surguan - Promoting Indian Classical Music

Ustad Salamat Ali Khan


Sham Chaurasia gharana is a gharana (musical heritage) in Hindustani classical music, known for the singing of vocal duets, most notably represented in modern times by the brothers Salamat Ali Khan and Nazakat Ali Khan. The gharana is centered at a village of the same name in the Hoshiarpur district of Punjab (India); variant spellings include Shamchurasi etc.

Prominent exponents:

Around the turn of the century, the gharana was represented by Ustad Vilayat Ali Khan, who was noted for his dhrupad singing. His sons, Nazakat and Salamat, were to become particularly well known for their duet singing.

Nazakat and Salamat Ali Khan:

Some of the most memorable classical music of modern times have been sung by the brothers Ustad Nazakat Ali Khan (1920s-1984) and Salamat Ali Khan (1934-2001). Salamat showed an early genius for music, and apparently they performed on radio in 1942, when Salamat was only 8. At the age of 11 he travelled with Nazakat to Amritsar for a memorable concert:

When the performance started, it seemed like a feast of musical notes had descended upon us in the audience. Every member of the audience was amazed and in complete awe of the duo. It was almost unbelievable that boys of that age could give such a fine performance. When the drut portion started, the brothers gave a blazing display of taans, sargams and layakari, which left the audience stunned.

After the partition, the family moved to Lahore and emerged as one of the leading performers of Classical music in Pakistan. Hameed Naseem of Radio Pakistan once remarked about them: Tansen issi tarah gata ho ga! (the legendary Tansen must have sung like this).

A number of their recordings exist from their very fruitful partnership (until 1974). Subsequently, they broke up, and Nazakat was to die shortly, but Salamat Ali Khan continued singing along with his sons Sharafat Ali Khan and Shafqat Ali Khan, who continue the Sham Chaurasia tradition today.