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Gharanas of Classical Music in Hindustani Style


A gharana is a system  of social organisation linking musicians or dancers by lineage or apprenticeship, and by adherence to a particular musical style. The word gharana comes from the Urdu/Hindi word ‘ghar’ which means ‘family’ or ‘house’. It typically refers to the  place where the musical ideology originated. It also indicates a comprehensive musicological ideology and differentiates from one school to another. It directly affects the thinking, teaching, performance and appreciation of music. Here, we are giving some famous “Gharanas of Classical Music in Hindustani Style ” that will help in the understanding of Indian classical music.

Agra Gharana

The Khyal gharana of Agra is among the oldest. It came into existence during 13th century. Agra gharana was popularised by Ustad Faiyaz Khan. Alakhdas and Malukdas were the early singers of this school, but its refined form was brought forward by Miya Tansen’s contemporary Haji Sujan Khan. Agra gharana places great importance on developing forcefulness and deepness in the voice so that the notes are powerful and resonant.

Jaipur-Atrauli Ghrana

Muhammad All Khan is considered as the proponent of Khyal Gharana singing. His son Ashiq Ali Khan became the famous singer. The most distinctive feature of this gharana is its complex and melodic form which arises out of the involuted and undulating phrases that comprise the piece.

Benares Gharana

Tappa singing style is an important component of this gharana. This gharana is famous for both singing and instrument playing. The singers of this gharana are also known for Khyal singing. Similarly the tabla players of Benaras gharana developed their unique style.

Proponents of this school

Pakhawaj and Mrudang players Pandit Madan Mohan of Benaras, Pandit Bholanath Pathak and Pandit Amarnath Mishra etc.

  1. Sarangi players : Shambhu, Shishir, Gopal Mishra, Hanuman Prashad Mishra, Narayan Vinayak etc. Banarasi Thumri and Khyal singing are notable features of Banaras school.
  2. Shehnai players : Ustad Bismillah Khan, Pandit Ram Sahai.
  3. Tabla players : Pandit Kanthe Maharaj, Pandit Anokhelal, Pandit Kishan Maharaj, Pandit Gudai Maharaj etc.

Contributions of the Mughals to Indian Culture and Polity: An Introduction

Betiya Gharana

The Betiya gharana of Bihar was dedicated to singing of Dhrupad in the royal court of Betiya during the 19″ century. As this gharana is related directly to the son of Tansen, hence it can be considered to be a branch of the Senia gharana. Bhendi Bazar Khyal is the speciality of the Bhendi Bazar gharana of Maharashtra. Ustad Chhajju Khan is called the founder of this school. Famous singers related to this school are – Ustad Aman All Khan, Anjanibai Malpekar, Lata Mangeshkar, Shashikala Koratkar.

Bishnupur Gharana

It is the only gharana in the contemporary times which was established in the Bishnupur of Bengal. It is mostly known for the Dhrupad singing but others styles are also popular.

Dagar Gharana

It is a very famous gharana of Dhrupad. It has cordial relations with the teachers of Vrindavan. It flourished in the Braj region and made the Dhrupad as a medium of venerating to God. Origin of this gharana can be traced to Bairam Khan. The jugalbandi of Dhrupad gharana is one of the most famous characteristic of this school.

Delhi Gharana

Tansen is considered as the founder of this school. This is the oldest gharana of Khyal. Originally this gharana was established by the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar and his teacher Miya Achpal in 19th century. Famous singers of this school are Chand Khan, Usman Khan, Krishna Bisht, lqbal Ahmad Khan.

Fatehpur Sikri Gharana

Two brothers Jainu Khan and Jorawar Khan founded this school of Gharana Dhrupad singing during the reign of Mughal emperor Jahangir. Dulhe Khan, Madar Bakhsh, Chote Khan and Ghasit Khan are the famous singers of this gharana.

Gwalior Gharana

This is among the famous gharanas which were instrumental in popularising the Hindustani music. Bol-baant, bol-taan, no sargam, wide range in taans, alankarik taans, descending sapaat taans are roughly similar, emphasise on melody and rhythm, preference for simple (as opposed to compound) ragas, repertoire of bandishes and variety of tans. The Khyal gharana of Gwalior was founded in 19′ century. The founders of this gharana were: Haddu Khan, Hassu Khan and Natthu Khan, the three brothers, who were expert at Khyal singing.

Jaipur Gharana

Khyal singing of Jaipur gharana is famous in the contemporary times for the use of instruments. It was founded by Ustad Amir Khan.

Kirana Gharana

This famous school of Khyal singing was founded by Ustad Abdul Karim Khan in 19th century and its name is derived from a small habitation ‘Kairana’ of Shamli district of Uttar Pradesh. This gharana is also connected to Gopal Nayak who was the court musician of Allauddin Khilji. Famous singers include: Bhannu Nayak. Nayak Dhodhu, Ustad Bande Ali Khan, Abdul Vahid Khan, Sawai Gandharva, Roshanara Begum, Surashri Kesarbai etc.

Lucknow Gharana

This school is famous for both Thumri and Thappa style of singing. Its Thumri is related to the beauty and distinct ornamentation. The Thumri of Lucknow contains more decorative elements when compared to the Thumri of Banaras.

Maihar Gharana

This originated from Rampur gharana, This is famous for the processing of ragas and singing style. This is also famous for instrumentation. This was founded by the Sarod player Allauddin Khan. The disciple of Allauddin Khan, Pandit Pandit Ravi Shankar Ravi Shankar, is a world-famous sitar player.

Mewati Gharana

This is among the popular schools of Indian music. Its founder was Ghagge Nazir Kham. Following are the famous singers related to this gharana. Pandit Jasraj, Maniram, Sanjeev Abhyankar, Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, Bhajan Sopori etc.

Patiyala Gharana

This is a new gharana of music. Due to its recent origin, Khyal, Thumri and Tappa are among the styles practised by this gharana. Rampur Gharana This is the last link in the Senia gharana, and is related to the Dhrupad style similar to the other schools. The practitioners of this school also settled near Kolkata. Ustad Enayat Khan was the founder of this school.

Senia Gharana

Tansen’s heritage of music is carried forward by this gharana. The gharana is related to the Dhrupad School of singing. Tarsen’s three sons Bilas Khan, Surat Sen and one daughter Saraswati strengthened this gharana.

Comparison of different schools of Art

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