Gharanas of Indian Classical Music [ Schools of Music]

Gharanas of Indian Classical Music [ Schools of Music] : In Hindustani music (North Indian classical music), a gharānā is a system of social organisation in the Indian subcontinent, linking musicians or dancers by lineage or apprenticeship, and more importantly by adherence to a particular musical style.

Ustad Allauddin Khan, Founder of Mighar Gharana with other legends of Indian classical music. Four distinguished Indian Musicians, Ustad Mushtaq Hussain, Shri Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Ustad Allauddin Khan and Shri Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer, called on the President at Rashtrapati Bhavan on March 20, 1952. Photo shows Ustad Mushtaq Hussain; Shri Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar; Ustad Allauddin Khan and Shri Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer with the President, Dr. Rajendra Prasad. (The Musicians received awards from the President at the special function held in New Delhi in March 1952. This was in pursuance of the decision of the Central Govt. to make four awards every year to distinguished Indian musicians in the four categories viz. Hindustani (Vocal); Hindustani (Instrumental); Carnatic Music (vocal) and Carnatic music (Instrumental).
Ustad Allauddin Khan, Founder of Mighar Gharana with other legends of Indian classical music. Four distinguished Indian Musicians, Ustad Mushtaq Hussain, Shri Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Ustad Allauddin Khan and Shri Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer, called on the President at Rashtrapati Bhavan on March 20, 1952.

The word gharana comes from the Hindi word ‘ghar’ which is derived from the Sanskrit word Griha, which means ‘house’. It typically refers to the place where the musical ideology originated; for example, some of the gharanas well known for singing khyals are: Dilli(Delhi), Agra, Gwalior, Indore, Atrauli-Jaipur, Kirana and Patiala. Four famous kathak gharanas are: Lucknow, Atrauli-Jaipur, Benares and Raigarh.

Gharana and Baaz :

Music often ran in families and was passed on orally from generation to generation. These groups of musicians, having a similar style of rendering, were known as Gharanas, literally meaning ‘households’. For a long, until comparatively recent times, the student was expected to actually live with the Guru during the period of his education. It was often a family lineage in music, forming something akin to a medieval guild system. Frequently the Gharanas took their name from the place where a great master had lived and propounded a particular style.

For the instrumentalists and Thumri singers, the word Baaz is sometimes used to denote the style they have acquired.

There are several Gharanas which have come into existence with the passage of time. They are characterised by their styles of rendering, their choice of Ragas and even by their use of the Shrutis.

Here we present some of the well known Gharanas of Hindustani classical music. There is not sufficient documenta tion to confirm all that has been said. The information is based on what has come down to us orally.

Seni, Seniya and Saini Gharana:

Although the concept of Gharanas did not take a concrete shape during the time of Tansen (1505-1585), it is the musical training and the accomplishments of Tansen’s multibranched lineage which, over centuries, formed the mainstream from which many other Gharanas originated. The earliest Gharanas which branched out from the parent body were named as Seni, Seniya and Saini Gharanas.

Gharanas of Indian Classical Music [ Schools of Music] - Senia Gharana Its Contribution to Indian Classical Music, a Book by Sunita Dhar
Senia Gharana Its Contribution to Indian Classical Music, a Book by Sunita Dhar
From Tansen’s son Surat Sen, who lived in Jaipur, evolved a Gharana singing Dagarbani Dhrupad. This was known as Saini Gharana.

Bilas Khan, another son of Tansen, who is said to be the composer of Raga Bilas Khani Todi, had two streams of descendants, practising Gandhar Bani Dhrupad and Rabab. One stream, taking off from the great-grandson Masit Khan, specialised in Sitar playing and took up residence in Jaipur. They also came to be known as Saini Gharana. Masit Khan is said to be the formulator of the slow pace style of Sitar playing which is known as Masit Khani Baaj. Masit Khan’s disciple Ghulam Reza Khan is said to be the creator of the Reza Khani style of playing the Sitar in a fast tempo, with complex pluckings and rhythmic patterns.

The other stream from Bilas Khan featured his great-grandson Sudhar Khan. It is this Gharana which gave rise to the famous Dhrupadias and Rababiyas: Jaffar Khan, who invented the Sursingar, Pyare Khan and Besat Khan, from whom many maestros took training. This branch was known as the Seni Gharana.

Tansen’s daughter Saraswati and her husband, the Veena player Miori Singh, also known as Naubat Khan, gave rise to the third stream called Seni Seniya Gharana. This Gharana pro duced a number of great Beenkars and Dhrupadias, mostly musicians who were proficient in both.

 

Gwalior Gharana

Gwalior has been a celebrated seat of music since the time of Raja Mansingh Tomar under whose patronage and with whose active participation Dhrupad got its concrete form and gained in popularity.

The Khayal Gayaki of Gwalior, which has imbibed a lot from the Dhrupad school was established from the time of Natthan Khan and Pir Baksh. Natthan Khan’s grandsons Haddu and Hassu Khan can be called the main foundation stones of this Gharana.

Gwalior is one of the oldest Gharanas and is considered a parent Gharana to many others. Like Dhrupad, this style com prises open throated singing, straight movements, and simple, lucid Taans devoid of intricate patterns. The elaboration of the Raga is straight and linear, and the only Alankars used are the Gamakas and slow Meends. Bol Taans, straight Sapat Taans and Layakari are other notable features..

Krishna Rao Shankar Vocal – Raga Hameer

https://youtu.be/zLhDluBLTDo

[ Gharanas of Indian Classical Music [ Schools of Music] ]

Agra Gharana

The earliest ancestry of this Gharana is traced to Alak Das and Malak Das, and Haji Sujan Khan, son of Alak Das. But it really got into its stride as a Khayal Gharana from Khagge Khuda Bux who went to Gwalior and took extensive training from Natthan Khan Pir Bux correcting the hoarseness (“Khagge”) in his voice and imbibing the Gwalior Khayal Gayaki.

Gharanas of Indian Classical Music [ Schools of Music] - Ustad Faiyaz Khan (1886-1950) - Great Master of Agra Gharana
Ustad Faiyaz Khan (1886-1950) – Great Master of Agra Gharana
Hence the Dhrupad based style and dignity is also a part of the Agra style. Khuda Bux’s son Ghulam Abbas Khan was a great exponent, and he taught his daughter’s son Faiyaz Khan, a colossus whose name is now synonymous with Agra Gharana. Faiyaz Khan added to this style a new dimen sion and colour.

The voice favoured by the Agra Gharana is voluminous and resonant. The style is clear, robust and forceful. Musicians belonging to this Gharana are extremely rhythm conscious, use frequently double-note Taans and are very strict in observing the purity of the traditions.

They sing extensive Alap and Nom-Tom in Dhrupad style and use abundant Layakari and Bol Taans in Khayal singing, being equally adept in Dhrupad-Dhamar.

Faiyaz Khan – Vocal – Raga Lalit

[ Gharanas of Indian Classical Music [ Schools of Music] ]

Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana :

Although the name suggests a blend of Jaipur Khayal Gharana started by Ahmad Ali Khan and Atrauli Gharana, Atrauli being the place from where the principal exponent Alladiya Khan originated, the style of this school is a totally unique one. The architect was Alladiya Khan himself.

Ustad Alladiya Khan, Founder of Jaipur Atrauli Gharana
Ustad Alladiya Khan, Founder of Jaipur Atrauli Gharana

In this style the Swara and Laya fuse together. The Taans are complex and wavy, with rolling repetitions of adjacent notes of the Raga being sung, and interesting ways of snatching the Mukh of the Sthayee. Another notable feature is the presen tation of rare and complex Ragas.

Kesarbai Kerkar – Vocal – Raga Gaud Malhar

[ Gharanas of Indian Classical Music [ Schools of Music] ]

Kirana Gharana :

Although founded by Rahim Ali (Hingarang) and his son Wajid Ali, this Gharana derived its present form and great popularity from Ustad Abdul Karim Khan, Wajid Ali’s grandson. There is some association of this Gharana with Ustad Bande Ali Khan the great Been player, who also originated from the same place, Kirana.

Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan, Vocalist of Kirana Gharana and the grandson of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan
Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan, Vocalist of Kirana Gharana and the grandson of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan

However, Abdul Karim Khan and his sis ter’s son Abul Waheed Khan made this Gayaki what it is today. It concentrates on total tunefulness and purity of the Swara, slow and varied elaboration of the notes and phrases of the Raga – each expression being highly meditative and charged with emotions, and subtle shades and nuances. The Taans are fast with unexpected turns.

Abdul; Karim Khan – Vocal – Raga Jhinijhoti

[ Gharanas of Indian Classical Music [ Schools of Music] ]

Patiala Gharana

Ali Bux and Fateh Ali, sons of Bade Mian Kalloo Khan of Punjab and popularly referred to as Aliah-Fattoo, were the main architects of this Gharana which produced the famous Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, who brought an overwhelming richness of feelings, colour and tunefulness into this Gayaki.

The exponents of this Gayaki are expected to move with ease in all the three octaves and in different Layas. They delight in creating complex and kaleidoscopic note patterns and specialise in quick and spectacular Taans and Sargams. They also specialise in Thumris.

Bade Ghulam Ali Khan – Vocal – Raga Gujri Todi

Rampur Gharana

This is an important branch of the Seni Gharana which was started by the great masters Ameer Khan, who was a Beenkar and a Dhrupadia and Bahadur Hussein who was a Sursingar player and a Dhrupadia. They groomed many eminent vocalists and instrumentalists.

Ustad Mushtaq Hussain Khan, Vocalist of Rampur-Sahaswan gharana
Ustad Mushtaq Hussain Khan, Vocalist of Rampur-Sahaswan gharana

The second phase of the Rampur Gharana was dominated by the great Wazir Khan who adorned the Rampur Court. The third phase of the Rampur Gharana was presided over

by the famous maestro and teacher Baba Alauddin Khan, who settled down at Maihar and hence his musical lineage is known as the Maihar Gharana. Although Alauddin Khan played prin cipally the Sarod he was a master of many other instruments. He was also a prolific teacher who groomed some of the great est musicians of his time.

Ali Akbar Khan – Sarod – Raga Ahir Bhairav

https://youtu.be/NIxK7su9F_I

[ Gharanas of Indian Classical Music [ Schools of Music] ]

Indore Gharana

Ustad Amir Khan, the great Khayal exponent, and his father Shalimar Khan, the Sarangi maestro, lived in Indore and were in the forefront of this Gharana. Amir Khan’s style however manifests a good deal of Kirana influence, with its serenity and meditative nature, its stress on Alap, its elaborate Vistar and preference for serious Ragas.

Ustad Amir Khan, Founder of Indore Gharana
Ustad Amir Khan, Founder of Indore Gharana

Amir Khan – Vocal – Raga Marwa

Other well-known Gharanas are:

Dagar, Indore Beenkar, Gaya, Bishnupur, Imdad Khani Sitar, Namatullah Karamatullah Sarod, Shahjahanpur Sarod, Gulam Bandogi Khan Sarod, Mathura, Betra, Bhendibazar, Lucknow Tabla, Farrokhabad Tabla, Benaras Tabla, Delhi Tabla, Punjab Tabla, Ajrala Tabla etc.

In modern times the sharp distinctions between different Gharanas are disappearing and there is a far greater intermixture and fusion of various styles.

[ Gharanas of Indian Classical Music [ Schools of Music] ]

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