Gaana Gharana Aur Gup Shup… Chalo Aaj Mehfil Bithaye
“Prem jogan banke sundar piya or chale, prem gagan banke, jogan he jo jogan banke…” these unforgettable lines are sung by the soulful Patiala Gharana vocalist, Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. One cannot forget dazzling Bollywood beauty Madhubala in Mughal-E-Azam (1960) gliding along with this beautiful music. This song has been immortalized by Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan in raag Sohini and it was presented on thumri style.
Indian cinema has come a long way since music was first introduced and songs were played as an embodiment of the situation to mark the true essence of the film. Raag, taal, thumri, and Gharanas formed the backbone of the music in Indian films. They immortalized a film in cassettes and records; as the tune spurred out of the vintage gramophone in the veranda facing the guava tree, it personified in the air and remained there forever, providing relief for the souls around it.
We have been blessed with a plethora of soulful tunes and music that till date stays undefeated. There are countless examples in Bollywood that can be cited as excellent specimens of fine artistry where vocalists and instrumentalists of Hindustani classical music have contributed to the music piece. We have examples of artists such as Begum Akhtar, Saraswati Rane, Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar, Ustad Amir Khan, Naushad, Ustad Bismillah Khan, and Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, among many others.
India is the land where the rising sun is greeted with raagas being played from the heritage abodes near the Ganga ghat. The Gharanas of Indian classical music are the ones that have blessed us with eminent artist taking the culture of our country forward. At the turn of the last century, the practitioners of Hindustani music were challenged by new technologies and new genres of music. However, the new advancement could not spoil the legacy they owned. Instead, they lifted up their spirits and accepted the new technology whole heartedly. From recording in gramophone disks, they adapted to the new-age cassettes and digital recordings. At the same time, films provided musicians and singers a new mode of sustenance.
Several artists from different Gharanas, who were in the practice of singing live or recording in gramophone disks, started recording songs for cinema. So, on this music day, let us pay tribute to the unmatched Gharanas of Indian classical music.
There is a rich culture of Gharanas in Hindustani classical music. These Gharanas have their own basic and traditional style and specific form of music called Gayaki. Every Gharana has its own feature and these features were found emerged from the creative style of the geniuses who created a unique approach to its existing structure and style of playing music. The new approach comprises the specific application of the different nuances of the music, the intonations, the inflections, the pitch, and the tones of the voice.
Ustad Muhammad All Khan is considered to be the advocate of Khyal Gharana singing. His son Ashiq Ali Khan became a famous singer in this genre as well. The most distinctive aspect of this Gharana is its melodic and complex form, which arises out of the rising and falling phrases that make up the entire piece.
The Khyal Gharana of Agra is one of the oldest Gharanas of Hindustani classical music. It was formed in the 13th century and was popularized by Ustad Faiyaz Khan. The early singers of this school were Alakhdas and Malukdas, but its refined form was introduced by Miya Tansen’s contemporary, Haji Sujan Khan. This Gharana played an important role in developing forcefulness and depth in the voice of the singer so that the notes represent resonance and power.
One of the prominent components of this Gharana is the Tappa singing style. This Gharana is famous for both instrumentation and vocal. The singers of this Gharana are also known for signing Khyal. Likewise, the tabla players of Benaras Gharana have their unique style that is entirely different from the style of the other Gharana percussionists.
The Mughal contribution to the music and culture of Gharanas:
It is the only Gharana in the present era which was established in the Bishnupur of Bengal. Its specialty is Dhrupad but other forms are also practiced by the singers of this Gharana.
The founder of this school of music is considered to be Tansen. This is the oldest Gharana in the Khyal genre. Initially, this Gharana was popularized by the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar and his legendary teacher Miya Achpal in the 19th century. The prominent singers of this school are Usman Khan, Chand Khan, Krishna Bisht, and lqbal Ahmad Khan.
This is one of the most notable Gharanas which were instrumental in popularizing the Hindustani classical music. Bol-baant, no sargam, bol-taan, wide range in taans, descending sapaat tans, and alankarik taans are roughly similar, and all of them emphasize mostly on rhythm and melody. The Khyal Gharana of Gwalior was founded in the 19th century. The founders of this Gharana were Hassu Khan, Haddu Khan, and Natthu Khan. They were brothers who were expert of singing Khyal.
This ethereal school of music is famous for both –Toppa and Thumri style of classical style of singing. The Thumri style is related to distinct beauty and ornamentation. The Thumri of Lucknow comprises more decorative musical elements in comparison to the Thumri of Banaras.
This is one of the newest Gharanas of Hindustani music. Because of its recent origin, Thumri, Khyal, and Tappa are among the most popular styles practiced by the singers from this Gharana.
There are many more Gharanas in Hindustani classical music. Although music has no boundary or regional variation, we, as a Nation should take best initiative to care and look after our cultural heritage and take it forward. Ending on a soulful note, “Un Banaras ki Galiyo se, Lucknow ke minaro tak, Jaipur ki ret se, Agra ka makano tak; Sangeet ne hume jodhke rakha hai Miya, Warna is sukhi dil ke taro me mehfil jamti hi kaha thi.”