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Vilayat Khan

Biography

To the Western world, Ravi Shankar is the man who introduced the sitar to generations of listeners. To the connoisseur of Hindustani classical music, Vilayat Khan is as important, if not more so, in the instrument's development. Khan's style, as opposed to Shankar's, is less buzzing and more lyrical and sonorous -- though he's extremely capable of a lightning-fast, floral run if the mood of the raga calls for it. His style, labeled gayaki ang, was developed to emulate traditional vocal styles such as dhrupad. It comes across most strongly when Khan explores the slow, note-by-note explication of the alap section of a composition. Khan's family is one of the most respected and influential of all musical gharanas in India, with a lineage that includes his grandfather Imdad Khan, his brother Imrat, and many talented musicians in younger generations. Khan eschews cross-cultural collaborations to retain a style deeply rooted in tradition, and he's boundlessly inventive within the austere North Indian style.

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