – For the love of God

      Written and composed by lyricist Asim Raza, Ishq da Kukkar is a spiritual song about a prayer of love towards God infused with electronica elements and Middle Eastern instrumentation. The song, which is part of week 3 of Coke Studio 2020, has been performed by emerging artist Sehar Gul Khan who was introduced by Asim Raza.

      The song is an early morning call to prayer being given by a bird deeply in love with the Almighty and in profound devotion it beckons the believer to come say a loving prayer alongside.

      “The bird of Love

      The bird of Love gives the call to prayer at dawn

      It gives the call to prayer

      The bird...

      In the yearning of devotion, it gives the call to prayer

      Oh, the bird…

      The call to prayer, it gives the call to prayer

      The call to prayer, the call to prayer

      …of Love”


      Explaining the song, Sehar said, “The song reflects the peak of a lover’s passion.”

      With Sehar’s unique scale and style of singing, the song is sung in an eastern scale that is known to be a mixture of raags (Mishr Mel) with close resemblance to Raag Basant Mukhiyari, infused with Middle eastern rhythm along with a Middle Easrern string instrument called the ‘oudh’. In particular, the rhythm pattern used throughout the song is called the Zar or Ayoub which is known to be one of the simplest but most spiritually powerful of all Middle Eastern rhythms. Trickier than a simple staccato of dum tak dum tak, what makes the Zar distinctive is the tiny delay between that first dom and the next tak. This small delay, in a single sixteenth note, is what separates this powerful rhythm from a monotonous dum and tak one after the other; the rhythm comes out as dom···tak dum tak, dom···tak dum tak, with both the evenly spaced doms giving the rhythm a strong driving feel. This couples perfectly with the lyrics of the song which have repetitive, trance like chants throughout. The spirituality of this rhythm comes from these pounding doms, hypnotic, mesmerizing and relentless are most often associated with the trance dances of the whirling dervishes.

      The song goes on to describe the various levels of boundless devotion and love for the Almighty, referring to some of the most spiritual folktales as some examples of this yearning.

      “The person who professes his love to his beloved

      But is not faithful when his beloved’s back is turned

      The person who demolishes someone’s heart may make some worldly gains

      But he never attains the tremendous delight found in sincere love

      He neither puts on the lowly dancer’s ankle-bells (like Bulleh Shah did out of love)

      Nor does he take on the jogi’s guise (like Ranjha did out of love)

      In the slippery courtyard of this world

      He blindly prances around like a peacock”


      Speaking about how much the song touched her, Sehar said, “As I sang the song, with each verse, I felt like I was being transported, elevated into a completely different world. I’ve tried my best to share that experience through the song.” 

      The song is produced and arranged by Rohail Hyatt. On the darbuka, riqh and bendir for Ishq da Kukkar is Lebanese musician Eliyas Abboud, on the oudh is Lebanese musician Nicolas Nakhle, producer Rohail Hyatt on the keyboards and acoustic guitar; on the electric guitar is Asad Ahmed; Turkish musician Volkan Öktem on drums; Kamran ‘Mannu’ Zafar on bass guitar; Shehroze Hussain playing the sitar; Nawazish Nasri on rabab; Abier ‘Veeru’ Shan playing percussions and Babar Khanna on eastern percussions. The backing vocals have been given by Kumail Jaffery, Nimra Rafiq, Shahab Hussain and Wajiha Naqvi.

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