A Living Portrait of India
Instrtumental Hindustani Music
Delhi gharana Lucknow gharana Farrukhabad gharana Ajrara gharana
Punjab gharana Benaras gharana
The first gharana to establish norms for improvisation is also the oldest of the tabla gharanas - Delhi gharana. Founded in the early eighteenth century by Siddhar Khan, the playing style (baj) of this gharana is also known as the bandh baj. This style has a clarity of sound that is a result of the initial role of the tabla as an accompaniment to vocal and instrumental music. This sharpness is achieved by playing on the chati or kinar, and has led to the baj being called the chati-ka-baj. Pakhwaj (the predecessor of the tabla) bols are no longer part of the gharana's repertoire, despite Siddhar Khan having been a pakhawaj player. The tempo most frequently encountered is the barabar (basic) of the ad (fractions and multiples of one-and-a half), while the items are predominantly kayada-rela, peshkar, and the mohra/mukhda. The kayada repertoire of the Delhi gharana is the model for the kayada items of the other gharanas as well.
Renowned artistes of the Delhi gharana: Pandit Chaturlal, Shafat Ahmad Ali.
Founded by Mian Bakshu, Siddhar Khan's grandson, in mid eighteenth century, this gharana is considered an offshoot of the latter's gharana. This school was heavily patronized by the nawabs of Awadh and came to be closely linked with kathak performance. This allowed the emergence of a vast repertoire. The playing style (baj) is classified as the Purab baj, also called the khula baj.
The Lucknow baj uses different parts of the tabla surface to produce a blend of sounds that are more fullsome than those of the Delhi gharana. There is a conscious effort to eliminate sharp sounds. The sur and shyahi parts of the tabla are played, and the kinar avoided. Finger techniques can vary from and economy of movement to all the fingers being used.
The transformation form the role of tabla as accompaniment to vocal music to the role of the tabla as accompaniment to a rich dance form required complex items like gat, tukda, chakradhar. The paran-gat is a particularly characteristic gat of this gharana. The barabar and ad layas are popular in this school as well.
The development of the Lucknow baj was the catalyst for the tabla emerging as a solo instrument in the Farrukhabad and Banaras gharanas.
Renowned artiste of the Lucknow gharana: Ustad Afaque Hussain Khan.
This gharana, usually spoken if in connection with the Awadh Court, was founded by Vilayet Ali, in the late eighteenth century. Vilayet Ali was the son-in-law and disciple of Mian Bakshi (founder of the Lucknow gharana). After the deposing of Wajid Ali Shah, many of the gharana's musicians shifted to the Rampur court, among them Ahmedjan Thirakwa. The Nawab of Rampur's death led to another shift this time to Calcutta where Keramatullah Khan and his son, Ghulam Ahmed Sabir Khan based themselves. Keramatullah Khan personally reverted to playing on the kinar section of the tabla to create the sharpness of the Delhi style, but his son remained with the Farrukhabad style.
The playing style of this gharana belongs to the Purab baj (or the khula baj) and has maintained its affinities of the pakhwaj (a predecessor of the tabla) tradition. The richness of the Lucknowi gharana playing is found here as well. The Farrukhabad technique emphasizes playing on the sur and shyahi (when playing the right hand drum, the dayan), avoiding the kinar. Performing in barabar laya (basic tempo) and ad (fractions and multiples of one-and--half) laya are the norm.
Categorized as playing in the bandh baj (as is the Delhi gharana), this school was founded in the nineteenth century by Kallu and Miru, both disciples of Sitab Khan of the Delhi gharana. Clarity of sound is the hallmark of the gharana's playing style, made possible by the propensity for using the index and middle fingers in the traditional manner, with no effort to enhance sound differences between the kinar, sur and shyahi. The Ajrara gharana style includes bol-patterns that are rather complicated, much more than does the Delhi gharana, and for the purpose the third fingers is brought into play as well. However, phakhwaj bols are rarely encountered in this gharana (and absent in the Delhi gharana repertoire). Again, barabar and ad laya form the bulk of tempo repertoire.
Originally a pakhawaj-playing gharana that has not abandoned its roots, the Punjab school was founded in the nineteenth century by Lala Bhavanidas. The complicated pakhwaj bols and the clear influence of the Punjabi language set this gharana apart. Syllables are elided, as shown in the transformation of 'Dhă te dhă ge nă' into 'Dhătdhă genă' and of 'Dhă' dhin dhin dhă into 'Dhă te dhădă. There is a greater range of tempos - besides ad and barabar, the gharana plays in kuad (fractions and multiples of two-and-a-half), and viad (fractions and multiples of three-and-a-half). This necessitates a rigorous time keeping by the player. Pakhwaj tăls such as dhamar, shultăl, and pancham sawari are popular with the players of this gharana.
Certain authorities believe Kader Baksh the first to be the founder of the gharana, and still others believe Saddu Hussain Baksh to have founded this school. Ustad Alla Rakha was a disciple of Kader Baksh the second.
Renowned artistes of the Punjab gharana : Zakir Hussain and Fazal Qureshi (sons of Ustad Alla Rakha), Yogesh Shamsi and Anuradha Pal.
Founded in the nineteenth century by Ram Sahay Mishra, the Benaras gharana follows the khula baj (and the Pakhwaj baj) style of playing, and is regarded as an off-shoot of the Lucknow and Punjab gharanas. The unusual sound-quality of the gharana's playing can be attributed to the practice of playing with the third finger held in a bent position.
Influences as diverse as vocal music and instrumental, pakhwaj playing and dance forms have led to a distinct technique and presentation. Thus, gat, paran, chakradhar, and tukda are regular features in the gharana's playing style, and rare tals such as pancham sawari, dhamar and shultăl are performed. There are many similarities with the Punjab gharana, particularly in the repertoire.
Renowned artistes of the Benaras gharana: Kishen Maharaj, Sharda Sahaya, Anand Gopal Bandhoadhyay, and Tanmoy Bose.