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 Songs : my Choice 6

After the partition of India in 1947, the new born Pakistan was so beset with insurmountable problems that fine arts virtually remained neglected. History’s largest migration of people had totally upset the equilibrium of the population not only physically but also emotionally and psychologically. During such times, the fine arts could not get the attention of the people. Classical music was neglected more than anything else. The musicians were totally frustrated as there were no takers. Many took refuge in Ghazal singing to make ends meet. The height of despair was reflected in the decision of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan to leave the country and settle back down in India, where connoisseurs of classical music were abound.

In remembrance of those days, here are a few songs of my choice, each one hand picked and posted here for your listening pleasure.

Bade Ghulam Ali Khan – Raga Darbari Kanada :  Download

Ajoy Chakrabarty – Raga Malkauns :  Download

Nirmalya Dey – Raga Bageshri :  Download

Jitendra Abhisheki – Raga Kafi :  Download

.. more Songs of my Choice »


Ja Kaga Ja : Go Crow Go

In India, the common house crow (kaga or kagwa in hindi) is a widespread resident, except in high altitudes and dense forests. It is wholly dependent on human habitation for it’s survival. This highly vocal bird is seemingly unafraid of humans. Aggressive, it will attack and chase off any large bird of prey. Strangely, the crow has been given a place of pride in our classical music. For reasons unknown it has played the role of a lover’s messenger (“Ja Kaga Ja“), which in many a lyrical khayals, is even promised a ‘gold plated beak’ in return of favours rendered (“Ab Ke Sawan Ghar Aaja“). Pigeons, the otherwise commonly known messenger birds, have been given a back seat here.

Vilayat Hussain Khan – Raga Bageshri Bahar :  (Download)

Bade Ghulam Ali Khan – Raga Desi :  (Download)

Begum Akhtar – Raga Pahadi :  (Download)

Pandit Jasraj – Raga Bilaskhani Todi :  (Download)

Shruti Sadolikar – Raga Desi :  (Download)

Parween Sultana – Raga Pahadi :  (Download)

Almost all vocalists have pleaded with this glossy black bird to pass on a message, in all Ragas possible, Raga Desi, Bageshri and Pahadi being the more common ones, although other Ragas are not being discounted.

Comments are welcome.


All in the family

Among all classical musicians, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan was truly the king of emotions and thumris. He often used to say, “Many people have the misconception that classical music has no powers of expression. This is because generally our musicians are more interested in technical virtuosity. But emotion is the very soul of our music. In fact our music has the power to express the subtlest nuances of human emotions“. Bade Ghulam Ali Khan proved his point by creating his own style, which was an excellent blend of impressive technical mastery, appealing and emotional expressions. With this extraordinary blend, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan could render fluent khayals, sprightly thumris, erotic ghazals and soulful bhajans with an artistry all his own.

Bade Ghulam Ali Khan – Kate Na Biraha Ki Raat :  (Download)

Bade Ghulam Ali Khan – Tirchhi Najaria Ke Baan :  (Download)

Barkat Ali Khan, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan’s brother, also had great talent. Some even say, the sweetness of his voice at times surpassed that of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. Khan Saheb, however, allowed his brother to only accompany him on the harmonium, but never to sing with him in public. Therefore Barkat Ali Khan remained unknown to most music lovers. It is difficult to say why Bade Ghulam Ali Khan always kept his brother in the background and did not give him the chance to display his talent independently.

Barkat Ali Khan – Ratiyan Kidhar Ganwaeen :  (Download)

Barkat Ali Khan – Mora Saiyan Tanak Dhun Laye :  (Download)

Munawar Ali Khan, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan’s younger son, was his constant companion and was being groomed to succeed him. He always accompanied Khan Saheb on the tanpura and being so close to his father, he imbibed the vast treasure of his father’s musical knowledge. Naturally with such training and all the makings of a first grade artist, everyone expected him to follow in Bade Ghulam Ali Khan‘s footsteps. Unfortunately, Khan Saheb as with his brother Barkat Ali Khan, had always kept Munawar under his wing and never allowed him to bloom in his individual capacity.

Munawar Ali Khan – O Maar Daala Re Nazariya Milaikey :  (Download)

Munawar Ali Khan – Bhajan – Pag Ghunghroo :  (Download)

Raza Ali Khan is Munawar Ali Khan’s son. He received his early training from his grandfather, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and after that, extensively, from his father. He accompanied his father on concerts and sung alongside. Raza Ali Khan is an A-grade musician of the All India Radio. He is married to actress Neelima Azeem, mother of film actor Shahid Kapoor.

Raza Ali Khan – Prem Ke Phande Mein :  (Download)

Raza Ali Khan – Rang Laga Gayo :  (Download)

It is true that Bade Ghulam Ali Khan belonged to a long and illustrious musical lineage. But it was his genius that chiselled off the harsh crudities and angularites of the once ‘dryPatiala Gharana and lent it such a rare polish and glow that today it has achieved worldwide popularity. Bade Ghulam Ali Khan has left behind not only hundreds of singers trying to emulate him, but also thousands of music lovers who cherish the music of Patiala Gharana.

Comments are welcome.


Four Random Songs 4

Four songs that I picked up from here and there, while surfing the web :

Ashwini Bhide – Malaniya Layi :  (Download)

Bade Ghulam Ali Khan – Thumri Pahadi Live (Rare) :  (Download)

Bhimsen Joshi – Piya To Manat Nahi :  (Download)

Mitali Banerjee Bhawmik – Chhai Ghata Ghanghor :  (Download)

.. more Random Songs »

Comments are welcome.


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