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Article: Gharana: Gwalior Gharana

By Dhara Ruchir Bakshi

This gharaanaa is the oldest among all the khayaal gaayaki styles and most of the extant styles can be traced back, in one way or the other, to this school of music. This gharaanaa came to be identified with Gwalior, as according to one account, the two doyens of this school Nathan Khan and Peer Baksh settled down in Gwalior. There is some confusion in the name as some sources also mention 'Nathan Peer Baksh' as well as 'Nathe (or Nathu Khan)', related to the former. From most accounts, it appears that Nathan Peer Baksh, son of Makhan Khan moved from Lucknow to Gwalior to seek refuge after his son or son-in-law, Kadir Baksh, was killed by members of a rival musician's (Shakkar Khan) family. He migrated with his grandsons Haddu Khan and Hassu Khan, sons of Kadir Baksh. Most agree that these were the famous Gwalior duo Hassu and Haddu Khan. Bade Mohammad Khan was the other famous singer from about the same time and was originally from Lucknow being Shakkar Khan's son. These two lines were in all probability related and both claimed to be the descendants of the original qawwaal-s.

The distinctive feature of the Gwalior style of singing has been noted as " it's lucidity and simplicity". Others have also stated that this gaayaki is characterized by its serious mien and slow swinging pace. It must be mentioned that the belief in simplicity in presentation is fundamental to the aesthetic view point adopted by the Gwalior gharaanaa and is reflected in various ways in its style, including its raaga repertoire. This gharaanaa specializes in singing familiar and well known raagas such as Alhaiya Bilawal, Yaman, Bhairav, Saarang, Multani, Shree, Bhoop, Kaamod, Hameer, Basant, Paraj, Gaud malhar, Shankara etc. Because of their simple and straight - forward melodic movements, these raagas are 'bade raaga' , providing ample opportunity for expansion, thus holding greater appeal for the listener. The Gwalir gharaanaa pays great attention to singing khyaal-s using the traditional bandish-es. The gharaanaa holds the view that it is the bandish which is of greater importance than the rules that delineate a raaga, as it is the bandish which actually incorporates the raaga and manifests its full melodic form. In fact according to the gharaanaa view, it is the bandish which provides the guidance, as to how the raaga should be sung, since it specifies which are the important notes as well as the note-combinations to be used, and also lays down the manner in which the taal and the melody should be combined and balanced. Knowing 15 or 20 bandishes in the same raag was not considered as something extra-ordinary in this gharaanaa, as a singer's repertoire usually consisted of a much larger number.

Another aspect of this belief, that only the bandish can convey the complete idea of the raaga, is reflected in the practice of singing the sthayi fully and then following it by the antaraa in order to present the whole raaga. Unless the two (sthayi and antaraa) are sung, the artist is not permitted to introduce variations or make any other contribution of his own. After singing the antaraa, the artist commences the improvisation (swara vistaar) by singing the notes in aakaar in vilambita laya. These are known as behlaav and form an important part of the presentation. Then, combinations of the notes forming the raaga are taken in groups and are sung at a faster pace but without changing the basic tempo of the tablaa thekaa. This is known as " dugun ka aalaap ".

After this section of aalaap, the " bol aalaap " is commenced, in which the meanings of the words of the bandish are brought out, as different word combinations are sung to different notes, thus varying both, the words and the note-combinations. These are followed by taans and bol taans. Bol taans are sung at a faster pace using the words of the bandish. Gwalior style is particularly noted for its straight and simple taans, created with the use of double notes and aarohi avarohi sapaata taans. The Gwalior gaayaki is also marked by extensive use of miind, to provide continuity between the words of composition, and this gives a distinctive melodic shape to the singing. Usually most of the badaa khyaal-s in this gharaanaa are sung in tilwaadaa taal, jhoomaraa taal aadaachautaal or ektaal while drut bandish-es are normally in teen taal or ektaal.

The best known artists belonging to this school are Baalkrishnabuaa Ichalakaranjiikar, Pt. Vishnu Digambar Paluskar, Nisaar Husain Khan, Ramkrishnabua Vaze, Shankar Rao Pandit, Krishna Rao Pandit, Eknaath Pandit, Rajabhaiya Punchhvale, Vinaayak Rao Patwardhan, NarayanRao Vyas, Pt. Omkarnath Thakur, Gulam Kader Khan, D.V.Paluskar, Malini Rajurkar, Veena Sahasrabudhdhe, and Ullhas Kashaalkar.

Technical words used in the article :

gharaanaa: A school of music (vocal/instrumental/dance)

Gaayakii : It is the style of singing.

Khayaal : Khayaal (imagination), is a form as well as the style of singing in Indian Classical Music, with an expansive and systematic elaboration/improvisation of the combination of swara, taal and lyrics - with the basic intention of presenting the aesthetics of the raaga.

Raaga : It is the abstract melodic framework of included notes (swaras)

vilambita (laya): The slow (tempo).

behlaava: Improvisation.

Taal : Taal is a cycle of a specific number of beats, represented by a specific set of bol-s.

Thekaa: The basic cycle of a taal, played on the tabla to accompany the performer (singer/instrumentalist).

aalaap: Improvisation singing aaa.... .

bol aalaap: Improvisation using the words of a composition.

taan: a (faster) passage of notes.

bol taan: a taan using the words of a composition.

Bandish : It refers to a musical composition in a raaga, set to a taal.

drut bandish: a composition in fast tempo.

Sthayi : The first part of composition is known as sthaayi, which typically remains within the lower and middle octaves.

antaraa : The second part of composition is known as antaraa, which typically covers the middle and higher octaves.

Qawwaals : Qawwaali is a form of singing, meaning 'a song in praise of God'. The singers of qawwaali are called the qawwaals.




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