Gharanas of Indian Classical Music

In common jargon, ‘Gharana’ means a ‘family’, ‘strong tradition’, a culture of group, to name a few. In painting, we have definite ‘schools’ of painting. However, there are no gharanas in the field of literature. While in the world of Indian Classical Music, gharanas are well-linked up, in the early stages with a family or families and have a component of ‘khandani’ pride.
The right of belonging to a specific Gharana of Hindustani Classical Music, endows a feeling of pride for a performing Guru, musician or artist. Speaking rather frankly, this entitlement of belonging to a gharana certainly used to bestow some “crown” or place of pride to a musician; say even a 50-100 years ago since his performance was a genuine testimony to the discipline, features, style, personality, musical culture, tones, compositions of the’ gharana’ he represented. Nowadays, we have several benchmarks left to “evaluate” a musician with reference to his assertions of belonging to a gharana. Now, it has turned more into a matter of prestige and panache to establish one’s musical personality by connecting it up with some gharana.
With considerable metamor­phosis comprising of mixture of gharanas and styles as well as the unpredictable turns which Indian classical music is taking and will take under the pressure of various dominant forces in future, it may be of some academic interest to observe diverse facets of gharana music and to understand what is left of these gharanas now and the direction in which (if any) they are leading in future.
Let us directly acknowledge that when, even in this era of rush, pressure advertising and agitation, Gharanas of Indian Classical Music has not completely lost its relevance. There must be some quality in the music of gharana which (even for outdoor show) lures the performing artist/ musician. This helps us to scrutinize the concept, foundation and features of gharana music.
For Khayals (modern genre of North Indian Classical Music, the Gwalior Gharana, for example, was connected with recognized names like Haddu Khan, Hassu Khan, Bade Mohammad Khan, the Sahaswan Gharana- Mustaque Husain and Fida Husain, Agra Gharana- Gulam Abbas and Faiyaz Khan, Jaipur Gharana- Alladia Khan, Rajabali Khan, Mohammed Khan, Patiala Gharana- Alia Fattu and Kale Khan and so on to name a few.
By agreement, we do not have a Gharana of Classical Music in India if its existence does not go back to 4- 5 generations. The other characteristic is that the master persona or originator of the gharana must have a great musical personality who by the pure quality of his voice or melodic tone and does perfect “riyaz” (musical practice) or practice based on sound talim (training of music) from great masters yields an unique style of music and voice reproduction.
In musical families, this discipline and mastery would be transferred and passed down from father to son or succeeding family generation after generation. This is called as ‘guru-shisya’ ritual which has sustained diverse gharana styles of Indian classical music. Time and again, the family line ends or weakens out and the gharana tradition then is taken forward by the groups of followers who studied the art as outsiders and not as associates or blood relations of the creator of the gharana style.
Each gharana of Hindustani classical music has its own characteristic and arty discipline following definite rules and methods in musical performance. Every gharana of Indian classical music originates from the ‘nature’ and ‘quality’ of the voice or instrumental tone of the originator. Classical music in India has unquestionably a formalistic base. All gharana of classical music and its compositions have fulfilled the test of the formalism thus endowing it a logical basis.
Music lovers through the history, have appreciated gharanas of Indian Music which not only showed perfectness of form but also attained some grade of fine-tuning and intricacy in the practical design and style. Thus, we have panaches built on swar or tanas or laya with variable prominence on each of them. Thus, we have a great variety of gharanas advanced over the last 400 years or so starting with former Dhrupad Banis—Dagari, Gaudiya, Khandari and Nauhari. The gharanas connect both to vocal and instru­mental music. By way of illustration, one can refer to many gharanas like Itawah Gharana, Jaipur Gharana, Agra Gharana, Lucknow Gharana, Gwalior Gharana, Indore Gharana, Patiala Gharana, Kirana Gharana, Benaras gharana, Rampur gharana to name a few.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *