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Kirana Gharana is one of the most prolific Hindustani khyal gharanas. It was founded in 13th-century by Gopal Nayak, a dhrupadiya or dhrupad singer, and a Hindu court musician based in Kairana, a town in present Shamli district in Uttar Pradesh. However, later he embraced Islam, and soon he mastered the khayal tradition. Two important exponents were Abdul Karim Khan and Abdul Wahid Khan and later Bhimsen Joshi.
The name of this school of music derives from Kirana or Kairana, a town and tehsil of Shamli District in Uttar Pradesh. It is the birthplace of Abdul Karim Khan (1872–1937), who was one of the most important musicians of this gharana and of Hindustani music in general in the twentieth century, and considered by some to be the real founder of the Kirana Gharana, while the roots of the tradition can be traced back to his great-grandfather Ghulam Ali and Ghulam Maula, the brother of Ghulam Ali. A frequent visitor to the Court of Mysore, Abdul Karim Khan was also influenced by Carnatic music.
Much to the credit of Abdul Karim Khan, today most Hindustani musicians from Karnataka are exponents of Kirana Gharana and Kirana Gharana has imbibed many of the features of the Carnatic tradition. Particularly the culturally fecund border region between Karnataka and Maharashtra is famous for its tradition of the Kirana school of singing.
Another towering figure of this gharana in the early 20th century was Abdul Karim Khan’s cousin Abdul Wahid Khan (1871?-1949).
It was late in the nineteenth century that the two ustads Abdul Karim Khansahab and Abdul Waheed Khansahab revolutionized the very concept of khayal gayaki by introducing the vilambit or the slow tempo method to delineate the raga note by note.
In the Kirana Gayaki, the individual swaras (notes) of the raga are considered not just random points in the scale but independent realms of music capable of horizontal expansion. Mind blowing, emotion drenched pukars in the higher octaves form a part of the musical experience. Another unique feature of this gharana is the highly intricate and ornate use of the sargam taan (weaving patterns with the notations themselves) which was improvised by Ustad Abdul Karim Khansahab as a direct influence of the Carnatic classical style.
Favorite ragas of performers from the Kirana gharana include Todi, Lalit, Multani, Patdeep, Puriya, Marwa, Shuddha Kalyan, Darbari Kanhara, and Komal-Rishabh Asavari. Noted Marathi thespian PuLa Deshpande has pointed out that performers from the Kirana gharana have had a "soft corner" for the Komal Rishabh note of the Indian Classical Music scale. The ragas mentioned above as Kirana favorites support this observation.
- Abdul Karim Khan (1872–1937), gharana founder
- Abdul Wahid Khan (1885–1949), nephew of Abdul Karim Khan and gharana co-founder
- Sawai Gandharva (1886–1952), disciple of Abdul Karim Khan
- Sureshbabu Mane (1902–1953), son and disciple of Abdul Karim Khan, also learned from Abdul Wahid Khan
- Hirabai Badodekar (1905–1989), daughter of Abdul Karim Khan, also learned from Abdul Wahid Khan
- Roshan Ara Begum
- Saraswati Rane
- Gangubai Hangal [1913-2006], disciple of Sawai Gandharva
- Firoz Dastur [1919-2008], disciple of Sawai Gandharva
- Bhimsen Joshi [1922-2011], disciple of Sawai Gandharva
- Prabha Atre (born 13 September 1932), disciple of Sureshbabu Mane and Hirabai Badodekar
- Manik Varma (1920 - November 10, 1996), disciple of Sureshbabu Mane and Hirabai Badodekar, also learned in other gharanas
- Basavaraj Rajguru
- Pt. Mani Prasad
- Ustad Niyaz Ahmed Khan disciple and Son of Ustad Basheer Khan
- Ustad Faiyaz Ahmed Khan disciple and Son of Ustad Basheer Khan
- Ustad Noor Hassan Khan disciple and Son of Ustad Majid Khan
- Ustad Mahmood Khan disciple of Ustad Majid Khan(disciple of Haider Baksh Khan)
- Shrinivas Joshi disciple of Bhimsen Joshi
- Jayateerth Mevundi
- Pt. Krishnendra Wadikar Disciple of Pt. Shripati Padegar
- Anand Bhate disciple of Pt. Bhimsen Joshi
- Sanhita Nandi
- Arshad Ali Khan
- "Torch-bearers of kirana gharana, and their followers". Times of India. Jan 26, 2011.
- Lavezzoli, p. 246
- "Kirana gharana". ITC Sangeet Research Academu. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
- Kirana Gharana at indoclassical.com
- Roshan Ara Begum (1994). Kirana. Gramophone Co. of India.
- Carolyn M. Starr (1984). Intonation in the Kirana Gharana: A Pilot Study. Mills college.
- Bonnie C. Wade (1984). Khyāl: Creativity Within North India's Classical Music Tradition. CUP Archive. ISBN 978-0-521-25659-9.
- Peter Lavezzoli (2006). The Dawn of Indian Music in the West. Continuum. ISBN 978-0-8264-1815-9.