Ustad Abdul Karim Khan

Ustad Abdul Karim Khan Saheb can without doubt be said to be the father of modern Kirana Gharana. Khan Sahib got his initial training from his uncle Ustad Abdullah Khan and father Ustad Kale Khan. 

Abdul Karim Khan’s Gayaki or style of singing was a confluence of pure Kirana Gayaki, Carnatic style of singing and also elements of Gwalior Gayaki which he picked up from Ustad Rahimat Khan Sahib of Gwalior Gharana. 

Note: Image used is sourced from Wikipedia.

MUSICAL HIGHLIGHTS

Influence of Carnatic Music 

Ustad Abdul Karim Khan was court musician for the states of Mysore and Baroda. In his routine commutes from Baroda to Mysore, he would halt at Dharward, Belgaum and Mysore itself. He got attracted to Carnatic music and blended many of its aesthetics in his music. Here is a clip where this influence of clearly visible in his singing.

Baithak Foundation · Abdul Karim Khan Raga Karharpriya – ramani samag nevru

Influence of Veena 

Ustad Abdul Karim Khan played Veena very well. The glides (continuous movement from one note to the other, called as Meend) which are possible on Veena can be observed in his singing as well. 

Here is a short clip where Ustad Ji is playing his Veena. 

Baithak Foundation · raga Pilu on Veena by Ustad Abdul Karim Khan

Singing NatyaGeet:

Maharashtra and the regions on the border of the present states of Maharashtra and Karnataka had a flourishing tradition of musical dramas. While many classical musicians considered the music in these dramas to be ‘inferior’ and avoided singing it, there are quite a few recordings of Abdul Karim Khan Sahib singing these musical compositions called as Natyageet. 

Here is a recording where he is singing a famous Natyageet, Ugich Ka Kanta. 

Baithak Foundation · Ustad Abdul Karim Khan singing Ugich Ka Kanta

ANECDOTES

  • It is said that Abdul Karim Khan was so much particular about Javhari of his Tanpuras that he used to wear Kurtas which were made from the same thickness and quality of threads which he would use for Javhari of his Tanpuras. 
  • Khan Sahib had a very uniquely resonant voice. He would often practice sitting inside a well and would try to project his voice based on the water level in the well. He had developed his own technique of balancing resonances in his voice as per the space where he performed. 
  • Khan Sahib had a pet dog which would listen intently to his music. 
  • When he settled in Miraj, he got the whole families of Tanpura makers to Miraj. Even today, the present generations of these instrument makers thank Khan Sahib for sharing with them the knowledge of making Tanpuras and attaining perfect tonal quality. 

Here are some quick facts about Ustad Abdul Karim Khan :

Date of birth: 11 November 1872

Death: 27 October 1937

Gharana: Kirana 

Gurus: Abdullah Khan, Kale Khan

Influencers: Ustad Rahimat Khan 

Disciples: Sawai Gandharva, Roshanara Begum, Sureshbabu Mane.

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