Music, in India, started as a significant part of social-religious life. She has a history spanning millennia, developed over several eras in the field of Indian Arts. Vocal music and instrumental music being two of the three pillars of performing arts in India, the KIRANA GHARANA, a prolific form of Hindustani Khyal Gharana, concerned primarily with the perfect intonation of the notes (also known as the Swara or Sur), has a colossal influence.
The “KHYAL” in Hindustani music, popularized by Niyamat Khan, a musician in the court of Muhammad Shah Rangile, has its origin in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. The etymological origin of this word stems from the Persian language, meaning “IMAGINATION”.
The “GHARANA” system in Hindustani music has distinct styles of presenting the Khyal. The Gharana links the musicians and dancers by creating a system of social organization. In simpler words, it refers to the place of the origin of ideologies in music.
The word Kirana Gharana is named after “Kairana” a little town near Kurukshetra, which is now the Shamali district of Uttar Pradesh. This little town holds the privilege of being the birthplace of a vital innovator in Hindustani classical music of the 19th century, USTAD ABDUL KARIM KHAN, who was one among the few geniuses, who gravitated to the other important aspect of music, i.e. “Swara”
The Vilambit Laye, also known as the slow-tempo method, was introduced in the Kirana Gharana, in order to delineate the raga note-by-note (Swara by Swara). The Swara are not considered as points in the Kirana Gharana, but individual entities, which have a scope for expansion. The milking of notes serves as an instance for this delineation of the Swaras. The Kirana Gharana is directly influenced by another form of Indian music, the Carnatic music, which originated in the Southern part of India.
The Kirana Gharana incorporates the use of the musical styles which includes the emotional PUKAAR, performed in a high pitched tone, serving a taste for the note KOMAL-RISHABH. The influence of the Carnatic music is evident from the use of SARGAM-TAAL extensively. In Kirana Gharana, the emphasis is laid more on the vocals and hence, the instruments only play a lesser and understated role to the vocals, with the Tabla and the Tanpura being the steamrollers among the instruments.
Among the many Ragas in Hindustani music, few of the favorite Ragas of the performers of Kirana Gharana are Todi, Darbari, Kanhara, Multani and Komal-Rishabh Asavari. The AALAAP, a reminiscence of the Gharana of Gwalior, is given emphasis in the course of the performance. The Swara is used in inducing a peaceful mood by incorporating the grace notes, also known as the KANAS. The notes are elongated in certain parts in order to produce a tranquil effect.
In order to produce an emotional grounding of the Gharana, the slow tempo is incorporated into the performance. The approach is neither hurried nor clumsy. The melodic tone of the notes is handled with utmost attention. Singing with clarity in words is only given secondary importance. With this, the stress on yielding an emotional experience also becomes unnecessary.
With popularity among both male and female singers, the Gharana includes great singers such as Bhimsen Joshi, Gangubai Hangal, Prabha Atre and Kishori Amonkar with an expression of reverential adherence to Khan Saheb Abdul Karim Khan who had the capability of leaving his audience thinking of the notes on a trampoline. He was emotive, pure and ever present.
The Kirana Gharana continues to everlastingly influence Hindustani music with its serene and soothing qualities. It is quite fascinating that the Kirana Gharana has still managed to have its own followers in the world of Shreya Goshal and Taylor Swift.