BY : DR. KAMALA SHANKAR
PROFILED WITH : SurAurSaaz.com (a SudeepAudio venture)
ADAPTATION OF GUITAR TO INDIAN CLASSICAL MUSIC
MIGRATION OF GUITAR TO INDIA
Guitar is a Western Musical Instrument, very popular and common in
Western Countries, but now acquiring it‟s position and popularity in Indian
Classical Music also.
The Migration of Guitar to India took place through the coastal areas
like Goa, West Bengal, Bombay, by the Portugese and the Britishers and
gradually spread over to many parts of the country.
Two varieties of acoustic Guitar are there :
(1) SPANISH GUITAR &
(2) HAWAIIAN GUITAR
SPANISH GUITAR is very popular in Western Countries & India. It is
widely used as an accompanying musical instrument for light music
such as - Ghazals, Geet, Bhajans & Film Music in India.
HAWAIIAN GUITAR is named as per it‟s origin from HAWAII-ISLAND,
situated in the Pacific Ocean near Honululu in the territory of U.S.A. It
is equally popular like Spanish and is adapted through Indian Film
Music and Ravindra Sangeet, about a century back.
Regarding the structure, there is no marked difference between
Spanish and Hawaiian Guitar, except the style of playing and the
strings are slightly elevated with the help of a metal plate in Hawaiian
While playing Spanish Guitar, a stricker is used by the right hand for
strokes and the fingers of the left hand slide over the strings, to
produce sound (Swaras). It is hanged on the shoulder with the help of
a belt, usually in standing posture. Hawaiian Guitar is played by
keeping it on the lap. The strokes are produced by the right hand with
the help of two finger picks and one thumb pick. The Swaras are
produced by sliding the steel-rod over the strings by left hand
The style of playing Hawaiian Guitar may be compared with that of
Vichitra-Veena of our Indian Instruments. The only difference is, that
in place of the Steel rod, a solid glass sphere (like a paper weight) is
used in Vichitra-Veena.
There is another variety of Guitar i.e. Electric Guitar, where the sound
is amplified by the electric media, may be Hawaiian or Spanish electric
As far as the Adaptation of Hawaiian Guitar into Hindustani Classical
Music is concerned, the credit goes to Sri (late) Nalin Mazumdar of
(Guru of my Basic Guitar Teacher - Dr. Shivanath Bhattacharya of
Varanasi), who was the disciple of Late Baba Allauddin Khan Saheb (of
Maihar Gharana). Sri Nalin Mazumdar, for the first time, played
Hindusthani Classical Music on Hawaiian Guitar about Fifty years back.
It was really a difficult task for him, and he had to face lot of problems
before the audience who were not at all interested to listen classical
music on Hawaiian Guitar. He tried his level best to popularise
Hindustani classical music on this instrument.
He achieved a great success in getting the Hawaiian Guitar included in
the Syllabus of String Instruments of Hindustani Classical Music of
Prayag Sangeet Samiti, Allahabad.
Late Dr. Lalmani Misra ji (Veena Maestro & Ex- Dean of Faculty of
Performing Arts, Banaras Hindu University) did a great effort and was
successful in getting the Hawaiian Guitar included in the competitive
test of String Instruments, organised by U. P. Sangeet Natak
Akademi, Lucknow in 1976.
With the great effort by my Guru, the renowned Veena & Sitar Vidwan
Late Dr. Gopal Shankar Misra ji ( Ex- Reader in Sitar, Faculty of
Performing Arts B.H.U., Son & Disciple of Late Dr. Lalmani Misra ji),
the Hawaiian Guitar was included in the “Doctorate” Course (D. Mus.)
of Faculty of Performing Arts, B.H.U. in 1995. I feel myself lucky to
join the First batch.
The credit goes to Pt. Brij Bhushan Kabra ji, for making the Hawaiian Guitar
very popular in the Galaxy of Indian Classical Music. who for the first time
modified this instrument by adding „Chikari”, Tarabs and using “Mizrab” in
place of “Picks”.
Thereafter Pt. Vishwamohan Bhatt ji, Sri Debashish Bhattacharya
(Calcutta), Sri Barun Pal (Calcutta) and Sri Krishna Kumar (Delhi) and few
others have given respectable height to Hawaiian Guitar like other Indian
Ever since the establishment of Hawaiian Guitar is made, in the
armamentrium of Indian classical music, efforts are being made to modify
this instrument on individual experimental basis e.g. adding extra strings in
the forms of “Chikari” & “Tarabs”, using “Flat Rod” and “Mizrab” in place of
cylindrical Rod & Picks etc.
Pt. Vishwamohan Bhatt ji has modified the Hawaiian Guitar and
named it “Mohan Veena:”
Hawaiian Guitar can afford pure classical abstractions as beautifully as
any other plucked instrument of Indigenous origin which is now enjoying
pride of place in the Galaxy of India‟s concert instrument today.
We can proudly say that the adaptation of Guitar to Indian Classical
Music will play a great role in “Universal Cultural Integration” of EAST &
Kamala Shankar : http://www.sudeepaudio.com/art_skamala.htm