Listening Project (Sarangi)

Ustad Hafizullah Khan was the only child of the renowned vocalist and sarangi player, Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan Chisti-Sabri and was born in Kirana India, on June 4th, 1946. Actually, Hafizullah Khansahib was the 17th and only surviving child of Abdul Wahid Khansahib and his second wife, as all the other children died at birth or soon after. Hafizullah Khansahib’s mother, Naseera Begum or Moodan, recently passed away in Delhi in February 2003. At Wahid Khan’s death in 1949, Hafizullah Khansahib was sent to live and study with his uncle, Ustad Abdul Habib Khan. He received exceedingly rigorous training: during the day he was free to fly kites and play with other children, but at night he was required to do riaz (practice) from 10pm to 4am. Hafizullah Khansahib joined his Guru and uncle, Habib Khan, to every concert he performed. Hafizullah Khansahib was trained both in voice and sarangi, but since there were many vocalists, Habib Khan decided Hafizullah Khan should become a sarangi player to be assured of getting work.

“Khalifa of the Kirana Gharana”

Ustad Hafizullah Khan received the title of Khalifa (hereditary head) of the Kirana Gharana (Kirana school of North Indian classical music) in 1964. For thirty five years, Ustad Hafizullah Khan was a staff artist at All India Radio, Delhi, as a senior artist with the highest rating. He received the Swami Haridas Sangeet Samelan Sur Mani Award in 1972, and has played in most of the major music festivals in India. In 1975, 1989 and 1990, Hafizullah Khansahib performed on the sarangi on tour in Europe. Khansahib has students, both sarangi and vocal, from all over the world, including his American disciple, Rose Okada. Last year on Ustad Hafizullah Khan’s third and final trip to the USA, he premiered in New York City at the Dream House of Khansahib with La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela on June 13, 2002 in a concert honoring the great Kirana Vocalist, Pandit Pran Nath, who was the foremost disciple of Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan. Pandit Pran Nath was sent by his teacher as a last request to perform and teach the beautiful music of the Kirana School in America.

Hafizullah Khansahib’s playing followed the Kirana manner of badhat, the methodical note-by-note unfolding of the raga alap in the vilambit (slow) tempo, in been (plucked, fretted string instrument, predecessor of the sitar) style, as handed down by the great beenkar, Bande Ali Khan (1830-1890). This is characterized by an abundant use of meend, soot and kan (slides & grace notes) with emphasis on sur and raga (pitch & melody). Rhythmic devices, such as tihai, are infrequent and incidental. Khansahib did not play in the instrumental style of jor, jhala and gat, but played khyal gayaki (vocal style) bandish (composition). In drut (fast) tempo, he favored sargam and tan (melodic patterns with & without separate bow articulation) that are offbeat, free of rhythmic constraint, intricate and imaginative in the use of varying melodic permutations, especially, bal pech (“twist tighten”, e.g. SRGRRGRRSRGMRRGRRS). His return to the bandish was not fixed and he freely varied the melody and starting beat of the mukhra (pick up phrase to the sum or first beat of the rhythm cycle). Khansahib’s technical mastery included exquisite intonation, pure tone, wide dynamic range, graceful command of the bow and effortless speed over the complete range of three octaves. Khansahib’s music is above all distinguished by the intense feeling of the raga, a profound repose and a brilliant creativity that is devoid of personality display. ”  – Bio written by Rik Masterson & Rose Okada

The Ustad Hafizullah Khan “Raag Rageshri” (Sarangi Music Audio) is being posted here for NO COMMERCIAL PURPOSES.  Artist K. J. Legry had the rare opportunity to take Sarangi lessons from him when he visited the Pacific Northwest and performed for Kirana West.

Watch my Sarangi/Raga teacher Rose Okada on Oregon Art Beat by clicking here: Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) features Rose Okada

(Bow Hand) “green thumb true blue” (detail from the Girl Soda Atlas) by K. J. Legry