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In Dhrupad and Hindustani music, a gharānā is a system of social organization in the Indian subcontinent, linking musicians or dancers by lineage or apprenticeship, and by adherence to a particular musical style. A gharānā also indicates a comprehensive musicological ideology. This ideology sometimes changes substantially from one gharānā to another.[citation needed]

Vocal gharanas[edit]

Khyal gharanas[edit]

The gharana system in khyal was rooted in the guru-shishya tradition and was similar to the Dhrupad Bani system. The gharana system was greatly influenced by the gradual fall of the Mughal Empire.[citation needed]

The gharanas have distinct styles of presenting the khyal — how much to emphasize and how to enunciate the words of the composition, when to sing the sthayi and antara, whether to sing an unmetered alap in the beginning, what kinds of improvisations to use, how much importance to give to the rhythmic aspect, and so on. However, an individual performer from a gharana may choose to borrow appealing stylistic aspects of another gharana in his or her gayaki (singing style). There are exactly ten prominent khyal gharanas, and they are:[1]

Gharana Founding Artists Approximate founding date Famous Exponents Features
Qawwal Baccho ka Gharana Amir Khusrau, Mian Samat Bin Ibrahim 13th Century Mian Tanras Khan , Naseeruddin Sami , Bahauddin Qawwal, Fareed Ayaz Abu Mohammed Akaar Alaap, Taan, sargam, emphasis on Raag Bahar
Gwalior Gharana Nathan Pir Baksh, Hassu Khan, Haddu Khan, Nathu Khan Mid-16th Century Vishnu Digambar Paluskar, Omkarnath Thakur, Ghulam Hassan Shaggan, Malini Rajurkar, Veena Sahasrabuddhe Bol-baant, bol-taan, no sargam, wide range in taans, alankarik taans, descending sapaat taans, roughly similar emphasis on melody and rhythm, preference for simple (as opposed to compound) ragas, repertoire of bandishes, variety of taans
Agra Gharana Ghagge Khudabaksh Mid-19th century Faiyaz Khan, Jitendra Abhisheki Closer to dhrupad with nom-tom type alap and other elements, rhythmic play, frequent use of tisra jati in teentaal, emphasis on voice culture to achieve wide range and powerful throw of voice, bol-baant, bol-taan, rare use of sargam, slower taans, use of jabda taan, repertoire of traditional and self-composed bandishes
Kirana Gharana Abdul Karim Khan, Abdul Wahid Khan Late 17th century Sawai Gandharva, Bhimsen Joshi, Roshan Ara Begum, Prabha Atre, Hirabai Barodekar, Gangubai Hangal Slow-tempo raga development, emphasis on melody, long and sustained pitches, usually traditional ragas, use of sargam, very little bol-baant, clarity of text pronunciation, use of some Carnatic ragas and raga features, emphasis on vocal as opposed to instrumental form
Bhendi Bazaar Gharana Chhajju Khan, Nazeer Khan, Khadim Hussain Khan Late 19th century Aman Ali Khan, Anjanibai Malpekar Emphasis on breath control to be able to sing long passages in a single breath, use of merukhand for extended alaps, use of gamak taan and sargam, use of some Carnatic ragas
Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana Alladiya Khan Late 19th century Kishori Amonkar, Ashwini Bhide-Deshpande, Mallikarjun Mansur Repertoire of rare and complex ragas, based on Agra gharana, use of aakaar for badhat, heavy use of teentaal, rupak, jhaptaal and ada-chautaal, rhythmic play, use of bol-baant and bol-taan, rippling taans, heavy emphasis on taans
Patiala Gharana Bade Fateh Ali Khan, Ali Baksh Khan Late 19th century Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Vasantrao Deshpande Emphasis on voice development, roughly similar emphasis on melody and rhythm, bol-baant-like sargam with occasional tonic transpositions, occasional use of bol-taan, variety of taans, fast sargam and taan patterns, may or may not include antara, influence of tappa style
Rampur-Sahaswan Gharana Inayat Hussain Khan Mid 19th century Rashid Khan (musician), Ghulam Mustafa Khan (singer) Emphasis on melody, bol-taans, sargam taans, sapaat taans
Indore Gharana Amir Khan Mid 20th century Slow-tempo and leisurely raga development, improvisation mostly in lower and middle octaves, tendency towards serious and expansive ragas, emphasis on melody, judicious use of pause between improvisations, bol alap and sargam using merukhand patterns, sparing application of murki, use of kan swaras in all parts of performance, controlled use of embellishments to preserve introspective quality, rare use of tihai, careful enunciation of text, may or may not include antara, multiple laya jatis in a single taan, mixture of taan types in a single taan, known for ruba'idar tarana (considered similar to chhota khyal)
Mewati Gharana Ghagge Nazir Khan Mid 19th century Jasraj, Kala Ramnath, Sanjeev Abhyankar Emphasis on melody, known for bhajans, sapaat taans and gamak taans, use of sargam
Sham Chaurasia Gharana Miyan Chand Khan, Miyan Suraj Khan Late 16th century Salamat Ali and Nazakat Ali Khan Emphasis on layakari using bol-taan and tihai, fast sargam and taan patterns

Dhrupad gharanas[edit]

Thumri gharanas[edit]

In the Benares gharana, the words in the text of a song are musically embellished to bring out their meaning, while the Lucknow gharana presents intricately embellished and delicate thumris that are explicit in their eroticism. The principal feature of the thumri of the Patiala gharana is its incorporation of the tappa from the Punjab region. It is with this tappa element that the Patiala gharana makes its impact, departing from the khyal-dominated Benaras thumris and the dance-oriented Lucknow thumris.[citation needed]

Instrumental gharanas[edit]

Tabla gharanas[edit]

The following are the six widely accepted gharanas (ordered based on chronology of founding):[1][failed verification]

Sitar gharanas[edit]

Pakhawaj gharanas[edit]

Dance gharanas[edit]

In Kathak performers today generally draw their lineage from three major schools of Kathak: the Jaipur gharana, the Lucknow gharana and the Banaras gharana (born in the courts of the Kachwaha Rajput kings, the Nawab of Oudh, and Varanasi respectively); there is also a less prominent (and later) Raigarh gharana which amalgamated technique from all three preceding gharanas but became famous for its own distinctive compositions.

The Lucknow gharana remains the most popular throughout the country. However, in recent times the Jaipur gharana has caught up and today most performers throughout India perform techniques belonging to both styles. With amalgamation of the techniques and poses from other dance forms.[citation needed]


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