Ustad Imrat Khan
Gayaki ang - vocal style
Indian musicians believe that singing, gayaki, is the ultimate, purest form of music, a gift from god. It remained the dream of all instrumentalists to be able to play in gayaki ang (vocal style) and sing through their instrument with the versatility of the human voice. For centuries, musicians attempted to create techniques and instruments which would recreate gayaki.
The forefathers of Ustad Imrat Khan were fascinated by the prospect of creating gayaki ang. It was Ustad Imdad Khan, Ustad Imrat Khan's grandfather who first introduced gayaki ang to the surbahar. This was the first time that gayaki ang was successfully achieved on a plucked instrument and he did so by modifying the instrument. By adding strings and pulling sideways on them across the fret to vary the tension he was able to create the effect of playing up to an octave on each fret. The gliding movement as the string is pulled emulates the flexibility of the human voice. Following the development of the gayaki ang on the surbahar by Ustad Imdad Khan, his son, Ustad Inayat Khan then perfected the same technique on the sitar to play up to 5 notes on each fret.
True Gayaki ang is only attainable if the artist has intimate knowledge of gayaki and vocal compositions. After Inayat Khan's death his two sons received vocal training from their mother's formidable gharana. Ustad Imrat Khan also received training on the surbahar. This inspired them to further refine the gayaki ang by combining their talents as instrumentalists with their love for the vocal idiom instilled in them by their mother.
Existing recordings of Imdad Khan, Inayat Khan, Vilayat Khan and Imrat Khan illustrate the creation and development of gayaki ang on sitar and surbahar which has become the trademark of the Etawa gharana and forms the basis of a distinctive style which is admired and loved around the world.