Coke Studio 2020 Episode 3: Ishq da Kukkar by Sehar Gul Khan

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.

Coke Studio Episode 3: Ishq da Kukkar by Sehar Gul Khan

Video Credits: Coke Studio

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 Eastern 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 dumand 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 which have repetitive, trance-like chants throughout the song.. The spirituality of this rhythm comes from these pounding doms, hypnotic, mesmerizing and relentless they 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. 

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