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Article: Gharana - 2: Kirana Gharana

By Dhara R. Bakshi

Note: Kirana Gharana is pronounced as kiraanaa ghaaraanaa.

This gharaanaa derives its name from Kiraanaa, a place near Kurukshetra, the birth place of Khan Saheb Abdul Karim Khan, who is regarded as the founder of the school. It is claimed that the famous binkaar Bande Ali Khan, too , belonged to the same tradition as did his sons, Haider Khan, Murad Khan and Nanhe Khan.

According to Abdul Karim Khan, this style of singing was influenced by the tantakaari ang, the distinctive style of playing music on the bin, with emphasis on the resonance of notes and maintaining note continuity through devices such as the mindh and the gamak. And it was this influence which led the gharaanaa to focus on note elongation and to emphasize resonance in the notes sung. In addition, importance was also given to aalaap and vilambit laya in the course of he performance. Although Abdul Karim Khan did not receive formal training from Rehmat Khan of the Gwalior gharaanaa, the latter influenced Karim Khan's presentation style by his overall approach which required music to have a direct appeal. This lead Karim Khan to adopt the extended development of the raaga, as a means of attaining this objective. One can also notice the influence of the saarangi on the style of voice production in the gharaanaa and in the taans as well as to the relatively limited importance paid by the Kiraanaa singers to the bandish. In addition, Ustad Abdul Karim Khan adapted the Carnatic style of singing sargam-s for Hindustani music. Some critics have contended that this approach came to be adopted because of the characteristics of Abdul Karim Khan's voice.

In Kiraanaa gharaanaa, the main focus is on the note and its melodiousness, the importance of aalaap, and the gradual development of the khyaal, taking one note at a time for presentation, thus gradually revealing the raagaa form. It gives great importance to the role of individual notes and their study. in the Kiraanaa style of singing, the swara is used to create an emotional moods by means of elongation. In this gharaanaa, the practice of rendering the aalaap as bol-aalaap using the bol-s of the bandish and not in aakaar is followed and the justification offered for this is that the link between the development of the raagaa and bandish gets broken when the aalaap is sung in aakaar without using the words of the bandish. The style emphasizes singing badaa khyaal in a slow tempo, in order that the aalaap can be gradually developed. However, while Karim Khan himself preferred a slow tempo, later followers of this style slowed the khyaal singing even further.

As a result of the gharaanaa stress on the swaras, and its predilection for singing the aalaap, the gharaanaa repertoire consists mainly of raaga-s like shuddh kalyaan, darbaari, malkauns, bhimpalasi, todi etc., which are well-suited for aalaapchaari. It also shows preference for raaga-s which are purvaang pradhaan. Besides these there are quite a few Carnatic raagas, such as jogia, which feature in the raaga repertoire adopted by this gharaanaa.

The Kiraanaa singers focus on the sentiment and mood of the raaga. They also direct their attention towards the emotional aspect (rasa) of the bandish. Therefore the saahitya aspect is not so important in this gharaanaa. This also leads to less attention being paid to singing the words clearly. A second consequence, according to one opinion, is that the number of bandish-es are limited in the Kiraanaa repertoire as compared to the Gwalior gharaanaa which takes pride in its large number of bandish-es.

Besides this, Kiraanaa music also has greater emotive appeal because of the use of voice modulation in singing swara-s, in comparison to other gharaanaa-s. Thus, in raaga development the gharaanaa does not use either permutations of key melodic centers or the holistic approach but concentrates on bringing out the mood of the raaga.

Another aspect of Kiraanaa gharaanaa is that it is one of the few gharaanaa-s of khyaal gaayaki which includes thumri singing as a part of its performances. However, the style of the Kiraanaa thumri-s too, is different and does not correspond to the purab ang or the punjab ang, but certainly leans towards the khyaal style. As such it is note predominant (swar pradhan) rather than highlighting emotion (bhav pradhan). Although other thumri styles have a laggi element at the end, the Kiraanaa style does not have this element, because this brings out the dormant taal element through doubling of the tempo, and taal is secondary in gharaanaa approach.

Hirabai Barodekar, a disciple of Abdul Wahid Khan, her sister Saraswati Rane, and Manik Varma, trained by Hirabai's brother Suresh Babu Mane, were well known artistes from the next generation of Kiraanaa singers. The late Ustad Faiyaz Ahmed Khan and his brother Ustad Niaz Ahmed Khan also represent this style.Among the renowned artists of the Kiraanaa gharaanaa, are Sawai Gandharva, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Firoze Dastur, Shrimati Gangubai Hangal, Basavraj Rajguru, Roshan Ara, Sarasvati Rane and Prabha Atre.

Technical words used in the article :

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

Gaayakii: 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.

Binakaar: Bin (a string instrument) player.

Tantakaari ang: distinguished characteristics of string instruments.

Mindh: Continuous sliding from one note to another.

Gamak: Set of melodic embellishments generally expressed as shaking of a tone.

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.

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.



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