A Living Portrait of India
Vocal Hindustani Music:khayal
The oldest of the gharanas and one to which most others can and do trace the origins of their style is the Gwalior gharana. Some sources believe that Nathan Khan and Peer Baksh settled in Gwalior and evolved the style features that led to this gharana. Others claim that individuals named Nathan Peer Baksh and Nathe Khan founded the gharana. The accepted version is that Nathan Peer Baksh left Lucknow (in Uttar Pradesh) to escape the professional rivalry with Shakkar Khan that had taken an ugly turn. He arrived in Gwalior with his grandsons Haddu Khan and Hassu Khan.
Another great khayal singer, also originally from Lucknow, was Bade Mohammed Khan who brought the tăn into khayal singing. Haddu and Hassu Khan further enhanced the style into the Gwalior gharana as we recognize it today. Haddu Khan's son, Rehmet Khan (1852-1922) was a widely acclaimed singer who liberated the Gwalior style from the methodical form it followed to the emotional style that he preferred.
Apart from the emphasis on notes (swara), another distinguishing feature of the gharana is its simplicity because through simplicity alone can the singer and the listener arrive at the full beauty and impact of the raga. One means to this is of course the selection of well-known ragas so that the listener is saved the effort of trying to identify the raga. Attention can be focussed on the raga and the presentation of it. While the khayal singer does include raga vistar (melody expansion) and raga alankara (melody ornamentation to enhance the beauty and meaning of the raga, there is no attempt to include the tirobhava feature i.e. using melodic phrases to obscure the identity of the raga in the interest of adding interest or mystery to the listener's experience.
The singing itself places bandish (the composition) at the heart of the presentation because of the gharana's belief that the full melody of the raga and guidance on its singing is provided by the bandish. The sthayi section is sung twice before the antara, to be followed by the slow tempo of the swara vistar (note expansion). This slow rendition of the notes is known as the behlava, and is sung from Ma in the lower register to Pa in the higher register, following the pattern of the aroha (ascent) and avaroha (descent) of the raga.
The behlava is divided into the sthayi (from Ma to Sa) and antara (from Ma, Pa, or Dha to Pa of the higher register). The dugun-ka-alap follows in which groups of two or four note combinations are sung in quicker succession but the basic tempo remains the same. Thus the drumming pattern of the table (i.e. tabla theka) is left unaltered.
The bol-alap is next in which the different words of the text are sung in different ways, to be followed by murkis in which notes are sung with ornamentation to a faster pace. Bol-tăns entail the formation of melodic sequences with the words of the song. The other tăns, including the gamak, follow.
The sapat tăn is important to the Gwalior style and refers to the singing of notes in a straight sequence and at a slow pace.
Both dhrupad and khayal singing evolved in Gwalior and there are many overlaps. In the khayal style there is one form, mundi dhrupad, that incorporates all the features of dhrupad singing but without the mukhda. The Gwalior gharana usually prefers to begin ragas in the medium tempo (madhya laya) rather then the slow tempo (vilambit laya) as is the norm with other gharanas.
The chosen ragas include Alahya-Bilawal, Yaman, Bhairav, Sarang, Shri, Hamir, Gaud-Malhar, Miya-ki-Malhar.
Renowned singers of this gharana are Balkrishnabua Ichalkaranjikar, Vishnu Digamber Paluskar, Nissar Hussain Khan, Shankarrao Pandit, Krishnarao Pandit, Eknath Pandit, Pandit Vinayakrao Parwardhan, Narayanrao Vyas, Dattaraya Vishnu Paluskar, Sharat Chandra Arolkar, and Pandit Omkarnath Thakur who authored the Sangitanjali (a text on the nature of ragas).
Contemporary singers include Pandit V.R. Athavale, Pandit Vinaychandra Maudgalaya, Pandit Jal B8alporia. Others while not performing in the pure Gwalior style nevertheless retain the distinctive features of the gharana. Malini Rajurkar is an example of this. Her singing reveals influences of the Kirana style as well as that of the independent singer Kumar Gandharva but the clear rendition of each word in the manner of a short tăn stamps her singing with the Gwalior tradition.
The emphasis on elongating the notes and the importance to their resonance is a distinctive feature of this gharana. The founder, Khan Sahab Abdul Karim Khan (1872-1937), believed in the serene rendition of the notes as when playing the bin (a plucked instrument with resonators at both ends). Rehmet Khan of the Gwalior gharana is believed to have influenced Ustad Karim Khan's adoption of the direct style of presentation. Some have also indicated the influence of the sarangi (a string instrument) on the voice features of this gharana.
Kirana is the birth place of the Ustad, and situated near Kurukshetra. Ustad Karim Khan served as a musician at the Baroda and the Mysore courts and had a tremendous influence on the music of western India.
His own somewhat nasal voice led him to adopt the Carnatic style for singing the saptak (the seven notes). He preferred to sing in the slower tempo and stress the bol-alap through consonants because his own voice was not wholly suited to the lower register of notes. The aesthetic appeal was thus never marred and the continuity he desired was achieved. Other singers of the gharana, including his disciple Sawai Gandharva, used the upper register far more often than the lower. Some later singers, including Roshanara Begum and Bhimsen Joshi, sing almost equally in both octaves.
This factor has influenced the choice of ragas to those appropriate for the emphasis on the alap rather than the bandish. Karuna rasa (pathetic or sympathetic mood) is the foremost of the sentiments expressed through renditions that extend the notes gradually and use kanas (grace notes ) to fully express the raga. However, the lack of emphasis on voice projection and words led to a blurring of the lines as far as different ragas were concerned.
The emphasis on swara has led to a rather subtle tempo and rhythmic pattern, both factors allowing for the sentiment and mood to be highlighted. Due to this, the words of the bandish are not clearly enunciated and there are only a few in the Kirana gharana repertoire.
Kirana includes thumri singing in its repertoire, but with the emphasis on swara rather than on emotion and an absence of the characteristic lilt of thumri singing.
Contemporary singers like Bhimsen Joshi cannot be said to sing in the pure Kirana style because of the diverse influences apparent in his singing. The swara orientation is not as strong and the tempo is no longer latent as is characteristic of the gharana. However, the emotional appeal of the pure Kirana style remains and so do the Kirana compositions.
Ragas traditionally performed by the gharana: Shuddha Kalyan, Darbari, Malkauns, Bhimpalasi, Todi, to name a few. Some ragas of Carnatic music - for example, Jogiya - are included in the repertoire.
Renowned singers include: Bhimsen Joshi, Abdul Wahid Khan (he taught Begum Akhtar), Surash Babu Mane, Prabha Atre Malati, Hirabai Barodekar, Gangubhai Hangal, her daughter Krishna Hangal, and Pandit Feroze Dastur.
Born in Atrauli and singing at the Jaipur court, Alladiya Khan (1855-1943) made both cities famous through the gharana he founded. His training in both dhrupad and khayal genres enabled him to bring the complexities of both into his style that can be best described as filigree. The variation of note patterns serves to enhance the rendition of notes that are linked in a characteristic manner. This in no way impinges on the individual quality of the notes. The tempo is consistently slow (but not as slow as in the Kirana style), with the varying note patterns providing the rhythm.
Many feel that the gharana follows an intellectual approach, and this does not lend itself to layakari (the development and play of tempo). However, the intellectual nature of presentation in no way precludes laya. It is very much in existence through the changing pitch and volume and the note patterns themselves: these factors comprise what Deshpande terms 'functional rhythm'.
The time factor permeates every performance. The attention to every beat and half-beat is a vital feature of the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana and requires both singer and musician to co-ordinate on the sam. The sam is the most emphatic beat of the tabla (a drum) and is usually played at the beginning of the rhythm cycle and at other specific moments. The singer maintains this rhythm by coinciding the singing with the sam. In khayal singing, the sam may occur at the end of the mukhada (first melodic phrase) and the singer and musician do not consistently coincide their emphases. The Jaipur-Atraul gharana has elevated this to an art form by arriving at the emphatic beat in a specific but unexpected manner. By remaining aware of every beat and fraction of a beat even at the slow tempo, the singer can impart a great aesthetic value to the experience. Alladiya Khan was a master at this technique.
The bandishes are always the traditional ones, and no new compositions are present in the repertoire. The text itself comes second to the melodic movements and tempo of the bandish, the gharana preferring to emphasize the meaning and emotion through note combinations. Thus the musical element dominates. The akar (singing a part of the raga through the vowels 'aa') is not traditionally used (the singer Kishori Amonkar is an exception). The bols (words) are sung, and ornamented with tăns and murkis, the ornamentation being in drut laya (fast tempo). The bada khayal is sung spanning all three registers and the antara section is omitted. While vakra tăns (spiralling notes to embellish the raga) are to be found in the presentation, there is a rarity of other tăns like kanas (grace notes) and sargam tăns (sargam - a term comprised of the solfege names of the first four notes, and denoting all seven notes).
The choice of ragas reflects the school's selectivity of manner and presentation: acchob (rare) ragas and jod (compound) ragas like Sampurna-Malkauns, Basant-Kedar, Basant-Bahar, Kaunsi-Kanada and Nat-Kamod.
The founders of the Agra gharana, Shamrang and Sasrang, were originally dhrupad and dhamar singers, and khayal singing was a later addition by Ghagge Khuda Baksh. The latter was trained by Nathan Peer Baksh of the Gwalior gharana. The emphasis on layakari in the Agra gharana is a result of these beginnings. Ustad Faiyaz Khan (1886-1950), widely regarded as the founder of this gharana, trained under both his maternal grandfather Ghulam Abbas and Natthan Khan of the Agra school. His paternal great-grandfather was Ustad Ramzan Khan 'Rangile' and Faiyaz Khan's singing is often considered the 'Rangile' style rather than the Agra style.
The Ustad himself had a powerful voice and sang in a low register. Through voice modulation as well as stress on alap and the rhythmic patterns in the bandish, he was able to evolve a distinctive style. The nom-tom alap remains popular with this gharana as does the use of ekar rather than akar. He employed a clear style in the enunciation of words which were sung (many believe they were spoken) according to the mood of the section. To add drama, he would often allow for a break in the rendition - a stylistic device is known as phut.
It was Faiyaz Khan's belief that a raga should commence with the note shadja and that the note be accorded a focal position. While classical texts accepted the shadja as the first note, in practice the opening note (graha swara) was not necessarily the shadja. The current practice of commencing the alap with Sa began with Ustad Faiyaz Khan.
This gharana begins a raga with an extended alap replete with ornamentation, and the mukhda and other phrases are sung with equal emphasis. The bandish in medium tempo follows. The words of the text are accompanied by close attention to rhythm and in vilambit laya. The words of the sthayi may be repeated, if the section is deemed too short. Bol tans are next, sung at double or even treble the past tempo, followed by other tans in madhya laya. The ladant (duel with the tabla) is occasionally included, and at the close, a khayal sung in drut laya.
Like the Jaipur gharana, the Agra school emphasizes the melodic aspect of the raga, while the importance of the bandish is a legacy of the Gwalior style. Again, the sam (the most emphatic beat of the tabla) and the arrival at it by musician and singer is an interesting and much anticipated feature.
Renowned singers of this school include Sharafat Hussain Khan (believed to have a style very close to Faiyaz Khan's), Ustad Vilayat Hussain Khan 'Agrawale', Latafat Hussain Khan, Yunus Hussain, Vijay Kitchlu, Jyotsna Bhole, Deepali Nag, Sumuti Mutatkar. A famous independent singer taught by Faiyaz Khan was Kanhaiya Lal Sehgal. Besides, the Agra gharana had a profound influence on luminaries such as Pandit Bhatkhande.
The well-known Allu-Fattu are often credited with establishing this gharana even though Kale Khan is the person responsible for this achievement. He provided preliminary training to both his son Ali Baksh (Allu) and Ali's friend Fateh Ali Khan (Fattu), and Kale Khan's illustrious teachers continued the instruction. The Patiala gharana is considered an off-shoot of the Delhi gharana.
Bade Ghulam Ali Khan (1901-69) brought glory to this singing tradition, and brought much of his own style into the gharana's stamp. His voice had an astounding range and clarity, and the effortless execution of even the most complex ragas is a strength that others owing allegiance to this gharana lean toward.
Close attention is paid to swara, layakari, and bols (perfect enunciation being a hallmark of the gharana). Bade Ghulam Ali Khan's ability to span all three octaves while singing the satta-tăns (short spiralling patterns) and the shortened tonal aspect brought glimpses of the tappa (fast-paced, short, light-classical songs of Punjab) into this classical forte. However, this was appropriately restricted to the chhota khayal. But he did grant a special place to both tappa and thumri (a light classical style) singing, and went on to sing thumris in the tappa style! The clear enunciation of notes notwithstanding, there was and is an abundance of ornamentation that has been criticized as being entirely superfluous. Sargams often replace the text, and note-combinations are used in unconventional placements. The gharana regards these as being integral to the mood and emotion of the raga which became in many ways a means of expressing the singer's response to the raga.
The shringara rasa of the tappas and thumris is a fitting mood for the singing style of this gharana, and the raga selection in its repertoire reflects this.
Malkauns, Bhupali, Gunakali were the ragas of Bade Ghulam Ali's choice, and even today, these and similar ragas such as Megh Malhar predominate.
The founder of this gharana is Ustad Inayat Hussain Khan (1849-1919), son-in-law of Haddu Khan of the Gwalior gharana, and disciple of, among others, Ustad Bahadur Hussain Khan (Tansen's descendant). Inayat Hussain Khan was born in Sahaswan and lived his professional life in Rampur. The city was an important centre of dhrupad singing, and together with the fact of Haddu Khan's teaching, there are definite influences of dhrupad, and the Gwalior gharana. For example, the prevalence of ornaments in the Rampur-Shahaswan singing style. Hence, the gharana is regarded as an off-shoot of the Gwalior gharana.
The alap of this gharana is structured and uses techniques like the behlava to express the mood of the raga. The bandish section stretches through the sthayi and antara sections, both of which are sung fully. The text is sung clear and strong so as to wholly reveal its literary nature. This is followed by sargams, akars and bols sung in all three tempos - slow, medium, and fast. Madhya laya is the preferred tempo for raga performance. These features are very similar to those of the Gwalior gharana.
The tăns of this gharana are executed in the characteristic style, and end on the shadja. The number of tăns popular in the Rampur-Sahaswan style is far more than in the other gharanas, and includes sapat-tăns, halaq-tăns, chut-tăns, bol-tăns, and tappa tăns.
Apart from the classical ragas in its repertoire, the gharana favours tarana singing. This is clearly seen in the choice of ragas like Bhupali-Todi, Bahadur-Todi, Yaman, Kedar, Bihag, Gaud-Sarang, Chhaya Nat.
The renowned singers of this gharana include Ustad Mushtaq Hussain Khan (trained by Inayat Hussain Khan himself), Ustad Nissar Hussain Khan (Inayat Hussain Khan's son-in-law), Ghulam Mustafa Khan, Rashid Khan, Ghulam Sadiq Khan, Shanno Khurana, Sulochana Brihaspati.
The semi-classical music of this gharana founded by Ghagge Nazir Khan avoids the accepted norm of elongating words for the sake of rhythm. Sargams and tăns (such as sapat-tăns) are employed to provide the versatile link that is needed. The literary context and the emotional appeal of the raga are stressed, and expressed through the use of techniques such as the murchhana technique (enhancing the raga by changing the tonic).
This last is important because of the emphasis on the mood (rasa, bhava) of the raga. This school can be said to be bhava-pradhan (pradhan: of great importance, superior), and as such the ornamentations and the structure of the performance are geared to ensuring a continuity. This, the akar is conspicuous by its absence (as in the Kirana gharana). The bandish section is characterised by the notes and the raga itself that span all three octaves; the mukhda of both sthayi and antara sections is developed through bol alap. This part closes with the mukhda of the sthayi section, to be followed by layakari and ornamental devices particularly the gamak and sapat tăns.
The bhajan quality of the performances is a feature unique to this gharana, and reveals a religious influence.
The gharana is represented by Pandit Jasraj and his two disciples Sanjeev Abhyankar and Rattan Sharma. This is reminiscent of Ghagge Nazir Khan and his two disciples, Nathulal and Chamanlal. Nathulal's nephew Pandit Motiram continued the tradition through his sons Pandit Maniram and Pandit Jasraj.
A lesser-known but influential gharana, the Bhendi Bazar school was founded by Ustad Chhajju Khan, Ustad Nazir Khan and Ustad Khadim Hussain Khan in the late nineteenth century. They trained under their father Dilawar Hussain Khan, and Inayat Hussain Khan of the Rampur-Sahaswan gharana.
The akar sung in an open voice, the prevalence of merkhand (intricate singing of the sargam), and a clear articulation and intonation are the characteristic features of this gharana. Stringent practice of breath control permits the singer to sing a long stretch of the raga without pausing.
Renowned singers of this gharana include Ustad Aman Ali (who specialized in complex sargams without sidelining swara and laya, and taught Lata Mangeshwar, known also as 'India's nightingale'), Anjanibai Malpekar (who taught Kishori Amonkar).