Ustad Imrat Khan

Indian Classical Music

The Surbahar

The Surbahar, the larger cousin of the sitar was also developed by the Etawa Gharana. Successor of the Katchwa Veena, the Surbahar was developed, standardised and perfected by Ustad Imrat Khan's grandfather Ustad Imdad Khan. Ustad Inayat Khan reduced the size of the instrument so that to facilitate its playing although the surbahar of Imdad Khan had more depth and resonance. The resulting instrument, larger than the sitar with deeper resonance has eight top strings and nine sypathetic strings. The surbahar has always been played by only a few musicians as it is more complicated and technically difficult than its relative the sitar. Today, the number of Surbahar players can be counted on one hand. The music produced by the surbahar is however, the most glorious blend of deep echoes, vibrations and resonances. Surbahar ang (style) of playing is based on Dhrupad, the oldest, purest and most rigid form of singing with long, slurring meends created by the pulling of the strings along the frets to give a range of seven notes from one note.

Ustad Imrat Khan has pioneered Surbahar playing throughout his life. He has developed Surbahar ang into the style which is known today and has passed his knowledge of this regal and majestic instrument to his son Irshad who maintains the gharanas traditions as surbaharists.