Sonic Saturday

Listen: Tabla maestros of the Farrukhabad gharana seamlessly blend styles

This lineage exploits the entire vocabulary of the percussion instrument.

Continuing our series on tabla gharanas, we move on to the second khula baaj or open/resonant style, called the Farrukhabad baaj. Named after the city of Farrukhabad in Uttar Pradesh, this gharana or lineage and its style was created by Haji Vilayat Ali Khan, son-in-law and disciple of Mia Bakshu, the founder of the Lucknow gharana.

The Farrukhabad gharana exploits the entire vocabulary of the instrument and its practitioners have composed works for virtually every form existing in traditional solo repertoire. In other words, compositions created by practitioners of this gharana also act as a bridge between the band or bund baaj – the closed or less resonant style – and the khula baaj.

Keramatullah Khan

This track features Keramatullah Khan, a notable figure of the 20th century and a direct descendant of the founder of this gharana.

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Ahmed Jan Thirakwa

It is an established fact that tabla players since the 19th century have tried to enrich their repertoire by learning compositions that were created by maestros who did not necessarily belong to their own gharanas. One of the prominent tabla players to have adopted an eclectic approach was Munir Khan of Laliana, (Meerut district, Uttar Pradesh), who was a disciple of the Farrukhabad gharana but also received training in the Delhi, Ajrada, and Lucknow style.

Believed to have learnt from 24 gurus, he trained several disciples, many of whom became path-breaking soloists, accompanists, teachers and composers. Many tabla players therefore address the lineage of disciples started by Munir Khan as the Laliana gharana. His style is also called the Bambai gharana, because Munir Khan trained several disciples in Bombay (now Mumbai).

Ahmed Jan Thirakwa was pre-eminent among Munir Khan’s disciples. Making his debut in Bombay at the age of 16, he went on to storm the world of Hindustani music with his artistry.

Here is a film recording of him presenting the band baaj and khula baaj.

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Amir Hussein Khan

Munir Khan’s nephew and disciple Amir Hussein Khan not only excelled as a performer, but was also a prolific composer and teacher.

We conclude with a track in which he plays some of his compositions.

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