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


Your Name:

Recipient Email:

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.


Comments (1) Closed

V. C. Bhutani Dec 02, 2012 01:51pm
Ustad Rais Khan is great in his own right. We in India were fortunate to have heard his music at numerous music conferences an festivals. We miss him. Our best wishes to him. I had occasion to spend a few days at the feet of Ustad Vilayat Khan Saheb. I heard about a few things which I would like to share. Ustad Vilayat Khan Saheb learnt from his father Ustad Inayat Khan Saheb but lost his guidance rather early with his untimely death. I have heard that Ustad Vilayat Khan Saheb's mother, whom also I met briefly in Calcutta, used to hear her husband's music and wrote down that music in her notebooks. After Ustad Inayat Khan Saheb passed away, his wife passed on those notebooks to her son whom we know as Ustad Vilayat Khan Saheb. I have heard that she used to lock up her son in a room and ask him to do riyaz from her notebooks. It is possible that this has something to do with the evolution of the gayaki ang in the music played by Ustad Vilayat Khan Saheb. Vinay Chandra Bhutani, Delhi, India, 2 Dec 2012, 1921 IST