[2] Influence of Other Artists on The Vocal Style

Amir Khan received training in music from his father, Shahmir Khan, for a long period of fifteen years. After completion of that training and death of his father, he didn’t confine his vocal style to the training received from his father. He listened to the great maestros of all the gharanas of his time very attentively. Among them were included top artists of all modes of classical music, that is, vocalists of dhrupad-dhamar, vocalists of khayal and instrumentalists. During this period of his practice [sadhana], those founder senior artists of different gharanas, whom he had heard, in them the names of top most artists like Ustad Abdul Karim Khan and Ustad Fayyaz Khan are worth mentioning.


In an article, based on research about the gharanas of music, under the direction of Pt. Amarnath, Ms. Bindu Chawla writes: -

“Ustad Amir Khan Saheb had a great love for quawaalee and was influenced by masters of more than two gharanas.”[1]


This quotation shows that Khan Saheb had love for quavvali personally but it wouldn’t be proper to conclude that this style had any influence on his khayal style, directly or indirectly.


In the words of Acharya Brihaspati: “He had listened to his predecessor experts; he appreciated their virtues and prepared a new bouquet of his own gayaki.”[2] Making it more clear, Ustad Moinuddin Khan, Sarangi player of Indore, said: “Khan Saheb listened very attentively to Ustad Rajab Ali Khan [Dewas], Ustad Aman Ali Khan [Bhindi Bazar] and Fayyaz Khan etc, all the top artists, and molded the best aspects of their gayaki in his gayaki in a distinct manner.”[3] He also considered the gayaki of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan. In this context, he himself says: “I also saw to it what did Abdul Karim Khan do.”[4]


Music being his family profession and Indore being the center of great artists in those days, Amir Khan had the opportunity to listen to all top vocalists and instrumentalists and to have personal contact with them. As previously mentioned, on every Friday, after the afternoon prayer, there used to be a gathering at his house, where Wahid Khan, Rajab Ali Khan, Allah Bande Khan [dhrupad singer], Bundu Khan [Sarangi player], Murad Khan [Binkar], Nasiruddin Khan Dagar, Bashir Khan, Krishna Rao Apte [dhrupad singer], Ustad Alladiya Khan [Sarangi player], Ustad Dhulji Khan [Tabla player], Ustad Jahangir Khan [Tabla player] etc great artists used to come. He also remained in close contact of Babu Khan [a famous Sitar player], a disciple of Murad Khan [binkar]. Babu Khan and Amir Khan used to have a sitting regularly at the place of Goswami Krishnaraiji Maharaj. There Nasiruddin Khan [dhrupad singer] also used to come. Goswami Krishnaraiji Maharaj had so much interest in music that any vocalist who visited the court of Maharaja Tukoji Rao Holkar, was called by him several times to perform at his place. Here it is to be noted that Goswami Gokulotsavji Maharaj, famous vocalist of the style of Indore Gharana at present, is grandson of the said Goswami Krishnaraiji Maharaj and this information too was received from him. The author is gandaband shagird [disciple] of Goswami Gokulotsavji Maharaj since 1986.


Ustad Amir Khan received fine knowledge of tal and laya from his maternal uncle, Ustad Rehman Khan, during the course of his guidance in Tabla playing. This fact was confirmed by famous Tabla player, Ustad Ismail Daddu Khan, resident of Indore in those days, in an interview given to the author on 22-05-1988. Besides being a relative of Ustad Amir Khan, Mr. Daddu Khan remained in his contact for a long time as a Tabla accompanist. He considered Ustad Amir Khan’s knowledge of Tabla playing and tal of high standard. In this context Prof. Chandrakant Lal Das informs: “It is necessary to say about Khan Saheb’s knowledge of music that his maternal uncle, Ustad Rehman Khan had been a great Tabla player. Because of his grasping power, Amir Khan has acquired complete knowledge of Tabla in his company. Consequently some of top Tabla players of the country receive embellished Tabla-compositions from him.”[5]


As has been mentioned previously, Ustad Amir Khan came in contact with many senior musicians but he was mostly and directly influenced by representative vocalists of the three different styles were Ustad Rajab Ali Khan, Ustad Aman Ali Khan and Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan.


The follower of vocal style of Ustad Amir Khan, Mr. Gajendra Bakshi, who has practiced vocalism sufficiently, remaining in his contact, writes in an article about Ustad Amir Khan’s contact with these three great vocalists: “In his youth, he found opportunity to listen Ustad Wahid Khan Saheb, Rajab Ali Khan Saheb and Ustad Aman Ali Khan Saheb from close quarters. Amir Khan Saheb had great respect for these artists. Remaining in their contact, Amir Khan Saheb had opportunity to hear them.”[6]


In the above statement of Mr. Gajendra Bakshi, the sequence of these three names is not correct chronologically. Actually, Amir Khan Saheb first came in contact with Ustad Rajab Ali Khan, then with Ustad Aman Ali Khan and lastly with Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan. The influence of these three vocalists exercised on the vocal style of Ustad Amir Khan, is mentioned as under.


1- Ustad Rajab Ali Khan [Dewas] and his Influence: -

Ustad Rajab Ali was born in Narsinghgarh [Madhya Pradesh] in 1874 AD. He received training in music from his father, Mughal Khan, who was an artist in the court of Dewas of that time. Thereafter, in 1890, he became a ceremonial disciple of Bin player, Ustad Bande Ali Khan and was trained in Bin playing. After death of Bande Ali Khan, both father and son went to Kolhapur where they lived for a long time. There he came in contact with Ustad Alladiya Khan, famous singer of Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana. There he received generous patronage from the ruler of Kolhapur, Chhatrapati Sahu Maharaj. There he received the title of ‘Dakshin Ka Sher’ [The Lion of South]. He was influenced by gayaki of Jaipur Gharana through Haider Baksh [Sarangi accompanist of Alladiya Khan]. In 1908, he came to Dewas from Kolhapur and became the court singer of Maharaja Malhar Rao Pawar, the ruler of Dewas Junior. Afterward he joined the court of Dewas Senior. When attached with Dewas court, he presented many vocal programs organized in India and Nepal.


There was close friendship between Shamir Khan [father of Amir Khan] and Ustad Rajab Ali Khan. That is why, Amir Khan used to go to the residence of Ustad Rajab Ali Khan at Dewas, since his childhood. Rajab Ali Khan also used to visit his home at Indore. Those days, Ustad Rajab Ali Khan was supposed to be an expert in winning the mehfil [concert]. Also Shahmir Khan wanted that Amir Khan should listen to the gayaki of Ustad Rajab Ali Khan attentively and should try to understand his complex and difficult style. Hence being inspired by his father, it was natural to increase the interest of Amir Khan in the vocal style of Ustad Rajab Ali Khan. Thus the first influence on meru khand based style given by his father, was that of Ustad Rajab Ali Khan. Amir Khan paid respect to him like a guru. He used to offer money as a mark of respect and used to put some money under his bed stealthily, so that he should not feel offended.


Ustad Rajab Ali Khan also had listened singing of Amir Khan since his childhood and was optimistic for his progress in music. Therefore he used to guide him from time to time and encouraged him to establish himself as a professional singer.


The specialty of gayaki of Ustad Rajab Ali Khan was his tans. He reached the peak of popularity due to tans. Late Amique Hanafi, who had been producer at Akashwani Indore, used to meet Ustad Amir Khan from time to time, has narrated an event in these words: -

“In the room for riyaz in the new house of Amir Khan Saheb, there was only the picture of Khan Saheb [Rajab Ali Khan] facing to the place of sitting. I said, Khan Saheb! What is this? He replied ‘Oh! There is no equivalent to the practice of drut and tanaiti of uncle Rajab Ali Khan. I pray Almighty that if only a part of tanaiti of Bade Miyan would come into my voice, I would be enriched. I sing keeping him in front me.”[7]


Ustad Rajab Ali Khan had an expertise for application of straight and chhoot ki tan in mixed and complex ragas in easy and natural manner. Ustad Amir Khan adopted this quality excellently keeping in mind the quality of his own voice and the nature of style. Before coming to  madhya shadja [keynote] after finishing a tan, that is while making descending part of the tan, where Amir Khan applied chhoot and descending straight tan in ragas having mixed and complex swara application, such as shuddha kalyan, nand kalyan and bhatiyar; there the influence of Ustad Rajab Ali Khan can be clearly discerned.


Pt. Amarnath has explained the meaning of chhoot tan as follows: -

“Fast, straight tan of shooting nature, essentially skipping some notes of the scale.”[8]


Saral, firat, ragang, alankarik etc the types of tans have been applied traditionally in khayal gayaki. Not depending on these prescribed tan patterns, usage of various complex swara applied tans was an important feature of Ustad Rajab Ali Khan’s style.[9] This feature too was excellently adopted by Amir Khan, because he had become mature in the practice of merukhand. Thus he was capable to apply difficult swara phrases easily. Prolonging the sound of akar, Ikar etc vowels, and extending pronunciation of the words of bandish, whatever difficult and untraditional tans Amir Khan presented; it was the influence of the flight of imagination of Ustad Rajab Ali Khan. Both the vocalists didn’t applied alankars in tans in even sequence, as – n. r g, r g m|, g m| p etc. On the contrary, they produced variety by mixed application of different phrases of alankars and produced peculiarity by giving stress beyond imagination. For example – n r g, r g m, n m r g, m d p.[10]


Before Amir Khan reached Bombay, his style had been influenced by the tans of Ustad Rajab Ali Khan. There he lived in company of Amanat Khan, nephew and favorite disciple of Ustad Rajab Ali Khan. Whatever direct influence of Rajab Ali Khan had been on Amir Khan, was fortified through Amanat Khan.


Amanat Khan was son of Jamal Khan, brother of Rajab Ali Khan and was elder to Amir Khan by eleven years. From the very childhood, Amanat lived in close contact of Rajab Ali Khan, learnt his gayaki by heart and represented his style. Rajab Ali Khan also considered Amanat to be true representative of his style and used to say: “Amanat is the lamp of mine, he would illuminate my name.”[11]


Amanat Khan had very melodious voice. He was skillful in firat and tayari [rapidity] and even in drut laya, he sustains dana [grain] and clarity in his tans, like Rajab Ali Khan. The relation between Amanat Khan and Amir Khan were friendly. In Bombay, they lived in the same room for many years and practiced together. According to late Mr. Krishnarao Majumdar, one of the main disciples of Ustad Rajab Ali Khan, Ustad Amir Khan prepared drut tans of khayal with the help of Amanat Khan, which were the prominent part of Rajab Ali Khan’s gayaki. These two friends used to come to Dewas together from time to time and took advantage of the valuable advice of Rajab Ali Khan regarding music.


According to late Mr. Krishnarao Majumdar “Amanat, nephew of Rajab Ali. There will be no vocalist like him again. His speed was like lightening. Amir took up that fast speed also. Tan and drut, that is 2/3rd part of vocalism. Remaining is vilambit.”[12]


From the above statement, it seems that 2/3rd part of the vocal style of Ustad Amir Khan was the result of influence of Ustad Rajab Ali Khan. But this ratio exceeds too much from the reality, drut tans and drut khayal are employed only for 1/3rd of time in the presentation of khayal gayaki. Besides it, Amir Khan gave much importance to the vilambit khayal and the gradual movement of raga falling under it, in comparison to Ustad Rajab Ali Khan. On the basis of available audio recorded gayaki of Ustad Amir Khan, it can be said that the statement of Mr. Krishnarao Majumdar about consisting 2/3rd part of total gayaki of Ustad Amir Khan by tans and drut gayaki, is far from reality.


After attaining maturity in age and in vocalism, Ustad Amir Khan reduced application of tans of fast speed and adopted grave vilambit gayaki. As there is not much scope for fast speed and atidrut tans in shant rasa salient vilambit gayaki. Hence it is clear that the influence of drut laya of Rajab Ali Khan in his youth, appears rarely in his matured vocalism. This change in tans was related to speed; the form of tans technically remained almost the same.


According to his nature, he found himself more befitting for grave gayaki, instead of the style of fast tans in drut laya. Besides, he felt that in the contemporary field of music, it would much better for him to make progress by the gayaki based on rasa [sentiment], instead of demonstration of miracles and strength. In this context, his own ideas are worth mentioning: “Uncle Rajab Ali Khan rides on lightening. It is not possible for every one to ride on such a horse and again there is no more field to run such a horse.”[13]


Amir Khan used to have conversations with Rajab Ali Khan Saheb regarding prevalent and non prevalent bandishes of khayal and used to be benefited from his treasure of knowledge of bandishes. His curiosity about those bandishes can be gauged from the recollection of Pt. Amarnath: “Once, after staying at my residence in Delhi for eight to ten days, he was to proceed for Bombay, perhaps to participate in some program. I had just told to my disciple to bring a ticket. He called him back to say that he would go first to Indore and Dewas. I said, why to make such a round? Why don’t go to Bombay directly? He said: ‘Son! Rajab Ali Khan is ill at Dewas. He has a sthayee of raga shankara, whose refrain is in lower octave. I have to take it. Bombay can be visited later. Programs are held often.’”[14]


In an interview given to the author on 9th April 1989, Mr. Krishnarao Majumdar told about the said bandish of raga shankara as follows: “kaisee been bajai sanvaro, been bajai mana har leeno - - -.


Similarly, Rajab Ali Khan Saheb’s favorite bandish of raga miyan kee malhar ‘barsan lagee ree badariya savan kee’ was also used to sing by Ustad Amir Khan with great interest. This bandish, sung by Ustad Amir Khan, is audio recorded in HMV Cassette No.STC04B-7373, on side b.


In spite of said similarities and influences, difference between gayaki of the two vocalists can be clearly discerned. In other words, there were many elements in the gayaki of Ustad Rajab Ali Khan which were not adopted by Ustad Amir Khan at all. For example, the khayal rendering of Ustad Rajab Ali Khan starts from madhya laya and reaches madhya, drut and atidrut. On the contrary, Amir Khan starts presentation of any raga with ativilambit laya [less than 1/4th of ordinary vilambit] and after devoting a long time for vilambit khayal, he sings chhota khayal or tarana in madhya laya, whose laya is somewhat speeded up afterwards.


After the bandishes of madhya laya, by various mutual combination of swara, laya and words of bandish, and by demonstration of variety of behlavas, bolbat and boltan etc in the raga, Ustad Rajab Ali Khan comes to tans. Whereas Ustad Amir Khan improvises the raga by detailed grave alap after the sthayee and after a long time, he applies tans etc, the elements of fast movement.


Layakari had a special role in the gayaki of Ustad Rajab Ali Khan. Along with every beat of tal, the connection between tal and swara was maintained by stress on swara. He used abundantly difficult layakaris full of peculiarity; and applying layakaris of aad-kuad [3/2 & 5/4] in adachautal [a tal supposed to be difficult] to make the audience fascinated, was an ordinary thing for him. But the vocalism of Ustad Amir Khan was centered on swaras. He didn’t try to make the audience spellbound by applying the application of complex layakaris. He brought stability to swaras to increase sobriety. So to lay stress on swara with every beat was not appropriate to his style. Ustad Rajab Ali Khan came to sama, by taking refrain full of variety from an unimaginable place, by taking full refrain in very narrow space before sama and by applying tihayee. These applications prove his command on tal and laya. Ustad Amir Khan’s refrain [mukhda] used to be of natural manner only. Under layakaris, Ustad Rajab Ali Khan applied bolbat in various layas profusely. ‘Bolbat’ means performing the lyric of bandish by dividing it into different laya sections, in which extempore improvisation is applied on the place of basic notation of bandish. This part is considered to be an influence of dhrupad on khayal gayaki. Such bolbat was skillfully applied by Ustad Rajab Ali Khan in tayar [fast but clear] laya. But Ustad Amir Khan didn’t give a role to bolbat in his gayaki, nor did he consider it proper to use lyric for that purpose. At such places, he thought it proper to use sargam [sol-fa], instead of verse [words of bandish].


Thus, Amir Khan Saheb was specially inspired by Ustad Rajab Ali Khan in order to develop his own style, but at many places he adopted different view point. Close relations remained between the two artists till the death of Ustad Rajab Ali Khan. After the death of his nephew and beloved disciple, Amanat Ali Khan, Ustad Rajab Ali Khan considered Amir Khan in the place of his nephew. Ustad Amir Khan too called him uncle. Ustad Amir Khan always tried for the well being and social dignity of Ustad Rajab Ali Khan. He used to organize his programs and also remained himself present there.


The last big program of Ustad Rajab Ali Khan was held at Bombay on 2nd April 1957, organized by Sursingar Sansad, where Ustad Amir Khan was also present along with great artists like Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and dancer Sitara Devi. Before it, Ustad Amir Khan had organized a program of Ustad Rajab Ali Khan in the library of Akashwani Indore, on 27th March 1956, where the Tabla accompanist was Mr. Ahmad Jan Thirakwa.


Without having any ceremonial relationship of ganda bandhan, the relations between Ustad Rajab Ali Khan and Amir Khan were like a guru and shishya [the teacher and the taught]. “Once Amir Khan Saheb invited Ustad Rajab Ali Khan on dinner at his residence. Ustad Rajab Ali Khan came with Mama Krishnarao Majumdar. Other Musicians were also present in the dinner. After dinner, Ustad Rajab Ali Khan said: ‘Amir Khan! As you have hosted a feast, now you will have to sing also. Mehfil’ was held and Amir Khan Saheb started singing. While singing, he again and again looked towards Ustad Rajab Ali Khan and then on the picture of his father, late Shahmir Khan, Sarangi player, hanging on the wall above him. Suddenly Amir Khan Saheb became very emotional, a gush of tears started flowing from his eyes and his voice was choked. Amir Khan Saheb enjoyed the great delight of vocalism which he had learned from his father; because while singing, he was applauded by the dancing eyes of Ustad Rajab Ali Khan blessing him as marhaba-marhaba [congratulations]. Then Ustad Rajab Ali Khan said: ‘I feel proud today that you have achieved expertise and fame of an Ustad in gayaki.’ Though Amir Khan Saheb had not been tied ganda, yet he had a sense of respect for Ustad Rajab Ali Khan like a guru. He said to Ustad: ‘all this is due to you.’”[15]


In the said mehfil, famous Tabla player Ismail Daddu Khan, Sarangi player Alladiya Khan and Tabla player Jahangir Khan were present. Ismail Daddu Khan had given Tabla accompaniment in the singing of Ustad Amir Khan. In the interview taken by the author on 22-05-1988, Mr. Ismail Daddu Khan told: “At that time being very happy, Ustad Rajab Ali Khan said affectionately: ‘Amir Khan! Having heard your singing today, I am so happy that even I die, I shall not be sad for the reason that a good vocalist will be there after me.’”


After a very short period of the said program, Ustad Rajab Ali Khan died on 8th January 1959 at Dewas, at the age of 85.


Thus the first influence on the gayaki of Ustad Amir Khan, inherited from his father, was of Ustad Rajab Ali Khan.


2- Ustad Aman Ali Khan of Bhindi Bazar and his influence: -

Ustad Aman Ali Khan was born in 1884 at Bijnore [Dist. Muradabad, Uttar Pradesh]. His grand father, Dilawar Husain Khan lived at Muradabad. Afterwards his family migrated to Bombay and resided in Bhindi Bazar area; that is why they were called Bhindi Bazar Walas. Dilawar Husain had four sons- 1. Chhajju Khan, 2. Nazir Khan, 3. Haji Vilayat Husain Khan and 4. Khadim Husain Khan. Aman Ali Khan was the son of Chhajju Khan. Chhajju Khan was also known by the name of Amarsha Saheb. Shahmir Khan, father of Ustad Amir Khan lived in the same area of Bombay and had received training from the same Nazir Khan and Chhajju Khan.


Aman Ali Khan had no interest in music in childhood but he was attracted to it later on and started having training from his father Chhajju Khan. Afterwards he was also guided by his two uncles, Nazir Husain and Khadim Husain. He was well known for application of sargam based on merukhand and became famous as nayak [composer] because of bandishes composed by him. He had composed about five hundred bandishes in different ragas under the pen name ‘Amar’. He died in 1953.


Ustad Amir Khan had ample opportunity to listen to Aman Ali Khan and to understand his style, during his residence at Bombay, in his youth. He had received training of the same style from his father as inheritance, in the form of basic education; so it was natural to be attracted towards similar musical elements. Ustad Amir Khan got refinement and maturity in his ancestral vocal style, because of this contact with Aman Ali Khan.


The specialty of Aman Ali Khan’s gayaki was his method of presentation of sargam in khayal gayaki. The general meaning of sargam is to present the notes of music by pronouncing their brief names. In the training of music and for its practice, the tradition of use of sargam is old; and for the preparation of tans, paltas of sargam are practiced. But subsequently, sargam got place for itself as an element of khayal gayaki, which can be seen especially in the khayal style of Kirana, Bhindi Bazar and Indore Gharana.


On the presentation style of sargam of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan of Kirana Gharana and Aman Ali Khan of Bhindi Bazar, there was more of less influence of Karnatak Music; but sargam of Aman Ali Khan was more complex and he allotted comparatively more time to sargam in his gayaki.


How sargam found a place in khayal gayaki with the inspiration of Karnatak Music, Dr. Prabha Atre, an eminent vocalist and a researcher on sargam, writes in her Marathi book: “In addition to instrumental style, influence of Karnatak Music can also be seen in the presentation of sargam. The andolan and stress on swara, and the pronunciation of swara name also appear to be inclined towards Karnatak Music.”[16]


Ustad Amir Khan treated the style of Aman Ali Khan as an ideal, in the presentation of sargam. The purpose of giving importance to sargam in Bhindi Bazar style was to present the qualities of layakaris in the khayal, without doing any harm to the beauty of lyric. In this context, Pt. Ramesh Nadkarni, a disciple of Aman Ali Khan, says in an interview: “The application of sargam is not only the exercise of palta. It is applied to show the beauty of laya. It is used there, where the words of lyric are likely to be broken; so that the beauty of lyric could be maintained and beauty of swara combination could be emphasized.”[17]


In khayal singing, Ustad Amir Khan gave much importance to pronunciation of words, their accuracy and the aesthetics based on swara and lyric, generated by it; therefore he was influenced by the style of Aman Ali Khan. The traditional link between alap and tan, that is bolbat, was not accorded a place in the style of Ustad Amir Khan and instead he adopted the method of presentation of sargam, here the same principle is seemed to have been applied.


In spite of absence of lyric; meed, khatka, gamak etc embellishing elements are applied in sargam also to make it manifest. After applying one swara with khatka reaching immediately to another swara and then to stabilize voice, to join two swaras with meed in ascending or descending order and to pronounce tans of gamak in the form of sargam etc, are the stylistic qualities of Ustad Amir Khan, which are supposed to have been influenced by Aman Ali Khan.


In the gayaki of Ustad Amir Khan, there was rationality in application ofsargam. He didn’t allow this element to be all pervading in his whole khayal style, contrary to Aman Ali Khan. The application of sargam by Ustad Amir Khan in chhota khayal and tarana is seem to be similar to that of Aman Ali Khan, but in bada khayal, wherever he applied sargam, that was his own specialty. It is fact that Ustad Amir Khan has expressed the connection between tal and swara by sargam with laya even in bada khayal of ativilambit laya; it again appears to be nearer the principle of presenting the laya by sargam as enunciated by Bhindi Bazar Walas.


Aman Ali Khan accorded much importance to merukhand system in his gayaki, which was not so prevalent in North Indian music in those days. After Bhindi Bazar gayaki, similarly singing style of Ustad Amir Khan is based on merukhand system of movement, whose principle source is ‘Sangeet Ratnakar’, written by Pt. Sharangdeo, in 13th century.[18] This information is given in an English article, written by Ms. Bindu Chavla, which is based on a research conducted by Pt. Amarnath, that is as follows: -

“The Style [of Amir Khan], after the Bhindi Bazar Gharana, is based on the merukhand system of improvisation that appears in the thirteenth century Sangeet Ratnakar of Sharangdeo”[19]


Shahmir Khan, father of Ustad Amir Khan, became disciple of Ustad Chhajju Khan [father of Aman Ali Khan] and Ustad Nazir Khan of Bhindi Bazar Gharana for the purpose of imbibing the merukhand system. Hence, Ustad Amir Khan was attracted towards Ustad Aman Ali Khan of the same Bhindi Bazar Gharana in order to base his gayaki on merukhand system.


Changing the order of swaras in any swara phrase is called merukhand, khandmeru or swara prastar [spreading of swara by permutation]. While presenting a raga, this is generally done in three, four or five swaras. Bhindi Bazar Gharana adopted the merukhand system to get various and maximum number of swara phrases on mathematical basis by application of swaras in a definite number. By changing the order of swaras, maximum how many swara phrases can be obtained, the merukhand system provides guidance in this regard. On the other hand, the grammar of raga, that is the principle of prohibited or allowed swaras in ascending or descending, rareness or prevalence of a note, saving from the ragas of same nature etc are the reasons which limit application of maximum swara phrases. So Ustad Amir Khan got benefited from the experience of Aman Ali Khan to acquire skill of selecting swara phrases suitable to raga. The maximum forms of swara prastars [permutations] have been used by Ustad Amir Khan in ragas-malkauns, megha, abhogi, kaunsikanada etc which are of audav jati [pentatonic class] or of audav sampurna jati [pentatonic-heptatonic] or the ragas where there is more scope for independent improvisation. Ustad Amir Khan has been cautious in presentation of various swara phrases in the ragas which are of serious nature and provide limited independence, like darbari kanada. Hence the gayaki of Ustad Amir Khan can not be blamed for those accusations which have been leveled against the predecessor maestros of Bhindi Bazar Gharana, that by their system of swara prastar, the raga is damaged.


Aman Ali Khan gave much importance to madhya laya in his style, which concluded on reaching the drut laya. All of his self composed bandishes are set in madhya laya, that is why link between verse, laya and swara is always maintained. His bada khayal too used to start from madhya vilambit laya. There was no role for ativilambit laya in his style. Because of madhya vilambit laya, link between swara and laya could be maintained even in bada khayal.


Where Ustad Amir Khan has vocalized compositions of Aman Ali Khan in the form of bada khayal, he has maintained Aman Ali Khan’s madhya vilambit laya. For example, bandish of raga-hansadhvani set in ektal, composed by Aman Ali Khan jai mate vilamb tajdeand the bandish of raga basant mukhari set in jhaptalPrabhu data vidhata. As far as Ustad Amir Khan’s own style of bada khayal is concerned, he applies ativilambit laya in jhumra tal. In available audio recordings of his vocalism, there are few examples where he has sung bandishes of bada khayal in madhya vilambit trital [like the tal applied with masitkhani gat], whom he used to sing in ativilambit jhumra often. For example, the bandish of raga-malkauns in ativilambit jhumra presented in HMV LP No.IASD1357, ‘jinkay mana ram biraje’, he sang it in madhya vilambit trital in the program of Akashwani Indore. In the background of such experiments, influence of Aman Ali Khan’s style of singing bada khayal in madhya vilambit laya, might be the reason indirectly. This aspect is about the presentation of bandish. Ustad Amir Khan didn’t make unnatural efforts to demonstrate the link between tal and swara in his gayaki. He had not adopted Aman Ali Khan’s layakari in extempore improvisation of bolbat.


There is not as much space available for imagination based raga improvisation in madhya vilambit laya as is available in ativilambit laya. The reason for this is that the rotations of tal are completed comparatively in short time because of speedy laya. Besides, the strokes of tal beat coming speedily, the stability of swaras and shant rasa can not be produced. And if shant rasa is tried to be produced intentionally in such laya, there being no adjustment with such rhythmic environment, it will appear to be artificial. Hence, the style of Ustad Amir Khan was different from that of Ustad Aman Ali Khan, because he made bada khayal a medium of expressing shant and karun rasas.


There was no distortion of posture and gesture in vocal presentation of Aman Ali Khan. Ustad Amir Khan too was very cautious in keeping his expression natural in his vocalism. In this matter, Ustad Aman Ali Khan might have been an ideal for Ustad Amir Khan, besides other great vocalists.


Special emphasis is laid on layakari in Bhindi Bazar Gharana and Aman Ali Khan presented its refined form. His presentation of drut khayal full of laya is considered equivalent to the steps of dance. As vocal style of Ustad Amir Khan produced shant rasa, therefore there was no excitement in his vocalism generated by layakari. The stability of swara is related to the stability of mind, whereas the result of layakari is mobility. Hence the layakari is more suitable for shringar rasa, veer rasa etc. Therefore where the lyrics in which such expressions are found, there the stepping of dance can be discerned also in the presentation of Ustad Amir Khan because of miraculous laya parts. Mr. V. H. Deshpande in this way: “In his madhya laya, inclining towards drut laya, again he makes feel in his gayaki the dance like gayaki of Bhindi Bazar.”[20] But Ustad Amir Khan’s laya fullness is not due to bolbat, speedy word pronunciation or layakari with tihayees; instead its peculiarity of laya lies in stress on particular places in tans. He has increasingly applied tan salient swara phrases even in the basic swara compositions of such bandishes.


This effect can be seen in his gayaki in following drut bandishes: -

1.     Raga-bilaskhani todi, trital- ‘Bajay Neekay ghungaariya’

2.     Raga-malkauns, trital – ‘Aaj moray ghar aaila balma’

3.     Raga-bihag, trital ‘Aali ree Albeli’

4.     Raga-hansadhvani, trital‘Lagi lagan pati sati sang’.


3- Ustad Abdul wahid Khan and his influence: -

Respectively third main influence on the gayaki of Ustad Amir Khan was that of Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan, the famous maestro of Kirana Gharana. Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan was a main representative of Kirana Gharana. His hearing capacity being impaired, he was known as Behre [deaf] Wahid Khan. The eminent Sarangi player of Kolharapur, Khan Saheb Haidar Khan was his guru and by relation he was his uncle. He lived with him from his very childhood and received training in music from him. Thus, Abdul Wahid Khan obtained all those gharanedar [of gharana] music compositions through Haidar Khan, which Haidar Khan had received from the contemporary binkar, Bande Ali Khan of Kirana.


After leaving Kolhapur, Wahid Khan lived first in Bombay and thereafter at Lahore and Delhi respectively.


Improvisation of raga by alap, with gradual movement of swaras, is considered to be the specialty of his gayaki.[21] His tans used to be complex and peculiar. He used to sing prevalent ragas such as malkauns, multani, lalit, darbari kanhada, miyamalhar etc. He died in 1949, at the age of 78, in Kirana [near Dist. Saharanpur, U.P.].


Having been influenced by Ustad Rajab Ali Khan and Aman Ali Khan, the style developed by Ustad Amir Khan himself was highly influenced by the gayaki and the principles of Kirana Gharana; the medium was Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan. While living in Siddique Building [from 1944 to 1951] situated at the crossing of G.B. Road and Ajmeri Gate, old Delhi, Ustad Amir Khan came in contact with Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan. In those days, Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan Usually lived in Delhi and Used to visit this area. This area was the center of many important artists in those days.


Ustad Amir Khan liked the gayaki of Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan very much. He was eager to listen to him as much as possible. A vocalist, Ms. Munni Bai, resident of Delhi, was disciple of Abdul Wahid Khan. After being acquainted with Munni Bai, in order to understand Abdul Wahid Khan, Amir Khan adopted the method that he used to be present while Munni Bai took lessons from Abdul Wahid Khan and listened to him. Subsequently, Amir Khan married the same Munni Bai. He always tried to maintain contact and closeness with Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan. He wanted to become host of Abdul Wahid Khan, so that enough opportunity could be availed for mutual discussion about music. Being influenced by his eagerness, curiosity and perseverance, Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan also accepted to become his guest many times and provided him opportunity to understand important factors of his style and thus increased the knowledge and experience of Ustad Amir Khan.


Though Ustad Amir Khan got benefited by the gayaki and experience of Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan, he didn’t give much importance to ceremonial formality of ganda bandhan, nor did Abdul Wahid Khan expect it from him. Despite it, illusion prevails that Amir Khan formally had become disciple of Abdul Wahid Khan. As Ms. Chhaya Bhatnagar wrote in an article: “Afterwards he practiced art becoming disciple of the great musician, Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan Saheb of Kirana Gharana for some time due to which he got new elegance in his gayaki.”[22]


Two main instances are available which prove wrongness of above statement, which are as follows: -

In an interview given to Ravindra Visht by Ustad Amir Khan, this part is worth paying attention: “I [Ravindra Visht] asked- have you learnt from Abdul Wahid Khan of Kirana Wala? Some people say so. Khan Saheb got a bit angry, when I have listened to him? Once or twice face to face, and from radio. I have adopted method of improvisation from him. The rest of gayaki is my own.”[23]


The second reference is from an article of Mr. Amique Hanafi. He writes: “the mutual relation of respect and love between Amir Khan Saheb and Wahid Khan Saheb was that of heart and spirit. The ceremonial custom of basic formality of ganda bandhan had nothing to do with it. Though Ustad Amir Khan was a man of open heart and mind and was receptive to virtue, available from anywhere; nevertheless due to his individualistic tendency and emphasis on his own style, he was not willing to accept tutelage of any one, other than his father, Ustad Shahmir Khan.”[24]


Although Abdul Wahid Khan and Amir Khan didn’t give importance to the formality of the guru and shishya relationship between them, some of the devotees of Abdul Wahid Khan wanted that Amir Khan should become his disciple ceremonially. But because of the reasons mentioned above, Amir Khan didn’t succumb to their pressure. This information was provided to the author by Mr. Potdar in an interview on 9th April, 1989.


Amir Khan’s style of presentation of vilambit khayal and the method of raga improvisation by shabdalap [alap with words] was particularly influenced by the vocal style of Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan. In this context, Mr. Krishnarao Majumdar, who was well acquainted with Ustad Amir Khan and also had heard Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan in music concerts, told the author in an interview on 9th April, 1989: “Abdul Wahid Khan had an extraordinary command over vilambit khayal. Simply by listening to him, Amir Khan imbibed the vilambit style. Also in application of ativilambit laya in bada khayal, Amir Khan was inspired by Abdul Wahid Khan.”


The gradual raga improvisation in vilambit khayal, which is by movement [badhat], is supposed to be main characteristic of vocal style of Kirana Gharana. Abdul Wahid Khan became famous due to being authority on this part. badhatmeans presentation of a raga by gradual addition of each applied swara one by one, showing the role and importance of each swara according to the grammar of raga. Through this badhat, he used to sing a raga for long time. Ustad Amir Khan endeavored to imbibe this quality of Abdul Wahid Khan to the maximum, and he was successful in it to a great extent.


The influence of Abdul Wahid Khan on vilambit khayal style of Amir Khan brought very significant changes in his style. “The deep impression of alap-bazee [the game of alap] of Abdul Wahid Khan is found so much on Amir Khan that in his vilambit khayal, one can remember Wahid Khan and here he [Amir Khan] completely forgets the danceful gayaki inherited from Bhindi Bazar and its layakari too [whether it is of madhya laya] is not given any opportunity.”[25]


Alap becomes effective due to badhat style and besides it unnecessary repetition is avoided. In the words of Mr. Chetan Karnani: “Amir Khan believed in a simple principle of architectonics known as badhat. This is a Kirana Device that he borrowed from Wahid Khan, whereby the musical edifice is built up note by note in observance of the principles of Gestalt Psychology-namely, when you touch the next higher note, an entirely new configuration is formed in relation to the earlier notes. The observance of this principle can be seen in his rendering of darbari where in he elaborates the raga for about ten minutes using the notes only below the gandhar of the middle octave.”[26]


As there being a system of raga improvisation by badhat in Kirana Gharana, its vocal style is alap salient. The detailed alap is done before bandish in dhrupad gayaki and binkari. Almost similar alap is done in Kirana khayal gayaki with tal after the sthayee, including application of words of bandish; the reason is that the origin of this style is from the style of bin players like Bande Ali Khan. In midst of other factors, the ratio of alap was considerably increased in the vocal style of Ustad Amir Khan due to influence of alap presentation technique of Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan. The ragas where there is more scope for presentation of various alaps, were favorite ragas of Abdul Wahid Khan and also of Amir Khan, such as: shuddha kalyan, darbari, malkauns, bhimpalasi, multani, todi, asavari, lalit, miyamalhar, yaman kalyan etc. While being absorbed in presenting alap in such ragas, to pass a period of half an hour or more in grave alap in complete bass octave and purvang of middle octave, is an ordinary thing. The recording of Khan Saheb’s yaman kalyan preserved with the archive of Akashwani Indore and shuddha kalyan rendered in a concert at Bombay, are excellent examples of it.


Being influenced by the Kirana style, Amir Khan adopted many of its bandishes also, as for example: chhota khayal of raga darbari- ‘Jhanjhanakwa bajay bichhua’, The bandish in jhaptal madhya laya of raga abhogi- ‘Charan ghar aye’, chhota khayal in raga shuddha kalyan- ‘Mandar bajo’, vilambit khayal of raga miyamalhar- ‘Karim naam tero’.


The tradition of tuning the first string of Tanpura with shuddha nishad along with singing, instead of pancham swara, has started with Kirana Gharana. The followers of this gharana opine that the clear sound of nishad swara available on Tanpura, creates a peculiar environment full of swaras, which helps the vocalists to reach the stage of samadhi by means of swaras. Ustad Amir Khan also adopted this system. He got prepared a special Tanpura having five strings, which he used in his singing; so that one additional string could be tuned with shuddha nishad.


Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan used to sing most of bada khayals in vilambit jhumra tal, whereas in practice, application of this ancient tal was declining. Even as application of jhumra tal not being encouraged by the contemporary vocalists, Ustad Amir Khan was not discouraged and by adopting application of jhumra tal, he made it alive.


After considering all these influences, although Amir Khan could not receive any systematic and direct training from Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan by becoming his disciple; still by listening only and adding this experience to his thinking, he shaped his style in such a form, wherein qualities of Abdul Wahid Khan were incorporated to a great extent. After listening to Amir Khan from radio, he was very pleased and blessed him in such terms which could be treated no less than a certificate or degree. He said: “I believe that after me, my gayaki will remain alive only because of you.”[27]


Influence of Hazrat Amir Khusro and his Literature: -

Amir Khusro was born in 1253 A.D. at Patiali, a small town of Etah District of Uttar Pradesh. His father, Amir Mohammed Saisuddin came to India from Khurasan [a city of Iran] and settled in Etah. He was Turkish Muslim and his wife was Hindu.


Amir Khusro was a lover of arts and had interest in poetry. In books of history, the name of Amir Khusro is mentioned as Abul Hassan and Hazrat Amir Khusro Rehmatullah Aleh.


After his father’s death, Amir Khusro came to Delhi, where he found patronage of Ghayusuddin Balban of Ghulam dynasty. Here he came in contact with artists and literary persons and so his talent got advanced more and more. He also found patronage of Alauddin Khilji [1295-1316 A.D.]. From the decline of Ghulam dynasty to the rise of Tughalak dynasty, he had seen 11 rulers.


Amir Khusro was disciple of famous Sufi saint, Hazarat Nizamuddin Auliya. That is why a clear influence of Sufi philosophy can be seen in his thoughts and literature. He was a man of versatile genius. He expressed his views on the subjects regarding religion, philosophy, grammar, mathematics, science, music etc. Besides being a poet and Sufi saint, his achievements in the field of music are considerable. Thus, his name became permanent in the history. quol, tarana, quavvali and khayal style are considered his creations. Similarly for instruments, he is considered to be inventor of Sitar and Tabla. He is credited also to have composed certain ragas and tals. Some of the ragas invented by him were born out of the fusion of Iranian music and Indian ragas. An Urdu book regarding music, ‘Risal-e-Amir Khusro’ was written by him, which available with Mohammed Karam Imam, the author of ‘Madan-ul-Mousiqui’. For the first time, Amir Khusro applied Iranian Usoole-Makam [principle of scale] to Indian music, resulting in mail or thaat system in place of ancient murchhana system.


During the reign of Kaikobad and his permission, Amir Khusro wrote ‘Kiram Ussaden Masnavi’ [ovation of the ruler]. Besides it, he wrote some other books also, such as ‘Nuhsipahar’, ‘Khajainul Futuh’, ‘Divalrani Khizrakhan’ etc. He had also written ‘Khalakbari’, a collection of poetic creations, wherein synonymous poems of Arabic, Persian and Hindi have been given. He had good knowledge of Persian, Arabic and prevalent Brij Bhasha. Hence he wrote poems in all those languages. Brij Bhasha was his mother tongue. In addition he had sufficient knowledge of Sanskrit also. His books in prose and verse have been given high place in Persian literature. He had an equal command on Indian and Persian music.


In 1324 A.D., his Ustad [guide], Nizamuddin Auliya passed away. Depressed by his death, Amir Khusro became a recluse and after a year, in 1325 A.D. he left his mortal body. His grave lies beside the grave of Nizamuddin Auliya in Delhi, where Urs [death anniversary of a saint] is celebrated every year.


An all pervading influence of his literary creations on the culture and arts in India can be seen today, even after many centuries of his death. The various classes of society, who were influenced by him knowingly or unknowingly, are mainly poets, thinkers, historians, learned men of Hindi literature, musicians and quavvals. In this context, while delivering lecture at Raza College, Rampur [U.P.] in 1966, Acharya Brihaspati says: “Whether may be a poet or critic, whether a thinker paying attention to important aspects of civilization and culture or a ordinary quavval, whether an Indian or Pakistani professor writing history of Urdu language or a pandit writing glossary of Hindi literature, whether an old lady telling stories and riddles or an expert of music, is not devoid of the influence of Hazrat Amir Khusro, knowingly or unknowingly.”[28]


Self made ragas, tals, singing modes and language style, all these factors collectively have been identified as ‘Ilme Khusro’ by contemporary Muslims; and subsequently by Hindus as ‘Indraprasth Mat’. Looking to such an all pervading influence of Amir Khusro, it was but natural for a person like Amir Khan, a musician and lover of literature to be attracted towards Amir Khusro’s ideology, literature and philosophy and to prosecute his studies towards it.


Amir Khan Saheb was fond of poetry and was very much interested in Urdu and Persian literature. A poet, Mr. Bismil Sayeedi was his friend at Delhi. And at Calcutta, Mr. N. Rashid Khan who was well versed in Hindi, Urdu, Persian, Bangla and English languages, was in close contact with him. Exchange of ideas on various aspects of Urdu and Persian literature used to continue with these literate persons. The role of Khusro in music and his works were the main subjects of discussion under this exchange of ideas.


Ustad Amir Khan often used to say: “Music becomes more expressive if words are sung with feeling. The poetic aspect of khayal is as much important as its raga aspect. If an artist wants to become a good musician, it is necessary for him to have poetic imagination.”[29]


The above view expressed by Ustad Amir Khan shows the influence of Amir Khusro on him, because in the Indian history Khusro is such a two fold individual in the Indian history, who played very important role in the fields, poetry and music.


Ustad Amir Khan had opinion that the khayal of today and its bandishes have deviated from its original form. In this context, he used to present references from the history, about the origin of khayal and other vocal styles by Amir Khusro, their purpose and form. Whatever study he made about Amir Khusro, he derived following conclusion about him:

“Khusro invented quol, kalbana, naksh, gul, tarana and khayal; out of these the first four remained confined to tombs, only tarana and khayal could come out.”[30]


In another statement, he said: “Amir Khusro made the drut part of khayal and Sultan Husain made vilambit.”[31]


From the above statement of Amir Khan saheb, it becomes clear that along with other vocal styles [which subsequently extinct from Hindustani music], he considered Amir Khusro the inventor of khayal and tarana styles. About the origin of above vocal styles, Acharya Brihaspati expresses his view, referring to the Urdu book ‘Maodanul Mousiquee’, written by Hakim Mohammed Karam Imam,: “Karam Imam himself has said that Amir Khusro had made prevalent khayal, quol, kalbana, naksh, gul and tarana in place of Hindustani dhrupad, doha, matha, chhand, prabandh and kavitta.”[32]


Mr. Haldhar Prasad Singh ‘Indu’, in an article about Khusro, has credited him with the origin of khayal and tarana. The quotation in this reference is as follows: “Among his [Amir Khusro’s] vocal styles ghazal, quavvali, tarana, khayal etc are very much in vogue.”[33]


About the creation of khayal and tarana by Khusro, the ideas of Ustad Amir Khan and the prevalent views are almost same.


Ustad Amir Khan didn’t consider khayal style simply a means of entertainment; therefore he didn’t like bandishes of khayal replete with obscene and amorous poetry. If he himself composed any bandishes, all were of bhakti rasa [devotional sentiments]; otherwise he sang poetry of Sufi saints giving them the form of khayal bandish. For example, see the first two lines of a rubayee of Sufi poet, Sarmad Shahid, which were sung by Ustad Amir Khan in raga priya kalyan:

Sarmad! gham-e ishque bul-hawas ra na dihand.

Soz-e-dil-e-parwana magas ra na dihand.”

The sense of this is- “Sarmad! The grief of love can not be imparted to every one, as the compassion of a lamp insect can not be imparted to a fly.”

Similarly Ustad Amir Khan presented Persian rubayees also in other ragas in the form of bada khayal, such as written by Hafiz: ‘Salahbar kuja va’ in raga purvi and ‘Shahaje karam’ of Hafiz in raga yaman.


Ustad Amir Khan has mostly applied jhumra tal in vilambit khayal. There are total 14 beats in this tal, which are divided in four parts of 3-4-3-4. As has already been mentioned that Amir Khan sang his vilambit khayals set in jhumra tal, like Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan of Kirana Gharana. Besides, this fact is also worth considering that Ustad Amir Khan had tendency to make efforts for revival of the modes invented by Khusro. It is believed that Khusro had invented 17 tals, which include jhumra and soolfakhta, which were vanishing from vogue.


The information given by Acharya Brihaspati, about 17 tals of Khusro, is as follows:

“According to Karam Imam, Hazarat Amir Khusro invented 17 tals on the basis of Persian behars [meters], the names of which are pashto, jobhar, quavvali, soolfakhta [usool fakhta], jat, jalad, tritala, savari, aadachautala, jhumra, zananisavari [jamani savari], dastan, khams, farodast, kaid, pehalvan, pat and champak.”[34]


The basic form of tal jhumra is given below: -


Tal jhumra-






























Ustad Amir Khan applied jhumra in bada khayal of ativilambit laya. Hence some times in the place of additional pause of half beat, coming after the first and the eighth beat, all the beats were allotted equal duration, so that the Tabla accompanist should not feel inconvenience.


It is believed that Amir Khusro created many ragas by fusing the Iranian and the Indian music systems. Among the ragas performed by Ustad Amir Khan, in them sarparda, yaman [iman], puriya, todi, purvi, suha, shahana [bashit shahana] and sugharayee are such ragas which are believed to have been invented by Amir khusro. The information available regarding ragas invented by Amir Khusro is as follows: -

 1- jeelaf, 2- rajgiri, 3- sarparda, 4- yaman, 5- rat ki purya, 6- barari, 7- todi, 8- purvi, 9- suha, 10- hua, 11- bashit shahana, 12- sughrai, 13- usyak, 14- bakharja, 15- munam, 16- nigar.


The most influence of philosophy and literature of Khusro was on the tarana style of Ustad Amir Khan. Ustad Amir Khan believed that tarana was invented by Amir Khusro. In this context, he had been curious and inquisitive for long for the purpose of bringing out clear and authentic facts and for research about tarana and in-depth meaning of its words. He kept under consideration the prevalent various opinions and historical facts also regarding tarana. Thus he became the first modern vocalist who tended to make a research about tarana, keeping a different point of view. In this context, one of his own recollections is worth mentioning: -

“I often heard from persons that tarana had no meaning. I thought that I should search for every thing about tarana. There was a poet friend, Bismil Sayeedi at Delhi. One day he made me hear a sawayee [a type of poetry] written by Khusro. It is said amongst us that when an effigy of Adam was created, the soul was ordered to enter it. But the soul was not ready to enter in to that place. Then Hazarat Daud recited a lehan [melody] to the soul. Then the soul became so rapt that it entered in to the effigy. On this he told a rubayee:

‘Anroz ke ruhe-pak ke Adam babadan,

Har chand daranami sudastar sabadan,

Khanand palayka balhane-Daud,

Das-das dartan darad dartan-dartan’

I felt that tarana began from here. ‘Na dir dani to dani’ is a sort of jap [devotional words], which were repeated by Sufis during the state of ‘Haal’ [deep meditation]. I continued to think and to search.”[35]


The findings on tarana presented by him became a topic of discussion among musicians, musicologists and critics. In this regard, the opinion of music reviewer, Chandrakantlal Das is as follows: “After research, the findings about tarana presented by Ustad Amir Khan are logical and reliable.”[36]


Ustad Amir Khan was not ready to accept that tarana should be considered a type of singing of meaningless words, the application of which could be made for the word pronunciation to demonstrate tongue skill in fast laya and to show various acrobatics of voice in the laya increasing continuously. He believed that the tarana invented by Khusro, was full of spiritualism in its original form. The meaningful words of Arabic and Persian were applied in repetition, like the words of jap. This method of jap is called virad in the terminology of Sufis. Besides, the Persian poetry was placed as antara. That is, tarana was a medium for a devotee to identify himself with God. later on the vocalists who had no knowledge of Arabic and Persian languages, changed the form of this vocal style and filled the sounds of Tabla and pakhavaj in place of Persian poetry occurring in antara and made the words of tarana meaningless. Amique Hanafi illustrates the link between devotion of Sufis to God and tarana as follows: “His [Amir Khan’s] view was that the form of tarana was established by zikra [illustration], the specific devotion of Sufis. As Sufis recite the name of God repeatedly in zikra, in the same way also in tarana there is repetition of words. Amir Khan Saheb thought that the words of tarana were mystical forms of Arabic and Persian words.”[37]


In order to prove that the prevalent words of tarana are distorted form of Arabic and Persian words, by his research Ustad Amir Khan presented Arabic and Persian words having similarity with the words of tarana. The list of such words along with their meanings, is as follows: -


Dar tan aa                     Enter into the body

Nadir dani                     You know the most

Tan dar dani                 Who knows all of inner

Dara                              Come inside

Tanandara                    Enter into the body

Tom                               I belong to you

Odani                                      He [God] knows

Tudani                          You know

E-la-layee                      Aye! Ali

Yalalla                          Oh! God

Yalalli                           Oh! Ali


Besides the above list, ala, alhila, lilla, alalum etc are words indicative of God; the original word of which is Allah [God].


The eminent vocalist and researcher of music, Dr. Prabha Atre’s conception of tarana is sufficiently similar to that of Ustad Amir Khan, which is confirmed from a part of her article: -

“There had been a great musician named Amir Khusro, in 13th century, who gifted five types of vocal modes of devotional sentiment, namely quol, kalbana, nakshe-gul, tarana to the world of music. Subsequently all became extinct, except the tarana, and the form of tarana has also changed. The origin of tarana was from meaningful words, such as dar aa tanam means ‘you come into my body’ and yo allah whose form was changed toyalali-yalali. Later on the artists, who were unable to understand meaning of these words, pronounced them wrongly and made it the vocal style of meaningless words.”[38]


In the context of basic form of tarana vocal style created by Khusro, opinion of Ustad Amir Khan is how much near to the fact, it would be proper to consider the bandishes composed by Khusro and are traditionally presented by quavvals.


On the basis of a statement in Hadis of Arabic language, Khusro composed a bandish giving it the form of Hindustani music, which is sung by quavvals even today. The quavvals of modern age like Shankar-Shambhu of India and Sabari brothers of Pakistan have sung it.

man kunto molah fa Ali molah

Dir tum na na na-na na na na-

Le ala li aala li allilalah

Ya lalal lali alali ya lale.

man kunto molah fa Ali molah”[39]


In the first line of above bandish, describing the greatness of Hazrat Ali [son-in-law Prophet Mohammed and a caliph of Muslims], Prophet himself says: ‘Of whose Molah I am, Ali is his Molah’. Rest of the words of lines of bandish are the same kind, whom Ustad Amir Khan says to be similar to the jap of Sufis.


There seems to be some similarity between the words of tarana and bols of gat of Sitar. Hence, it is also said that the influence of Sitar playing style might have been on tarana presentation. When Ustad Amir Khan’s opinion was sought about it, he opined that since the Sitar and tarana, both were created by Amir Khusro, it is but natural that a similarity can be seen between the two. According to his opinion, the technique of Sitar playing developed by Amir Khusro is the result of the same words, on the basis of which tarana came into existence.


Ustad Amir Khan thinks that Amir Khusro might have composed many bandishes of tarana also, as he was a top poet of Persian language and he played an important role as a composer of music. Here it is also to be noticed that Pt. Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande’s ‘Kramik Pustak Malika’ contains such traditional bandishes of tarana, in whose antaras the rubayees of Khusro are present. For example, an antara of a tarana in raga-kafi is present, whose words are as follows: -

“Khalke main goyad ke khusro

Butparasti main kunad

Aare aare main kunadwa

Khalke mara karnestan”[40]


The style of tarana may be prevalent at the time of Amir Khusro, considering it as basic form of tarana and to revive the tradition of Khusro, Ustad Amir Khan himself started creating bandishes of tarana.


There is a bandish of Khusro, called kalbana’, which is sung by vocalists of Sufi tradition. Ustad Amir Khan introduced it again in the classical music. Kalbana is a form of Sufi poetry, which is concerned with soul and God and is presented in the form of quavvali. Pt. Amarnath gave following definition of kalbana: -

“Qalbaanaa: Qalab is the word for soul in Urdu. Qalbaanaa, the Sufi verse relating specifically to the soul, is sung in Quwaalee style.”[41]


Ustad Amir Khan has sung the above bandish in madhya laya ektal setting it in raga-darbari, which is as follows: -

Sthayee: -

Yare-man biya biya

Dartan tadeem tananana deem tom tananana

Antara: -

Balabam rasida janam

Tubiya ke zindamanam

Pas azan ke man na manam

Bachekar khwahi aamad.


Translation: -

Sthayee: -

My friend! Come come,

Come into my body.

Antara: -

My life has come to the lips

You come so that I may live

If I will not survive,

What will be the use

Of your coming afterwards.


Here Khusro, giving the simile of lover and beloved between the soul and God, has given compassionate expression of separation. In the tarana of raga-jog composed by Ustad Amir Khan, a rubayee of Khusro has been applied. Its words are as follows: -

“Basast keemate Khusro ke goyee

Ghulame rai-e-gani e mane ab”


For the purpose to give practical shape to the ideas had by Ustad Amir Khan about meaningfulness of words of tarana, in addition to Khusro, he also applied poetry of other Persian poets in bandishes of his tarana and paid special attention to select poems suitable to the sentiment of the raga. For example, following rubayee of famous Persian poet, Hafiz, was sung in the tarana of raga-megha: -

“Abre tar, sehne chaman,

Bulbulo gul, fasle bahar,

Saki o mutaribo main,

Yar bashane gulzar.”


In addition to above mentioned taranas, he sang rubayeedar taranas in other ragas; such as-hansadhwani, shuddhakalyan, malkauns, chandrakauns, suha etc. Explaining the meaning of rubayeedar tarana’, Pt. Amarnath writes: rubaaee is a complete expression of poetic thought, in one or two couplets; and the taraanaas in which rubaaees are sung are known as rubaaeedaar taraanaas.”[42]


On the basis of his distinct opinion about tarana described above, Ustad Amir Khan had also written an article in the magazine, ‘Music-East and West’, published by Indian Council for Cultural Relations. In order to give shape to his ideas practically, whatever efforts he made, resulted in influencing the frame of bandish of tarana and other elements of improvisation [alap, sargam, tan etc], and a distinct style of tarana gayaki came into being. Like khayal, meanings of words and sentiments were also given importance in it. So much so that some times tarana became an alternative to drut khayal in his vocalism. Considering this distinct style of tarana, Dr. Prabha Atre throws light on the tarana vocal style as follows: -

“At present generally we get to hear two types of tarana. There is one concept of tarana of its own, which means to increase the laya and to improvise it with Sitar ang [Sitar pattern]. The second is to present tarana like drut khayal. In it, alap-tan ang is more.”[43]


It can be concluded that the specialties which are found in the tarana gayaki of Ustad Amir Khan, deviating from the contemporary form, were made possible due to influence of Khusro on his thinking. He had high regard for Khusro. He used to listen to quavvali with interest and considered it a musical mode invented by Khusro. He used to go to the tomb of Amir Khusro to pay his homage.


SMerukhand System Mentioned by Sharangdev in ‘Sangeet Ratnakar’: -

The life span of Sharangdev is said to be from 1175 AD to 1247 AD. His grand father, Bhaskar, left Kashmir and went towards /South India in search of patronage. Father of Sharangdev, Shodhal, found patronage from the first ruler of Yadav dynasty, Bhillama, at Dolatabad. Sharangdev himself was working on the post of Auditor General during the reign of Yadav Ruler, Sinhdev [1212 AD to 1247 AD]. He was musicologist, expert in Ayurveda and scholar of Vedanta. He wrote a book on music in Sanskrit, named ‘Sangeet Ratnakar’. This book contains abstract of findings of the contemporary scholars and description of prevalent music during the period of Sharangdev. Among the ancient books of Sanskrit, this is the last such book which has been accorded equal importance in both classical music systems of the south and the north. Commentaries on this profound book were written in Sanskrit by Sinh Bhoopal [14th century] and by Kallinath [15th century], and in Telgu by Vitthal.


This book is divided into seven chapters, in which swara, raga, prakirnata [dispersion], prabandh [composition], tal, instruments and dance have been discussed. Applying the mathematical principle of permutation on the swaras of music, Ustad Amir Khan used the system of merukhand in raga improvisation and tan creation, the theoretical original source of which is the same book, ‘Sangeet Ratnakar’.


Written originally in Sanskrit, Hindi translation of this book was published in 1968 in two volumes. In the fourth chapter of first volume of this Hindi translation, Gram, murchhana Kram, Tan prakaran’, I have concentrated on tan, prastar [spread], principle of prastar, khandmeru, the form of khandmeru, finding of tan by khandmeru, types of tan etc; because khandmeru system of Ustad Amir Khan is related to this. The following important points can be discerned from this chapter of the book, whereby the theoretical aspect of Amir Khan’s merukhand system can be made clear.


1- koottan: - By making permutation in the order of swaras, the obtained variations of tan are called koottan. By this permutation or changing of order, the form of tan becomes complex. Hence, a complex tan is generally called koottan [koot means ‘complex’]. Dr. Ashok D. Ranade, in his book, tells about koottan of Sharangdev as follows: -

Tan, as it was understood in the early and medieval phase of musical development was in fact a murchhana characterized by a predetermined omission of a note or two. The resulting pattern was, according to Bharata, a murchhana-tan. In the event the sequence of notes in a murchhana was after a special type of tan called kut-tan resulted.”[44]


Keeping stable the quality of his voice, by means of this change of order in swaras, Ustad Amir Khan made the basis of producing variety in tan and sargam, however he did not used the word koot tan for his tans.


2- 5040 Koot tans and their Method of Spreading: - 5040 Koot tans are produced out of seven swaras. The mathematical method to find out the total number of permutations of the articles of certain number is to gradually multiply numbers from one to that certain number, such as for seven swaras: 1x2x3x4x5x6x7=5040.


This mathematical method of koot tan has been called swara prastar. In the words of Pt. Omkarnath Thakur: “One, two, three, four, five, six or seven swaras, which can be placed in different orders, they all fall under swara prastar. The basis of swara prastar is the rule of mathematics, called permutation and combination.”[45]


By means of different number of swaras, following swara prastars are obtained: -


Number of Swaras                                               Number of Swara Prastars

Archik [one swara] swara prastar                        1 x 1 = 1

Gathik [two swaras] swara prastar                      1 x 2 = 2

Samik [three swaras] swara prastars                             2 x 3 = 6

Swarantar [four swaras] swara prastars              6 x 4 = 24

Audhav [five swaras] swara prastars                             24 x 5 = 120

Shadhav [six swaras[ swara prastars                             120 x 6 = 720

Sampurn [seven swaras] swara prastars              720 x 7 = 5040


The swara prastars of different number of swaras are formed as under. While making permutations, it is necessary to keep in mind that none of the prastars should be repeated, nor any left out. Hence, one should go ahead by adopting a certain order.


In a swara prastar of one swara, as there is only one swara, there will be only one swara prastar; because there is no possibility of changing the order. Two swaras will form two prastars. For the first time, both the swaras will be placed in ascending order and next time in descending order. For example: s r – r s.


While making six prastars by three swaras, from basic swara phrase s r g, g, r and s placing at the end, and placing remaining two swaras first in ascending and then in descending order, six swara prastars will be formed as: 1. s r g, 2. r s g, 3. s g r, 4. g s r, 5. r g s, 6. g r s. The first two prastars of these six prastars, the last swara of the basic swara phrase s r g, or the swara of right hand side, g will be kept stable at the end and thus two prastars will be formed. Afterwards the second of the swaras from right hand side, r is kept stable at the end and two prastars are formed. In the last, the third and last of the swaras from the right hand side, s is kept at the end and thus last two prastars are formed.

By changing the order of four swaras, twenty four prastars are formed. In the first six prastars, the last swara of basic swara phrase, s r g m, will stay at the end and six prastars of the three swaras, s r g, will be added before it. Then keeping the swara, g, at the end, the six prastars of three swaras, s r m, will be added before it and will form next six prastars of four swaras. Similarly keeping r at the end, six prastars will be made of s g m, by changing their order and the last six prastars will be created by keeping s at the end and changing the order of r g m. Twenty four prastars of four swaras are as follows: -



s  r  g  m


s  g  m  r


r  s  g  m


g  s  m  r


s  g  r  m


s  m  g  r


g  s  r  m


m  s  g  r


r  g  s  m


g  m  s  r


g  r  s  m


m  g  s  r






s  r  m  g


r  g  m  s


r  s  m  g


g  r  m  s


r  m  s  g


r  m  g  s


m  s  r  g


m  r  g  s


r  m  s  g


g  m  r  s


m  r  s  g


m  g  r  s





While making 120 prastars of the five swaras, s r g m p, the same method will be adopted, that is from the original order, one swara will be taken from the right side and will be kept stable at the end of the prastar; before it, twenty four prastars of four swara will be added. The twenty four prastars formed out of the remaining four swaras, the order will be same, that is from the right side of the original order, every swara [before the last swara in five swara], will be kept stable at the end six times. To sum up, every swara will be kept stable at the end or at the right side of the prastar, twenty four times, at the second place from right side six times and at the third place two times. The 120 prastars of the five swaras are formed in that order as on next page.


120 Prastars of five Swaras



Prastars ending with p


Prastars ending with m


Prastars ending with g


s r g m p


s r g p m


s r m p g


r s g m p


r s g p m


r s m p g


s g r m p


s g r p m


s m r p g


g s r m p


g s r p m


m s r p g


r g s m p


r g s p m


r m s p g


g r s m p


g r s p m


m r s p g


s r m g p


s r p g m


s r p m g


r s m g p


r s p g m


r s p m g


s m r g p


s p r g m


s p r m g


m s r g p


p s r g m


p s r m g


r m s g p


r p s g m


r p s m g


m r s g p


p r s g m


p r s m g


s g m r p


s g p r m


s m p r g


g s m r p


g s p r m


m s p r g


s m g r p


s p g r m


s p m r g


m s g r p


p s g r m


p s m r g


g m s r p


g p s r m


m p s r g


m g s r p


p g s r m


p m s r g


r g m s p


r g p s m


r m p s g


g r m s p


g r p s m


m r p s g


r m g s p


r p g s m


r p m s g


m r g s p


p r g s m


p r m s g


g m r s p


g p r s m


m p r s g


m g r s p


p g r s m


p m r s g



Prastars ending with r


Prastars ending with s


s g m p r


r g m p s


g s m p r


g r m p s


s m g p r


r m g p s


m s g p r


m r g p s


g m s p r


g m r p s


m g s p r


m g r p s


s g p m r


r g p m s


g s p m r


g r p m s


s p g m r


r p g m s


p s g m r


p r g m s


g p s m r


g p r m s


p g s m r


p g r m s


s m p g r


r m p g s


m s p g r


m r p g s


s p m g r


r p m g s


p s m g r


p r m g s


m p s g r


m p r g s


p m s g r


p m r g s


g m p s r


g m p r s


m g p s r


m g p r s


g p m s r


g p m r s


p g m s r


p g m r s


m p g s r


m p g r s


p m g s r


p m g r s

To form 720 prastars of six swaras, from right side of the original order, each swara is kept stable one by one at the end and 120 prastars of remaining five swaras are added before it. The prastar method of five swaras has been explained previously. In the prastars of six swaras, d will be placed at the end of first 120, p will be placed at the end in next 120 and then m, g, r and s swara will be placed at the end respectively; thus 20 x 6 = 720 prastars will be formed by six swaras. Exactly the same method will be applied for the prastars of seven swaras, that is, n, d, p, m, g, r and s will be kept stable at the end respectively and every time 720 prastars of remaining six swaras will be added before it. Thus, 720 x 7 = 5040 sampurna prastars of seven swaras will be formed.


After understanding the method of permutation by change of order in phrases of different number of swara, an important thing comes to light that maximum part of the original of swara phrase is kept stable as much as possible and change in order  is started in rest of it and gradually the entire order starts changing. The maximum part of swara phrase from right side is kept stable and the change of order starts from two initial swaras of left side, because the ascending order must precede the descending order. We can demonstrate this by making some prastars of seven swaras: -


1)     s  r  g  m  p  d  n

2)     r  s  g  m  p  d  n

3)     s  g  r  m  p  d  n

4)     g  s  r  m  p  d  n

5)     r  g  s  m  p  d  n

6)     g  r  s  m  p  d  n

7)     s  r  m  g  p  d  n

8)     r  s  m  g  p  d  n

9)     s  m  r  g  p  d  n


It is clear from above permutations that in first two permutations, except the initial two swara, other five swaras [g m p d n] remain in their original order. Thereafter, from third to sixth prastar, m p d n remained stable in the end. In seventh and eighth prastar, m was included in process of change of order and only p d n remained stable in original order. In this way, the process of change of order begins from left and reaches gradually to the right and ends at 5040th permutation n d p m g r s. Thus a straight descending order is obtained. No swara can be used more than once in any permutation.


In ‘Sangeet Ratnakar’, a table of khandmeru has been shown based on numbers, which is used in the process of Nashta and Uddishta. The meaning of nashta and Uddishta is given in ‘Sangeet Ratnakar’ as follows: -

Khandmeru is helpful to find out following tans: -

1.     Uddishta tan- to find out order of a given tan in the swara prastar.

2.     Nashta tan-  to find out the form of a tan of a particular serial number in swara prastars.[46]


Here it is not required to explain in detail the above procedure of nashta and uddishta because the change in order of swaras, applied in the vocal style of Ustad Amir Khan, is specifically related to permutation method only and not to the serial numbers of permutations. Now a days, the same method of permutation is known by the name of merukhand, meerkhand, merkhand, sumerkhand, khandmeru, swara prastar etc. It has gained importance in the field of applied music because on the basis of mathematics, the maximum number of swara phrases and swara combinations, which can be obtained from a certain number of swaras suitable to raga, could be taken into consideration. Pt. Amarnath has defined the merukhand system as follows: -

Merukhand- “Meru means spine; Khand means portion. The merukhand system discussed in the Sangeeta Ratnaakara by Sharangadeva is a mathematical ordering of notes through which 5040 taans are possible in seven notes.”[47]


The extent to which Ustad Amir Khan has accepted influence of khandmeru of ‘Sangeet Ratnakar’ on his gayaki, is explained by Mr. Mohan Nadkarni in his book as follows: -

“Ustad himself claimed that he represented the merukhand style of vocalism, mentioned in ‘Sangeet Ratnakar’, a classical Sanskrit treatise of the famous Sharangdev of fourteenth century.”[48]


Here it is to be noted that in above statement, the period of Sharangdev has been mentioned as of fourteenth century, which is not correct, actually it is thirteenth century. Whereas in the fourteenth century and afterward, some commentaries were written on this book.


Ustads of Bhindi Bazar Gharana used to study the classical music of the South and they adopted some of its elements for their style. They obtained this merukhand system too from the South. Thus this system of ‘Sangeet Ratnakar’ reached to Ustad Amir Khan indirectly.


In the context of training of merukhand received by inheritance and refinements done as per his own judgment, Ustad Amir Khan says: “For the knowledge of swara and for riyaz, practice of aroha-avaroha [ascending-descending] is the first step. In our system, there are 360 alankars and 5040 paltas of merukhand. To remember all of them orally is very difficult, if not impossible. Therefore I have prepared 168 swara mailas. The constant practice of them provides base to a great extent.”[49]


Here it is to be noted that in the above quotation, the word maila is synonymous with the word ‘combination’. It is not related to the thaats of seven notes having shuddha-vikrit forms.


The above mentioned 168 swara combinations are formed by combining four-four swaras as under: -

There will be 24 permutations with four swaras, s r g m, which has been described previously under ‘5040 Koottans and their Method of Spreading’.


The second swara phrase will be r g m p and its 24 permutations will also be formed as under:



r  g  m  p


r  m  p  g


g  r  m  p


m  r  p  g


r  m  g  p


r  p  m  g


m  r  g  p


p  r  m  g


g  m  r  p


m  p  r  g


m  g  r  p


p  m  r  g






r  g  p  m


g  m  p  r


g  r  p  m


m  g  p  r


r  p  g  m


g  p  m  r


p  r  g  m


p  g  m  r


g  p  r  m


m  p  g  r


p  g  r  m


p  m  g  r





Thereafter carrying forward the same procedure, 24 permutations of g m p d, 24 permutations of m p d n, 24 permutations of p d n S, 24 permutations of d n S R and in the 24 permutations of n S R G will be formed.


By mixed application of these permutations, Ustad Amir Khan created a treasure of badhat, raga improvisation and sargam.


By including the shuddha-vikrit swaras according to the raga, Ustad Amir Khan prepared audhav permutations of five swaras, and by practicing it, made the base of his gayaki. Mathematically, only 120 permutations can be formed of five swaras, which automatically include 24 permutations of four swaras and six permutations of three swaras. But when Amir Khan made them suitable to raga, they constituted an indefinite number. Because of change in the shuddha or vikrit forms of swaras and due to exclusion of two swaras out of seven swaras in different manner, Many variations are formed. It does not mean that any permutation can be used at any time, because to present permutations is not a goal in itself; but it is acceptable as a useful mean for raga improvisation. Hence, when Ustad Amir Khan, Besides The riyaz, applied merukhand in khayal gayaki and raga presentation, the grammar of a particular raga restricted the number of admissible permutations naturally. The rules of raga that restrict the number of admissible permutations are mainly- the rule of exclusion and non exclusion in aroha and avaroha, rareness or prevalence of a note, prescribed shuddha-vikrit form of a note etc. For example, in raga darbari, making four swara’s permutations, s r g m, on the basis of prastar method, if raga improvisation or badhat is made; keeping in view the vocal style of Ustad Amir Khan, division of admissible and inadmissible will be as under: -

 s r g m, m s r g, g m s r, r g m s, g m r s – these will be admissible. Whereas s g r m, g s r m, r g s m, r m s g, s m g r, m g s r, g r m s, m g r s etc will not be admissible keeping in view the form of raga darbari kanhada, because due to kanhada ang, gandhar is kept andolit and in avaroha, it is applied in curved manner; then only it will be convenient to restore the form of raga. It is not sufficient to keep in view only the grammar and the form of raga, but also a mature aesthetic sense is required as to at what place and which swara phrase will be melodious and worth listening. In this context, personal opinions of Ustad Amir Khan were in effect.


Importance of imagination is very much in improvisation of raga of audhav type, and in addition to prescribed swara combinations and swara phrases, different swara combinations and permutations are admissible. In addition, the form of aroh and avaroh used to be simple and straight and because of being only five swaras, all of them have prevalence. To sum up, in the ragas of audhav type, despite application of various permutations, identity of the raga remains intact. On account of these reasons, Ustad Amir Khan used to sing audhav or audhav-sampurna ragas specially and there in applied swara phrases based on merukhand frequently.


Ustad Amir Khan’s sargam based on merukhand is considered to be complex. The reason is that he applied various permutations in a mixed manner in sargam and in tans also. This admixture used to be so peculiar that after one swara phrase what would be the next, was not possible to anticipate. This is the practical aspect of the application of merukhand. Hence, there is no prohibition of repetition of swaras; whereas in view of shastra [theory], every swara can be used only once in a permutation. For example, see a tan in raga malkauns, wherein admixture of above permutations, peculiarity and repetition of swaras, which make it a special form: -

 s d g m n d, m d n S d S n m n m d, s g m d g m g s n s.


Support is being taken from swara phrases obtained from permutation method for making alankarik tans [figurative tans]. Alankarik tan is the application of swaras in orderly movement. Any particular permutation can also be made the basis of said orderly movement. For example, if the permutation ‘s g d m is made the basis of tan in raga malkauns, the alankarik tan ‘s g d m, g m n d, m d S n, d n G S’ can be formed. Generally in these figurative tans, certain type of laya, movement and stress is extended in a uniform pattern. Peculiarity of tan and sargam of Ustad Amir Khan depends on application of stress beyond imagination, for which he devised his own method of combining various permutations, wherein different types of laya khand and bal [stress] emerge automatically. He does not sing tans by applying alankar in a definite order.


The influence of merukhand on the tans and sargam of Ustad Amir Khan is already known; the influence of merukhand was sufficient also in developing the required power of imagination for the improvisation of raga and alap. Badhat provides a disciplined form to the system of raga improvisation, as improvisation begins with some swaras of bass and middle octave and gradually next swaras are included in it. Patience is required in this system and the next swara is included when the raga improvisation has been effected by previous swaras as much as possible. It is the same that when all the permutations of two swaras have been accomplished, then the next permutations of three swaras begin. When permutations of three swaras are accomplished, then next swara is included and permutations of four swaras are started. Thus, to proceed ahead, paying attention to all possible swara phrases, is the common element in badhat and swara prastar both. The influence of merukhand is known mostly on sargam and tans of Ustad Amir Khan, because his alap being very sentimental, its technical aspect is almost concealed. His disciple, Pt. Amarnath also accepts influence of merukhand on badhat of Ustad Amir Khan, which is made clear by his following statement about establishment of ‘Indore Gharana’ by Ustad Amir Khan: -

“The stylistic features of this gharaanaa are: detail barhat [aalaap] with bol in vilambit laya based on Merukhand thinking - - -“[50]


In order to maintain importance of nyas swaras [final notes] of a raga during alap, Ustad Amir Khan considered only those permutations admissible in particular raga, in which no harm was done to the raga, if pause was laid on the final note. For example, Ustad Amir Khan has applied pancham swara sufficiently both in aroha and avaroha in raga-bageshri but didn’t pause on that swara as a final note. Similarly, maintaining importance of komal rishabh in raga-ahir bhairav, while improvising with the swaras ‘s r g m in application of permutations, ‘s g m r, s m g r, s r g m, s g r m, g m r s’ etc swara phrases were applied very emotionally during alap.


Generally, with some of the swaras of an octave, all variations which can be obtained by changing order of those swaras, they find a place in permutation method and they are used in singing at appropriate places. In addition to change of order of swaras, Ustad Amir Khan has produced a variety by various divisions of permutations in different octaves. For example, in raga-hansadhwani, keeping the swaras ‘s r g p’, in the same order and adding other swara phrases to it, the tan will be formed in the style of Ustad Amir Khan in following manner:

1-     s r g p S n p g r

2-     s r g P P G R S n p –

3-     s r g p g g r n n p g r s


Thus, besides permutations of swaras, to produce variety by change of octave, was the specialty of Ustad Amir Khan’s own. In presenting such swara phrases with ease, his voice used to remain so natural that it was not detected how all of sudden, the octave was changed and by application of distant swaras [long interval], how peculiar swara combinations emerged.


Repeated usage of raga identifying swara phrases and swara combinations in the gayaki and application of ascending-descending etc varnas in improvisation of raga is available in gayaki of Ustad Amir Khan too. Nevertheless his vocalism does not remain restricted only to the formality to demonstrate the form of raga. Here and there, he used to apply such swara usage, which on the basis of traditional raga form, neither can be considered raga identifying nor distorting the raga. Here his expression of sentiments based on aesthetics and his power of imagination cultured by merukhand, seem to provide him guidance.


In raga megha [vilambit khayal], sung by Ustad Amir Khan, recorded on side a of LP record No.EASD-1331 of HMV, following swara phrases can be listened: -

Alap p n s r m s,  n m r s,  r m n m r.


Bol alap – ‘n  s’ r m  p   s

                ‘ba -’ - ra  -   kha


Sargam p n s m s r m p,  ‘rm’ ‘pn’ ‘rn’ p m r n s.

              ‘rm’ ‘np’ ‘mr’,  ‘mp’ ‘Sn’ p ‘mn’   ‘rn’ p.


Tan of sargam – s r R S n p m M R S n p n R r m R S

                          n p n m p m r s.


Though being his application of merukhand so complex and peculiar in sargam, instead to keep emergence of emotion and stimulus of raga as usual [like in improvisation and behlava], he does not leave his voice culture of meed, ghaseet and gamak.

[1] Hindustan Times-30 Oct. 1988, ‘The Leading Schools’, Writer: Bindu Chawla.

[2] ‘Sangeet’-March 1974, P.10, Writer: Acharya Brihaspati.

[3] Kalavarta-February/March 1989, P.22, ‘Shagird Ka Hak Shagird Ko, Writer: Moinuddin Khan.

[4] ‘Sangeet’-January/February 1980, P.19, ‘Meri Gayaki Meri Avaz Hay’, Writer: Ravindra Visht.

[5] ‘Sangeet’-May 1973, ‘Ustad Amir Khan Aur Unki Kala’ [Ustad Amir Khan and his art], Writer: Chandrakant Lal Das.

[6] Kalavarta-February/March 1989, P.17, ‘Gayaki Kee Amiri’, Writer: Gajendra Bakshi.

[7] ‘Ustad Rajab Ali Khan’-P.66, Author: Amique Hanafi.

[8] ‘Living Idioms in Hindustani Music: A Dictionary of Terms and Terminology’-P.34, Author: Pt. Amarnath.

[9] On the basis of LP record issued by HMV containing raga jaunpuri.

[10] The introduction of IMSOC Notation System is available in chapter IV/[3].

[11] ‘Ustad Rajab Ali Khan’-P.68, Author: Amique Hanafi.

[12] ‘Nal’-P.137, ‘Abhijat Surrang-Khan Saheb Amir Khan’, Author: Vasant Potdar.

[13] Weekly Dinman-3rd March 1974, ‘Tumhare Sharan Ab Kiyo Vishram’, Writer: Amique Hanafi.

[14] Kalavarta-February/March 1989, P.10, ‘Aisay Thay Meray Satguru’, Writer: Pt. Amarnath.

[15] Kalavarta-February/March 1989, P.34, ‘Jab Amir Khan Saheb Gate-Gate Ro Pade’, Writer: Ramnath Shrivastava.

[16] ‘Swarmayee’-P.67, ‘Sargamanch Rag-Sangeetatit Sthan’, Author: Dr. Prabha Atre.

[17] ‘Sangeet’-October 1985, P.47-48, ‘Sangeet Shastragya Evam Guni Gayak: Pt. Ramesh Nadkarni’, Writer: Madanlal Vyas.

[18] Detail description of Sangeet Ratnakar is given afterward, in same chapter.

[19] Hindustan Times-Oct. 30, 1986, ‘the Journey of the Gharana’, Writer: Bindu Chavla.

[20] ‘Gharanedar Gayaki’-P.93, ‘Indore Aur Amir Khan’, Writer: V. H. Deshpande.

[21] On the basis of LP record issued by HMV, containing raga multani, patdeep and darbari.

[22] ‘Sangeet’-March 1985, P.24, ‘Sangeet Madhurya Kay Samrat Ustad Amir Khan’, Writer: Chhaya Bhatnagar.

[23] ‘Sangeet’-January/February 1980, P.18, ‘Meri Gayaki Meri Avaz Hay’, Writer: Ravindra Visht.

[24] Weekly Dinman-3rd March, 1974, ‘Ustad Amir Khan: Tumharay Sharan Ab Kiyo Vishram’, Writer: Amique Hanafi.

[25] ‘Gharanedar Gayaki’-P.92, ‘Indore Aur Amir Khan’, Author: V.H. Deshpande.

[26] ‘Listening to Hindustani Music’-P.86, ‘The Lonely Tower: Ustad Amir Khan’, Author: Chetan Karnani.

[27] ‘Sangeet Kalavihar’ [Monthly]-December 1956.

[28] ‘Sangeet’-February 1966, P.5, ‘Amir Khusro’-an article read by Acharya Brihaspati at Raza College, Rampur.

[29] Nai Dunia-29 March 1989, ‘Unhone Lokranjan Kee Sharton Se Samjhota Nahin Kiya’ [He didn’t compromise with the conditions for public entertainment], Writer: Mohan Nadkarni.

[30] ‘Sangeet’-November 1971, P.25 & 34, ‘Sangeet Sadhakon Se Bhent: Ustad Amir Khan’, Writer: Shambhunath Mishra.

[31] ‘Sangeet’-December 1976, P.26, ‘Sangeet Jagat Kay Amir: Ustad Amir Khan’, Writer: Madanlal Vyas.

[32] ‘Sangeet’-February 1966, P.12, ‘Amir Khusro’-an article read by Acharya Brihaspati at Raza College, Rampur.

[33] ‘Sangeet’-April 1962, P.53, ‘Kavi-Sangeetagya Khusro’, Writer: Haldhar Prasad Singh ‘Indu’.

[34] ‘Sangeet’-February 1966, P.12, ‘Amir Khusro’-an article read by Acharya Brihaspati at Raza College, Rampur.

[35] ‘Sangeet’-November 1971, P.25, ‘Sangeet Sadhakon Say Bhent-Ustad Amir Khan’, Interviewer: Shambhunath Mishra.

[36] ‘Sangeet’-May 1973, ‘Ustad Amir Khan Aur Unki Kala’, Writer: Prof. Chandrakantlal Das.

[37] Weekly Dinman-3rd March, 1974, P.36, ‘Ustad Amir Khan-Tumharay Sharan Ab Kiyo Vishram’, Writer: Amique Hanafi.

[38] ‘Sangeet’-November 1967, P.29, ‘Bhartiya Sangeet Kee Do Shailiyan’, Writer: Dr. Prabha Atre.

[39] Urdu monthly-‘Aajkal’-August 956, article ‘Quavvali’, Writer: Maikash Akbarabadi.

[40] ‘Kramik Pustak Malika’-Vol-2, P.337, raga-kafi, Author: Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande.

[41] ‘Living Idioms in Hindustani Music: A Dictionary of Terms and Terminology’-P.89, Author: Pt. Amarnath.

[42] ‘Living Idioms in Hindustani Music: a Dictionary of Terms and Terminology’-P.89, Author: Pt. Amarnath.

[43] ‘Sangeet’-November 1967, P.28, ‘Bhartiya Sangeet Kee Do Shailiyan’, Writer: Dr. Prabha Atre.

[44] ‘Maharashtra Art Music’-P.25, ‘The Musico-literary Scene: The Yadavas’, Writer: Dr. Ashok D. Ranade.

[45] ‘Sangeetanjali’-Vol.V, P.117, ‘Varna, Alankar, Tan, Swara Prastar’, Author: Pt. Omkarnath Thakur.

[46] ‘Sangeet Ratnakar’-Vol.I, P.50, Chapter 4, ‘Gram, Murchhana Kram, Tan Prakaran’, Author: Acharya Sharangdev, Translator: Lakshmi Narayan Garg.

[47] ‘Living Idioms in Hindustani Music: a Dictionary of Terms and Terminology’-P.74, Author: Pt. Amarnath.

[48] ‘Madhyavarti’-P.36, ‘Amirkhani Shaili’, Author: Mohan Nadkarni.

[49] ‘Sangeet’-December 1976, P.115, ‘Sangeet Jagat Kay Amir: Ustad Amir Khan’, Writer: Madanlal Vyas.

[50] ‘Living Idioms in Hindustani Music: A Dictionary of Terms and Terminology’-P.55, Author: Pt. Amarnath.