A prominent exponent of the Banaras gharana, vocalist Rasoolan Bai (1902-1974) was known for her renditions of forms like thumri, dadra, tappa, chaiti, and kajri. But she was always drawn to the tappa form since her childhood, as her training was under Shammoo Khan of the Ghulam Nabi "Shori Miyan" lineage (Shori Miyan is regarded as the progenitor of the tappa form included in Hindustani music). She describes her training in an interview conducted by musicologist Acharya Brihaspati.


As is evident from the interview, Rasoolan Bai’s aesthetics were moulded by the music of Purab or the music of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, but for her Purab essentially relates to the music of Banaras. She does not differentiate between the Banaras style and those from neighbouring regions. In fact, she is not self-conscious about her love for Banaras. Asked about women singers who were seniors and contemporaries, Rasoolan Bai once again primarily restricts her references to those who lived in Banaras. However, she mentions male vocalists from outside Banaras.

Rasoolan Bai is reticent through the interview and is reluctant to be drawn into any controversial discussion about other musical styles and musicians, much as Brihaspati tries to elicit her opinion on such topics. In fact, she seems to lose interest in the interview, at times countering Brihaspati’s line of questioning.

On the one hand, she believes that mediocrity has crept into Hindustani music performance, particularly due to the guru-shishya parampara or master-disciple tradition losing its original character and significance and the growing influence of institutionalised music education. But on the other, she feels happy that music-making has increased over the years.

This clip includes a vocal recital by Rasoolan Bai.