#HitTheRightNote: 10 Indian Classical Musicians To Add To Your Playlist

Mary posted on 23 March

Tired of listening to the same tunes that Delhi has to offer? Well now you can skip the EDM and Honey Singh and give these classical musicians a listen, because we are sure that their melodic and soothing tunes, will definitely  put your mind and heart at ease.

So plug in and get ready to escape into the world of these classical musicians. Headphones ready?

Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan

Often touted as the Tansen of twentieth century, Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan has managed to create a unique style of his own, by blending different forms of classical music. He has even sung in a few Hindi movies, including Mughal-e-Azam, and was quite open to new sounds and experiments.

Best listened to in an intimate space that’ll allow you to zone into nothing but the music, he definitely warrants a place in your playlist.

Listen to him here.

Ustad Amir Khan

Another influential figure in the zone of Hindustani classical music, and the founder of the Indore Gharana, Ustad Amir Khan also played a number of instruments, notable among them being sarangi and tabla.

Influenced by the styles of Abdul Waheed Khan, Rajab Ali Khan and Aman Ali Khan, his performances had an understated elegance, reverence, restrained passion and an utter lack of showmanship that helped him connect with the listeners.

Listen to him here.

Begum Akhtar

A well known Indian singer of ghazal, dadra, and thumri genres of Hindustani classical music, Begum Akhtar was trained under the great sarangi player, Ustad Imdad Khan. She also learnt classical music from some of the biggest names in the field, including Mohammad Khan, Abdul Waheed Khan and Ustad Jhande Khan Saheb.

She sang a few songs in the Hindi movie, Roti which received a lot of critical appreciation and has nearly 400 songs to her credit. Begum Aktar was a regular performer for the All India Radio as well.

Listen to her here.

Ustad Vilayat Khan

One of India’s well known sitar maestros, Ustad Vilayat Khan is credited for introducing Indian classical music to the West, along with other names like Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan, Nikhil Banerjee and Imrat Khan. 

With a recording career of over 65 years, Ustad Vilayat Khan, also toured many countries around the world. Probably the first Indian musician to play in England after independence, he has composed and conducted the score for three feature films – Satyajit Ray’s Jalsaghar {1958} in Bengali, Merchant-Ivory Productions’ The Guru in English, and Madhusudan Kumar’s Kadambari  in Hindi. He also won a Silver Medal for Composing at the 1st Moscow International Film Festival.

Listen to him here.

Pandit Ravi Shankar

An Indian musician and a composer of Hindustani classical music, Pandit Ravi Shankar is one of the most popular sitar players, not just in India but in the world as well. He studied the sitar by playing under court musician Allauddin Khan and has since then been touring the world to popularise his instrument and form of music.

Pandit Ravi Shankar has also worked as a composer, creating the music for the Apu Trilogy by Satyajit Ray, and remains one of the most contemporary names on this list.

Listen to him here.

Ustad Bismillah Khan

An Indian musician credited with popularising the shehnai,  Ustad Bismillah Khan elevated the status of his instrument and brought it to the concert stage.  One of the finest musicians in Indian classical music, he also had the rare honor of performing at Delhi’s Red Fort on the eve of India’s Independence in 1947.

The Sangeet Natak Akademi, has instituted the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar in 2007 in his honour. It is given to young artists in the field of music, theatre and dance.

Listen to him here.

Pandit Bhimsen Joshi

Known for the khayal form of singing and popular renditions of devotional music, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi music was marked by spontaneity along with his accurate and fast-paced notes in which he made use of his exceptional voice training, and a mastery over rhythm. Over the years, his repertoire tended to favour a relatively small number of complex and serious ragas, though he still remains one of the most prolific exponents of classical Hindustani music. 

The Sawai Gandharva Festival held at Pune annually since 1953, is an endeavour to promote his form of music to the masses. He has received many honours over the years and in 2009, he was also bestowed the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour.

Listen to him here.

Subhalakshmi

A Carnatic vocalist, M. S. Subbulakshmi was the first musician to be awarded the Bharat Ratna. Born in Madras, she started learning Carnatic music at a very young age and was trained by Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and Pandit Narayanrao Vyas {for Hindustani music}. She gave her first performance at the age of 13 at the prestigious Madras Music Academy in 1929. Her performance was described as spellbinding and post that there was no stopping her.

Subbulakshmi has performed in various countries around the world and has also won numerous accolades along the way. She continues to be a formidable name in the classical music scene, mesmerizing is the word that truly describes her music.

Listen to her here.

Ustad Allarakha Qureshi

Allarakha Qureshi who is popularly known as Alla Rakha, is an Indian tabla player, who frequently accompanies sitar player Ravi Shankar.He played a key role in popularising the art of tabla, playing across the globe, thereby elevating the status and respect of his instrument.

He was also part of the George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh shows, held in New York City in August 1971, where he accompanied Ravi Shankar. The immense popularity and success of the live album and concert film from this event opened a huge Western audience to not just Indian classical music but made him a global name as well. Fan of Karsh Kale? This is one artist you will not want to miss.

Listen to him here.

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan

An Indian classical musician who plays the sarod, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan has over the years carved a special niche for himself in the field of classical music. His forte is groove-worthy rhythm, with a no holds barred policy when it comes to style and genre.  We say, just listen to him, lose yourself in the swirls of your own imagination and draw your own conclusions.

Want to read more about these musicians? Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, in his new book, Masters on Masters is set to give readers a more intimate and personal look into the world of Indian classical music. Having know these stalwarts on a personal level, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan recalls anecdotes and details about their individual music styles, bringing them alive for every reader.

Listen to him here. You can buy Masters on Masters by Amjad Ali Khan here.

This story is in partnership with Penguin.