When you are the great grandson of sarod maestro Baba Alauddin Khan, there is a heavy responsibility and pressure to take forward the family legacy, but Shiraz Ali Khan says there are huge benefits that come from receiving gharana-based education and also when it comes to becoming a professional musician.
From Alauddin Khan, the music “naturally flowed down via my grandfather Ali Akbar Khan and my father Dhyanesh Khan,” Shiraz told IANS in an interview.
“I started learning the instrument under my father and my Uncle Aashish Khan at the age of five. However, whenever my grandfather would be in the country, he would teach me as well,” Shiraz added.
He was part of a trio — the others being pedigreed musicians Sourabh Goho (tabla) and Arindam Bhattacharya (vocals) — that collaborated for a concert organised by HCL here.
Like Shiraz, the other two were also introduced to the family tradition at a very early age, and ended being interested in the family legacy.
On his grandfather, Shiraz said: “He was always a very quiet person who spoke through his music. Belonging to the Senia gharana, Ali Akbar Khan applied gayaki (singing) for tutelage.”
Shiraz said his grandfather would sing and teach him the basics and then take over the instrument to demonstrate. “A Gurumukhi approach, which I listened to and played.”
“He was very sincere about his music, patient and serious, and I am trying to learn from him.”
Shiraz has also studied under the guidance of his aunt Ameena Perera in the Beenkar and Rababiya Anga styles bearing the Dhrupad form of vocal music.
“At the age of eight, I also started with my tabla taaleem (education) under the guidance of the late Pandit Shankar Ghosh but eventually devoted myself to the sarod,” he said.
His first solo sarod recital was at the age of 15. This was followed by his performances in Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal. He also got a chance to commemorate his great grandfather in Kolkata.
How has he benefited from belonging to a gharana?
“The world knows about the people in my family like my grandfather Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Annapurna Devi and the geniuses like Pandit Ravi Shankar, Pandit Nikhil Banerjee, Pandit V.G. Jog, among others,” he said.
“I am now considered a torch-bearer of the Maihar gharana,” he added.
Sourabh Goho started learning vocal music from his father — harmonium maestro Jyoti Goho. When he was seven, his father understood his love for rhythm and for the tabla. He then took him to one of the greatest tabla legends — the late Pandit Shankar Ghosh.
“That’s when my taleem began. Since Guruji is no more, I am currently taking tabla lessons from maestro Bickram Ghosh,” Sourabh told IANS.
He feels that being a musician’s son has both advantages and disadvantages.
“I feel lucky and blessed to be the son of Pandit Jyoti Goho. However, there have been times when my performance was not up to the mark; so organisers I performed for never called me for their events again,” he explained.
Arindam Bhattacharya inherited music from his family and went on to pursue his masters in music from Kolkata’s Rabindra Bharati University.
He is a disciple of Ranjan Mukherjee, an exponent of the Patiala style of singing, and Sangeetacharya Tarapada Chakraborty’s style.
“My father, tabla maestro Pandit Swaraj Kumar Bhattacharyya of the Lucknow Gharana, has always encouraged me to be focused and to do my best,” he told IANS.
He stressed that it is a great privilege to be coming from a family of musicians. “Since my birth I have been brought up with rhythm and musical notes,” he said.
So far, it has been a “wonderful” journey for him, he said.
“As a teenager, I started experimenting with introducing influences to classical compositions which explain the birth of a fusion band, Indian Blue, in 2002,” he said.
He explained how this genre of music has been used and encouraged by his family for a long time now. “My eldest uncle, Aashish Khan, the noted sarod player and the connoisseur of the Maihar Senia gharana, started experimenting with Indian and western fusion all over the globe and excelled in it.”
None of the three had any complaints to make about the struggles of a classical musician. They seemed content with whatever has come their way so far.