Raag Desi (Khayal Gaiki) by Nazakat~Salamat Duet

Raag Desi (Khayal Gaiki)
Vocalists : Ustad Salamat Ali Khan & Ustad Nazakat Ali Khan
Sarangi : Ustad Nathu Khan
Tabla : Ustad Talib Hussain Khan

Photo Silde Show : Me (Syed Wajid)
Courtesy : Holistic Stuff
A Syed Wajid’s Presentation

The two brothers — Ustad Salamat Ali and Ustad Nazakat Ali — are a legend in the world of North Indian classical music. They learnt from their father — Ustad Vilāyat Ali Khan and are the doyen of the Sham Chaurāsi Gharāna — or tradition of singing. A unique feature of their music is the contrasting but balanced performance of the two singers. Salāmat Ali being the more virtuosic with the most incredible and breathtaking technical skill no less matched by his wonderful musical phrasing. Nazakat Ali providing a more’ gentle, somber and austere accompaniment.

Ali Brother’s singing behaviour reflected truly the quality of their music at the height of their skills. The artists had a most sincere approach to their art and always give of their best, whether in live performance or in the recording studio the standard is always the same.

The style in which the music is sung is called «Khyāl», and is the most popular rendition of classical vocal music of North India and Pakistan today. Khyāl has superseded the more ancient and austere tradition of Dhrupad over the last 200 years or so. The word itself means «imagination» or «fantasy». The hallmark of Khyāl therefore is the freedom it allows an artist to be creative and to improvise, which Dhrupad did not allow to such an extent and, as a result, singers developed incredible virtuosity and vocal technique. This is most evident in this duet’s music. These utterly gifted artists had a powerful voice moving through a range of three octaves with ease. Particularly Salamat Ali had great control, ranging in the use of Gamak (fast wide vibrato) to the very fine ornamental phrases.

As with virtually all traditional Indian music three math elements are discernible in this recording. The first is the drone — played on the Tanpura. The second is rhythm — played here on the Tabla. The third is the main melodic line. The two singers alternate in their improvisations around a predetermined composition or Bandis in slow, medium and fast tempi, thus only one melodic line prevails. A fourth element is represented by the Sarangi — a beautiful bowed instrument which echoes the math melodic line and occasionally «fills» in with the Sarangi player improvising in his own right.