word "Senia" is related to Tansen, the father
of Indian Classical Music. The word "Gharana"
implies a style of music. The followers of
Tansen’s school of music are widely known
as the followers of "Senia gharana"
(i.e. "Seniya" style/school of music). The
followers of this "gharana" may either be
related with the family of Tansen or by the age old
tradition of "Guru–Shishya parampara" (teacher
to student relation). Tansen was a vocalist but this
tradition has also produced great Sitar Maestros. The
"Senia" style of Sitar playing started with
the legendary great master of Sitar, Ustad Maseet Sen
from the family of Tansen, the originator of "Maseetkhani"
style, On the basis of scanti records available,
Maseet Sen, emerges as a direct descendent in the sixth
generation from Mian Tansen Even today, after many hundred
years, the famous "Maseetkhani Baaj" is still
played by the traditional Sitar players of India. The
Sitar players of "Senia Gharana" were, at
a later stage known as the sitarists of "Jaipur-Senia
Gharana". One of the greatest Maestro’s of this
"Gharana" was Ustad Barkat Ullah Khan of Jaipur,
known as "Aftab–e-Sitar", who made this instrument
more popular and had no parallel to him.
style had it’s speciality of having 17 frets on
Sitar, which has been followed only by us till date,
whereas other players play with the standard 19 or 20
frets on their Sitar. The difference between the 17
fretted Sitar from the standard 19 fretted Sitar
is of two notes, viz, the third and seventh. In the
19 fretted Sitar, the third and seventh notes are available
in both sharp ("Tivra") and flattened ("Komal")
forms. In the 17 fretted Sitar, these two notes are
available in only one form, viz, sharp ("Tivra")
or flattened ("Komal") form and therefore
only one form of the note can be adjusted on the Sitar,
viz, sharp or flattened, In those ragas where both the
forms of notes are used, the second form of he same
note has to be played by pulling the string ("Meend").
Dr. Ustad Mushtaq Ali Khan, the son of illustrious father
Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan of Varanasi, had the privilege
of learning from Ustad Barkat Ullah Khan, also known
as "Aftab-e-Sitar". This particular school
of music had the advantage of playing Sitar in "Been"
(Veena) style and maintaining the purest form of Ragas
and technique. Ustad Mushtaq Ali Khan was not only a
great "Senia" Sitar Maestro but also a great
Surbahar player who played in "Been Ang"
(Veena style) and always maintained the purity of
the "Senia" style, which basically emphasizes
on the maintenance of the purity of Raga . There are
many Ragas which are presented in a purely "Senia"
style and a discerning lover of music will immediately
identify the difference in delineation of the Raga.
Prateek, son of
Pandit Debu Chaudhuri, Padmabhushan Awardee , is
fortunate in having had such a stalwart like Ustad Mushtaq
Ali Khan Sahab as a "Dadaguru" (teacher’s
teacher) and is upholding the tradition in its truest
spirit. This Gharana
style) of Sitar playing has another rare distinction
of having an uninterrupted line of Sitar players from
father to son or teacher to student, for 9 generations
( starting with Maseet Sen) till date, all playing the
Sitar with 17 frets.
Ali Khan (Shishya)
Ali Khan (Son)