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Tabla Player
Vijay Ghate (Pandit)
Instrument
Sitar

About this album

Ustad Vilayat Khan has lived through an age of unprecedented development in the technique and repertoire of the sitar, an age in which the instrument has achieved as world-wide fame and has been blessed by several exponents of unquestionable genius. He himself has been responsible for part of that development, has contributed much to the popularity of the instrument and is one of its outstanding masters. For this he has earned a prominent place in the history of Indian classical music.

Vilayat Khan was born some time between 1924 and 1928 (no one is quite sure), in Gouripur in East Bengal (now Bangladesh), into a family of renowned sitarists. The best known of these are his father Ustad Inayat Khan and grandfather Ustad Imdad Khan, although the family claims a lineage going back several generations earlier. Vilayat Khan's younger brother Ustad Imrat Khan and nephew Ustad Rais Khan are also well known sitarists, as are several members of the next generation including his sons Shujat Khan and Hidayat Khan.

Vilayat Khan began his training under his illustrious father, who sadly died when he was still a child. The young sitarist managed however to complete his musical education under the guidance of other family members including his mother Bashiran Begum and his uncle Ustad Wahid Khan, and of his father's disciple D.T.Joshi. On the basis of this grounding in sitar technique and vocal music, he went to establish his own sitar style. He made adaptations to the construction, tuning and playing technique of the instrument, in particular expanding the range of meend. Meend is the technique of pulling the string laterally across the fret with the fingers of the left hand, and its development has allowed the imitation of many Indian vocal techniques. For this reason his style is often referred to as gayaki (vocal), and although he and his followers do not hold a monopoly on such techniques they certainly played an important role in their introduction into instrumental music.

To most observers Vilayat Khan is the finest exponent of the sitar to be produced by the Imdadkhani gharana (the tradition which takes its name from his grandfather). It is not difficult to see why, as his technical virtuosity ad control even at unbelievably high speeds will always impress. Equally impressive however is the imagination he shows in the constant unearthing of new and beautiful patterns in any raga he performs, incorporating a wide range of right and left-hand techniques. Allied to natural showmanship and an inspirational, unpredictable, even capricious approach he is undoubtedly an irresistible performer.

Tracks

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