Sonic Saturdays

Amir Khan sings raags Nand Kalyan and Rageshree in his inimitable style

In the third part of our series on the All India Radio National Programme of Music recording, we listen to the founder of the Indore gharana.

In our series on broadcasts of the All India Radio National Programme of Music (you can read the first and second parts here and here), a 90-minute programme with alternate broadcasts of Hindustani and Carnatic music over weekends, this week we listen to the maestro Amir Khan, the founder of the Indore gharana and a major inspiration for successive generations of vocalists and instrumentalists. Suleiman Khan accompanies him on the tabla.

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Amir Khan sings a raag that is known variously as Nand, Nand Kalyan, Anandi and Anandi Kalyan. The Indore gharana maestro thus lends his inimitable stamp to this raag, commonly heard from Jaipur-Atrauli and Agra gharana vocalists.

The first composition is a vilambit or slow khayal, composed by Mehboob Khan “Daras Piya” which has become part of the repertoire of most vocalists trained to sing this raag. But, as is the case with some other compositions common to several gharanas, this one is also sung in different taals according to the vocalists’ preferences. Amir Khan chooses to sing the composition in Jhumra, a cycle of 14 matras or time-units.

He dwells greatly on the exploring the Purvaang section, which can be loosely translated as the lower tetrachord, before moving higher in the octave and gradually introducing sargam or solfège. While elaborating on the sargam patterns, Amir Khan employs many unpredictable twists as he traverses from swara or note combinations in the Uttaraang, loosely translated as upper tetrachord, but adroitly delves immediately into the depths of the lower octave.

As always, Amir Khan’s taans or swift melodic passages have moments of unpredictability while appearing almost seamless. He relieves the musical tension built by the series of taans by reverting to free-flowing melody.

The second composition set to the 12-matra Ektaal has been composed by Amir Khan. Unfortunately, the tonic changes at around 56.33” into the track as the recording speed seems to have changed.

The next raag chosen by Amir Khan for this National Programme of Music is Rageshree. The composition is set to a madhya-laya or medium-paced 16-matra Teentaal. In his introspective style, Amir Khan elaborates through free-flowing melody using the words of the song-text before changing to sargam sequences sung at different tempi. He concludes with a series of aakaar taans using the vowel “aa”.

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