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Contemporary experts and have formed their idea of the Rampur-Sahaswan Gharana style, or gayaki as it is called, mainly from the performances of Ustad Mushtaq Hussain Khan and Ustad Nissar Hussain Khan. People who had first-hand or even second-hand experience of the Inayat Hussain's style of singing apparently did not put their experience or views on record. However, out of a general analysis of these views the following may be said to be the general characteristics of the Rampur Sahaswan style:

  1. The visible impact of the instrumental style of the Veena and Sursringar in the form of character of the meend and sooth used by the singers.
  2. Use of the lyrics of the song in all stages of the vilambit khayal in preference to aakar. The words of the song, moreover are presented in the natural order and over-emphasis on any single word is generally avoided.
  3. The use of bahalwa as the main means of slow elaboration in the vilambit khayal. This is a device is prescribed by the Gwalior gharana and comprises slow-motion taan-like figures with long meends adding life to the movement. Stalwarts like Mushtaq Hussain went on to this type of movements after singing the basic composition and then on to rhythmic movements and medium-paced taankari. There was no slow melodic elaboration or vistar in the vilambit khayals as used by modern exponents.
  4. The use of intricate bol-taans, satta taans, and chhoot taans. The faster movements cover three octaves and the last type of taans often skip an entire octave while going up or coming down.
  5. The specialisation in singing taranas. The preservation of the Inayat Hussain repertoire of taranas learnt from Bahadur Hussain and the expansion of the range through contributions by leading exponents has given the gharana a virtual treasury of taranas. Most exponents sing taranas in their own special manner at recitals. Nissar Hussain was an aknowledged expert in this field . In the final portion of his taranas their was bolkari in the manner of the thok jhala of the veena and the sursringar with the twangy, jangling sound of the old instruments being realistically imitated by nasal intonation.
  6. Of course, all singers of the gharana have not, or do not display all the general characteristics noted above in all individual performances. Some have included apparently contradictory material as well. For instance some experts have noted that Ustad Mushtaq Hussain Khan at times developed his vilambit khayal with note-by-note elaboration of the raga. But others have said that he started his recitals with an aakar-based aochar and did not sing any slow melodic elboration at all, going on to the bahalwas in the strict Gwalior-Rampur Sahaswan manner after singing the first part of the composition.
    Ustad Nissar Hussain Khan was very particular about unfolding the vilambit khayal with proper use of the lyrics in the Gwalior manner. The tempo preferred by both these stalwarts was the slow-medium one and not the very slow or ati vilambit used by modern exponents. The profuse use of taankari and the astounding variety of taans were salient features of the styles of both.

The Rampur Sahaswan is an off-shoot of the Gwalior gharana it is quite natural that it shares its major characteristics with it. Still differences can be in the Rampur Sahaswan emphasis on taankari in preference to bol-bant and layakari. In the older Gwalior style there is equal emphasis on all these aspects in the second half of the vilambit khayal. Ustad Nissar Hussain's son Sarafraz Hussain reproduced his father's vocal style almost exactly with most of the personal mannerism intact as well. In him and to an extent in Mushtaq Hussain's son-in-law Ghulam Sadiq of the Delhi University, the style of the older exponents survived more or less in its original form.

Modern exponents, starting with Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan have added some new dimensions in the style to make it more complete. He also initiated the use of sargams popularised by Kirana and Patiala exponents. In keeping with the other broad characteristics and specialities of the gharana, Ghulam Mustafa introduced slow melodic elaboration or vistar and in the vilambit khayal and also sang it in the slower tempo prefered by most singers in the final quarter of the 20th century.

 

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