Shaukat Hussein Khan has emerged as one of the leading exponents of the Agra Atrauli Gharana. Blessed with a mellifluous voice ranging over three octaves, his rendition displays a perfect command over bol-baat, bol-taan and laykaari - improvisational features that are characteristic of his gharana.
A versatile artiste, Shaukat Hussein can sing in the styles of khayal, dhrupad, dhamar, thumri, tappa and bhajans with consummate ease. With a treasure trove of more than 200 bandishes (compositions), he is a performer of exceptional merit. He has been invited to participate in various music conferences and has performed at various concerts in India and abroad.
Besides winning accolades as a performer, Shaukat Hussein is also credited with grooming a new generation of performers in the Agra Atrauli tradition. He is currently the divisional head for vocal music at the Saptak school of Music, Ahmedabad, and provides invaluable guidance for young, aspiring singers.
The term Gharana means a school of music established through the continuity of musical discipline practiced at a particular place through successive generations. The Gharanas originated from distinct ancient traditions known as Banis.
Agra Gharana is a tradition of North Indian Classical Vocal Music descended from the Nauhar Bani. So far, Nauhar Bani has been traced back to around 1300 A.D., during the reign of Emperor Allauddin Khilji of Delhi. Settled in Agra in the Sixteenth century, the family converted to Islam and were allowed to sing in the court of Akbar. Through marriage they associated with Mian Tansen, Akbar's legendary court singer from Gwalior. Ustad Ghagghe Khudabuksh (1790-1880 AD) introduced the "Khayal" style of Gwalior Gharana into Agra Gharana. Furthermore the Khayal style of Atrauli Gharana was added in the late 19th century. The distinctive features of the style are the melodic fluidity and complexity of the compositions associated to simple and sober poems.
This performance was recorded on the 3rd January 2003, at the prestigious Saptak Festival, an annual twelve day celebration of the best of India's Classical Music.
Raga Chandrakauns is a late night raga associated with the full moon (chandra lit. 'moon'). It is a pentatonic raga with only one note difference to the ancient Raga Malkauns, the flat Ni (seventh) being replaced by the natural Ni.
Sa (c), Ga (eflat), Ma (f), Dha (a flat), Ni (b flat)
The concert is divided into three parts. Firstly, a short alap (track 1) presenting the notes and specific melodic phrases of the raga sung in a meditative, un-metered fashion, is followed by a composition known as bada (big) khayal (track 2), The percussion accompanist on tabla joins the performance at this stage, with the composition set to vilambit laya (slow tempo). In khayal the words of the lyrics are usually not necessarily clearly enunciated and the stress is on the elaboration of the raga.
The livelier chotta (small) khayal (track 3) is sung using a faster tempo, in this instance performed in a rhythmic cycle of sixteen beats. Rhythmic support is provided throughout by Vinod Vaishnav on tabla, with melodic support from Liaquat Khan on the soulful sounding Sarangi, a bowed string instrument traditionally used to accompany classical vocalists, and Shishirchandra Bhatt features on the keyboard Harmonium.
'I have started my rendering with a Bada Khayal (slow tempo) which has been composed by the great Atta Hussein Khan of the Atrauli Gharana, also popularly known as " Ratan Piya ". This i