Ali Akhbar Khan was a master musician in the Indian classical music traditions. His instrument of choice was the sarod, a stringed instrument from the lute family with between 17 and 25 strings. He could play many other traditional Indian instruments. The sarod varies in size, shape and strings as well as the tuning system applied. Khan was mentored by his father Allaudin Khan who was a multi-instrumentalist and revered music teacher. He began his musical education at the age of 3.

Many members of his family were accomplished musicians, including his brother-in-law, Ravi Shankar, perhaps the best-known sitar player of the late 20th century, whom he played with since he was 16. Alongside performing and composing ragas, musical and melodic compositional frameworks with which to improvise, Khan also wrote the scores to many films.

The minute featured in Minute of Listening is based on four older ragas, Malkauns, Chandrakauns, Nandakauns and Kaushi Kanada. It was recorded in Bombay (now Mumbai) at the HMV Studios and became one of the earliest ragas to acquire an international audience/success. Khan went on to be nominated five times for the Grammy’s.

Ali Akhbar Khan also founded his own school in Calcutta (now Kolkata), the Ali Akbar College of Music and relaunched it in California when he moved there later in his life. He helped to popularise Indian classical music in the West by performing and teaching throughout the country.

About this Contributor

Given name
Ali Akbar
Family name
Contributor type
Minutes created
GRC4 #31

Minutes by Ali Akbar Khan