Samraat Club

Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia

Ustad Shujaat Husain Khan

Pt. Yogesh Samsi

Rupak Kulkarni

Marina Alam



International Festival of Indian Classical Music: September 20, 2006
USTAD SHUJAAT HUSAIN KHANUSTAD SHUJAAT HUSAIN KHAN, is one of the foremeost maestros of Indian Classical Music. He belongs to the Imdad Khan gharana (tradition) of the sitar (lute) and is the seventh in an unbroken line from a family that has produced many musical masters. His style known as the gayaki ang, is imitative of the subtleties of the human voice.
Shujaat Husian Khan is the son and disciple of the master Sitarist Ustad Vilayat Khan. His musical pedigree continues back through his grandfather Ustad Inayat Khan and ancestors; Ustad Imdad Khan, Ustad Shaheb Khan- all leading artists of their generations.
At the age of three, Shujaat began practicing on a specially made small Sitar, and by the time he was six, the child prodigy started giving public performances. Since then he has performed at all the prestigious music festivals in India and has traveled around the world performing in Asia, Africa, North America and Europe. In continuance of this commeration, the United Nations bestowed upon him a special honour, choosing him as the sole artist to represent India with a performance at the prestigious Assembly Hall in Geneva. Shujaat Hussian Khan has developed his own unique style of playing Indian Classical music. His approach to rhythm is largely intuitive, fresh and spontaneous, always astonishing his audiences. He is also known for his exceptional voice, which he uses for singing folk songs and poetry.
His memorable appearances include performances at the Royal Albert Hall in London Carnegie Hall, New York, Royce Hall in Los Angeles and Congress Hall in Berlim. He was the featured soloist with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. His collaboration with different genres of music has been a very strong point as evidenced by the enormously successful Indo-Persian venture, the Ghazal Ensemble.
In January 2000, the Boston Herald listed Shujaat Hussian Khan, along with luminaries Seiji Ozawa and Luciano Pavarotti among the top 25 upcoming cultural events for the year.
He has been invited as visiting faculty at the Dartington School of Music in England, the University of Washington in seattle , and the University of California at Ls Angeles.
He has over 25 musical releases on variety of International labels; also a very commercially successful video called 'KHANDAN'. Additionally, he has been honoured with numerous awards by many different Indian and international organizations

He will be playing Raga "Vashaspati" in his solo concert at Carnegie Hall, New york on September 20,2006 at 21.00hrs.

In the western world the sitar is perhaps the most well known musical instrument of India. It's sound evokes thoughts and feelings of the sub-continent. It is believed to have evolved into its present form in the 1700's, during the collapse of the Moghul Empire, as a marriage between the Persian Setar and the South-Indian Vina, while using the characteristically resonant bridge of the Tampura.
It is clear that the sitar as we think of it today developed in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent at the end of the Moghul era. It is also clear that it evolved from the Persian lutes that had been played in the Moghul courts for hundreds of years. The "Sangeet Sudarshana" states that the sitar was invented in the 18th century by a fakir named Amir Khusru (not the one who lived in 1300). Who was the 15th descendent of Naubat Khan, the son-in-law of Tansen. It is said that he developed this instrument from the Persian Sehtar. Amir Khusru's grandson Masit Khan was one of the most influential musicians in the development of the Sitar. He composed numerous slow gats in the dhrupad style of the day. This style is referred to as Masitkhani Gat. The Masitkhani gats were further popularized by his son, Bahadur Khan. Masit Khan was a resident of Delhi; therefore Masitkhani Gats are sometimes referred to as Dilli Ka Baaj. Raza Khan was also an important person in the development of sitar music. Raza Khan was also a descendent of Tansen and lived in Lucknow around 1800-1850. Raza Khan was also known as Ghulam Raza. He developed the fast gat known as Razakani gat. Amrit Sen and Rahim Sen are credited with modifying the tuning and stringing of the Sitar and introducing numerous new techniques to the instrument.
In recent times there exists two types of Sitars, with corresponding playing styles and sounds. The first is known as the Vilayat Khan style sitar, and the second is known as the Ravi Shankar style sitar. The V.K. style sitar is slightly smaller and has far less wood carving decoration than the R.S. style sitar. The R.S. style sitar often has a second small pumpkin attached near the top of the neck and two extra bass strings. V.K. style sitars do not have these bass strings but instead have one extra chickary (rhythmic accompaniment strings) string that allows for a fuller, more chordal chickary effect to be produced.
The Sitar's neck and face are made of Indian mahogany and its round back/base is of a dried pumpkin. Although the Sitar has a minimum of eighteen strings, it generally has just one main playing string. The remaining strings provide it's ethereal resonance and/or resonance plus rhythmic accompaniment. The Sitar has two separate bridges, one upper, and one lower. The upper contains the playing string(s) and the chickary strings (used for rhythmic and drone accompaniment). The lower bridge usually has about twelve tarif (sympathetic) strings, which are very fine and are tuned to the notes of the Raga (scale) being played. These strings, when tuned accurately, will resonate without being touched when a corresponding note is played on the upper main string, thus giving the sitar a natural reverb effect. This effect is enhanced by the structure of the bridge. Copied from the ancient tampura (a background drone instrument used primarily to accompany vocal music) the Sitar's bridge is made of soft deer-horn and is flat on top and is shaped in such a way as to allow the strings to gently buzz against the flat bridge surface. This effect is called jawari.
The Sitar is a fretted instrument but the frets (metal bars) are tied on loosely enough to be slightly moved or tuned. The tuning of the frets is another feature that sets the sitar apart from western instruments. The Sitar is played in the natural or untempered tuning system. Many western instruments such as the guitar and the piano are designed to be played in the equal-tempered tuning system that is a modern invention without which the chordal harmony and 12 keys of western music would be impossible to achieve from a single instrument. The disadvantage of the tempered system is that it is microscopically out of tune. The Ancient, Natural, or untempered tuning system retains the perfect or natural tuning of each interval. It is believed that music played in the Natural tuning system has a profoundly harmonizing effect on listeners.
The most striking feature of the Sitar's playing technique is it's main strings capacity for being pulled or bent. On one fret the main string can be pulled downward at least a fourth; for example from C to G. This particular feature has only been available during the last fifty years - since steel strings have been made with enough strength to withstand such tension. This pulling capacity allows the instrument to accurately emulate the gliding effect of vocal music.

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