Alert Sign Dear reader, online ads enable us to deliver the journalism you value. Please support us by taking a moment to turn off Adblock on

Alert Sign Dear reader, please upgrade to the latest version of IE to have a better reading experience


Ustad Rais Khan: the string maestro

December 02, 2012

THE interview of Ustad Rais Khan (Dawn magazine, Nov 18) is interesting. He is a great artiste and we are fortunate to have him among us in Pakistan.

He is a sitar maestro but claims his association with other vocalist gharanas like Haddu - Hassu Gharana of Gwalior. Haddu Khan and Hassu Khan were brothers and were great musicians of the 19th century. He has also mentioned Ustad Bade Ghulamali Khan. This great musician belonged to Patiala Gharana of Punjab. This was founded by Ustad Ali Bux Khan and Ustad Fateh Ali Khan who received the title of ‘Jarnail and Karnail’.

Ustad Rais Khan belongs to the clan of the great sitarist Ustad Vilayat Khan who was his maternal uncle; all the members of this family are great sitar players like Imrat Khan, Shahid Pervaiz, Hidayat Khan, including Rais Khan. They belong to Imdad Khani Gharana.

Imdad Khan was a brilliant sitar player of his time. He made so many changes to his `baj’ and introduced so many different patterns that he founded a gharana. He could produce the whole octave of seven notes on a single fret of sitar.

The great contribution of Ustad Vilayat Khan, for which he will always be remembered, is his introduction of ‘gaiki ang’ in playing sitar. This is because when Vilayat Khan was young, he received guidance from Ustad Bande Hassan, his maternal grandfather and a reputed vocalist of his time. He was highly influenced by khayal gayaki which changed his style of playing sitar.