What Are Gharanas In Classical Music

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Much before partition, in what we today call as undivided Punjab, revenue collected from 84 villages ( 84 villages in and around Punjab) was given as reward to the singer who was excellent in his art. A popular singer of that era of the name Sham, was once offered revenue from 84 or chaurasi villages and this is how the name of this gharana that is sham gharana came into existence. Both his students and those in his family who took to his style of singing became popular with the name sham chaurasiya.

The gems of Sham gharana who were primarily these 84 villages which was then a part of India moved to what we now call as Pakistan. Partition rifted some of the gems of Dilli gharana to Pakistan while few of them stayed in India.

What are gharanas in classical singing and how was this term coined?

Gharanas that we hear about in classical singing are bay and large about the place from which that particular style of singing emerged. It was in very rare case that the gharana was named after a singer. Sham gharana is an expection to this law. Usually the area from where the singing got a new taste, a new style to its repertoire becomes the nomenclature.

The nomenclature of gharanas began with terming a particular style of singing to a particular area but soon after 1857 when the royal connoisseurs stopped patronizing the gharanas this trend saw a peculiar change. The singers of one gharana moved to another place while the name of the gharana remained the same. For example some of the very popular singers of Jaipur gharana made Mumbai, Pune and other parts of Maharashatra their key areas for practicing their art and for performances.

Another instance is of Dharwar region which has a number of talented singers of Kairana gharana which is in Uttar Pradesh.

Shift in taste of the patrons

The geographic shift of singers from Dilli ghrana, sham gharana or from Jaipur ghrana or any other gharana for that matter was not only a shift in the terms of the territory they crossed. But it also reflected the change in taste of people who supported and financed these arts. The current shift of singers of one gharana from the place of their origin to the other place is because of many factors some of which include change in preferences of the patrons, lack of funds, lack of respect among locals of that place for that particular gharana and the likes.

Gharana undergo metamorphosis

In the history of classical singing it has been noticed that when a particular style of gayaki is faced with certain language, either oral or written barriers or if the singer has to sustain his art and has to earn for himself that that particular style of gayki undergoes some changes and reforms from time to time. There was a time in India when Thumri was looked upon as a style which was considered unpleasant as it was connected to the style of the courtesans. This brought about a change in the style of the music where the taal was worked upon and shifted and khayl was introduced into the composition. The adaygi associated with this form of music had taken a back seat.

Not just in India, but in Pakistan too many fragments of classical singing were elaborated while some others were not. Like for instance ghazal and qawwali were picked up from the khayal genres and were made popular even today.

But as they say that an art is alive till the time it is ready for change. And change is inevitable for any form of art.

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