Gharana tradition : Patiala Kasur

Kasur (also spelt Qasur), a small town near Lahore, Pakistan, is in a region which was famous for the ‘melody in its air and soil’. A large number of Sufi saints spread their message of love in the area. Their lives were imbued with music and they often presided over baithaks of rich classical fare. The great poet Bulleh Shah was from these parts and gave to the world his priceless sufiana kalam. The region saw the advent and growth of a great cultural era in which the dhrupad and khayal styles flourished along with the beautiful kafi, tappa and the rich folk music of the region.

It was from this ambience that Ustad Ali Baksh Khan and Ustad Kale Khan, with their abundant talent, brought to Patiala the fragrance, beauty and elegance of their own well established gharana of Kasur. From this fusion, emerged a powerful and melodious gayaki which was emphasized, clear and with meaningful bols, sparkling tans, intricate layakari and gamak. Genres of thumri and ghazal have a special place in this gharana. At the turn of the 20th century, Ali Baksh Khan was blessed with a son who was later to become the legendary Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. Other sons followed – Ustad Barkat Ali Khan, Ustad Mubarak Ali Khan and Ustad Aman Ali Khan. All these brothers, greatly inspired by the beauty of their inherited style, made their own invaluable Patiala-Kasur gayaki.

Bade Ghulam Ali Khan – Thumri – Ab Tohe Jane Nahi Dun :  Download

Ajoy Chakrabarty – Thumri – Kaisee Bajayee Re Shyam :  Download

Jagdish Prasad – Thumri – Chanchal Naar Dodhari Kataria :  Download

Parween Sultana – Khayal – Det Badhai Sain Ko :  Download

Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan (1901-1968) was a giant in the world of music who brought the Patiala-Kasur gayaki to the international stage. His singing was chiseled by years of devoted riyaz and infused with his phenomenal creativity in an endless striving towards perfection. His was a full throated, highly cultivated and melodious voice in which he rendered intricate layakari with ease and dignified finesse. Bade Ghulam Ali Khan’s contribution to the khayal thumri form was phenomenal and full of creativity. He also created the magnificent Surmandal, an instrument that has today become popular with most leading vocalists of the country.

.. more songs of other Gharanas »


Four excavated gems

Presented here are a few precious songs painstakingly dug out from my collection of old vinyl records, specially on requests from readers of this blog. Believe me, it took me a couple of days to find these nuggets.

Barkat Ali Khan – Pilu – Kaisa Jadu Daala :  Download

Faiyaz Khan – Bhairavi – Bajuband Khul Khul Jaye :  Download

Siddheshwari Devi – Dadra – Kaun Albele Kinare Jhamajham :  Download

Vilayat Hussain Khan – Patdeep – Rasiya Re :  Download


Live Concerts

The experience of attending a live concert of Indian classical music cannot be compared with any other musical experience. The accolades, the loud Wah Wahs, shouts of Kya Baat Hai may alarm a westerner who is attending an Indian concert for the first time. What lack of etiquette and shameful behavior of the audience, he may think. The travel to India guide book was true after all. Indians are really a noisy and uneducated bunch of natives. Disturbing or interrupting an artist’s live performance (of classical nature) may not seem to be a proper thing to a western eye. But classical music of India thrives on such ‘noise’. No Wah Wahs, no Kya Baat Hai, and the concert may be safely termed as a flop show. This is especially true if the performer is a vocalist. Enjoy the live concerts posted below.

Prabha Atre – Bhairavi – Bairan Ratiya Neend Churave :  Download

Arati Ankalikar – Dadra – Sajanwa Kaise Aaun Tore Paas :  Download

Kaushiki Chakrabarty – Bhairavi – Saiyan Nikas Gaye :  Download

Purvi Parikh – Kalavati – Sawan Bana Nagari :  Download


78rpm vintage : Indubala

A contemporary of the legendary Gauhar Jan, prima donna of early recordings of Indian music, Indubala (more famously known as Miss Indubala) was the daughter of Rajbala, a circus trapeze artiste. Rajbala married Motilal Bose, owner of The Great Bengal Circus, also known as Bose’s Circus or Professor Bose’s Circus. The marriage was not really accepted by Motilal’s family as he was already married to another woman. Indubala was born in November, 1899 at Amritsar, where the circus party had gone for performance. The initial plan was to train Indubala as a nurse and she was admitted as a trainee in a hospital in the Pataldanga locality of Calcutta. Indubala did not take fancy to the job and ran away from the hospital, much to the disappointment of her mother, who never wanted her only daughter to be forced into a life of indignity. After this incident Indubala’s musical training started. This also marked the entry of Indubala into the red light world. Amongst her trainers was Gauhar Jan. Apart from music, Indubala also learned etiquette from the elder artiste and developed a close friendship with her. This association provided Indubala with valuable musical knowledge and experience.

In 1916, Indubala recorded her first songs. In the beginning she did not take any money from the Gramophone Company and as such was credited in the records as Miss Indubala (Amateur). She was not the first amateur artiste of the company but enjoyed the privilege of announcing her name at the end of each song saying ‘My name is Indubala’. The amateur status continued for a fairly long period. Later on she received Rs. 200 per record and also received a royalty of 5 per cent over the sales. To Indubala also goes the credit of being the first Bengali artiste to record Hindustani songs for the Gramophone Company. For the All India Radio, Indubala first sang on the second day of the radio’s broadcasting in 1927 in Calcutta and went on singing in this medium for nearly fifty years. Indubala sang not only from Calcutta but from several other stations by special invitation from all over India. Apart from discs and the radio, Indubala was well established by the 1930s in cultural functions all over India. In 1936 she was appointed court musician to the Maharaja of Mysore. She received a monthly salary of Rs. 250 that continued till the 1960s.

In all, Indubala had recorded some 280 songs, including about 240 classical songs, the rest being from films. The songs posted below are very rarely found anywhere else. You may easily term these as my find of the year.

Indubala – Na Maro Pichkari :  Download

Indubala – Mero Yaad Ayo Saiyan :  Download

Indubala – Piya Kay Milan Hum Jaeb :  Download

Indubala – Kahe Ko Neha Lagaye :  Download

Indubala – Mohe Panghat Par Nandlal :  Download

Indubala – Tum Radhe Bano Shyam :  Download

Indubala – Chait Ki Nindiya :  Download

The government of India never considered her name for any award. The Sangeet Natak Academy however honored her with a lifetime achievement award in 1975. In personal life, Indubala was most humble and polite but bold in her behavior and was never ashamed to admit or discuss her origin. Even when established as a major singing artiste with an all India fame, she refused to move out to a respectable place leaving her residence in Rambagan, a notorious red light area of Calcutta. Her end came on the 30th day of November, 1984 after a prolonged illness.

.. more 78rpm vintage songs »


Four random songs 13

Continuing with my Random Songs series, presented here in this post are a few songs that I picked up from here and there while surfing the web, and also while hanging out on various music forums. These are excellent songs, a couple of them from the great maestros and the rest from our younger vocalists.

Mallikarjun Mansur – Sughrai – Piya Banjara :  Download

Ajoy Chakrabarty – Deshkar – Ayi Ri Badariya Sawan Ki :  Download

Manjiri Asanare – Adana – Rang Rang Mukh Pe Mat Phenko :  Download

Meeta Pandit – Bilaskhani Todi – Baje Boondariya :  Download

.. more Random Songs »