Transfer and Transformation of Sense across Musical Genres: An Insight into a New Paradigm of Musical Translation


  • Dr. Saeed Ur Rehman University of Lahore
  • Tabassum Saba University of Lahore
  • Humera Sharif University of Lahore


Music Translation, Sufi Music, Music and Sense Translation, Conceptual Act Theory


This study aims to draw attention towards the most neglected area of translation studies i.e., music translation. It adds novelty to the arena of translation with the claim that sense produced in one musical genre gets transformed when the same lyrics are sung with a different musical genre. The authors claim that this transformation is the translation of sense. It has been materialized by selecting the Sufi poetry of Bulleh Shah sung by renowned Sufi, pop and classical singers. The musical genres have been divided into Sufi and non-Sufi musical genres (popular/modern). It is a heuristic exercise comprising a combination of interpretive, predictive, and explanatory hypotheses as it has posited that the sense of spiritual love produced in Sufi music translates into the sense of romantic love when the same Sufi lyrics are sung with non-Sufi music. It also aims at explaining the causes that produce this translation. Constructed on the Conceptual Act Theory (Barrett, 2015), this study integrated experimental (Dancette, 1998) and causal models (Chesterman, 2000) to test the hypotheses. For this qualitative experimental study, 30 people (aged between 30-40 and PhD and MPhil scholars) were selected. They listened to the Sufi lyrics with the Sufi and non-Sufi music and discussed their experiences. The findings confirmed the predictive hypothesis that listening to Sufi lyrics with non-Sufi music communicates a sense of romantic love to the listeners. It further addresses the explanatory hypothesis that the musical codes and extra-musical features (semiotics of visuals) of the modern, popular musical genre accentuate the romantic afflatus transforming the meanings of Sufi lyrics.




How to Cite

Ur Rehman, S., Saba, T., & Sharif, H. (2022). Transfer and Transformation of Sense across Musical Genres: An Insight into a New Paradigm of Musical Translation. Pakistan Journal of Media Sciences, 3(1), 172–204. Retrieved from



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