Maihar Gharana (Sitar)
The Maihar gharana for Sitar Music originated by one of India’s greatest music maestros Ustad Allauddin Khan of revered memory. Though basically a Sarodia himself, the great master was a unique combination of a teacher and performer. It is indeed a tribute to his versatile talim in both vocal and instrumental styles received from the scions of the Rampur gharana particularly Ustad Wazir Khan that he could train up bright artists in various instruments like Sarod, Sitar, Violin, Guitar and others.
This was definitely a new style of great richness and variety and his great strength lay in his willingness to teach whoever went to him with a mentality to learn. It is here that he totally differed from the traditional Ustads of India who were basically secretive by nature and temperament, transmitting their learning and knowledge to their sons and near relations only.
Ustad Allauddin Khan of Maihar Gharana was blessed with very gifted and exceptionally talented disciples that was led by his great son Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, his son-in-law Pundit Ravi Shankar and his disciple Nikhil Banerjee the last two being Sitar players of outstanding merit who came out from a gharana of Sarodias.
Ustad Allauddin was not only a great maestro himself but a versatile teacher judged by the toughest standards. His own training from his teachers and his innovative mind opened up new vistas of teaching and training. This perhaps explains why his trio of great disciples have distinctive separate styles of playing (with some common features no doubt) but with also clearly different musical personalities.
In Maihar gharana, if the baaz of Sitar has lost something of the specialties and traditions of Sitar baaz it has gained much more from other instrumental forms by way of both experimentation and innovation.
Innovation and search for new frontiers have perhaps cost the Sitar players of this gharana terse criticism but perhaps one has to concede that music cannot be stationary, nor can listener’s tastes remain static.
Some more points regarding the Sitar players of this Maihar gharana deserve mention. The first is the great facility with which the players present their music in uncommon and off beat talas and the unique improvisation and rhythmic variations in their tanas. This phenomenon was not to be found in Sitar gharanas of the past. Still, however, there are many who maintain that Sitar is best played in the basic talas like Teental, Rupak, Jhaptal and Ektaal. The other talas, obviously, belong to the domain of Dhrupad and Rudra Bin. They are many who may not agree with this view.