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  Instruments of Afghanistan
Afghanland.com: Easter musical instruments thrives in India, but little is know about the origins of these instruments. Few of These instruments traveled from Afghanistan to India during trades and more eventfully during the migration of musicians from Afghanistan who feared persecution when an ultra conservative regimes of the early years of ultra conservatives. The artists along with their instruments such as rubab, dotar, dolak and nai made to the courts of the moghol kings of Delhi. Each artist began to teach their instruments to locals and interchange ideas on how to developed these instrument. Some of these instruments which were made for a party atmosphere and household gatherings, didn't fare well in the huge halls of kings palaces, they needed refinement, development.

Dohl - Surnai - Dutar


Tanboor is first child of Dutar, Its the ancient instrument of central Asia. The tribes migrated from south of the area were playing the tanboor from last known record in 1500 B.C and till today they play Tanboor which hasn't changed a bit. Today it is mostly played in Afghanistan, Kurdistan region and in fact it is the holy instrument of Sama dance of the mystical poets and followers of the Sufi school established by Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi of Balkh Afghanistan.Tanboor of Afghanistan


The present form of the sarode was developed some 150 odd years ago as adaptations of the rubab and sursringar. Since then the art of Sarode playing has undergone continuous improvement in the hands of some exceptional and dedicated geniuses. In fact, North Indian or Hindustani classical instrumental music today has earned its international renown chiefly through the sitar and the sarode.
Sarod of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan
The sarode family or granas or household as we know them today all have their roots in the Afghan rubab with a considerable Seni influence. About 300 years ago, three or four equestrians from Afghanistan migrated to India. One of them was Ghulam Bandegi Khan of Bangash, a soldier and rubab player. He trained his grandson, Ghulam Ali in the art of rubab playing. Ghulam Ali, who became court musician at Gwalior, also received musical training from seni rubab players who were direct descendants of Tansen the Afghan traveler. Ghulam Ali had 3 sons, Hussain Ali, Murad Ali and Nanhe Khan, all of whom were rubab players. Two of the prevalent Family today, from Nanhe Khan and Murad Ali Khan can be attributed directly to Ghulam Ali.

The Afghan rubab players were inducted into Tansen's musical training particularly through their discipleships with important Seni ustads, who were beenkars and dhrupadiyas. The Afghans naturally wanted to translate dhrupad into their instrument. Their rubab used to have catgut strings and the fingerboard was made of wood. The inherent lack of resonance did not facilitate the long glides that emulate the slow movements of vocal music. This led to the evolution of the sarode, which developed, on a host of vocabulary of plucking of different kinds (a la the Afghan rubab) for the right hand as well as the long glides for the left hand. But the finishing touches to the sarode were given by somebody belonging to a totally different family of music, as recently as 60 years ago - Ustad Allauddin Khan.

From Ghulam Ali's youngest son, Nanhe Khan descended Hafiz Ali. Hafiz Ali Khan's musical education took place under the tutelage of Ustad Wazir Khan of Rampur who was the leading representative of the Seni Beenkar family of music in the last century. Hafiz Ali's son Amjad Ali Khan is one of the most accomplished Sarode players of the present day and the family represents one of the oldest surviving sarode family. The Gwalior family of music is also referred to as Seni-Bangash today.


The Shahnai, literally meaning the King of Bamboo also called the oboe of northern India, may have evolved from the Afghan Nai of the persian empire days. Historically, in India, the Shahnai was one of the nine instruments associated with the ensembles of royal courts. The auspicious sound of the Shahnai is the reason it is associated with religious ceremonies. Today, the Shahnai is still played in gatherings og high importants in Afghanistan special durring national celebrations along with a huge Dohl  made specially for the Attan (the national dance of Afghans) and temples and is a necessary instrument in north Indian weddings and festivals.

The Shahnai is a double-reeded wind instrument with a widening tube towards the lower end. There are eight or nine holes, the upper seven for playing, the lower ones for tuning.
The Shahnai comes under the category of Aerophonic Musical Instruments under the Natya Shastra. This category of musical instruments is played through the lips with various blowing techniques.

The original Shahnai players in India were zealously guarded and patronized by the Hindu royalties who employed them in their temples. The Shahnai players were later exchanged between the royalties.

Today the Shahnai has got its due status thanks to Ustad Bismillah Khan. With his unswerving perseverance and genius, he conquered the world with the miraculous sound of the music of his Shahnai and he thus turned the fate of this ordinary instrument, into one of the most important classical concert instruments of India.


When Dutar meaning (two strings in dari) was upgraded to Seh Tar (three strings) the earliest form of sitar was developed. The concept of family of music emerged in the 16th century, when the descendants of Tansen an Afghan musical genius and musical luminary from Emperor Akbar's court, decided to call themselves Seniyas - meaning of the Seni family of music. Indeed, the Seni family of music was the precursor to all future family - whether vocal or instrumental. After the death of Tansen, the Seniyas represented by his sons and daughter formed 3 branches - the Seni family of music, specializing in Dhrupad, the Seni Beenkar family of music and the Seni Rubabiya family of music. The Seniyas jealously guarded their patrimonial legacy and refused to impart training to any outsiders on the 3 traditional instruments - the been, the rubab and the sursringar. The Seni family of music thrived under the patronage of successive Moghul emperors and solo instrumental music remained within the confines of this family of music - until the advent of the sitar.

The Sitar was invented about the same time that the Khayal idiom surfaced at the royal court of the last Moghul emperor, Muhammad Shah Rangile - in the last part of the 18th century. Its inventor was Amir Khusrau Khan, who was born in Balkh, Afghanistan and inventor of many instruments, who was the younger brother of Niyamat Khan (Sadarang) of the Seni Beenkar family of music - Rangile's chief court musician and the originator of the khayal meaning a mirage or imagination. The sitar has since undergone many adaptations.

During the formative period of sitar music, techniques were borrowed from the been and dhrupad and gat-toda emerged as the first instrumental music style as opposed to vocal music. From this evolved the Masitkhani baaz, which introduced percussion as an accompaniment and finally culminated in the Firozekhani baaz and Razakhani baaz. All of these represent the instrumental styles for the sitar and sarode today.

Music historians recognize three main sitar family that came into prominence in the first half of the 20th century- the Jaipur Sitar family of music, the Imdadkhani or Etawah family of music and the Maihar family of music

The development of a new solo music based on ideas from dhrupad was the work of four generations between Khusrau Khan Balkhi and Dulha Khan. Masit Khan who was responsible for the Masitkhani baaz was Khusrau Khan's grandson. Dulha Khan was Masit Khan's nephew. This sitar style, the gat-toda of Masit Khan and his followers, came to be known as Delhi-baaz and this later evolved into the Senia Sitar family of music of Jaipur.

The dhrupad influenced Senia Sitar players started from Rahimsen, living in Jhajjhar, Rajasthan and a descendant of Tansen and also son-in-law of Dulha Khan. In the highly competitive atmosphere in the royal courts of the early 19th century, Rahimsen's efforts at infusing the sitar with elements of been, dhrupad and khayal brought him the balance of popularity and respectability that he sought. His son Amrtsen was one of the greatest figures in the 19th century history of the sitar. Rahimsen and Amrtsen and their relatives in Rajasthan and Gwalior were the leading exponents of the Masitkhani baaz throughout the second half of the 19th century. The purity of the music they played was such that it was said that each note and phrase in a raga became a separate entity and could be expressed uniquely for each particular raga. Their music was also noted for its originality and their gats are said to have had a special quality about them. Amrtsen finally settled in Jaipur and this resulted in the name by which we know the family of music today - the Jaipur Senia Sitar family of music. Barakatullah Khan, a Senia trained sitar player was the source of

Mushtaq Ali Khan's relationship to the Senia line. Mushtaq Ali, though hailing from Banaras, became one of the foremost exponents of this family of music in the 20th century. His disciple, Debu Choudhury carries on this tradition today. The late Bimal Mukherjee, who was a disciple of Ustad Abid Hussain Khan, beenkar, also belonged to this family of music.

While the Imdadkhani family of music of sitar and surbahar is known after Ustad Imdad Khan, its origin can be traced back to his father, Sahebdad Khan of Etawah, and is, therefore, sometimes known as the Etawah family of music. However, it was Sahebdad's son, Imdad Khan, who came to be known for his innovative sitar and surbahar style, which led to the family of music being named after him. Imdad Khan was a court musician at Indore and his two sons, Inayat Khan and Wahid Khan, followed in his footsteps. Inayat Khan's sons, Vilayat Khan and Imrat Khan, further polished the vocal style of sitar playing. Imrat, in particular, received training on the surbahar from his paternal uncle, Ustad Wahid Khan. The family's playing style has been strongly influenced by vocal music, leading to the development and perfection of the khayal gayaki ahang on the sitar.

Though not considered a mainstream family of music today, mention must be made of the Indore family of music of the late nineteenth century. Its most outstanding instrumentalist was Bande Ali Khan. Though a beenkar, his disciples took up the sitar. The tradition continues to be upheld today by Abdul Halim Jafar Khan, a disciple of Bande Ali Khan's disciple, Babu Khan.

Allauddin Khan the creator of the Seni-Maihar family of music, known chiefly as a sarodiya, was extremely proficient on other instruments as well, like the been, the rubab, sursringar the violin etc. The instrumental style which he pioneered, based on his talim from seni masters has been passed on to sitariyas, flautists and violinists alike. The legendary teacher now lives through the music of his great disciples, of whom, the two master sitarists, Ravi Shankar and Nikhil Banerjee, torch bearers of this Maihar sitar baaz, are the most famous.


TablaAs for mentioned Amir Khusrau was the first person to cut the dahma, a version of Dohl, a two sided drum in half and and called it tabla, the word tabla is arabic meaning drum. The Tabla evolved as Percussion instruments and have been an essential part of music in India from time immemorial. They can be seen in Indian temple sculptures dating back thousands of years. The tabla, a pair of tuned drums played with both hands, is the principal percussion instrument used in North Indian Classical Music today. The mastery of this simple, yet complex percussion instrument requires remarkable dexterity, knowledge and years of disciplined practice.

Very broadly, the predecessors of the tabla were the ‘mrudung’ and then ‘pakhawaj’. The tabla evolved about 200 years ago. While the pakhawaj was the accompanying percussion with dhrupad, the present form of tabla became popular in the royal courts of Delhi during the 17th and 18th centuries, in tandem with the rise of khayal and thumri. The musician who pioneered the most significant developments in the tabla technique and repertoire was Siddhar Khan Dhaadhi (b. around 1700 AD)

Dhaadhi founded the Delhi tabla family of music. His grandsons and their various disciples carried the art of tabla playing to other major centres of North Indian cultural life. This dispersion and dissemination naturally led to the evolution of a number of distinct regional performance styles. Today these tabla schools or family commonly include those of Delhi, Ajrara, Benaras, Farukhabad and Lucknow. A sixth style, the Punjab family of music, which evolved independently in what is present-day Pakistan, is also included in this list. Delhi and Benaras are the two oldest family.

The tabla is usually used to accompany a vocalist or instrumentalist in the performance of Hindustani Classical Music. Until this century, solo tabla was almost absent from the concert stage. It was largely due to the efforts of some of the great tabla players of this century, Ustad Ahmed Jan Thirakwa, Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh, Pandit Nikhil Ghosh and Ustad Alla Rakha, that the tabla came to be recognised and respected as a solo instrument capable of being featured centre-stage.

The compositions played on tabla are essentially Peshkar, Kayada, Paran, and Gat. But the dominance of each of these varies between one individual family of music and another. For example, while Delhi emphasises kayada and peshkar, Farukhabad stresses on gat and chaala chalan and Benaras, on uthan, rela and bol baant.


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