Thursday, August 25, 2005

Music and musicians of Banaras

I have been digging for information on the famous Banaras Gharana of music. Inspite of being student of classical music myself, I had a very general idea about this gharana. Apart from being the world centre for all the spiritual fervor, Banaras is an ancient centre for learning the true essence of the Hindustani Classical music. Artists settled here, evolved a unique style of singing, which is the Banaras Gharana. Banaras Gharana (Vocal) was founded by Pt. Gopal Mishra. The style incorporates several genres like the Drupad, Dhamar, Tarana, Tappa, Thumri, Bajan, etc. Lyrics, 'Sur Prastap' (emphasis on music notes), and converting those 'Sur' into 'Aakar' are some of its other salient features. Some of the world renowned musicians from the Banaras Gharana still believe that it was Banaras that made them and their music!
Ustaad Bismillah Khan is the most famous Banarasi citizen. Born in a small Bihar village in 1917, Ustad Bismillah learned shehnai from his uncle who played in the famous Vishwanath temple. Bismillah Khan is now one of the most respected musicians. Yet his lifestyle has not changed. It retains the old world charm of a Banaras life ... his chief mode of transport is still the cycle-rikshaw!
Pt. Kishan Maharaj is one of the finest tabla players ever, was born on the auspicious day of Sri Krishna Janamashthami in the year 1923, in the holy city of Banaras. He began learning at the tender age of eleven, accompanying the principal artistes of the day.
Girija Devi one of the finest thumri experts of this century was also born in Banaras in 1929, She started music lessons at the age of 5 with the well known singer-sarangi player Pandit Sarju Prasad Misra, and later continued her music training with Pandit Chandra Misra.


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