The musical sounds of Islam, rarely heard in Maine or even the United States, have made it to Colby. Music Artist in Residence Dhruv Sangari, a well-known vocalist in the genre, is teaching a course and presenting Sufi music—mystical Islamic music—using poetry and improvisation. “It’s the only real singing in an Islamic tradition,” said Colby Music Department Chair Steven Nuss, who helped bring Sangari to Colby from New Delhi, India, to teach and perform. “It’s a facet of Islam that we don’t hear a lot about.”
Sufi music may be sung in Hindi, Panjabi, Urdu, Persian, or other languages, and much of it surrounds love poems. “It’s a very florid, melodic style, something between operatic and birdlike,” said Nuss.
Sangari’s form of Sufi music, which comes from ancient temples of northern India and Pakistan, is primarily represented by Qawwali, a form of Arabic vocal music from the seventh and eighth centuries that eventually blended with preexisting local Indian forms and evolved into a its own musical genre. Sangari, 27, has also recorded pop and rock fusion, blending sacred, secular and World music traditions.