Gharana tradition : Patiala

The Patiala gharana is one of the most prominent gharanas of vocal Hindustani classical music. This school of music has had a number of famous musicians, many of whom came to be patronised by the royal family of Patiala after the disintegration of the Mughal Empire in the 18th century. In the latter half of the 20th century, the Patiala style of Khayal vocalism has been represented by two streams of the gharana. One stream, gave the music world the Amanat Ali Khan (1932-1974) and Fateh Ali Khan duo. The other stream, originating from Kasur, a small village in Punjab province of Pakistan, produced Bade Ghulam Ali Khan (1903-1968) and his brother Barkat Ali Khan (1907-1963). It is now widely known as the Kasur-Patiala gharana.

Ustad Fateh Ali Khan is the last of the thoroughbred Patiala vocalists, a direct descendent of the founders of Patiala gharana. The Patiala gharana tends to favour pentatonic Ragas for their ornamentation and execution of intricate taans. In addition Khayal, Thumri and even Ghazal singing is much emphasized. This gharana has been criticized by purists, who say it overuses frills and ornaments without considering the basic nature and mood of the Raga. Despite the criticism Patiala gharana is amongst the most prominent and popular gharanas and has a huge following, both of musicians and listeners.

Amanat & Fateh Ali Khan – Bageshri – Goonth Lao Ri Malaniya :  Download

Farida Khanum – Bageshri Thumri – Ae Ri Main Kaise Ghar :  Download

Ustad Sarahang – Bhairavi – Piya Ke Milan Ki Aas (Hindi-Pashto) :  Download

Zahida Parveen – Durga – Beeti Jaye Humri Umariya :  Download

Famous musicians of Patiala gharana include Kaloo Khan, Gauhar Jan, Ashiq Ali Khan, Mukhtar Begum, Lakshmi Shankar, Hamid Ali Khan, Asad Amanat Ali Khan and many more. The list is very long.

Kasur-Patiala gharana in the next ‘Gharana tradition’ post.

.. more songs of other Gharanas »

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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.

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