A school of a particular style of singing or playing instruments, or a traditionally characteristic individual style of vocal or instrumental music is referred as the ‘Gharana’ or family. The Gharanas are particularly relevant in the context of the Hindustani Classical music. The concept of the ‘Gharanas’ seem to have originated in the 18th century A.D. with the idea of preserving the tradition of music and the musical compositions of particular styles. Each ‘gharana’ preserves its own character and style of music and passes on the tradition from the ‘guru’ (teacher) to the ‘shishya’ (pupil) and over a course of time some of the disciples may improvise and contribute in creating a new style or a sub-family of the main ‘gharana’. In his perceptive book, ‘Indian Musical Traditions’, Sri Vamanrao Deshpande mentions that “each gharana has its origin in the distinctive quality of the voice of its founder and it is this quality which broadly determines his style.”
The following are the important Gharanas of Hindustani vocal music:
Agra Gharana: Founders: Haji Sujan Khan; Ustad Gagghe Khuda Bakhsh; Exponents: Faiyyaz Khan, Latafat Hussain Khan, Dinkar Kaikini and Lalith Rao.
Benaras Gharana: Founder: Pandit Gopal Mishra (a saarangiya); Exponents: Rajan Mishra and Sajan Mishra.
Bhendi Bazaar Gharana: Founder: Ustad Chajju Khan; Exponents: Aman Ali Khan and Shashikala Koratkar.
Delhi Gharana: Founder: Ustad Mamman Khan (a saarangiya); Exponents: Chand Khan, Nasir Ahmed Khan, Usman Khan, Iqbal Ahmed Khan and Krishna Bisht.
Gwalior Gharana: Founders: Ustad Hassu Khan, Ustad Haddu Khan and Ustad Nathu Khan; Exponents: Balakrishna Buva Ichalkaranjikar, Vinayakrao Patwardhan, Vishnu Digambar Palsukar, D.V.Paluskar, Narayan Rao Vyas, Omkarnath Thakur, Malini Rajurkar, Veena Sahasrabuddhe, Sunanda Patnaik, Ram Marathe, Rajubhaya Poochwale, Krishna Rao Shankar Pandit and Ulhas Kashalkar.
Indore Gharana: Founder: Ustad Amir Khan
Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana: Founder: Ustad Alladiya Khan; Exponents: Kesarbai Kerkar, Mogubai Kurdikar, Kishori Amonkar, Mallikarjun Mansur, Vinayakrao Kulkarni, Ashwini Bhide, Padmavati Shaligram-Gokhale, Arati Ankalikar, Shruti Sadolikar and Padma Talwalkar.
Jaipur-Mewati Gharana: Founder: Ustad Abdul Karim Khan; Exponents: Motiram, Maniram, Jasraj, Pratap Narayan, Sanjeev Abhyankar
Kirana Gharana: Founders: Abdul Karim Khan and Abdul Wahid Khan; Exponents: Sawai Gandharva, Gangubai Hangal, Bhimsen Joshi, Hirabai Barodekar, Basavaraj Rajguru, Rasiklal Andharia, Prabha Atre, Phiroz Dastur, Saraswati Rane, Jitendra Abhisheki and Nachiketa Sharma.
Patiala Gharana: Founder: Ustad Fateh Ali Khan and Ustad Ali Bakhsh; Exponents: Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Munawar Ali Khan, Raza Ali Khan, Ajoy Chakraborty, Dilshad Khan, Khan, Parveen Sultana, Begum Akhtar, Naina Devi, Nirmala Devi and Lakshmi Shankar.
Qawwaal Bachche Gharana: Founder: Hazrat Amir Khusrau; Exponents: Ghulam Ali
Ramdasi Gharana: Founder: Baba Ramdas Bairagi; Exponents: Baba Surdas; Pandit Narayan; J. Dhamodar; Pandit Sitaram; Ramesh Das; Bhai Gopal Singh, Baba Prabhu Das, Ustad Karim Baksh; Bhai Gurdit Singh; Ustad Allam Ali Khan and Bhai Gopal Singh.
Rampur Gharana: It is the latest and last of the greatest gharanas of India. Founded by Bahadur Hussain and Amir Khan, it was characterised by some special charms in the use of alap, dhrupad, and dhamar and in instrumental music which were not found anywhere in India.
Rampur-Seheswan Gharana: Founder: Ustad Inayat Khan; Exponents: Nisar Husain Khan, Ghulam Mustafa Khan, Rashid Khan, Sulochana Brihaspati, etc.
Rangeela Gharana: It was the new colour given to the Agra Gharana by Ustad Faiyyaz Khan.
The other Gharanas of Hindustani music include:
Seni Gharana of Dhrupad and Rabab: This was formed by three great brothers, Jaffar Khan, Payar Khan and Basat Khan of Lucknow and Benaras.
Seni Veenkaras: This was formed by Nirmal Sha of Lucknow.
Kawal Gharana: This was formed by Bade Mohammed Khan Kawal, of Lucknow and Gwalior.
Betia Gharana of Dhrupad: This was formed by the disciples of Haidar Khan Seni of Lucknow, who were the kathakiyas of Benaras, as well as Muslim Ustads of Kalpi.
Bishnupur Gharana of Dhrupad: This was formed by Bahadur Khan Seni, through his disciple Ramshankar Bhattacherjee.
Tilmandi Gharana of Punjabi Dhrupad singers.
Lahore Gharana by Punjabi kheyalias, who were disciples of Shah-Sadarang.
Dagar Gharana: Bairam Khan, a great scholar and Dhrupad singer, who was a descendant of a priestly line of Mathura, founded this gharana.
Unclassified: Exponents: Kumar Gandharva, Girija Devi, Siddeshwari Devi and Tarapada Chakraborty.