Monday, January 18, 2010

IIPM News - The First Family of Sarod

The Senia Bangash family gave Sarod to the world. Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and sons Amaan and Ayaan have not only spotlighted their musical legacy, but have in fact reinvigorated the whole genre of Indian classical music along the way. The maestro and his heirs speak on the dynasty dynamics…


Ustad Amjad Ali Khan

You are the sixth generation of the Senia Bangash Gharana. So far, how has the journey been?

By the grace of god, and with the love and support of music lovers and family, it has been a very fruitful and overwhelming journey for me right from my days in Gwalior. I started performing in the year 1951 and it has been a journey that has been more interesting and meaningful after I have been joined by my disciples and sons. Collectively we are on a mission to convey the message of freedom within the discipline of Indian classical music.

Which have been the biggest challenges in your career?

The recent development of excessive genres of music and the invasion of so many television channels has made my medium somewhat more challenging.

Having said that, I do feel that Indian classical music is at its peak at the moment.

Have you felt responsible about shouldering the family legacy? Has there ever been a time when you wished to pursue something else in life?

Fortunately, from my childhood, my parents and the followers of my father and guru, Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan Saheb, made me realise the responsibility of my long lineage. Hence, I was very focused since childhood on achieving something musical from the oceanic world of Indian classical music. I never had a chance to decide what I wanted to do!

Congratulations on your recent Grammy nomination. How important are awards to you? Do you think your ancestors have received their due from the audiences?

Thank you for the good wishes! An honour is always an honour. No honour is greater than the other, but any creative person needs these assurances from time to time, perhaps to know that you are on the right track. More than me, I am happy that instrument Sarod will reach out to a newer audience and listeners with this nomination. I do feel that my forefathers do deserve much more than what is said. Keeping in mind that the modification of the Sarod was done by them, Sarod is a gift to me and the world of music by them. Sarod means Music in Persian, the pronunciation originally was Sarood. Ustad Ghulam Bandagi Khan Bangash, Ustad Nanneh Khan Ustad Murad Ali Khan, Ustad Ghulam Ali Khan Bangash, Ustad Asghar Ali Khan and of course, the monumental icon, Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan have all been father figures to the Sarod playing industry.

Was it important to you that your sons carry on the family legacy?

Music being my most precious possession, and wealth, it was only natural for me to wish to share it with my sons. This was a gift of the almighty that I very normally and naturally had to bequeath to them. However, at the end of the day, it is the hard work of every son or disciple that matters. Legacy has no value without musical content. I definitely never imposed music upon them but having said that, I feel that, at the same time, they had no choice!

What about your grand children?

That entirely depends on their parents! I will, of course, be happy to teach them.

If you hadn’t belonged to the Bangash Gharana, where would you have been today?

I would see myself as a very sincere student of music and a true son to my parents.


Amaan & Ayaan Ali Khan

How do you connect with the land, legacy and music of your grandfather?

Though we did not grow up in Gwalior, our music connection with our grandfather is beyond a physical meeting with him as he passed away way back in 1972. However, we feel his presence constantly at all times. Musically, we feel that he is watching over us, and also personally. When we do play some of his compositions or Ragas that were close to him, the feeling is very special. Our link with Gwalior is very strong. The museum that we run in Gwalior is very close to our hearts and we make quite a few trips in a year to Gwalior.

You are the seventh generation of the Senia Bangash Gharana. So far, how has the journey been?

It’s been a very overwhelming experience. The expectations of people have kept us going. There is so much that has to be done. We have many many more miles to go.

Was there ever a time in your life when you did not want to pursue music, or wished to go about an alternate vocation?

Children are like water. They take the shape of the vessel. In our case, that’s what happened. Every brick of the house was soaked in music. It was almost like eating lunch and dinner. We did think of a back up plan at different stages of our lives, but it seems that the heaven already took decisions for us.

As a child, did you know that you would continue your family tradition and take up music professionally?

Amaan found his calling in music quite late, when he was around 13-14. Ayaan on the other hand was quite clear on being a musician right from the start.

Would you want your children to also continue in your footsteps?

It depends entirely on them.

For Complete IIPM Article, Click on IIPM Article

Source :
IIPM Editorial, 2009

An IIPM and Professor Arindam Chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist) Initiative

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