Evariste Galois, the famous French mathematician whose life is tragic and inspiring at the same time was born 200 years ago. Gonit Sora is celebrating his life by bringing forth a series of articles on the life and works of Galois. (…)
A famous and oft repeated quote is “Whom Gods love, die young!” Although, there seems to be no scientific evidence nor any coherent study confirming or discarding this statement, it has been noticed now and again that great men indeed die young. Not everyone, of course; but there have been some glaring examples in many fields; take for instance the great poet John Keats who died very young. But the field in which such examples are galore is mathematics. Throughout the history of mathematics, there has been many examples of extraordinarily brilliant minds living for a very short span of time. Take for example, the great Indian mathematician S. Ramanujan who died at the young age of 32; the famous Norwegian mathematician Neils Henrick Abel died at the age of 27. Some other notable people who lived for a short span of time are Riemann and Pascal; both geniuses of the first order and both could have achieved a lot had fate been kinder to them. However, no example is as tragic and as hearttouching as that of Evariste Galois, the now famous French mathematician who died at the age of 20!
Evariste Galois (pronounced ‘Gelwa’) was born in Bourg la-Riene in the then French Empire on 25th of October, 1811. Galois, like many mathematicians before and after him showed a tenacity and zeal for higher mathematics at a very small age that could only be described as hauting. Galois started his formal education at the age of 10 being self tutored at home and later joined the Lycee’s school in his hometown. As was expected, Galois showed a tremoundous amount of scholarship in his studies and soon rose to the top of his class. But, such is the tale of genius that at the age of 14, he became bored with the regular school curriculum and started taking an uncanny liking towards mathematics. This was eventful not only for him, but for the whole of mathematics as he did some pioneering work in the fields he touched upon, that even now we are yet to reap the benefits of the seeds that he sowed.
During this period of his life, Galois began studying the masters of mathematics. It is said that he finished the famous mathematician Legendre’s book on Geometry in almost 5 days cover to cover and all the while he read it like a novel. It must be mentioned that even now professional mathematicians find this book too difficult to master. At the age of 15, Galois started to follow the original research papers of another great mathematician, Lagrange. This not only fueled his deep passion for mathematics but also encouraged him to unravel the mathematical mysteries on his own. In April, 1829 Galois published his first research paper on continued fractions at the age of only 17. Thus, began the journey of a legend. Galois deep and varied contributions in many different fields of mathematics has earned him the respect and adulation of one and all today. He was the first person to use the word ‘group’ to define a certain class of mathematicial objects that are today omnipresent not only in almost all branches of mathematics but in fields as varied as physics, chemistry, biology, engineering and even economics.
Galois after completing his school with excellent marks in mathematics decided to try and enter the distinguished Ecole Polytechnique, and so sat in its entrance exam. However, Galois failed to secure a seat in this institute of unique importance and had to enroll in the far inferior Ecole Normale Superior. Here Galois studied for some time, and then again decided to try and enter for the Ecole Polytechnique. Meanwhile, on the personal frontier Galois lost his father who committed suicide by hanging himself in public. This was a major blow to the teenaged Galois and which further fuled his Republican tendencies. The French nation was at that time going through enormous imbalance in its monarchy and system of governance. Galois too decided to join the revolution at the cost of his mathematics. History is testament to tha fact that Galois was even jailed a few times for his revolutionary activities and this got him into trouble even in his institution. All these incidents happened when he was preparing for his entrance exam at the Polytechnique. It was again a surprise when Galois failed a second time to clear it. The genius of Galois was not reccognised at that hallowed institution of learning. Eric Temple Bell, the famous historian of mathematics in his book “Men of Mathematics” quotes
“People not fit to sharpen his (Galois’) pencils sat on judgement of him.”
Such failure prompted Galois to almost leave doing mathematics and light the fire of revolution once again, which was later the cause of his death too.
Galois’ major contribution to mathematics lies in his theory of equations, where he gave a very novel approach to solve one of the major outstanding problems of his time. He along with Abel showed the impossibility of solving the quintic equation via regular methods. This is regarded as a giant leap in the then 19th century mathematical scene. Galois made fundamental contribution to a new field of mathematics which is now termed as ‘Galois Theory’. Galois wrote one paper on Number Theory where he discussed the concept of a ‘finite field’ for the first time. Galois’ entire mathematical research output was a mere 66 pages. This was all that he gave to world mathematics, and this is what made him immortal. It took major advances in group theory to fully understand the implications of the works of Evariste Galois.
The story of this great man came to a very cruel end on 31st May, 1832 at Paris when he had just entered his 20th year. Galois was killed in a duel. There have been numerous speculations as to what may have been the cause of his death, and it seems that the most likely explanation could be that he fell in love with his physician’s daughter and it was at her instigation that he challenged someone for a duel and was as a result killed. The sadder part of this story is that Galois didn’t recive any medical attention for many hours after he was shot, maybe this giant of mathematics could have been saved had helped arrived on time. Galois died a very slow and painful death at the tender age of 20, and the world lost a brilliant mind who was just showing his capabilites. His last words to his brother were
“Don’t cry, Alfred! I need all my courage to die at twenty.”
Galois never recived the admiration from his peers that he should have recived in his lifetime. Even his grave is unmarked and he died almost an anonymous person. It was only years after his death when the letters and manuscripts that Galois wrote just before he died were published that the world started revering Galois and his unparralled genius. The night before he died Galois sensing his end was near wrote down many letters, both mathematical and political to his numerous friends and brother. These letters contain some very though provoking mathematical ideas that has forever sealed Galois name in the annals of mathematical wizardry. The famous mathematician Hermann Weyl while describing these letters said
“This letter judged by the novelty and profundity of ideas it contain, is perhaps the most substantial piece of writing in the whole literature of mankind.”
Galois may have died, but his legacy still lingers on. His life shows us what legends are made of, and is a true testament to the fact that whether a man is a legend or not, is determined by history, not fortune tellers. Galois seems to be a perfect man on whom the words of Albert Einstein used to describe Mahatma Gandhi fit perfectly
“Generations to come and generations to go will scarcely belive that such a one as he ever walked upon this earth in flesh and blood.”
Courtesy of Manjil P. Saikia
(Click image to read on)
The training and discipline common to the Way of shakuhachi consists of three levels of mastery: physical, psychological and spiritual. On the physical level mastery of form is the crux of practice. The teacher provides a model form, the student observes carefully and repeats it countless times until he has completely internalized the form. Words are not spoken and explanations are not given; the burden of learning is on the student. In the ultimate mastery of form the student is released from adherence to form.
This release occurs because of internal psychological changes taking place from the very beginning. The learning routine tests the student’s commitment and will power, but it also reduces stubborness, curbs wilfulness, and eliminates bad habits of body and mind. In the process, his or her real strength, character and potential begin to emerge. The spiritual mastery is inseparable from the psychological but begins only after an intensive and lengthy period of practice.
The heart of spiritual mastery is this: the ego self becoming the egoless self. Free expression of self is blocked by one’s own ego. In the Way of shakuhachi the student’s mastery of fom must be so total that there is no opening for distraction to enter. One becomes vulnerable when one stops to think about winning, losing, impressing, disregarding or taking advantage of a spirit or audience. When the mind stops, even for a single instant, the body freezes, and free, fluid movement is lost.
(Courtesy of Myoan Shakuhachi)
Pt. Pannalal Ghosh –
Wizard of the Bansuri
The Flute is called the magic voice of Krishna.
Pt. Pannalal Ghosh Flute has a magical touch of
other-worldness which is hardly to compare with
something else in the universe of sound.
Yes it,s true : the ocean of sound Nada Brahma cannot
be travelled by to a finite shore…
If there is a musical voice which covers the full depth of
the metaphysical corpse then it must be the charms of
the disemboddied flute of Pt Pannala Gosh…
vibrating an infinite desire for spiritual freedom…
Born in Barisal, East Bengal (now Bangladesh) on July 31, 1911, Amulya Jyoti (nicknamed Pannalal) Ghosh was a child prodigy. He inherited his love of music and the bamboo flute (bansuri) from his grandfather, Hari Kumar Ghosh who played sitar,tabla,and pakhawaj and learned sitar from his father, Akshay Kumar Ghosh. He also learned music from his maternal uncle, Bhavaranjan Mazumdar who was a vocalist. The family first lived in the village of Amarnathganj and later moved to the town of Fatehpur.
Two apocryphal incidents happened to young Pannalal which had an influential bearing on his later life. First, at age 9 while looking for a stick, Pannalal found a flute floating in the river. He retrieved the instrument and so began his lifelong relationship with the bansuri. Two years later, when Pannalal had gone to the cremation ground to attend the last rites of one of his schoolteachers he met a sadhu who held both a conch and a flute. The sadhu asked Pannalal if he could play the flute, and young Pannalal obliged. The sadhu gave him the flute and told the boy that music would be his salvation. This removed the doubt from the mind of little Pannalal and he selected Flute as his main
There was a political unrest in 1928, and every youth was possessed with the freedom movement. Pannalal also joined this freedom movement. He enrolled in a gymnasium where he learned martial arts, boxing, and stick fighting and practiced physical culture. Pannalal was very fond of physical culture. He became the best student and champion of this gymnasium. He became more involved in the freedom movement and the British Government started keeping a watch on his movements. So at the age of seventeen Pannalal left Barisal and went to Calcutta in search of livelihood. In the teeming metropolis he found himself without any credentials except that he was a boxing champion and had won the All Bengal competition in boxing. With his skill as a boxer and martial art expert he landed a job as a coach in an athletic club. One year later, at the age of 18, Pannnalal lost his father.
At this time Pannalal, who was already playing sitar, began to focus his attention on bansuri. Economic necessity drove him into performing music for the silent films in Calcutta. At an All India music competition he met music director and composer Anil Biswas and began to play in his musical productions. It was during one such production when Anil Biswas was directing music for a dramatization of a work by the renowned poet Kazi Nazrul Islam that Pannalal decided that he needed a bigger flute who’s pitch and sonority would be more appropriate for both classical and light music. He met an old Muslim toy vendor who was also proficient in making flutes. With his help Pannalal experimented with various materials including metal and other types of wood, but decided bamboo was still the most suitable medium for a larger instrument. He finally settled on a bansuri which was thirty two inches long, with a sa (tonic) at kali doe (the second black key on the old harmonium scale). As a flute of this size was hitherto unknown, a rumor arose that Pannalal had had surgery to cut the webbing between his fingers to facilitate the large span required to cover the finger holes of the instrument. Of course, he had no such surgery, but through dedicated riyaz (practice), Pannalal invented and perfected the technique to play the large instrument. At this time he would get his bamboo to make flutes from discarded packing materials found at Diamond Harbor, the large port of Calcutta. Deforestation had not yet consumed the forest around Calcutta, and the bamboo was believed to have grown close to the city itself. He practiced hard and perfected the technique of vocal music on flute. At this time he realized the need for meend from madhyama swar to nishad or dhaivat shrutis in ragas like Bihag, Yaman, Bageshree and many others. He experimented and invented the seventh hole of madhyama.
He became famous for his flute playing and started getting performances at the major music conferences. At this time he came in close contact with great maestros like Ustad Inayat Khan (sitar), Ustad Dabir Khan (Been), Ustad Amir Khan (sarod), Ustad Badal khan (sarangi), and vocalists such as Ustad Faiyaz Khan, Ustad Abdul Karim Khan, Ustad Majid Khan, Pt. Tarapoda Chkraborty, Pt. Bhismadev Chattopadhyay and many others. His quest for knowledge and purity of tradition made him acquire intricacies of music from these erudite musicians.
In 1936 Pannalal began working with Raichandra Boral, music director of the well known ‘New Theater’ and one year later he met his first guru, Kushi Mohammed Khan – the ‘Harmonium Wizard’. In 1938 as music director of the dance troupe of the princely kingdom of Seraikella State, Panna Babu (as he was affectionately known) was one of the first classical musicians to visit and perform in Europe, which he found rather agitating and unsettling. Soon after his return to India his guru expired. Thereafter he underwent training from Girija Shankar Chakravarti. In 1940, Pannalal moved to Bombay on the advice of his first disciple Haripada Choudhary (who had himself recently moved to Bombay). There he joined the Bombay Talkies film studio and gave music to quite a few films including ‘Basant.’ Panna Babu’s wife, Parul Biswas, (sister of Anil Biswas), was a graceful singer of kirtans who became one of the first well known playback singers for the new ‘talking’ films.
Pannalal first met the legendary Ustad Allaudin Khansahib, (reverentialy known as ‘Baba’) in 1946, when Baba came to Bombay with his disciple, Pandit Ravi Shankar. Initially, when Pannalal asked Baba to teach him Khansaheb replied, “You are already well-known, you don’t need to study more.” Pannalal implored Baba to please teach him so that he could learn “authentic music and sur.” In 1947, Pannalal’s lifelong yearning to learn music from a true guru was fulfilled when Allaudin Khansaheb , convinced of Pannalal’s sincerity to learn, accepted Pannalal as his disciple. Pannalal then accompanied Baba to his home in Maihar, where he received intensive taalim (training) from Khansaheb for the next six months. Under Baba’s firm yet understanding tutelage, he blossomed into the wizard of the bamboo reed.
Panna Babu earned fame through his regular broadcasts on AIR (All India Radio) and his many live performances at music festivals throughout India. The eminent vocalists Ustad Fayaz Khan and Pandit Omkarnath Thakur appreciated his music very much and requested Pannalal to accompany their vocal recitals on bansuri. He was praised for his adaptation and rendering on the bansuri of the khayal-ang- gayaki (the classical vocal style), particularly influenced by the great master of the Kirana gharana, Ustad Abdul Karim Khan. Pannalal also incorporated alap, dhrupad-ang-gayaki, tantrakari, jhala, thumri, dadra and folk music into his performance style on bansuri. Well versed in tabla and rhythm, he would perform in such difficult tals as jhoomra and tilwara. His music was steeped in devotion and had an intangible ethereal element, immense emotional depth and was infused with spiritual profundity. In addition to introducing the larger instrument, Pannalal Ghosh is credited with inventing the bass bansuri and introducing the six-stringed tanpura, high-pitched tanpuri and the surpeti or sruti box into Hindustani music. He created and popularized several new ragas including Deepawali, Pushpachandrika, Chandramauli, Panchavati and Nupurdwani, as well as multitudinous vilambit and drut compositions in many well known and rare ragas.
Rag VRINDAVANI SARANG
Panna Babu practiced daily meditation and observed maun by not speaking on Thursdays. He took the vows of Ramakrishna and put his faith in music. He took Mantra Diksha from Swami Birjanandji Maharaj who was a direct disciple of Swami Vivekananda. Because of his intense spiritual practice he started loosing interest in day to day life and decided to take Sanyasa. When he expressed his desire to Swamiji, his Guru, he was told that he would attain Moksha through music only. He should practice music as religiously as his spiritual practice. His music showed total spirituality, simplicity and purity.
(Courtesy Pt. V.G. Karnad – Pt. Nityanand Haldipur -David Philipson)
Rag Hindol Bahar
Rag Bhairavi Thumri
Rag Khamaj Thumri
The Pioneer of Modern Bansuri
Pt. Pannalal Ghosh -[24 July, 1911 – 20 April, 1960]
A Brief Life Sketch
The great maestro and pioneer of Hindustani classical flute music, late Pt. Pannalal Ghosh was born on 24th July, 1911 at Barisal, now in Bangladesh. His real name was Amal Jyoti Ghosh. He was brought up in a family of musicians.
Young Pannalal was highly receptive and absorbed good music from various sources. It appears that during his young days at Barisal, Pannalal was active in the freedom struggle. He came to Kolkata during late 1920’s, thereafter shifting to Mumbai (1940) in search of better prospects for his musical career. It was in no time that the nation recognized the maestro in him. His fame and popularity transgressed linguistic and cultural boundaries. Pannalal Ghosh resided in Mumbai till 1956, before making Delhi his final destination, where he passed away on 20th April, 1960.
At Kolkata during the early 1930s, Pannababuji received musical training for two years from his first Guru, the noted harmonium player and a renowned master in classical music, Ustad Khushi Mohammed Khan, under the traditional Ganda Bandhan form of tutelage. After the sad demise of Khushi Mohammed Khan, Pannababuji studied under Pt. Girija Shankar Chakraborty, an eminent musician and musicologist. Pannababuji was influenced by the style of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan Saheb initially. The strongest influence on Pannababuji’s music came from the systematic lessons under the legendary Ustad Allaudin Khan Sahib, from the 1947.
Pannalal Ghosh was a great innovator indeed! He was the first to transform a tiny folk instrument to a novel bamboo flute (32 inches long with 7 holes) suitable for playing traditional Indian classical music, and also to uplift its stature, bringing it at par with other classical music instruments. He is also accredited with the creation of a special bass flute, and introduction of the 6-stringed Tanpura, high-pitched Tanpuri and Surpeti into Hindustani music. Pannababuji’s innovations are of great significance because there have been rare examples in the world’s modern history of music when a musical instrument was created, as well as popularly accepted along with traditionally established instruments.
Besides, he also mastered the technique of presenting heavy melodies, balancing both beauty and grammar. These Raaga are now the specialty of the flautists of his gharana (tradition). Pannababuji regularly and gracefully played the Siddha Raaga such as Abhogi, Adana, Bageshree, Bahar, Basant, Bhairavi, Bhimpalasi, Bhairav, Bhoop, Bhopal Todi, Bihag, Chandramouli, Darbari, Des, Desee, Deskaar, Gaud-Sarang, Jaunpuri, Kafi, Kedar, Khamaj, Lalit, Malkauns, Marwa, Piloo, Miyan-Malhar, Pahadi, Puriya, Puriya-Dhanashree, Puriya-Kalyan, Sarang, Shankara, Shree, Shudh-Basant, Shudha-Bhairavi, Sindhura, Tilang, Todi, Yaman and many more. He was also open to accepting new ideas. This culminated in creating and/or popularizing several Carnatic / new / uncommon / mixed Raaga such as Andolika, Chandramouli, Deepawali, Jayant, Kumari, Noopur-Dhwani, Panchavati (a Raaga-Mala), Ratna-Pushpika, Shuklapalaasi, Pushpachandrika (created by Shri. Himanshu Dutta, Kolkata), Basant-Mukhari, Shankara- Bhariyar, Miyan-Ki-Sarang, Hansa-Narayani, Hansa-Dhwani, Malay-Marutham, Shivendra- Madhyam, etc.
His playing style was a uniform and balanced blend of both, the Gayaki (vocal style) and Tantkari (stringed instrument style). This is evident from his available recordings, and also from the fact that he was very much liked not only by the eminent vocalists such as Ustad Fayyaz Khan, Pt. Omkarnath Thakur and Surashri Kesarbai Kerkar, but his understanding of the Taal (rhythm) was also appreciated by all the renowned Tabla players (percussionists) including Ustad Amir Hussain Khan, Ustad Allarakha, and Pt. Nikhil Ghosh. To quote Pt. Lalji Gokhale (disciple of Ustad Ahmad Jan Thirakwa Saheb), who accompanied Pannababuji on a large number of occasions said “it was impossible that Pannababuji would ever make a mistake in “Taal
Pannalal Ghosh, as the music director of the dance troupe of the princely kingdom of Seraikela state, visited and performed in Europe in the year late 1930’s, and was one of the first classical musicians to have crossed the boundaries of India. After joining All India Radio, Delhi, as the Conductor of the National Orchestra in 1956, he composed several path-breaking orchestral pieces including Kalinga Vijay, Rituraj, Hariyali and Jyotirmoy Amitabha. His contribution in semi-classical as well as film music also was equally important, and his name is permanently linked to many famous movies such as Anjan, Basant, Duhai, Police, Andolan, Nandkishore, Basant Bahar, Mughal-e-Azam and many more.
(Source: article contributed by Dr. Vishvas M. Kulkarni)
For further reading recommendations on the below abstract paper :
Pannalal Ghosh (1911-1960) is credited with the introduction of the b ansuri (North Indian bamboo flute) into Hindustani classical music in the twentieth century. While the transverse flute played a significant role in the music of India at least since the early centuries CE, it had lost its status as a prominent instrument in Indian art music several hundred years before Ghosh brought it to the forefront of Hindustani classical music. Ghosh’s achievement is considered in the context of his time in terms of the social, political, economic, technological, and musical circumstances in India, and particularly Bengal. While twentieth-century developments contributed to his success, it was ultimately through his own efforts that the b ansuri was accepted as a featured Hindustani classical instrument. By redesigning the instrument, working out a technique to emulate the subtleties of the voice, listening to diverse genres and styles of music, engaging in intensive study, and conceptualizing his own eclectic style of playing, he succeeded in convincing twentieth-century audiences that the bansuri deserved a place as a valued instrument for the performance of Hindustani classical music. His achievement also paved the way for other instruments such as shahn ai, sarangi, and sant ur to achieve similar recognition in the classical music of North India. I have drawn from elements of musical biography; Indian history; organology; music theory, transcription, and analysis; and anthropology to show how Ghosh’s career is illustrative of a broader narrative of tradition and innovation in twentieth-century Hindustani classical music. My own studies of Hindustani classical music in the lineage of Pannalal Ghosh began in 1988, and provided a foundation for much of the work in this dissertation. Interviews with former students and associaties of Pannalal Ghosh, along with several articles about his life and work, enabled me to piece together his biography. Research into the history and culture of his time provided a clearer picture of the environment that shaped his life and musical development. Transcription and analysis of performances by Ghosh and other vocalists and instrumentalists helped me to situate his music within the context of North Indian classical music in the twentieth century.
For a Thesis on : Tradition and Innovation in the Bansuri Performance Style of Pannalal Ghosh
please click image below…
THE TIMES OF INDIA, Bombay
Date: August 31, 1969
Pannalal Ghosh, the unrivalled maestro of the flute, was only 48 when he suddenly died of a heart attack in Delhi in 1960. He was a virtually self-taught musician. Strange but true, he had not found his real guru, Acharya Allauddin Khan, till he was 36. But he had made his mark as a gifted flutist when New Theatres, the renowned film studio in Calcutta, spotted his talent, and employed him on its orchestral staff for background music in 1934.This proved fruitful in two ways. For it was here that Pannababu met Raichand Boral, the famed composer and music director, and Khushi Mohammad Khan, the noted harmonist. While the former initiated him into the mysteries of film music and orchestration, the latter gave him systematic instruction in flute playing, Another great composer from whom he benefited was Himanshu Dutt.
Looking back, it would appear that music beckoned to Pannababu when he was only seven — an age when most boys are occupied with games and other diversions of childhood. And while he played simple, breezy tunes to the delight of the local village folk of Barisal (now in Bangladesh), his inventive genius toyed with the idea of extending the tonal capabilities of his flute as a medium. of classical music. [Thus followed a systematic study of its structure and technique. This led him to try a variety of material from aluminum and brass to plastic and bamboo, one-after another, in equally varied shapes and sizes, before he decided on the last, and added a seventh playing hole to evolve the flute he had long visualized. He then developed and perfected a style of’ playing that marked a radical departure from the centuries-old style of music.
Private collection of Mohan D. Nadkarni/
In performance at the first Mumbai Tajya sageet-Mritya Mahotsava in Mumbai in 1956. Accompanying him is V.G. Karnad (on his right) and Nikhil Ghosh, his eminent younger brother on the tabla (to his extreme left)
This was in the mid-thirties, at a time when no one even had foreseen the possibility of harnessing the bansuri as an effective instrument for the unfolding of elaborate classical melodies. The listeners were struck as much by the tonal quality of his flute as by the range and variety of his improvisation. So perfect was its adaptation to classical articulation that it could afford the illimitable nuances of the human voice with a naturalness all its own. In point of depth, range and volume, it could vie with plucked instruments like the veena, the sitar and the sarod. Before long did his originality and virtuosity in enlarging the scope of his medium to wider panoramas of musical form and design bring him distinction as a pioneer in the introduction of gayaki to the woodwind.
As said earlier, it was Acharya Allauddin Khan who exerted the strongest influence on the development of Pannababu’s idiom. That explains why his style presented so unique a blend of technique and temperament, of authenticity and appeal — which constitute the hallmark of the Acharya’s Senia parampara.
Pannababu was a deeply religious man. He had his spiritual initiation from Swami Birajananda, a direct disciple of Swami Vivekananda. The profound influence of the teachings of – Paramahamsa Sri Ramakrishna had shaped his character and personality. Added to this was also the mystical element he inherited from Acharya Allauddin Khan. Not surprisingly, his music generated a mood of spiritual awareness in the listener. Passage after passage that he played came to us as the utterance of a deeply moved soul.
Pannababu’s contribution to the enrichment of the raga repertory of north India showed a rare synthesis of tradition and experiment again the result of the Acharya’s influence on him. His new creations like Deepavali, Jayant, Chandra-Mauli and Nupur-dhvani, to name a few were marked by structural authenticity and enduring appeal. So were his thematic compositions which he offered us as conductor of National Orchestra of AIR at Delhi. It is important to remember that he had proved his mettle as composer and music director much earlier during his association with Bombay Talkies before he met Acharya Allauddin Khan.
(Courtesy Pannalal Ghosh Mohan D. Nadkarni 1969)
The Bansuri: A History
Krishna is a Hindu deity, worshipped as an incarnation of Vishnu. Krishna is know as the divine charmer who played flute and through his music, caused many to fall in love with him. Many believe that the North Indian bamboo flute is sacred, and only those who are very blessed
and very spiritually inspired can “pick up the most pristine and natural instrument in their mortal hands and go on to make divine music with it” (Roy, 72). Lord Krishna is also called Murlidhar
or “the flute-holder” is told of in stories about his flute playing and seduction of women to his divinity. Many in the Hindu faith believe that Krishna’s flute playing represents the human soul yearning for union with the divine lover.
The transverse (held across or side blown) flute is found in almost every culture. The bamboo transverse flute is found in Asia and the West Indies. The bansuri is not the only North India bamboo flute, but is commonly the concert-flute or the classical flute of North Indian music. First millennium BC history cites flute, harp, and drum in Vedic rituals. Vedic text is the
oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scripture of Hinduism. “The flute is, perhaps, one of the oldest instruments in the world, making an appearance iconographically in Egypt around 4000 BC” (Potter, 30). Buddhist sculptures showed flutes being played by humans, men and
women, celestial beings, instrumental ensembles and accompanying vocal music, chamber music and in the court and temples. “The Sufis (members of mystical sects of Islam, the earliest dating
from 8th century Persia) believe that the flute and the man of God are one and the same” (Potter, 37). The Santal tribes of North India (the largest tribal community of India) believe that the flute
connects the mortal humans with supernatural forces. The flute is a very important instrument in Indian culture; many poets such as Sarojini Naidu wrote about the flute.
After the Muslim invasions of India that began in the 12th century, the bansuri disappeared as a court instrument
but remained common in the folk tradition the states of Bengal, Orissa, and Assam.
The Bansuri’s Structure
The Bansuri flute is a North Indian classical instrument that may be performed in many different venues, in many different genres, and in many different ensembles. The bansuri is a
cylindrical tube with a uniform bore made from a single piece of straight, smooth bamboo that is free of notches. The concert bansuri is usually between 60 and 90 centimeters and 25 millimeters
in diameter, but the bansuri flute can be of many different lengths (especially in folk music traditions). The top end is closed (either naturally or with a cork stopper) and the lower end is
open. The placement of the finger holes are dependent upon the tuning of the instrument, but there is a mouth hole at the top and usually six finger holes. There is also often a small hole at
the end of the flute for tuning. The bansuri can be made in any pitch. Flutes used for folk and popular music are often higher pitched than classical bansuri flutes, which are often pitched at
The bansuri is made from special bambo that has large cross-sections (large spaces between notches). It is believed that Assam, a state in north-eastern India, produces the highest
quality bamboo. The bamboo is cut after the rainy season and left to dry for months. One end is corked after the bamboo in cleaned and holes are pierced by a red hot iron rod. After the mouth
hole is created, the finger holes are created in relation to the pitch created from the moth hole. Sometimes oils, such as mustard and coconut, are used on the inside of the bamboo to keep the
instrument from drying out and cracking. According to Catherine Potter, instruments are commonly made by flutists themselves who are self taught. However, there is an American flute maker at the Ali Akbar Khan School of Indian Classical Music in St. Raphael, California who
makes some of the best bansuri that are often ordered from professional flutists in India.
The bansuri is used for classical, folk, and popular performances of North India. Often, the bansuri is a solo instrument accompanied by table and tanpura, and sometimes a second
bansuri becomes an echo of the solo bansuri. The bansuri only became a stage performing instrument in the twentieth century. There are no established stylistic schools of bansuri like with
vocalists and stringed instrumentalists. Many of today’s great flutists such as Pannalal Ghosh, Vijay Ragha Roa, Hariprasad Chaurasia, and Nityanand Hadipur did not study with flutists but
Performing on the Bansuri
The following teachings are based on books by Lyon Leifer who studied with Pandit Pannalal Ghosh and Catherine Potter who studied with Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia. Notation of
North Indian classical music is rare because of the depth of their aural tradition. However, the notation that is used is Bhatkande notation using swara syllables. Swara syllables are similar to
the western tradition of solfege and include the syllable sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni, and sa. The bansuri can have six or seven holes. The advantage of seven holes according to the Ghosh/
Murdeshwar school is as follows: Additional half-step of low range; immensely greater flexibility in treating the register break; and register breaks can make gliding difficult, so the
seventh hole is advantageous for ease of register breaks. Lyon Leifer details the advantage of six holes as being only one: Prevents the performer from having to stretch the right hand for the seventh hole. When playing in an ensemble, the other instruments that will play with the bansuri will tune according to the pitch of the given bansuri. The bansuri is played while sitting cross legged, horizontally, either to the left or to the right. The first hand facing in towards the musician and the second hand (furthest away) is palm out. The first three fingers of each hand are used to cover the holes and sometimes the middle part of the finger is used to cover. Microtonal ornamentation and sliding is often used. Bansuri flutes can play at least two and a half octaves, the upper octaves are achieved by overblowing to the harmonics. Bansuri flutes do not have perfect intonation, so tuning is often done with compensation from the embouchure and the turning of the flute in or out to push the airstream further in the hole or further across the hole. Below, is a bansuri fingering chart from Catherine Potter’s Hariprasad Chaurasia: The Individual and the North Indian Classical Music Tradition. Staging can often be the ensemble sitting center stage, the tabla player stage left, and two tanpuras behind the bansuri player.
While playing the bansuri, the fingers may cover the holes with second phalanx of the fingers, which facilitates covering the holes that are large distances apart. The holes can be
partially uncovered to produce different intonation, slides, microtonal effects. However, there are bansuri players who use the pads of their fingertips to cover the holes of the bansuri, and this
may be more comfortable at first for the western flutist when making the shift from the Boehm flute to the bansuri. Below is an image of finger placement on a bansuri using the second phalanx from Catherine Potter’s Hariprasad Chaurasia: The Individual and the North Indian Classical Music Tradition.
As stated by Catherine Potter, Chaurasia’s idea of a “good bansuri sound” is strong vibrato, full tone, use of dynamics, and the use of sustained tones. According to Potter, tone quality is actually more encouraged in film music rather than classical music, but Chaurasia encourages his classical students to produce full, strong tone quality.
Holding the Bansuri
The bansuri, unlike the Boehm flute, can be held to either the right or left side of the performer. If held to the right, the left hand is placed on the instrument first (first as in closest to
the face), palm in, thumb supporting the bansuri away from the palm, index finger straight and angled toward the tone hole. The first three fingers of left hand are placed on the first three holes.
Then, the right hand is placed second (furthest away from the face), palm out, fingers flat, some use the tip of the fingers to cover the holes, others use the second phalanx. The little finger of the
right hand must angle out from the hand in order to reach the seventh tone hole. The seventh tone hole is reached by keeping the forearm and hand in-line (wrist not flexed) and rotate them
There are many different types of ornamentations used in Hindustani music, and many of the instrumental ornamentations are based on vocal genres. However, after listening to many bansuri recordings and watching many videos, I have collected a few ideas: Pitches can
ornamented by physically moving the bansuri up and down and with side to side motions to effect the embouchure placement. Mind (or meend) is produced by slowly rolling the finger in a
circular motion to gradually open and close the hole. Kana is produced by sliding the fingers over or off the hole after blowing. Gamaka is produced by approaching each pitch from above by
using the kana technique in combination with embouchure movement and air movement. Gamak is an oscillation between two notes (usually a diatonic step apart) like a tremolo. Taan is
improvised variations including rapid variation in accordance with the raga.
Double note paltas are patterns with a repeated note that is separated by a lower Register shifts are another important ornamentation but considered more of a theme and variations and includes performing one idea and performing it again but in a different register. Andolan is an ornamentation where given scale degrees oscillate between a particular microtonal position of the scale and another, slightly lower position. Andolan is performed by Rocking the finger which produces the relevant scale degree very slightly back and forth in its normal direction of closure and opening. Articulation is another important aspect of not only ornamenting but of the overall performance of a raga. Articulations that are commonly used include: Legato phrasing, pitches connected with mind (meend), single, double, triple tonguing, and slightly detached to staccato.
( Excerption Courtesy by Kelly Mullins )
We, the Indians inculcate all the three pillars of performing arts, that is, vocal
music, instrumental music and dance into the definition of music. Perhaps,
this notion can also be traced back in the very famous ancient and historic manuscript entitled“Sangeet Ratnakar”, where it has been said: “Geetamvadayam tatha nrityam trayam sangeetam uchatay” (Brahaspati, 2002) means music is defined as the art of singing,playing an instrument and dancing.
Under the Hindustani Classical Music, the tradition of “Gharana” system holds
specialimportance. Perhaps, this feature is so unique that no where around
the world can onefind this sought of a tradition. The Gharana system is followed by boththe North-Indian as well as the South-Indian forms of Indian classical music.In south India, the term Gharana is acknowledged by the word “Sampraya”. In ancient times,there existed several Samprayas such as the “Shivmat”, the “Bhramamat” and the “Bharatmat” (Pranjpay, 1992). It is believed that in ancient times,there existed a single form of the style of Indian Classical Music. However, the advent of the Muslims had a great impact on the Indian Classical Music and this created a division into this form of music. This lead to the regeneration of two forms of
Indian Classical Music: the Carnatic Music (The South Indian and otherwise
the original version of Indian Classical Music.) and the Hindustani Music
(The North Indian and the improvised version of the Indian Classical Music).
One of the most unique and exclusive feature which is incorporated in the
teaching of Indian Classical Music is the “Guru- Shishya” tradition. Perhaps
,in recent times, theeducation of Indian Classical Music is also imparted inseveral institutions,
schools, colleges and universities. However, history and statistics reveal that even nowthe finest artists of the Indian Classical Music are produced through the “Guru-Shishya” tradition.n India, the Gharana system has contributed to all thethree forms of music, that is vocal, instrumental and dance.
The Gharana comes into existence through the confluence of the “Guru”
and the “Shishya(Chaubey, 1977). A talented “Guru” through his intelligence, aptitude and shear practicecreates a sense of uniqueness and exclusivity and therebyinculcates a special eminence into his form of music. These attributes and traits are amicably transferred into the talented “Shishya” and the particular form of theperforming arts thus becomes a tradition. These exceptional qualities are in fact so
strong and prominent that the audiences can immediately recognize the Gharana of the artist.
It is believed that when so ever the form or style created by the founder “Guru” is carried forth till three generations; it turns in to the form of “Gharana”. The nameof the Gharana can be same as the nameof the founder “Guru”, or came be named after the place where the founder “Guru” resided. For example, in the field of Hindustani Vocal Music, there exists several Gharanas (Deshpandey 1973) such as the Gwalior Gharana, the Dilli Gharana, the Kirana Gharana, the AgraGharana etc. Similarly, under the Instrumental Music the Senia Gharana, the Senia Maihar
Gharana, the Etawah Gharanaand the Imdadkhani Gharana hold special place (Mankaran, 2000). Likewise, the Jaipur Gharana and the Lucknow Gharana are famous for dance (Shrivastav, 1985).
The Imdadakhani Gharana (BUDHADITYA, 2012), school of music traces its stems from the very ancient Gwalior Gharana. The founder of the tradition of the Imdadkhani Gharana was Ustad Sahabdad Hussain. He was intimately related to Ustad Haddu Khan of the Gwalior Gharana. In fact, he was brought up in his house and received training in Khayal singing
from him. Ustad Shahabdad Hussain also used to play sitar.
The Imdadkhani Gharana is named after Ustad Imdad Khan, the son of Ustad Shahabdad Hussain.
Ustad Imdad Khan was born in Agra. He was the court musician of Indore. Ustad Imdad Khan was initially instigated into vocal music and later into sitar by his father. Subsequently, he listened and learnt from a number of stalwarts and connoisseurs in this particular field and consequently cultivated a completely new style of Sitar and Surbahar playing. This eventually led to the
establishment of a new Gharana called the Imdadkhani Gharana, also called
the Etawah Gharana, after a village outside Agra where Ustad Imdad Khan lived.
The Imdadkhani Gharana proliferated over from Etawah to Kolkata, Indore, Hyderabad,
Mumbai and subsequently through the whole country.Invariably as Ustad Imdad Khan, his son Ustad Enayat Khan was one of the most renowned Sitarists of the early 20th
Credit remunerates to Ustad Enayat Khan for making the art of Sitar playing more affable and popular for a largeraudience in the cultural capital of India, which is Kolkata. Earlier to this, the Sitar was heard primarily in a lesser circle by music fanatics. Apart from popularization of this art, Ustad Enayat Khan also developed and improvised the architecture/design of the Sitar. Ustad Enayat Khan died at a very early age of only 43 and left four children. His son, the
illustrious sitar maestro Ustad Vilayat Khan (VILAYAT, 2012, MEDIEVAL, 2012, WAJAHATKHAN, 2012) was the greatest exponents of the Imdadkhani Gharana and one the most magnificent sitar player of all times. Pandit Bimalendu Mukherjee,
the well-known sitarist and doyen of the Imdadkhani Gharana was also a disciple of Ustad Enayat Khan. His son and disciple, one of the greatest sitar players of all times, the world renowned sitarist, Pandit Budhaditya Mukherjee is the greatest stalwart of the Imdadkani Gharana.
Section 2 of this manuscript provides a detailed description of the major features of the Imdadkhani Gharana. The detailed intricacies of the technique of playing the instrument have been analyzed. Tuning system and the structural modulations of the sitar under the Imdadkhani Gharana are described in section 3. A detailed study reveals the exclusive
implications of the modulations, along with a brief comparison amongst the instrument design corresponding to the other Gharanas. This is followed by the raga repertoire in section 4. An informative and sequential study is made in this particular section. Finally, the conclusions are drawn in section 5.
2. MAJOR FEATURES OF THE IMDADKHANI GHARANA
The Imdadkhani Gharana inculcates a distinctive characteristic for the sitar playing called the gayaki ang. This refers to the technique where the Sitar player is intended to come as close as possible to the articulate potency and variety of human voice. Thus, this refers to the
intonation of the human voice on the instrument. Under the Imdadakhani Gharana, the Raag
Alaap was initiated in the conduct in which it is practiced in the khayal singing. The entire vocal embellishment of the khayal style was absorbed and integrated into the art of sitar playing. According to the capacity of the instrument, the string deflections were enlarged to at least five notes. The raga development inculcated the ‘Khatka-jhatka’ type of ‘alankars’ and
the maximum exploitation of the ‘aans’, which is the continuity of the sound after the string plucking. Also, the plucking work was constrained to the right index finger. Furthermore, the ‘Jhala’ and the ‘Thok-jhala’ were instituted as discrete sections.The rhythmic pattern was
enriched tremendously by incorporating all the khayal taans, tabla-pakhwaj bols and the
introduction of several rhythmic variations and subdivision of tempo. An explicit sequence and progression was inculcated into the playing of ‘gat-toda’ and the composition of splendid ‘todas’, with the subsequent matching ‘tehais’. Major structural
transformations to both the Sitar and Surbahar & Foundation and development of the instrumental style known as the ‘gayaki ang’ are amongst the major achievements of the Imdadkhani Gharana.
3. TUNING SYSTEM AND STRUCTURAL MODULATIONS OF THE SITAR UNDER
THE IMDADKHANI GHARANA
Tuning of an instrument depends prominently on the instrumentalist’s Gharana or style, convention and each artist’s respective inclination. The tonic in the Hindustani Classical system is insinuated as “Sadaj”. It refers to ‘sa’ or ‘kharaj’.
Traditionally, the principal playing string is virtually tuned a perfect fourth above the tonic. Generally, the second string is tuned to the tonic. Subsequently, the sympathetic strings are tuned to the notes of the raga being played. Perhaps, there exists a minor aesthetic modification to the order of these and how they are tuned. Every Raga demands the re-tuning of the
instrument. The strings are tuned by tuning hooks. Furthermore, the key playing strings can be fine-tuned by sliding a bead threaded on each string just below the bridge and also by very small and efficient steel pegs which are nowadays gaining popularity.
A comparative analysis between the common tuning “Kharaj-Pancham” sitar (exercised by Pt. Ravi Shankar) and “Gandhar Pancham” (exercised under the Imdadkhani Gharana) is as follows:
In the “Kharaj-Pancham” sitar, the Chikari strings are tuned as: Sa (high), Sa (middle) and Pa, whereas in the Imdadkhani school, the Kharaj string is detached and substituted by a fourth String, which is tuned to Ga. Inculcating these combinations, the sitarist produces a harmony
Sa, Sa, Pa, Ga, or Sa, Sa, Ma, Ga or Sa, Sa, Dha, Ga, contingent to the Raga which is being
played. However, the Jod and the Baaj strings are tuned in the similar fashion in both the Gharanas. The Jod string is tuned to Sa and the Baaj string is tuned to Ma.
Under the Imdadkhani Gharana, a large number of improvisations were made to the instrument for executing the Gayaki ang into the instrument. Ustad Vilayat Khan increased the thickness of the Tabli and the Tar-gahan. Also, a joint wasintroduced between the tumba and the stem, so that the instrument could withhold larger stress and strain. Furthermore, with
the passage of time, the tumba was enlarged and stem became slightly broader. In order to cut down the metallic sound of the frets, Ustad Vilayat Khan supplanted the brass frets with an
alloy of superior quality. Furthermore, the material and thickness of the strings were also critically modulated. The Baaj, Gandhar and the Pancham strings were steel strings of
gauge number 3. The Jod string was made from brass with gauge number 27.
All the Tarabs and the two Chikari strings were made of steel with gauge number 0.
Another major structural modification of the instrument was the removal of the upper tumba. During early times, when electronic amplification, were not plausible, this upper tumba was beneficiary in boosting the volume of the instrument with a
better delivery of the harmonics. However, with the advancement of technology, the Imdadkhani Gharana sitar got devoid of this part and the stem efficiently served as a resonator. The jawari-bridge was considerably modified in a manner to provide a
better acoustic experience. Moreover, the traditional ivory jawaris were replaced by ebony and polymer jawaris. The conventional sitar incorporated seven strings streaming over the main bridge. However, under the Imdadkhani Gharana the number of strings reduced to six. This lead to the removal of the lowest octave, but were replaced with strings tuned to the
middle, which acted as fillers over and above the Chikari strings. These structural and tuning vicissitudes directly inculcated the Gayaki ang into the instrument.
4. THE RAGA REPERTOIRE
The Imdadkhani Gharana is receptive to all the ancient, rare and well-established Ragas, but it has a convention ofspecializing in a certain Ragas for concert performances. However, this situation varies from artist to artist, as every individual has a different musical temperament, even if he or she belongs to the same Gharana. As per the historians ,
Ustad EnayetKhan and Ustad Imdad Khan concentrated on very few Ragas for concert performances. On the other hand, Ustad Vilayat
Khan rendered the rarest Ragas to his audiences. Statistics suggest that the following Ragas have been extensively explored and performed by the stalwarts of the Imdadkhani Gharana: Ahir Bhairav, Lalit , Miyan ki Todi, Bhimpalasi, Shuddha Sarang, Marwa, Puriya, Puriya Kalyan, Bihag, Kedar, Kamod, Hameer, Shuddha Kalyan,Yaman, Jog, Vachaspati, Darbari Kanada
Yet another distinct feature of the Imdadkhani Gharana is that most of the renditions are performed in the Teen taal, though explorations are also made in the Ek taal as well as Jhap taal. The various stalwarts of this Gharana have ardently played and explored the traditional and the mature ragas ofthe Hindustani Classical Music. They have shown little zeal and
enthusiasm towards the creation of the new ragas. Every phrase of the raga is tried out in diverse ways and explored deeply to render the coveted harmonic melodious acoustics
anticipated by the artist.
It is quite evident that the Imdadkhani Gharana has emerged as one of the most prominent and enduring pillar of the Hindustani Classical Music.
The simplicity and exclusive magnificence of the Gharana has brewed it into a much coveted school of music. The “gayaki ang” is the biggest asset of this Gharana and leads to breaking of barriers between the vocal and instrumental music.
The main attribute to the success and widespread popularity of the Gharana goes to its founder “gurus” and stalwarts, who brought about revolutions in the field of Indian Classical Music. This manuscript ascribes a detailed description of the basic traits inherent to this
Gharana. Furthermore, a brief comparative analysis is also performed between this Gharana and the other prevalent Gharanas, based basically upon the tuning systems and the structural modification details of the instrument.
1. Brahaspati A. Sangeet Ratnakar, Sangeet Karyalay, Hathras, 2002
2. Pranjpay S. S. Sangeet Bodh, Madya Pradesh Hindi Granth Academy, Bhopal, 1992
3. Chaubey S. K. Sangeet ke Gharano ki Charcha, Uttar Pradesh Hindi Granth Academy, Lucknow, 1977
4. Deshpandey V. H. Gharanedar Gayaki, Oriental Longman Limited, New Delhi, 1973
5. Mankaran V. Sangeet Saar, Raj Publishers, Jalandhar 2000
6. Shrivastav H. Raga Parichay, Sangeet Sadan Prakashan, Allahabad, 1985
7. BUDHADITYA (2012) http://www.budhaditya.com/ Accessed on 10 th November, 2012
9. MEDIEVAL (2012) http://www.medieval.org/music/world/vk.html Accessed on 12th December 2012
10. WAJAHATKHAN(2012) http://www.wajahatkhan.com/family.html Accessed on 12th December 2012
(Courtesy of Gagandeep Hothi*
1. Research Scholar, Dept. of Performing Arts, Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla-5, India1. Research Scholar, Dept. of Performing Arts, Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla-5, India)
The Etawah Gharana
(Courtes by Shahid Parvez)
This style comes from of the most ancient school of music, the Gwalior gharana. It is also known as the Imdadkhani gharana after Ustad Imdad Khan, the son of Ustad Sahebdad Khan. Ustad Sahebdad Khan was trained and influenced by Ustad Haddu and Ustad Hassu Khan of the Gwalior gharana, and thus dhrupad and khayal vocal genres can be glimpsed in the playing style and in the choice of ragas. To the techniques of Been and Rebab many new techniques have been added.Ustad Imdad Khan and his sons Ustad Inayat Khan and Ustad Wahid Khan made this gharana famous. Ustad Vilayat Khan, son of Ustad Inayat Khan, furthur developed his father and uncle’s handling of midh and murki. He also modified the structure of Sitar.
Based on the classical structure of the raga, this gharana includes alap, jor and jhala (slow then accelerating improvisation) without percussion as it is played in dhrupad, followed by the khayal composition called Gat, with the tabla, developed in numerous improvisations on rhythm and note like tans and layakaris (modified version, source: musicalnirvana.com
Ustad Imdad Khan
Instrumental in developing the unique style that characterizes the Etawah Gharana, Ustad Imdad Khan was one of the most influential instrumentalists of Indian Classical Music. He helped to establish the Etawah Gharana, which is also known as the Imdadkhani Gharana.Ustad Imdad Khan was born into a musical family. His father was Ustad Sahabdab Khan, the founder of the Etawah Gharana.
Ustad Sahabdab Khan was a close relative of Ustad Haddu Khan of Gwalior Gharana. Initially Sahabdab Khan was taught khayal vocals by Ustad Haddu Khan, but later took up Sitar. He later moved to Etawah, from which the gharana’s name is derived.
Although Ustad Sahabdab Khan was the founder of the gharana, It was Ustad Imdad Khan who developed the instruments, and created an innovative instrumental style that became characteristic of the gharana. Imdad Khan heard and studied the contemporary styles of various stalwarts of music of his time. He then developed an original style, one that was radically different from the then prevalent Senia style for playing the surbahar and sitar, thus ushering in a new era.
Ustad Imdad Khan introduced elements of khayal gayaki into the alap for the first time. All gayaki ornamentations were implemented and systematically developed into the techniques for this newly developed style for playing sitar. All khayal taans, tabla and pakhawaj bols, and the numerous rhythmic variations and subdivisions of the tempo were interspersed, strengthening the interaction of the swara and the laya. Jhala and thok jhala were introduced as separate sections. A definite sequence was brought into playing the gat toda, and the composition of exciting todas with matching tihais added new grandeur to a sitar recital. This new style that was to gain in popularity throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and that continues to flourish with proponents like Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan, has come to be known as Imdadkhani.
Commissioned by Mysore kings in whose courts he served, Ustad Imdad Khan became the first Sitar player to come out with a recording. RPG / EMI has brought out those timeless recordings in a two CD album. Chairman’s Choice – Great Gharana – Imdadkhani (CMC 882507-08).Ustad Imdad Khan had two sons, Ustad Enayet Khan and Ustad Waheed Khan who took up Sitar and Surbahar
Instrumental in developing the unique style that characterizes the Etawah Gharana, Ustad Imdad Khan was one of the most influential instrumentalists of Indian Classical Music.
He helped to establish the Etawah Gharana, which is also known as the Imdadkhani Gharana. Ustad Imdad Khan was born into a musical family. His father was Ustad Sahabdab Khan, the founder of the Etawah Gharana.
Ustad Enayet Khan was a master of Sitar and Surbahar. He developed the ‘Gayaki Ang’ in sitar, which his father had developed for the surbahar and his sons would further develop this, which would come to be known as a trademark of their gharana.
He gave a new dimension to the crafting and manufacture of the sitar and his structural modifications of the instrument are still used in the instruments of today whilst his musical contributions are standardized practice for today’s musicians. The flair with which he played made him one of the greatest musicians of his generation and his legendary recordings illustrate and record the contributions he has made to music. Ustad Enayet Khan was a great ambassador for Indian classical music in India. He popularized the sitar and made it accessible for the general population. This was a time when many of the famous Indian music festivals were started. His music was the soul of India in those times of change and he had a great and unrivalled following throughout the country. This contribution to popular arts and culture can be illustrated by his friendship with Rabindranath Tagore, the legendary writer, artist and poet. Together these two giants of culture put poetry to music to bring it alive in some of the most famous Indian folk songs and anthems. Each inspired the other to take the arts of India to dizzying new heights.
Ustad Enayet Khan dedicated his life to music; He played, taught and lived with an equal passion to strengthen the name of his gharana and the profile of classical music in his country.
Ustad Waheed Khan
One of the greatest musicians in the canon of Indian Classical Music, Ustad Waheed Khan is an important figure in the Etawah gharana’s history. An acclaimed musician on both the sitar and surbahar, Waheed Khan’s life’s purpose was to be a herald for Indian Classical Music; he devoted his life to spreading his music everywhere. Living his life modestly, he made his home in different parts of India for brief periods of time, spreading the innovative style of his gharana with unwavering devotion and elegance. One such initiative included appearance in legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray’s “Jalsaghar” (The Music Room,1958) where Ustad Waheed Khan performs on the surbahar in one of the scenes.A true emissary, he lived well into his 70s and his immense contribution to Indian Classical Music was recognized when he became the first musician to receive the illustrious “Sangeet Natak Academy Award” the highest national recognition given to performing artists in India.
He was the father of Ustad Aziz Khan and Ustad Hafeez Khan. Ustad Hafeez Khan was a celebrated playback singer, known in the film industry as ‘H. Khan Mastana’. His brother, Ustad Aziz Khan would also carry on the family’s musical traditions and go on to make significant contributions to Indian Classical Music
Ustad Hafeez Khan
A select few are born with an extraordinary gift of talent yet, more often, these people end up being oblivious to their own talent, and people are left wondering what would have happened had this person lived up to his full potential. Ustad Hafeez Khan was on of them. He was the eldest son of the legendary musician Ustad Waheed Khan Saab. He not only received extensive training on the sitar and surbahar but also in vocal music. After the independence of India, the patrons of Indian Classical Music that is the Maharajas and Nawabs became commoners and classical musicians suffered as a result. Classical music, at that time, was still a form of chanber-music, and with the demise of the great Ustads like Allahdiya Khan Saab, Abdul Kareem Khan Saab, Enayat Khan Saab, Faiyyaz Khan Saab, the future of a performing classical musician was looking very bleak. It was at this time that Ustad Hafeez Khan decided to enter the Bombay Film Industry as a playback singer to earn his daily bread. He went on to become a celebrated playback singer known in the film industry as H.R Khan Mastana. Incidentally, one of the most famous playback singers of all time, Mohammed Rafi started his playback career as a chorus singer in one of his songs. He also composed music for several films. Ustad Shahid Parvez being his nephew received extensive taleem in vocal music and surbahar from Ustad Hafeez Khan Saab.
Be it as a vocalist or instrumentalist Ustad Hafeez Khan could have easily gone on to become one of the foremost musicians of his generation, yet he never gave it a real try. A rare recording of Ustad Hafeez Khan, present in the family archives, reveals the virtuosity of this talented musician both as a vocalist and instrumentalist. People are left wondering what would have happened had this person perused a career as a performing Indian Classical Musician.
Ustad Aziz Khan
Ustad Aziz Khan is the youngest son of sitar and surbahar maestro Ustad Waheed Khansaab. The young Gunna Bhai, as Aziz Khansaab was lovingly addressed by his family members, was introduced to music at a very young age and as years passed by he received extensive “taleem” (lessons) in the music of the gharana from his lengendary Guru and father Ustad Waheed Khansaab, in vocal music, sitar and surbahar.
He also received some taleem from his equally legendary uncle Ustad Enayat Khansaab.Although his repertoire of traditional taleem was highly enviable, he did not take up sitar or surbahar as a source of lively hood. Instead, he took up music – composition as his profession. However, he never left his “sadana” that is music and performed in occasional concerts from time to time. He became a professional music composer in the Bollywood film industry composing under the pseudonym Aziz-Hindi. Even here his musical talents came to the fore. He enjoyed considerable success while composing for films like “Intezar ke bad,” “parvartan -1949,” “Putli – 1950,” “Actor 1952,” “Thoop Chaon – 1954,” “Danka -1954,” “Chalta Poorza – 1958.” Ustad Aziz Khan also composed music for several other films in partnership with another lyricist and composer, Khaiyyam. In these films, they use to call themselves “Sharma ji – Varma ji.” The very first film that they composed for was a huge hit called “Heer- Ranjha”. A few other films for which the “Sharma ji – Varma ji” duo composed music were “Parda,” “Biwi,” “Pyar ki batein,” etc, which were all musical hits. However, no matter how good he was as a composer or how famous he became as a composer, Aziz Khansaab’s taking up music as a profession did not go down well with his father. Ustad Waheed Khansaab was of the idea that a “gharanadar” and “khandani” musician, who has received so much taleem, must earn his bread through “mujlishs” (concerts) only and not through any other means. Ustad Waheed Khansaad made his displeasure known to his sons and told that he could only be pleased if and only if, he was assured that his grandchild would be trained in the music of the gharana and his grandchild would pick up sitar or surbahar as his profession, so that his grandchild could one day go on to become the torchbearer of the Etawah Gharana.
In fact, after this incident, Ustad Aziz Khan’s life long quest was to train his son. He was demanding and very strict as a Guru. He would often say to his son, the young Shahid Parvez, – “I want you to play like this and I will make you play like this, no matter what it takes.” Often the Ustad’s wife would bring in food and he would forget about the food and go on teaching his son oblivious of the fact that his son would also be hungry. Ustad Aziz Khan Saab was a very hounest man. He didn’t believe in taking students for the sake of it or just to increase the numbers. However, he had quite a few students other than his foremost disciple and son Shahid Parvez Khan; and whoever was fortunate enough to receive his blessings as a student, has become established as a musician in his life. He was very strict but even more honest as a Guru.
However, those that have listened to his sitar or surbahar or to the songs that he has composed will know that Ustad Aziz Khansaab was a true artist; and music was the love of his life.
Ustad Vilayat Khan
Ustad Vilayat Khan stands out as one of the greatest sitar players of all time. He was born in year 1928 in the village of Gauripur (present day Bangladesh). During his lifetime, he became one of the most influential musicians of Indian Classical Music. Several people influenced Khan sahib’s music. Ustad Enayet Khan, his father, Ustad Waheed Khan, his uncle, Ustad Zinda Hussain Khan, his maternal uncle, Ustad Faiyaz Khan and Ustad Abdul Karim Khan deserve special mention in this regard. He developed the “Gayaki Ang” which became his trademark. Khan sahib made several changes to the structure of the sitar and these include the concept of “Gol Jawari”.Ustad Vilayat Khan’s professional career was extensive. He made several international tours, he has numerous recordings, and has scored music for several films, including Satyajit Ray’s “Jalsaghar”.
He was a longtime critic of the political machinations that were behind the awarding of many of India’s honours. He refused the Padmabhushan (one of India’s top civilian honours), and was a longtime critic of the manner in which All India Radio was run. The only title that he ever embraced was the title Aftab-e-Sitar (Sun of Sitar). Ustad Vilayat Khan died of lung cancer at the Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai on March 13th, 2004. He was 76 years of age.
Imdad Khani Gharana
also known as:
Imdad Khani Sitar and Surbahar Gharana
Haddu Khan, Hassu Khan, Sahabdad Khan
There was a Rajput in the middle of the 19th century in Gwalior. At that time there were two leaders of the Gwalior musical darbar, two brothers, Haddu and Hassu Khan. Haddu Khan was a dhrupad, and Hassu Khan was a khyal singer. They have their own unique style, and they practice only at night. Sahib Singh – who was probably a relative of Haddu Khan – was refused as a disciple, so paid for a servant to lock him in the huge bird cage of the room where the brothers practice. He had listend to them to practice every night for 7 years. Once the two brothers were roaming the streets of Gwalior where they heard their style form a house. They wanted to see which disciple of them was practicing, but they found Sahib Singh only. Haddu wanted to kill him, but Hassu made calm him down, because he realized the love for the music in the boy. Sahib Singhet was accepted as a disciple. Later he converted to Muslim so he got the new name: Sahabdad Khan. He also learned from the Senia musician Nirmal Shah, and played the surbahar, invented by himself, and jaltarang as well. He lived in Etawah (so sometimes they call the gharana: Etawah Gharana ) where he was a musician of the Naugaon darbar. He had two sons, the older was Imdad Khan and the younger was Karimdad Khan, both had been thought for twelve years by their father.
Imdad Khan (1858-1920)
Imdad Khan: Raga Darbari Kanada (1904)
Ustad Imdad Khan was born in Agra, as the second generation of what was to become the Etawah Gharana (school) or Imdadkhani , named after the village outside Agra where the family soon moved. He was taught by his father, Sahabdad Khan, a trained vocalist and self-taught sitar player, but Imdad Khan came to greatly develop and define the family style and techniques. Imdad Khan was also trined by the legendary beenkar Ustad Bande Ali Khan (disciple and son-in-law of Ustad Haddu Khan. In the 19th Century, the instrumental classical music of North India was dominated by the Senia style, passed down through the musical dynasty of Miyan Tansen’s descendants, who played in the dhrupad ang. Imdad instead evolved a style based on the newer, more popular khyal singing. It is said that in his youth at Etawah, Imdad practiced on the sitar in a state of chilla (isolation) for some twelve years.
Imdad attained great fame in his lifetime: he played for Queen Victoria in Delhi; he served as a court musician in Mysore (even though he was a northerner and South India has its own classical music, different from that of the north); and he was the first sitar player ever to be recorded. Some of these recordings have been released on CD, on the Great Gharanas: Imdadkhani compilation in RPG/EMI’s Chairman’s Choice series.
He taught the sitar and surbahar to his two sons, Enayat and Waheed Khan. He used to say that his two sons were his two hands, and although both of them played the sitar and the surbahar equally well, Enayat Khan’s specialization was the sitar and Waheed khan’s specialization was the surbahar. Ustad Imdad Khan actually shifted base from Etawah to Kolkata with his two sons and the house in which they lived was named “riyaz”.
Enayat Khan (1894-1938)
Enayat Khan: Raga Bhairavi (1920)
Enayat Khan was born in Uttar Pradesh into a family of musicians. His father was sitar great Imdad Khan, who taught him the sitar and surbahar in the family style, known as the Imdadkhani Gharana or Etawah Gharana, after a village outside Agra where Imdad once lived. He married Basiran Bibi, daughter of khyal singer Bande Hussain, and settled with his family in Calcutta, where, though he only lived to 43, he did much pioneering work on the sitar. For example, he standardised its physical dimensions and added the upper resonator gourd, which is very popular with today’s players (though his own descendants have not kept using it). In a place rapidly developing into an important North Indian centre of the arts, at a time where interest in national culture was strong fuelled by the struggle for independence, he brought sitar music out from its narrow connoisseur circles to new mass audiences. Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore was a musical collaborator and personal friend. Some of Enayat Khan’s recordings have been released on CD, on the Great Gharanas: Imdadkhani compilation in RPG/EMI’s Chairman’s Choice series.
Enayat died young, with four children. His two sons, Vilayat and Imrat, were trained in the Imdadkhani style by other members of his extended family. Vilayat learned the sitar and Imrat the surbahar; both were to become very famous classical musicians.
Vilayat Khan (1927-2004)
Vilayat Khan, Shankar Ghosh (tabla): Raga Darbari Kanada gat (exception)
Vilayat Khan, Kashinath Mishra (tabla): Raga Vilayat Khani Kanada gat (exception)
Vilayat Khan, Sabir Khan (tabla): Raga Sanjh Saravali
Vilayat Khan was born into a family of musicians tracing its pedigree generations back to the court musicians of the Mughal rulers. His father was Enayat Khan (1895–1938), recognised as a leading sitar and surbahar (bass sitar) player of his time, as had been the grandfather, Imdad Khan (1848–1920), before him. Vilayat was taught in the family style, known as the Imdadkhani Gharana, or Etawah Gharana, after a village outside Agra where Imdad lived.
However, Enayat Khan died when Vilayat was only nine, so much of his education came from the rest of his family: his uncle, sitar and surbahar maestro Wahid Khan, his maternal grandfather, singer Bande Hassan Khan, and his mother, Bashiran Begum, who had studied the practice procedure of Imdad, Enayat and Wahid. Vilayat’s uncle Zinde Hassan looked after his riyaz (practice). As a boy, Vilayat wanted to be a singer; but his mother, herself from a family of vocalists, felt he had a strong responsibility to bear the family torch as a sitar maestro.
The Imdadkhani Gharana never added the bass string to their sitar, which is a smaller, lighter instrument, easier to handle, than for example Ravi Shankar’s. In the 1950s, both Vilayat and Ravi worked closely with instrument makers to further develop their respective instruments, but it was in different directions. As a result, their sounds and playing styles were also wildly different. Whereas Ravi Shankar’s sitar was large and vina-like, intended for play across multiple registers using multiple melody strings, Vilayat’s was small, with a clean and metallic sound, completely without buzz; it did not reach to the lowest register; and it perfectly facilitated his enormous playing speed. Also, Vilayat liked to perform without a tanpura drone, filling out the silence with strokes to his chikari strings. There was much more going on in his playing than the melody itself.
When he died from lung cancer in 2004, Vilayat Khan had been recording for over 65 years, broadcasting on All-India Radio since almost as far back and been seen as a master (Ustad) for 60. He had been touring outside India off and on for more than 50 years, and was probably the first Indian musician to play in England after independence (1951). In the 1990s, his recording career reached a climax of sorts with a series of ambitious CDs for India Archive Music in New York, some traditional, some controversial, some eccentric. Towards the end of his life, he also performed and recorded sporadically on the surbahar.
Vilayat Khan spent much of his life living in Calcutta. He was married twice, his first marriage ending in divorce; he had two daughters, Zila and Yaman (named after ragas), and two sons, Shujaat (b. 1960) and Hidayat (b. 1975), who both play the sitar. He was survived also by his younger brother, Imrat Khan, the post-war star of the surbahar field. The brothers played celebrated duets in their youth. Vilayat took few disciples other than his sons; among the best-known are Kasinath Mukherjee, Arvind Parikh and Kalyani Roy.
Away from the sitar he enjoyed horse-riding, pool playing, swimming and ballroom dancing. His successes made him rich, and though he grew more pious late in life, he used to drive sports cars and dress in haute couture, and also collected such various items as firearms, smoking pipes, antique European crockery, cut glass and chandeliers.
Fans and media alike liked to play up Vilayat Khan’s rivalry with and animosity towards Ravi Shankar. However, in calmer moments Vilayat would admit there was not much to it. His animosity for the politics and institutions of India’s cultural life was another matter. In 1964 and 1968, respectively, he was awarded the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan awards – India’s fourth and third highest civilian honours for service to the nation – but refused to accept them, declaring the committee musically incompetent to judge him.
In January 2000, when he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award, he again refused, going so far as to call it “an insult”. This time, his criticism had a slightly different twist: he would not accept any award that other sitar players, his juniors and in his opinion less deserving, had been given before him. “If there is any award for sitar in India, I must get it first”, he said, adding that “there has always been a story of wrong time, wrong person and wrong award in this country”.
Among other honours he turned down was the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. For a while, he also boycotted All-India Radio. The only titles he accepted were the special decorations of “Bharat Sitar Samrat” by the Artistes Association of India and “Aftab-e-Sitar” (Sun of the Sitar) from President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed.
Bimalendu Mukherjee (1925-2010)
Acharya Bimalendu Mukherjee was born in an art-loving Bengali family at Chinsurah West Bengal, on 2nd January 1925. Bimalendu Mukherjee is a learned musician – although he was an Imdadkhani sitar student of Enayat Khan, a full list of his teachers also includes sitarist Balaram Pathak, khyal singers Badri Prasad and Jaichand Bhatt of the Patiala and Kirana Gharanas, Rampur Gharana beenkar Jotish Chandra Chowdhury, sarangi and esraj maestros Halkeram Bhat (Maihar Gharana) and Chandrikaprasad Dube (Gaya Gharana) and pakhawaj drummer Madhavrao Alkutkar. He also studied with Birendra Kishore Roy Chowdhury, the zamindar of Gouripur in present-day Bangladesh, who taught him the moribund sursringar (bass sarod).
Bimalendu Mukherjee is primarily a Sitarist, though he is proficient in almost all traditional Indian instruments like Rudra-Vina, Saraswati Vina, Surbahar, Sursingar, Mandrabahar, Dilruba, Esraj, Tar Shehnai, Sarod and Pakhavaj. He is equally adept in vocal music.
His contributions to the family of stringed musical instruments are the unique “Aditya Veena” – named after his son Budhaditya – and the “Bijoy Veena” – named after his grandson Bijoyaditya. He has also revived the ‘Ektantri’ single-stringed Veena – an instrument referred to by Sharangdev – and the Sur Kanan. Besides, he has experimented, modified and improved the structure and tonal quality of many stringed instruments like the Sitar , Sarod, Surbahar, Rudraveena, Esraj, Guitar, Dilruba and the Veena.
Pandit Mukherjee has been constantly experimenting with the Western and Eastern philosophy of medical treatment. He has created Raga Anandamayee in That Kafi. His son has recorded the Raga in a novel way on the Sitar . This recording, released with the title “Anandamayee” (full of bliss and happiness), has been successfully experimented on patients of hypertension.
Pandit Mukherjee was a member of various organizations such as The International Society of Music Education, AL-MAESTRO and Hindustani Classical Music. He was formerly Additional Director, CRMM SAIL; General Manager M and Q, Bhilai Steel Plant; Vice Chancellor, Indira Kala Sangeet Vishwavidyalaya, Khairagarh (M.P.) (1983-85 and 1988- 91). He also figures in Five Hundred Leaders Of Influence 1997 American Biographical Institute (U.S.A.); Reference Asia 5; Biography International 1991; Learned Asia 1; India Who’s Who 1993-94; International Who’s Who of Intellectuals 1997 and International Biographical Center Cambridge (U.K.) .
(Courtesy of Tóth Szabi)