Gharanas in Indian Classical Music is an age-old tradition. All the Gharanas have distinctive styles and manner in which they sing the notes. There are different Gharanas based in different regions, and their styles are also highly influenced by the creative style invented by one master that goes on to be emulated by his students. This Guru-Shishya concept is called ‘Gharanas’ in Hindustani Classical Music. They also devised new style by improvising on the existing musical structures , and giving it new form through different approach and interpretation.
Gharanas in Hindustani Classical Music are divided in two major categories – ‘Khyal’ and ‘Thumri’, based on the singing style or known as ‘Gayaki’ in Hindustani Classical Music. Here’s the list of Gharanas in Hindustani Classical Music –
1. Gwalior Gharana –
This is one of the oldest Gharanas of Indian classical music and has simple singing style, melody, and rhythm. Most of the songs from this Gharana are ‘Bandishes’, that use a variety of ‘Tans’. Miya Tansen had started it, and some of the most notable musicians are Krishnarao Shankar Pandit and also Raja Bhaiyya Poonchwale. Moreover, contemporary artists like Meeta Pandit, Shashwati Mandal, and Vasundhara Komkali, are exponents of Gwalior Gharana.
2. Agra Gharana –
Agra Gharana is rooted in Nauhar Bani, which is traced back in 1300 AD. The style of singing is distinguished by exuded deepness in the voice, which makes the compositions soulful, creating a resonating effect. It was founded by Haji Sujan Khan and also by Ustad Ghaghe Khuda Baksh. The most notable singers are Faiyaz Khan, Khadim Hussain Khan, and Zohrabai. Waseem Ahmed Khan and Bharathi Prathap are also famous exponents of Agra Gharana active today.
3. Kirana Gharana –
This is the most prolific Gharana in Indian classical music. The singing style predominantly focuses on the perfect intonation of ‘Swaras’. It has roots in the foundation by Ustad Bade Ali Khan, who was a player of ‘Rudra Veena’. The most notable exponents of Kirana Ghara are Bhimsen Joshi, Firoz Dastur, and also Prabha Atre. Furthermore, Sumitra Guha and Sanhita Nanda are active exponents of Kirana Gharana.
4. Bhendi Bazaar Gharana –
Bhendi Bazaar Gharana is one of the old Gharanas in Indian Classical Music. It came into the picture in the year 1890. The founders of this Gharana are Chhajju Khan, Nazir Khan, and Khadim Hussain Khan, and its roots are in the ‘Bhendi Bazaar’ area of Mumbai. The singing style entails the use of ‘Merukhand’ system of extended ‘alaps’. The most renowned disciples of Bhendi Bazaar Gharana are Lata Mangeshkar, Manna Dey, and also Begum Akhtar.
5. Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana –
This is predominantly Khayal singing. Alladiya Khan started it in the late 19th century. Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana is famous for its unique Layakari, and also the rich repertoire of ragas. The singing style is quite different from other Gharanas. While in other Gharanas notes are simple, in this one they are quite oblique with filigree involving neighboring notes. Contemporary disciples of this Gharana are Ashwini Bhide Deshpande, Raghunandan Panshikar, Shruti Sadolikar, and also Sanjay Dixit.
6. Patiala Gharana –
‘Patiala Gharana’ is one of the Gharanas in Indian Classical Music, which was founded by Ustad Fateh Ali Khan, and also Ustad Ali Baksh. This Gharana uses greater rhythm play and by Layakari with idiosyncratic ‘tans’. Patiala Gharana has both kinds of singing – ‘Thumri’ and ‘Khyal’. The most famous exponents of Patiala Gharana are Pakistani ghazal singer Gulam Ali, and also the contemporary singer Shafqat Amanat Ali. Both the Pakistani singers have also garnered enormous fame in India.
7. Rampur-Sahaswan Gharana –
Rampur-Sahaswan Gharana is Indian Classical Music Gharana, with its roots in towns of Rampur and Sahaswan (North Uttar Pradesh), which Ustad Inayat Hussain Khan had founded. The singing style is more like Gwalior Gharana and features medium-slow tempos, a full-throated voice, and also intricate rhythmic play. The most famous disciples of this Gharana of Indian Classical Music are Pandit Ganpat Rao and also Arun Bhaduri. In popular music or Bollywood, Hariharan, Sonu Nigam, and Shaan have also done many renditions which have a characteristic style of Rampur-Sahaswan Gharana.
8. Indore Gharana –
This Gharana was founded by Ustad Amir Khan. The singing style is the amalgamation of the styles and essence of the singing of legends like Abdul Wahid Khan, Aman Ali Khan, Rajab Ali Khan, and Abdul Karim Khan. Furthermore, the songs have slow tempo raga development, melody, and rare use of ‘Tihai’. Prominent exponents include names such as Sultan Khan, Singh Bandhu, and Pandit Amarnath.
9. Mewati Gharana –
This is a Khyal based music apprentice clan in Indian classical music, which was founded by Ustad Ghagge Nazir Khan of Jodhpur. The Gharana had gained prominence only after Pandit Jasraj rose to fame with his classical renditions. Compositions of Mevati Gharana depict Sufi and Kirtankar influences, and the songs have theistic and spiritual elements. Some of the most famous exponents of Mewati Gharana are Pandit Abhyankar, Smt. Kala Ramnath and also Pandit Aravind Thatte.
10. Sham Chaurasia Gharana –
This is the most modern Gharana in Indian Classical music, which is known for its vocal duets, most notably represented in modern times by musician brothers Nazakar and Samanat Ali Khan. Chand Khan and Suraj Khan had founded Chaurasia Gharana way back in 16th century. Also, in the words of Ustad Shafqat Ali Khan, “It is a Dhrupad Gharana with Khyal ka Andaz.”
All the singing Gharanas have their peculiar style of rendition and they influence contemporary music too. Moreover, while the fame and hullaballoo of contemporary Bollywood songs are more of an epiphany (except some great compositions), but renditions of Indian Classical Music are timeless. There are also Tabla Gharanas in Indian classical music, which altogether becomes a different and interesting subject of research.