top of page

gharana and baaj

The Transmission of Knowledge

Gharana means a musical tradition or lineage. In the olden days, tabla students stored information with hard work and memorization. Gurus made sure that students were capable enough to perform by mandating that they learn for at least 12 years before allowing them to take part in a mehfil. Out of 100 students 99 would play in the same way, but 1 student would do something different: this student would learn from other gharanas and styles. A new style would emerge from his overall skills, and a new lineage could be formed (the gharana would normally be named from the hometown of this new tabla player).

Tabla players used to often learn tabla as their primary activity with no other main job. Gurus would try to make their students work even harder than they had. However, many teachers hid information from their students, so several amazing compositions that may have been composed are hypothetically missing today. If such masters passed away before the compositions were transmitted to the future generation, that bandish would be lost forever. Sometimes, even the gharana of teachers that didn't immediately transmit information faded away, along with their legacy. 

Many students of different gharanas formed rivalries and they became accustomed with excessively criticizing one another. Another reason why many compositions remained in the dark is because the players of one gharana would not always teach their compositions to students of other gharanas. The only benefit of such a rivalry was that students would work extremely hard to combat tough competition, ultimately increasing their riyaaz. If they were defeated in a competition, they would feel disappointed and go back to extreme riyaaz, which created long term excellence. While gurus and gharanas that didn't orally spread knowledge faded away, those that reflected their teachings and thoughts expanded their future potential.

In ancient times, kings used to adore music and loved musicians/artists. They used to take care of musicians and provided shelter for them. This is why musicians were generally relaxed and content under the care of kings. They concentrated on their riyaaz and worked extremely hard primarily for sustaining their own talent or to create talented students to sustain their gharana in the future. However, this safety faded away after some time. Similarly, the competitiveness, hard work, and perseverance once found in students of the past no longer exists in many today. Today, external elements such as marketing or showing-off may have caused some orthodox traditional elements of gharanas to fade away. Additionally, in ancient times, people in famous families without merit sometimes misused their family name for their own pleasure. They attempted to fool others by claiming falsely that certain bandishes/components were theirs when they were not. Today, some students who receive some appreciation stop their riyaaz due to hubris and expect external results such as money relatively quickly. Even then, several students continue to display loyalty, adherence, and respect for their instrument and use newer technologies such as digital mediums to their advantage in progressing forward musically. The transmission of knowledge has, in a way, become easier as it is not difficult to upload, store, or view compositions via audio and video files which can be shared through personal platforms or public ones such as YouTube.

The Beginnings of Gharana


In 1738, Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah (Nasir-ud-Din Muhammad Shah) employed several musicians in his court. Under Sadarang's influence, percussionists developed tabla (which is an unconfirmed theory). From this point, they used tabla for khayal-gayaki. We have different and conflicting information about tabla lineages and tabla players' birth/death dates, however, in general, we are confident that the gharana started approximately in the 18th century. Previously, tabla was mainly used for accompaniment, but tabla players further elaborated solo performances during the 18th century while also developing gharanas. During the arrival of the British, kings/nawabs looked towards luxury and failed to do much service for their communities. However, their care and employment of musicians for luxury remained the same. The creation of any new gharana starts with a renewed style of thinking, resulting in a review of the playing style, which causes some students of a particular generation to utilize the new style of playing. If the same new style is sustained and followed for at least 3 generations, it is said that a new gharana is created.

New gharanas began when students tried to do something different, either because of dissatisfaction or curiosity, both which are intrinsic to human nature. New gharanas could also form because of the geopolitical circumstances in a location, which may provide stimulus for new ways of thinking. There are two important distinctions which put gharanas apart. One of them is baaj, or the playing style. The second and more significant component is the thought system of the gharana. For example, although both Delhi and Ajrada are both of "band baaj," the main point that separated both schools of music, apart from their nikaas, was their thought system.



Baaj is a style of playing. Baaj derives from the hindi word "bajana" and reflects the playing style of a particular gharana. All gharanas fall under two main types of baaj: band baaj an khula baaj.

Band Baaj

The bols played on the chaati of the tabla and luv of the baaya are more prominent. The hand is generally not lifted while playing bols. Gharanas: Delhi and Ajrada

The resonance of the sound produced by the baya and daya is limited in band baaj. While solo-playing in band baaj, the sound produced is closed, hence why playing at a fast speed is more effective to cross-cancel the absence of resonance. When one note is played, the resonance is limited, so the second bol should be played quickly to keep the same energy. This is the reason why there are many kaydas in this baaj. The striking of fingers is essential in this baaj. The purity of sound in both tabla and baya is very important. The pakhawaaj-styled maidan sunds (palm-striking) have not impacted this baaj.

Khula Baaj


The luv or sur is very important. Khula baaj gharanas have a very close association with pakhawaaj. Gharanas: Lucknow, Farrukhabad, Benares, and Punjab.

This is the opposite of band baaj. The impact of pakhawaaj related sounds is seen in this baaj. Khula means open, and open sounds produce more resonance. Pakhawaaj's palm striking has had an impact on the fingering style. Speed is of secondary importance, and gat, gat-paran, chakradaar, etc are prominent in khula baaj. The increased resonance has caused a lesser importance on speed as compared to band baaj.

Delhi accepted the band baaj, introducing the delhi baaj. Lucknow gharana accepted the khula baaj, introducing the lucknow baaj, or poorab baaj. Ajrada became a disciple gharana of Delhi. Farrukhabad and Benares are disciple gharanas of the Lucknow gharana. Punjab is considered completely independent of the Delhi baaj, and accepted the khula baaj. 

Some stalwarts say that today, there is only one baaj running. Both baaj can be intermixed and combined according to the composition played. 

  • Players today may play compositions of different gharanas at once

  • There is a need of baaj flexibility when playing material from different gharanas

  • The teachings of multiple teachers and lineages have further diversified and ultimately intermixed baaj/nikaas.

There are 6 main gharanas in tabla, each with their distinct characteristics, styles, thought system, and histories. 

Delhi Gharana

  • Founder: Ustad Siddhaar Khan Dhadi

  • Band Baaj

  • Also called do oongli ka baaj (two finger baaj) or chaati ka baaj because the bols are played using primarily the index and middle finger.

  • Considered as the first or aadya gharana.

  • Most restrictive gharana.

  • There are more peshkaars, kaydas, and relas (expansionary compositions). There are less tukdas as they are played with open hand/palm.

  • They have strict rules about how kaydas are expanded, and even the expansion of the peshkaar is similar to that of a kayda. Normally, tabla players receive liberty in peshkaar but in Delhi gharana it is played like a kayda, and kayda means "rule," implying that it is strict. The expansion has to be in the sequence of bols found in the mukh.

  • Solo is normally played in madhya laya, and the first half of the solo or purvanga is dominating.

  • Restriction to speed is inevitable when playing with two fingers. To overcome this challenge, Delhi players create impressive presentations and their biggest strength is their expansion process.

  • They hardly play gat or gat-tukdas and even if they do play gats, they are played in chaati. 

  • Ustad Gamey Khan introduced taals other than teentaal to Delhi.

  • Ustad Inam Ali Khan was a very innovative thinker of Delhi gharana. He introduced a rupak peshkaar which started from khaali. 

  • Dha is the "Sa" of tabla, so all compositions are dependent on dha and Delhi gharana respects the bol, paying close attention to the tonal quality.

  • There are very few orthodox Delhi players in modern day because it is difficult to play tabla with several restrictions.

Important players such as Amir Khusro and Miyan Tansen used to live in Delhi. The Delhi king was very rich and employed the best artists in his court. During Mohammad Shah II's time, Delhi gharana was established. Khayal gayaki was given more prominence than dhrupad/dhamaar in this time, and tabla was used for accompanying khayal in place of pakhawaaj. The "meend" of the baya and quick striking of fingers complimented khayal singing. Delhi players tried to avoid the pakhawaaj style in order to promote a unique importance for tabla. While some claim that certain elements are exclusive for their gharana, as time progresses, elements from different schools intermix and cause syncretism. The last major khalifa (major heir) of the Delhi gharana Ut. Inam Ali Khan tried to maintain the purity of the Delhi baaj. Even today, the kaydas and compositions of Delhi are presented, but Ut. Inam Ali Khan's playing was authentic and embraced core Delhi principles. His style remained untampered. Delhi baaj, also called do oongli ka baaj or chaati ka baaj, places high importance on peshkaar, kayda, and rela. The two fingers used in Delhi baaj are the index and middle on both the daya and baya. Double TRKT (TRKT TRKT) can be played cleanly with such styles. Gat, tihai, chakradaar, kayda, rela, etc are played on the chaati. Delhi utilizes bols such as dhite, tite, kite, dha, ta, dhage, tage, dhagena, tagena, dhinagena, two-finger DRDR, etc. One important characteristic is that their kaydas are mostly in chatushra jati and mukhda-mala are played with odd-weightage. Their imagination of different rhythmic and mathematical styles is apparent. Delhi did not give as much importance to the baya as they could have; they played it without lifting the hand and while using two fingers, and didn't focus on meend. Their kaydas sound extremely prepared, but sounds may appear more delicate. Their speeds remain very fast. We remain unsure about Delhi tabla players' biographical dates because relevant records no longer exist. 


Ajrada Gharana

  • Founders: Miru Khan and Kallu Khan (initially students of Delhi)

  • Band Baaj

  • Students of Delhi gharana modified their style of playing when moving to Ajrada.

  • To play at a faster tempo compared to the madhya laya that was popular in Delhi, Ajrada introduced the third finger in tabla playing, the ring finger. Delhi gharana used only two fingers, restricting the speed of playing. However, introducing additional fingers and making adjustments in the sequence of fingers while playing a composition allowed for faster speeds. They were also able to play more types of bols, such as dhinegene.

  • Ajrada is known for several creative modifications in playing techniques and presentation styles.

  • They composed numerous kaydas in tisra jati, making this jati a specialty of Ajrada.

  • They used a unique baya style to play kaydas in tisra jati, with few consonants and more baya, and no harsh syllables.

  • Famous players include Ustad Habibuddin Khan Saheb, the finest tabla player at that time and a core reason for the popularity and rise of Ajrada.

Ajrada is a town in Merath district, Uttar Pradesh. Ajrada is a student gharana of Delhi. There is not much of a difference between Delhi and Ajrada Gharana. One specialty of Delhi was an array of chatushra jati kaydas. Ajrada followed this specialty, but also showed the importance of their thinking style by forming tisra jati kaydas. Tisra jati kaydas were quite unique for the time. They paid attention to how to increase the tabla's sweetness and sonority. Tisra jati kaydas' bols showed this sweetness. Ajrada also gave strong importance to the baya and worked on meend. For example, the space or pause after dha or dhin in certain compositions can be used in combination with the baya's meend. Gheeskam (sliding movement of wrist on baya) was also done at times, but was not overused and wasn't done unnecessarily. Ajrada players did not change the baya's position while doing this. They still kept the maidan of the baya at the wrist and the shahi part towards the audience (unlike some Benares players who place baya the opposite way to make gheeskam more comfortable). In Ajrada gharana's kaydas, phrases with gheeskam (such as dhiteka dhiteka) sound aesthetic. Furthermore, Ajrada gharana tabla later gained the impression of Lucknow (poorab baaj) and added gat-tode. They put characteristics of gat-tode in their kaydas in order to popularize their tabla. Ajrada representative Ut. Habibuddin Khan's tabla sounds true to such subtleties because he learned under Farrukhabad gharana Ut. Muneer Khan and incorporated characteristics of gat-tode in his playing as well. Ajrada players took bol nikaas (playing style of different bols) from Delhi gharana and changed the nikaas as required to make the sounds more beautiful. For example, Delhi gharana Ut. Nathu Khan showed two different nikaas for the kayda (dhatite dhite dhagena tinekena dhadhagena dhinegena dhatite dhite dhagena tinekena + khaali). The styles of kaydas changed in Ajrada as compared to Delhi in terms of nikaas. For example, Ajrada could utilize the "ne" ring finger bol as in the phrase "dhinedhinagena" in replacement of using only two fingers. In Delhi, we may play bols na and "ne" with the index finger on kinaar, but there is not much sweetness because of the force. However, the ne played by the ring finger can be more melodious. One Ajrada specialty is that playing a kayda in a higher laya doesn't get your fingers stuck. On the contrary, without the ring finger, it is possible that one's fingers can get stuck playing certain kaydas in drut speed. In Ajrada, there are many non-traditional kaydas as well. Another difference seen in Ajrada gharana is that the khaali is mixed into the kayda itself (it is harder to distinctly and purely separate the mukh and khaali). That is, there are instances of kaydas in which even the khaali starts with "dhin" as opposed to "tin". The interesting connection is that even the teentaal theka khaali starts from "dha". Additionally, they included some heavy consonant usage in khaali so that playing the khaali was not as boring and that during the solo performance, the audience would remain engaged for a longer time. They paid particular attention to what pleased the audience. In conclusion, Ajrada was a continuation of Delhi gharana and tried to make compositions more beautiful by changing the playing style and by incorporating a unique thought system. 

Ut. Habibuddin khan

Lucknow Gharana

  • Founder: Ustad Modu Khan and Ustad Bakshu Khan (students of Delhi gharana)

  • Khula baaj

  • When Ut. Modu Khan and Ut. Bakshu Khan moved to Lucknow, a city dominated by kathak dancing, they created a unique style of tabla playing adopted from kathak and pakhawaaj compositions.

  • This style of playing is termed as the "khula baaj" or "hatheli ka baaj," or "thapeeya ka baaj."

  • As the bols like "ta thunga / takite thunga" are not typical tabla bols, they improvised a lot to adopt these kathak bols.

  • Lucknow played more tukdas and gats. Very few kaydas are played in this gharana and those too have influence of the language of gat. For example, the bol "ghidan" is not used in kayda, but Lucknow gharana kaydas can be composed using the bol. 

  • Paran was played and was adopted from pakhawaaj. Paran was a long composition. They took out small chunks and called them paran ka tukda. Eventually, the "paran ka" faded away and the small chunks that remained were called tukdas. Similarly, gat-tukdas were tukdas that utilized the language of a gat.

  • Lucknow created various compositions different from Delhi gharana. Sometimes, Lucknow doesn't even play peshkaar. For example, famous Lucknow players today like Pt. Swapan Choudhary do not start their solos with peshkaar, but instead with kissm.

  • Pre-composed bandishes are dominant in Lucknow gharana, and there are several gat-kaydas as well.

Lucknow was established within 50 years of Delhi. The nawab of Lucknow gave importance to kathak and employed several kathak dancers. They used to utilize pakhawaaj for accompaniment, but kathak's "tatkaar" had a different laya. Because accompaniment sounded better on the tabla, it replaced the pakhawaaj. While pakhawaaj's sounds were more prominent and loud, Lucknow players were able to make sure that delicate tabla sounds did not hamper the kathak experience. They used luv instead of chaati on the tabla and maidan instead of luv on the baya for a "khula" experience, influenced from the pakhawaaj naad. Tabla's role in dance accompaniment increased due to its scope for speed and players' finger positions. In Lucknow baaj, they use a "thaap" by closing in 4 fingers and banging it on the instrument. In tabla solo, the banging "thaap" generally decreased as time progressed. Because of these changes, Lucknow music became favorable and musical. Striking on the luv of the tabla is prolonged compared to striking on the chaatii, but the sound on the luv can be sweeter. Because luv sound effects don't always complement kaydas, Lucknow didn't produce as many kaydas as Delhi (luv striking also means lower speed due to the resonance and prolonged duration of bols). Core Lucknow bols include dhitehdhite, dhagetite, kdadhatite, dhagedinganagetite, gadhete, dhetedhete, kata kata, KTTKdhetedhete, etc. Gat, gat-tode, chakradaar, were prominent and mostly composed in chatushra jati playable in madhya laya. The sweetness of sound production was expressed. Lucknow gharana Khalifa Ut. Wajid Hussain Khan, at age 76, showed tayaari and commendable daya-baya balance in his recordings even at such an age. His specialties included rela, gat, gat-paran, tihai, and chakradaar. His son Afaq Khan also kept the Lucknow parampara/tradition alive through his tabla presentations.

abdullah-ahmad-F9fBJ91kiHI-unsplash (1).jpg

Farrukhabad Gharana

  • Founder: Ustad Haji Vilayat Ali Khan 

  • Khula baaj

  • Ut. Haji Vilayat Ali Khan went to haj 7 times, earning the title Haji.

  • He has created some of the most beautiful gats of all time; it is believed that if you play even one gat composed by him, your tabla solo is destined to be successful and your performance will exhibit energy and musicality.

  • His student Ustad Muneer Khan was a disciple of 24 total gurus. He was an excellent performer and a very knowledgeable guru who passed on his wealth of knowledge to succeeding generations of disciples. Some of his disciples included Ustad Thirakhwa Khan, Ustad Amir Hussain Khan, etc.

  • Ut. Amir Hussain Khan composed numerous beautiful bandishes.

  • There is a very thin line of distinction between Farrukhabad Gharana and Lucknow Gharana. 

  • The phrase "DRDRKTTK takite dha" is a stamp of Farrukhabad, found in many gats and gat-tukdas.

  • Chakradaars, farmaishi chakradaars, gats, gat-tukdas are essential to Farrukhabad.

  • Ut. Thirakhwa Khan popularized the peshkaar "dhinSkdadhinta" which was a unique addition. It was a different peshkaar compared to Delhi, which did not utilize bols like "tek ghidan" as it is the language of tukda. Ut. Thirakhwa Khan included such bols in peshkaar and the audience appreciated this unique style. It was one of his popular contributions to the world of tabla, and many tabla players today also follow this style.

Farrukhabad Gharana was created approximately in the same timeframe as Ajrada. Farrukhabad had a lot of influence from Lucknow/Poorab baaj, and gat-tode are often played in pakhawaaj style. Peshkaar, kayda, and rela playing was given importance and thought out properly. In Lucknow style, peshkaar was not initially included and relas were not always played. Farrukhabad took much effort on the sounds of the daya and baya. They utilized dhatrakedhikite, kat tite tite, ketrakedhiikite, dhidanagedhine, takedhintam didhindanage, tagetite, gadin, DRDRKTTK takite dha, kdaSne, dhagenadhatrake, etc in their gat-tode. In their relas, they utilized bols such as dhinetakdhinetak, taktaktak, tinekena, etc. Gat, gat-paran, and gat-todi were composed skillfully with laya in mind. Although lucknow compositions came into this gharana in a traditional way, they also put their own skills and thoughts to compositions and became successful in tabla playing. In Farrukhabad, gat, gat-paran, etc were composed with some easy to understand bols which could be played with ease. Although some phrases are pronounced easily but are tough to play because the sequence of the bols is complex, this was not usually the case with Farrukhabad. They utilized luv for gat-tode, four fingers to play "tek," and the whole palm to play "DRDR". Their kaydas included bols such as dhagenadhatrake, kdadhikite, kdadhakite, dhinakedhinedhinegene, takadhatitakita, etc and were played on the luv. They mostly used chatushra jati and occasionally tisra jati. Their teentaal kaydas can sometimes be very long (32 maatras). In Delhi gharana, the sequence of presenting kaydas is usally mukh, dohra, bala, palta, and tihai. However, Farrukhabad gave importance to mukh, laut-palat, and tihai. They have given significance to spontaneous improvisation for opening kaydas. In this gharana, players were not only good artists but also excellent composers. Farrukhabad gharana founder Ut. Haji Vilayat Ali Khan was an excellent player, teacher, and composer at the same time. He went to haj seven times for his religion and prayed to God that his music should continuously progress and asked blessings for tabla. Farrukhabad gharana Ut. Amir Hussain Khan and Ut. Ahmed Jaan Thirakhwa have explained us his legacy. These two Ustads have said that in your performance, if one plays at least one composition of Ut. Haji Vilayat Ali Khan, your performance becomes even more beautiful and captures the audience's mind. Farrukhabad gharana hasn't only paid attention to gat, gat-paran, and gat-tode. The players of this gharana have also worked significantly hard on kaydas and have played straight as well as odd weightage kaydas. They have used kinaar, luv, maidan, and shahi as needed and have incorporated meend, ghumak, and gheeskam as desired to make kaydas even more playful. 

Ut. ahmed jan thirakwa

Benares Gharana

  • Founder: Pandit Ram Sahai Mishra

  • Khula baaj

  • Pt. Ram Sahai Mishra is not blood related to Delhi gharana. This gharana is of devoted, disciplined Hindus. They have created a powerful and unique playing style and stick to their tradition. 

  • Benares doesn't begin with peshkaar, but instead with uthaan. Often times, they will play tin darje ki uthaan with single and then tisra jati. They also play more on luv than on the chaati. 

  • The wadis used on Benares tabla and daggas are strings. 

  • The maidan of the baya faces the audience, the shahi towards the player. This provides an easier experience for various expressions on the baya. Such expressions can be useful for kaydas and relas.

  • Originally, Benares players used to sit in vajrasan while playing tabla. Their playing is very rigorous and robust, and vajrasan helps them to get the "punch" while playing. 

  • Na din din na is a Benares specialty; they call it "khadi oongli ka na din din na" which means one finger na din din na. 

  • Benares gharana deals with a very unique composition called fard or ekkad meaning unique (of which you can't make a joda or pair/response). Normally any composition can have a joda or pair. But in Benares, fard is so unique and ends so abruptly that it is hard to make a joda, and so such a composition is called ekkad. Example: aamad can be anticipated as it shows all the roads that can be travelled in order to arrive at the sum. However, fard suddenly and abruptly arrives on the sum and sometimes doesn't even have a sense of completeness. Benares is popular for such compositions, and uses excellent language. They have the spirit of the damru instrument in Hinduism as they are devout worshippers of Lord Shiva. 

  • Pt. Kishan Maharaj ji, Pt. Samta Prasad ji, and Pt. Anokhelal Mishra are some famous tabla players from Benares.

Benares gharana accepted the khula baaj. While sustaining their own predominant khula style, they paid attention to Delhi and Ajrada in order to incorporate their specialties. Benares gharana players used chhati for peshkaar, kayda, rela, and lightly incorporated luv for gat, gat-paran, and chakradaar in order for a balanced combo. Lucknow and Benares gharana were used to a royal livelihood, so Benares players adopted a royal playing style. Their presentation of compositions and their expressions, level of riyaaz, and willpower attracts audiences easily. Benares players' level of riyaaz, endurance, patience in the process, etc are components that students can learn and pick up. There is a dominance of speed in this gharana. For this reason, Benares players used a "tip tabla" with a small pudi. They also require a baya with a higher sound. The resonance of the tabla and baya in Benares gharana is comparatively lower, and therefore their tabla sounds very good even at very high speeds. It is a misunderstanding that Benares is made only for dance accompaniment. Benares tabla players' compositions are so beautiful and unique that we don't see the impact of dance styles on such compositions. However, it is completely true that Benares players are experts at accompanying classical dance. The compositions found in Benares are mainly from Delhi, but some original compositions are unique to Benares and can be very straightforward. They are often made to complement fast speeds. Benares players play a peshkaar based on the idea of laggi. There is an impression of Lucknow peshkaar on Benares peshkaar. Many Benares gat-parans are based on chhand, and they complement dance style very well. The vision of tabla in Benares players is very beautiful. They are particular about how good their tabla looks. In Benares music, tabla and pakhawaaj are both respected a lot. Many Benares players are Hindus, and believe that many of these music instruments are created by Shiva, and worship such instruments like God. Their treatment of tabla is very high. If a guru has taught any composition, they try to play the composition exactly without alterations as a form of trust and respect. Another important characteristic of Benares tabla is how they keep their daya and baya, and how they sit. Many sit in virasana (legs folded behind) while playing. Daya and baya pudi leans towards the audience; the maidan of the baya faces the player, while the open area is faced to the audience. Because of this, the meend generated by the baya is comparatively less, and they generally require less meend while playing at very fast speeds. They make unique sounds by brushing their hands and sliding their palm. They keep the balance between daya and baya very uniform and give importance to the speed and the sound created by playing the daya and baya. Founder Pt. Ram Sahai Mishra was a shishya of Ut. Modu Khan from Lucknow gharana. Bols like tektektek played on chaati, kdadhit-ta, kdadhaan, dhi-dhaan, dhadhaSne, DRDRKTTKtinaKTTK, two finger DRDR, etc are prominent in their compositions. One segment of Benares players' expertise is the extremely difficult one finger theka of ati-drut teentaal .

Pt. kishan maharaj

Punjab Gharana

  • Founder: Lala Bhawanidas Pakhawaaji

  • Khula baaj

  • This gharana has changed a few basics of the Delhi gharana. They played kayda/rela or even peshkaar with the same robust attitude as gat-tukdas are played with.

  • Their kayda sound like "dum-khum" meaning "power-strength". The language used is very beautiful and pronunciations are often different because of the influence of the Punjabi language. Example: "dha na" is pronounced as "dha na/णा".

  • Ut. Alla Rakha Khan changed this gharana's traditions in many ways. He introduced the 1.5 maatra dum called Abbaji's dum. If the mukh of some kaydas in Punjab gharana are split into phrases, all the phrases will be of odd numbers.

    • dhatitdhagenatitdha ghinadhagenatitdha dhadhadhetit dhagenatinakena​

    • 7,9,7,9 is not a typical teentaal division

  • They have created a variety of complicated tihais and bedum tihais. Many of such tihais include complicated pauses such as the 1 and 1/4 maatra dum or the 1 and 3/4 maatra dum. Their tukdas, chakradaars, and parans have been influenced from the Punjabi language. 

  • In peshkaar, Punjab often uses phrases of 2 and 1/4 maatra (example: dhassda dhastins na). Ustad All Rakha Khan said that peshkaar is like "pej katna," meaning cutting off the rope of a kite.

  • Famous Punjab gharana include Ut. Zakir Hussain and Ut. Abdul Sattar Khan.

Punjab gharana utilized khula baaj just like Lucknow and Farrukhabad. It is said that the founder of Punjab gharana had a father who was a pakhawaaj player. The pakhawaaj player had a son when he was a bit old, so he couldn’t teach him all skills of pakhawaaj. When he was on the deathbed, he asked his disciples to teach pakhawaaj skills to his son. When the son grew up, he felt wrong to learn from the students/disciples of his father. He thought he was the descendent of his father, and wanted respect from the disciples instead. However, the disciples refused to give the respect of a guru to the son. He became angry, and used his little skills about pakhawaaj and transformed them into tabla playing. He used talent, hard work, and intelligence, and formed compositions within tabla, making himself a successful tabla player. When he became successful in tabla, those two disciples started giving him respect and importance as that of a khalifa/guru. Because of this context, Punjab tabla has a lot of impact from pakhawaaj playing. In Punjab gharana, there are longer gati, gat-parani, tode, and relas. Kayda and peshkaar weren’t really there. However, in recent times, because Punjab didn’t have these compositions, Ut. Alla Rakha Khan implemented his own peshkaars and kaydas. Therefore, these are entirely his own, and Punjab gharana did not have them when it was created. Another importance of this gharana is deepchandi-weighted Punjabi chaals/chaale/beats. Mishra jati compositions, gat, etc are unique. Pakhawaaj style open beats were used in Punjab tabla, hence the loud and powerful ambience. Their loudness and speeds have impressed audiences.

Ut. Shaukat Hussain Khan, Ut. Alla Rakha, Sukhwinder Singh "Pinky JI"
bottom of page