Ajrada Rhythms

Ustad Akram Khan, a distinguished Tabla artist of the Ajrada Gharana, received his training in music from his great-grandfather Ustad Mohammad Shafi Khan, his father Ustad Hashmat Ali Khan. He has a Sangeet Praveen from Prayag Sangeet Samiti, Allahabad, apart from Sangeet Visharad. He is a Top Grade artist from All India Radio New Delhi.

Ustad Akram Khan began performing at music conferences at a very young age. Since then, he has been participating in prestigious festivals across the globe. This legendary torch bearer of Ajrada Gharana was invited to conduct a tabla workshop on ‘Ajrada Rhythms–Unraveling the Artistry of Tabla’ with the broad objective of showcasing master artists to the students for enhancing their frontiers of knowledge of tabla.

The workshop was held on 31st March 2024. It was a well-planned and packed programme to facilitate interactions with the participants. An online secure log-in facility was made available to facilitate participants from other cities. Dr. Tara Kannan (Assistant  Professor, School of Kalayoga) introduced the faculty. Soumojit Chaterjee (1st year M.A. Music in Tabla) welcomed Ustad ji with a memento. Pt. Abhijit Banerjee (Professor, School of Kalayoga) greatly appreciated Ustad ji’s rhythmic melodies and mentioned about his bond with the latter. It was a clear indication of the musical bond they enjoy with each other.

Ustad ji explained, in detail, the Ajrada gharana, its origin, development and contribution of various artists over time. Research work and focus that has happened in Ajrada gharana and the playing styles and techniques were an eye-opener for the students. With constant encouragement, Ustad ji happily and gracefully explained minute details of tabla sound production—Nikas, and answered all the queries raised by the participating students.

Traditional Ajrada gharana Kayadas were taught, with practice sessions to internalise the new compositions. Advice from Usad ji on a music career and preparations to be done in that path was helpful to the young minds. The workshop was so impactful that the participants engaged in practising during the break as well.

Atreya Gangadhar (M.A. Music) played the harmonium lehra throughout the session. The formal workshop ended with participants sharing their experience and feedback. The session was completed with the expression of gratitude and closing prayers.

In the evening, Ustad Akram Khan informally interacted with the flute and vocal students and other team members at the Gurukul and shared his rich experiences.

Report by Shreedhar G. Mutalik Desai, M.A. Tabla, CNBG