Ustad Saami

Ustad Saami

Hidden Musics

Ustad Saami is the last living khayál master, widely considered a precursor of qawwali music that originated in Pakistan. That’s no small distinction, as Saami’s voice is able to minutely veer between 49 different notes – seven times the Western scale – to potent, haunting effect. Saami embodies his own pivotal adage ‘to sing is to listen’ quite poetically, as his name translates to ‘to hear’ and his lifelong vocation, kháyal singing, stands for ‘imagination’. Even under threat of islamic fundamentalists, the 75-year old master spent his entire existence as a dedicated practitioner of a vanishing art, one passed on from generation to generation since the 13th century. With this in mind, it’s an extremely rare privilege to have Ustad Saami perform at Le Guess Who?.

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