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The Rudra Veena of Ustad Asad Ali Khan -Beenkar of Alwar- असद अली खान

Asad_Ali_Khan_02

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असद अली खान

ASAD ALI KHAN – BEENKAR OF  ALWAR

The Rudra Veena is probably one of the oldest sacred musical instruments of the global heritage of sacred music.
The Rudra veena is very well known and till nowadays frightened for her
mystic and mighty spiritual auratic power and the end of any
type of musical questions and theories.Here one can find the operating mind expressed as pure Sound !

The mighty  Godess Sarasvati is Master of Rudra Veena.
Her portrait is even mounted on ancient bas reliefs dating back
to 1000  B.C.

Basically the rudra veena is not bound to style, because her style is worshipping god and initialisation of deeper type of inner meditation  for religious communication.
It is well known that in In ancient sacred music of India many Gharanas
(Music Traditions) exist but one should not forget that In the science
of music one has to make a difference between science (the discourse about matters) and religion (the discourse to god) therefore  it,s at least obsolete for asking about style in a serious manner.

The inner discourse, which is perfectly demonstrated by Beenkars of Rudra Veena is not bound by any rule,with one exception :execution of truth by the order of perfection.
(Ram51 Ed.)

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The Rudra Veena maestro Asad Ali Khan spoke to Deepak Raja on January 11, 2000.

I belong to the Jaipur Beenkar gharana, founded by the 18th century beenkar, Shahaji Saheb. Rajasthan has been our home for several centuries even before Shahaji Saheb; but my ancestors had a long sojourn in Golconda-Bijapur in South India, after which we returned to Rajasthan. My father, Sadiq Ali Khan, was a musician at the Alwar and Rampur courts. He had studied with my grandfather, Musharraf Khan, who was trained by my great-grandfather, the legendary Rajab Ali Khan.

At Alwar, my father’s colleagues were people like Allah Bande Khan (the grandfather of Nasir Aminuddin and Nasir Moinuddin Dagar), and Sageer Khan (the son of Wazir Khan of Rampur). After retirement from the service of the Court, my father settled down at Rampur, where I was born in 1934. In 1962, my father agreed to join the faculty of the Bhatkhande College of Music at Lucknow. He died there in 1964. Until my father’s end, I lived and studied with him, traveling whenever necessary for concerts.

A sense of futility
In 1965, after my father’s demise, I took up an assignment at the Bharatiya Kala Kendra in Delhi, whose founder, Sumitra Charat Ram, was keen on preserving the Been art. Despite her efforts and mine, we could find only two students for the Been – neither of them has pursued the art — while the Sarod, Sitar and Khayal music got an encouraging response. I spent a futile three years there, and quit.

In 1971, the Delhi University invited me to join its music faculty with similar hopes, and similar results. I served there for 14 years, teaching music theory and the Been style of the sitar, which nobody plays any longer. But, I could not get a single student to learn the Been. By the early 1980’s I was traveling frequently for concerts, and unable to manage my teaching responsibilities. So, without waiting to reach the age of mandatory retirement, I quit in 1985 to devote myself to performing.

The futility of our efforts to enlarge the Been’s following, in the 1970’s does not surprise me. But, we had to try. The university classroom is, in any case, not the ideal place for shaping performing careers. Those who seek a degree in music, do so to qualify for jobs as music teachers or as producers with radio or TV. Many ladies study music at university while they wait for Mr. Right to turn up. The Dhrupad revival was, at that time, nowhere on the horizon; the international market for the Been was just about opening up. For propagating the Been art, that was not a promising context. Even if the limitations of the university framework did not exist, it would have been near impossible to find students who would submit themselves to the grooming of a beenkar, as my gharana views it.

The making of a beenkar
In our gharana, we take the students through a three-stage training. The Been is an instrument of the Dhrupad genre and the gayaki ang (the vocalized idiom). Therefore, a musician is first trained as a vocalist, starting with the science of breath control and intonation, going on to the knowledge of a sufficient number of ragas, and several Dhrupad compositions in each raga. At the second stage, he is trained to apply his knowledge of Dhrupad vocalism to the sitar, which is an easier instrument to handle than the Been. At this stage, he also acquires knowledge of the rhythmic intricacies and improvisatory movements of the Dhrupad genre.

Once he acquires sufficient command over the sitar, he is allowed to graduate to the Been. We make sure that by this time, the student can sit for hours in the posture of Vajrasana. He has to start with Vajrasana from the first day, long before he holds the sitar. The transition from the sitar to the Been is a major one, as the most important aspects of playing – the mizrab angle, the placement of strings — are different. Gradually, the transition is achieved and the craft is transferred to the Been. Beyond this, the instrument teaches the musician its own art. An exceptionally talented and dedicated student can take upto ten years to go through these three stages of grooming. Most will take fifteen years to become respectable performers, if they have it in them.

The tenacity required to go through this process is rare in present times. The days of hereditary musicianship are over; so are the days of princely patronage, which supported it. Given the many options today, who would want to make a choice that may, or may not, pay off after ten or fifteen years? Music is no more a way of life. It is a profession. Musicians want recognition and money fast, and they will learn what gives them a quick take-off. Moreover, today people want to learn music – whether Been or something else – with different objectives. It may have nothing to do with wanting to perform.

Today, the Dhrupad revival is a reality. The Been has a good international audience. There exists sufficient motivation for promising talent. But, the journey is long and arduous. By the grace of God, I have five disciples today – four foreign, and one Indian. I would be very happy if even one of them emerges as a competent performer.

Performance format
In my gharana, we present the raga in complete Dhrupad format – alap, jod, jhala, Dhrupad, followed by tar-paran. Beenkars who perform a partial or abbreviated protocol betray their poor training – it doesn’t matter how they justify it. Our training has equipped us in all the departments of the art. We don’t compromise with this format for any audience, Indian or foreign. Also, we make very sparing use of the tihai, which has become so popular today. A tihai has to be a spontaneous and effortless improvisation. The pre-composed tihai belongs to the territory of dance and solo percussion. In our gharana, we consider the tihai a childish gimmick.

In the choice of Dhrupad compositions, we have been taught that the compositions with four stanzas are meant for vocal rendition, while the twin-stanza compositions are suitable for the Been. After rendering the two stanzas – the sthayi and the antara – we begin the tar-paran improvisations. The tar-paran belongs to the jod-ang (the jod facet) of the improvisations with percussion accompaniment. A competent Beenkar knows hundreds of parans composed for the Pakhawaj, while his percussionist knows hundreds of stroke-patterns on the Been. They anticipate each other’s improvisations, and co-operate to create the most effective rhythmic impact. And, the advanced stage of the tar-parans, played with chikari punctuation, is the jhala ang (jhala facet/ movement).

Almost 50% of the success of our concert depends on the quality of the Pakhawaj accompaniment. The required rapport with the Pakhawaj player is best achieved through a stable partnership with one percussionist. For years, I have played with Gopaldasji, who once also accompanied my father. He is getting on in years now. I am developing a younger Pakhawaj player from Mathura. There are many soloists in India, but very few good accompanists. An accompanist has to be virtually groomed for that role by senior vocalists or beenkars.

I have done what I could for the Been. Its future is in the hands of God and the future generations.

(© Deepak S. Raja 2000)

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mK

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Like so many music lovers in India and abroad I was saddened at the news of the demise of Ustad Asad Ali Khansaheb, the great Beenkar. I want to share these memories and thoughts about him.

My first recollection of Ustad Asad Ali Khan is from around 1972/73 when I saw him play in a small theatre in Calcutta. Khansaheb was at that time about 35 years of age but he was not well known in Calcutta and Beenkars, scarce for many years, had become a rarity in the musical world. He belonged to an hereditary musical family and, his father, Sadiq Ali Khansaheb had been one of the deeply respected musicians in the decades straddling independance, but was a remnant of the ‘ancien regime’ of Alwar and Rampur, that courtly musical culture that had receded into a semi mythic domain (…..).

Beenkars, though given a reflexive acknowledgment, were not the darlings of the box-office and with the erosion of the older patronage times were tough. He was very slim and straight and had a look of slightly defensive pride and was firmly buttoned into a black sherwani, shiny with age and meticulous care. It was still the polite mode for musicians to wear white kurta-pyjama, maintain a modest demeanor and, in the cold of winter add a black sherwani or kashmir shawl and I have the impression that Khansaheb kept to this dress throughout his life. As I got to know him better in the following years I realized his slightly haughty distance was a customary, if awkward, formality that served to sheild an otherwise shy, simple and kindly man. His compact face and firm expression would suddenly give way to a luminous smile and his vices were confined to consuming small quantities of rich mughlai food and smoking 555s. I found his Been playing fascinating to watch. The technique was powerful and demanding but he achieved a wonderful balance with long strong fingers, but perhaps the most remarkable thing was how he tuned his Been to his body, using his breath to expand against the tumbahs and regulating and inflecting his Sa the subsequent swaras Before his performance, as he circulated a little among the gunis and rasikas and patiently listened to several of the junior artistes, he appeared singular and a little lonely.

I don’t remember what Raga he played that first time but once I had understood that the Been, when amplified through pretty crude PA systems, such as may still be found in many concert venues in India, presents acoustic problems that demand an extra element of participation from its listeners, I was impressed with the sense that I had just encountered some sort of revelation of what lay at the heart of the instrumental music of North India. It was partly a compelling fulness in the articulation of the swaras despite what might otherwise be characterised as a twangy sound; strong in the base and thin in the higher registers. With this instrument he played the Ragas with a pure simplicity, quite free of arbitrary flourishes, that allowed the subtlest inflections of swaras to be filled with the moving energy. Later when I heard his Been un-amplified and was even able to put my ear to its gourds the incomparable richness of the sound became evident. It inspired me to make a Been and, although I had no expertise, it actually turned out to be OK and became part of a barter in which I got a Vicki 50cc moped, Manfred Junius took my Been and Peter Row acquired Manfred’s Kanai Lal Been. It was also an element in my early friendship with Khamsaheb. After that first concert I had gone to meet him to ask about the instrument and how to make it, taking measurements and peering at the jovari. Despite his profound intitial scepticism he was chuffed that I had tried and we agreed that I should try to make a good instrument for him one day. Unfortunately this never happened, largely because I was never convinced that I had any way of improving on the traditional instrument and I procrastinated in the expectation that one day I would have a brain-wave or two on the subject.

In 1975 Asad Ali Khansaheb stayed with me in my apartment at Lake Market for about ten days during which time I was able to observe his playing and the instrument in some depth. During that time Fahimuddin Dagarsaheb often dropped by as they were old friends and had much in common musically. One memorable evening they played and sang a very extended and vilambit Khamaj, full of beautiful vistars that showed fresh pathways into the Raga. In this context I recall Dr SK Saxena recounting an impromptu meeting in his Friends Colony apartment in Delhi in the late ’50s early 60’s, when Rahimuddin Dagar was requested by Sadiq Ali Khansaheb to listen to his son, the young Asad Ali, and comment on his playing. He began playing Bhimpalashi and after some time Dagarsaheb’s mood came and he began to sing, becoming deeply immersed in the raga. Dr Saxena claims that the music was so powerful and profoundly beautiful that it became overwhelming and after some time he had to beg Dagarsaheb to stop. Sadiq Ali Khansaheb was in tears and exclaimed ‘Arre! This is Been ang Beta . . this is how one should try to play!’. Although it was not spelt out as a formal arrangement I was led to believe that Asad Ali Khansaheb had benefitted from repeated musical contacts with Dagarsaheb and had absorbed fundamental ideas from him which changed his baaj, giving the Seniyah base of his family parampara a Dagar vocal quality in its presentation.

In 1978 our friend Brad Warren, who was learning sarode with him, took Asad Ali Khansaheb on an extensive tour of Austrtalia for six weeks. He played lots of concerts and was in fantastic form. The performance in the Sydney University chapel was particularly memorable for me as I had dragged along uncles and aunts who, while avid classical music fans, were mildly indifferent to Indian music. After two hours of one raga (again Bhimpalashi and wonderfully played) they surfaced at the interval a little glassy-eyed but convinced that he was one of the greatest musicians they had ever heard. Nevertheless, they pleaded, two hours was enough for the time being.

Khansaheb was not one to happily compromise on form or content but he was a regular artist at AIR in Delhi where time constraints had to apply. The Office and studios at AIR, which had assumed many of the functions of the Gunijankhanas of the princely courts, were blessed zones in those days, before Mrs Gandhi’s assassination and the brutish security regime that followed. The director for classical music through the time I used to visit was Sunil Bose, a thumri singer, whose office overflowed with musicians coming and going from work or just dropping by to share gossip and songs and consuming vast quantities of tea and cigarettes and if you were a music lover you were welcome. I was invited into the spaciously minimalist and relaxed studios to listen to someone or others recording session several times but the most memorable was in 1981. I met Khansaheb at AIR he called me into the studio and proceeded to play a brilliant Darbari Kanhra for 25 minutes followed, I think, by Desh.

I rarely saw him after that and never again had a chance to confer with him about Beens and music but he has remained prominent in my mind for all his qualities and because his vani stands clear as a realisation of the Veena-ang paradigm that has informed music in India for millenia. The fine point, the bindu, where breath and vani meet, humming like a bumble-bee, moving freely along the dandi from tumbah to tumbah, revealing in ahata naada the subtle and majestic dynamic of prana moving as musical thoughts and emotions.

[Courtesy of Jonathan Barlow ,a disciple of Pandit Radhika Mohan Moitra]

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Asad Ali Khan

(Hindi: असद अली खान) (1937 – 14 June 2011) was an Indian musician who played the plucked string instrument rudra veena. Khan performed in the style dhrupad  and was described as the best living rudra veena player in India by The Hindu. He was awarded the Indian civilian honor Padma Bhushan in 2008.

Khan was born 1937 in Alwar in the seventh generation of rudra veena players in his family.[1][2]  His ancestors were royal musicians in the courts of Rampur, Uttar Pradesh, and Jaipur, Rajasthan  in the 18th century.[3][4]  His great-grandfather Rajab Ali Khan was head of the court musicians in Jaipur and owned a village land holding.[4][5]  His grandfather Musharraf Khan (died 1909) was court musician in Alwar, and performed in London in 1886.[4][6]  Khan’s father Sadiq Ali Khan worked as a musician for the Alwar court and for the Nawab  of Rampur for 35 years.[6][7]  Khan grew up in a musical surrounding and was taught the Beenkar gharana  (stylistic school of rudra veena playing) of Jaipur and vocals for fifteen years.[2][4][6]

Khan was one of a few active musicians who played the rudra veena and the last surviving master of one of the four schools of dhrupad, the Khandar school.[3][4][8] He performed in many countries, including Australia, the United States, Afghanistan, and Italy and several other European countries, and conducted music courses in the United States.[8][9] Khan worked at All India Radio, taught the sitar in the Faculty of Music and Fine Arts at the University of Delhi for 17 years, and continued to train students privately after his retirement.[7][8][10] Students of Khan who perform include his son Zaki Haidar and Bikramjeet Das of Kolkata.[11][12] Khan criticized the lack of willingness among Indians to study the rudra veena and has more foreign than Indian students.[9] He was involved in preserving the playing of the instrument, which he believed to be created by the deity Shiva, and performed for SPIC MACAY, promoting Indian classical music to young Indians.[2][4][8] Khan was a Shi’a Muslim.[13]

Khan received several national awards, including the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1977 and the civilian honor Padma Bhushan in 2008, which was awarded by Indian President Pratibha Patil.[3][14][15] He was described as the best living rudra veena player in India by The Hindu and lived in Delhi.[6][16]

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DISCOGRAPHY

ASAD ALI KHAN
1. AUVIDIS-UNESCO CD D8021: NORTH INDIA/ Instrumental Music. 1989. Raga Gunakali, 15’41; the rest of the disc is devoted to other instruments and artists.
2. AUVIDIS-UNESCO CD D8025: NORTH INDIA/ Instrumental Music of Mediaeval India. 1991. Raga Darbari Kanada; Raga Gunakali (different version than on D8021).
3. NIMBUS NI 5601: Asad Ali Khan: Raga Jaijaivanti. Recorded 1997; released 1999.
4. NIMBUS NI 5633: Asad Ali Khan: Ragas Purvi and Jogiya. Recorded 1997.
5. MUSIC TODAY CD-A91012: Asad Ali Khan: Maestro’s Choice. 1991. Ragas Asaveri and Malkauns.
6. MUSIC TODAY CD-A97014: Asad Ali Khan: Rarely Heard Ragas. 1997. Ragas Badhans Sarang and Bhinna Sadja.
7. INDIA ARCHIVE MUSIC IAM CD 1080: Ustad Asad Ali Khan/ Rudra Bin. 2005. Raga Miyan Ki Todi.
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#  Kinnear, Michael S. (1985). A discography of Hindustani and Karnatic music. Greenwood Press. p. 26. ISBN 0-313-24479-0.
# Jump up to: a b c Tandon, Aditi (2005-04-26). “Preserving the fading tradition of rudra veena”. The Tribune. Archived from the original on 11 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-21.
# Jump up to: a b c Massey, Reginald (1996). The Music of India. Abhinav Publications. p. 144. ISBN 81-7017-332-9.
# Jump up to: a b c d e f “Artiste profiles” (PDF). Nagaland University. June 2008. Archived from the original on 26 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-21.
# Jump up Miner, Allyn (2004). Sitar and Sarod in the 18th and 19th Centuries. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 132. ISBN 81-208-1493-2.
# Jump up to: a b c d Bor, Joep; Bruguiere, Philippe (1992). Masters of Raga. Berlin: Haus der Kulturen der Welt. p. 28. ISBN 3-8030-0501-9.
# Jump up to: a b “While my veena gently weeps”. The Financial Express. 2006-10-01. Retrieved 2009-03-21.
# Jump up to: a b c d “Profound notes”. The Hindu. 2006-02-18. Retrieved 2009-03-21.
# Jump up to: a b Sharma, S.D. (2006-10-29). “Sole exponent of Rudra Veena”. The Tribune. Retrieved 2009-03-21.
# Jump up Mohan, Lalit (2005-05-17). “Protect art of making Rudra veena: Ustad”. The Tribune. Retrieved 2009-03-21.
# Jump up to: a b “Rudra veena exponent Ustad Asad Ali Khan passes away”. Daily News and Analysis. Press Trust of India. 14 June 2011. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
# Jump up Bhatia, Ravi (2008-04-20). “Artist’s passion for female faces”. The Tribune. Retrieved 2009-03-21.
# Jump up Naqvi, Jawed (16 June 2011). “Battling the cultural Taliban”. Dawn. Retrieved 18 June 2011.
# Jump up “Padma Awards”. Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (India). Retrieved 18 June 2011.
# Jump up Sengupta, Debatosh. “Image Number: D-2488”. National Informatics Centre. Retrieved 2009-03-21.
# Jump up Pratap, Jitendra (2006-01-20). “Where are the songs of strings?”. The Hindu. Retrieved 2009-03-21.
http://www.rudraveena.org/Links.html
http://www.rudraveena.org/Saraswati_Tantuvadya_Kendra.html(RudraVeena Builders)

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The Rudra Veena

Traditional sources call the Rudra Veena the mother of all stringed instruments. This beautiful instrument is said to have been made by Rudra – or Shiva – who in some versions of the tale used his intestines to make the st…rings. Which is why the Rudra Veena is said to resonate to the primordial sounds of the Cosmos.

Other stories say that in making this instrument Shiva took inspiration from the form of Parvati. Thus the dandi is the hand of Parvati, the frets are her bangles and the strings Shiva’s hair.The pegs symbolize the Sapta Rishis, and the bridge is Sarasvati. The two gourds are Brahma and Vishnu.

It is also said that while Ravana was playing the Rudra Veena for Shiva, one of the strings broke and Ravana replaced it with a nerve from his body as he did not want to bring the recital to an end.

Historically the Rudra Veena seems to have come into being in the 13th or the 14 century AD. Initially,we are told, it was called Been and was used by certain types of ascetics in their meditation.

Ustad Bande Ali Khan 1830-1895 is said to be one of the greatest Rudra Veena exponents of all time. He was a court musician of Indore. Ustad Bande Khan played in both the Drupad and Khayal styles. Many Beenkars – players of stringed instruments – in Pune light incense at his grave on Guru Poornima day and offer flowers in homage and seek the blessings of one in whose hands the Rudra Veena is said to have taken the form as seen today.

Of his disciples, Ustad Murad Khan and Ustad Rajab Ali Khan were famous as singers as well as Rudra Veena players.

(Courtesy Vasudev Murthy)

असद अली खान

ASAD ALI KHAN – BEENKAR OF  ALWAR

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THE IMDADKHANI GHARANA गृह खनि

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1. INTRODUCTION

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(1848-1920)

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
century.

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.

 

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Imrat_Khan_and_Vilayet_Khan

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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
etc.

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.

5. CONCLUSION
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.

REFERENCES

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)

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ImdadKhani_02

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                                                       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

Ustad Wahid 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 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.

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                                                          Imdad Khani Gharana
also known as:
Etawah Gharana
Imdadkhani Gharana
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)

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ImdadKhani


Rag Sohani

Madhukauns_xno

 

 

*

Thaat  – Marwa
Jaati – Audav – Shadav
Vadi Swar – ध
Samvadi Swar – ग

Time – Evening.

Aaroh – सा ग मे ध नी सां।
Avroh – सां नी ध मे ध ग मे ग रे॒ सा।
pakad – मे ध नी सा रे॒ सा, सा नी ध मे ध ग। ( ़ this indicates that it is a lower octave (मंद्र सप्तक)

 

 

Naubat_ Khana Gate, Fatehpur Sikri