Kirana Gharana

The fourth major gharana of khayal is of recent origin, but neither in impact nor in spread is it less effective than the other three. The main feature it exhibits is a melodious use of voice with a kind of ‘o’ vowel sound imposed on it throughout the alap-s. This rounded articulation obviously makes the singers’ voices more resonant, an acoustic fact of some importance. To sustain resonance in singing, the gharana falls back on a profuse use of bol-alap-s, that is, it uses words for elaborating melodic ideas. It is common experience that to vocalize with consonants rather than vowels is easier as well as more effective in many cases, because the former requires less breath and, hence, is easier to control.

A cumulative effect of the preceding factors is the general emotional colour pervading the Kirana-singing. Melodious, soothing, touching and other such adjectives are used to describe the impact created by musicians of the gharana.

This gharana also concentrates on the singing of khayal. In fact, thumri-s presented by followers of the school do not differ much from their khayal-s as the emotional colouring given to both is similar if not same. Predictably, bhajan-s form a part of the Kirana repertoire as the deeper mood or the rather introvert approach required for rendering bhajan-s corresponds with the general mood enveloping the Kirana music.

The Kirana logic demands a slow tempo as the musical elaboration has to meet the needs of the overall emotive ap¬proach. It follows that elaboration is leisurely and a note-by-note development of raga-s or melodies is a rule observed with relish. The leisurely development of raga-s as well as the premium placed on emotional colouring in music narrows the choice of raga-s available to the gharana. This is brought out by the rela¬tively small number of raga-s favoured by the musicians of the school. For example, standard Kirana fare would rely on Kalyan, Pooriya, Lalat, Darbari, Miyan Ki Todi, Abhogi Kanada, and the like. Most of the raga-s projected by the gharana are aptiy described as ‘alap yogya raga-s’, that is, those primarily conducive to the mak¬ing of alap-s (as apposed to tan-s). Aesthetic decisions about voice, alap, emotionality, and so on render it unnecessary to have variety in the tala-s employed in singing. The fact is reflected in the near-uniform use of ektala, jhumra, etc.

The pervasive emotionality, slow tempo, and rounded voice-production may have boosted the accessibility of the gharana, and, hence, it is popular among both male and female singers. A near-complete domination of music by the tonal aspect seems to have appealed to many.

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