Indulgence in Art is Meditation: Ustad Rafique Khan


Ustad Rafique Khan is a famous Indian Musician, a well known Sitarist and a composer. He belongs to the sixth generation of musicians from the Dharwad Gharana. He is also an empaneled artiste of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. Rafique Khan has toured across the nation and the world, performing at various music festivals. He has been rated as a 'top-grade' artiste by All India Radio and has had four of his recitals aired on their national programmes. He has performed at prestigious music festivals and collaborated with musicians all over the world including Europe, the Middle East and South East Asia.

Interview with Ustad Rafique Khan

This week, Ustad Rafique Khan spoke to Beauty Wall Spot CEO - Vishwas Krishna. They recalled the last concert of Ustad Rafique Khan and Vidwan Vittal Ramamurthy (Guru of Vishwas Krishna) - a jugalbandi at Puttur where BeautyWall Spot was represented by Vishwas. Both Vishwas and Ustad Rafique Khan are Artists, so they talked about Art, how it feels, how to work it out, how to pass on this culture to next generation and live an artful life.

VISHWAS: Hello Sir 🙂

VISHWAS: You are a star artist of our nation, a great teacher.  So I'd like to talk about some of your prestigious concerts.
USTAD RAFIQUE KHAN: [laughs] Ha ha. 🙂 I am, just a student of life thats all, every moment trying to learn from the nature. I consider these as some of my prestigious concerts, Sawai Gandharva Music Festival, Pune; Shahu Maharaj Sangeet Mahotsav, Kolhapur; Performance of Jugalbandi along with Grammy Award winner Pt. Vishwamohan Bhat at Bangalore and Mangalore; Concert on 93rd Birthday Celebration of Padmavibhushan Dr. Gangubai Hanagal, Hubli22nd Manmohan Bhat Sangeeth Samaroh, Jaipur; Jugalbandi with Pt. Ronu Majumdar at Mysore & Bangalore; Jugalbandi with Vidwan Mysore Manjunath And Vidwan Mysore Nagraj; Participated in Indo-Arab cultural fest, Abu Dhabi; Festival delle Colline, Italy; Concerti All' Abbazia Di San Fruttuosco Di Camogli, Italy; Festival Ljubljana, Slovenia; Emilia Romagna Festival, Caviro; Tuluse Music Festival, France; Saraswati House, Italy; SOORYA Festival- Switzerland, Singapore, Dubai, Muscat, Bahrain, Doha, Abu Dhabi; SOORYA India Festival etc.

VISHWAS: Wow, That’s Great. Well, I don't know anything about your childhood, or what drew you to Music and Sitar? Tell me about your Childhood.
USTAD RAFIQUE KHAN: I was born in Dharwad.  My entire family is of musicians. My Grandfather was a Sitarist, my father is also a Sitarist. I have 9 brothers and 3 sisters.  5 of my 7 elder brothers are Sitarists.  These five brothers and those who came to learn music with my father, all had influenced me in my music career. My father was my music teacher. Hence I had the opportunity to learn music at my leisure.  This learning was more of indirect in nature, where as all the students who came for classes had direct training.  Lessons to the students were lessons for me also.  Listening to classes for others had helped me a lot.  When some students commit mistakes, if we can make out the mistake we can improve on it.  So I had the advantage of having lessons indirectly.  When you go for classes you don't get this advantage.  So my teachers were my father, brothers and my uncle.

VISHWAS: And your school life..
USTAD RAFIQUE KHAN: I went to the local school. But my music and Sitar gave me some special importance in  the school and college. This special status motivated me to perform on different stages.  Those days we didn't have mobile phone or laptops or computers.  So distraction was less.  Our extra curricular activity was music. I enjoyed my school and college life.

Ustad Rafique Khan, Sitarist | Beauty Wall Spot

VISHWAS: Who inspired you during your childhood? How did he/they inspire you?
USTAD RAFIQUE KHAN: At home initially I had taken Sitar and music very lightly.  Some students of my father played Sitar very well, which made me to take up the music and Sitar very seriously and excel in both. Being a son of a famous sitarist I should not be a lesser person.  This was the most notable inspiration I had.  

VISHWAS: Every one in their child age has so many dreams and ambitions. How about you? What was your ambition as a child?
USTAD RAFIQUE KHAN: During my student days I never had a two wheeler.  Open jeep was a dream vehicle for me. Till PUC I was not serious about music and Sitar. I learned tabla and I used to give sathi with tabla during music classes of my father. I don't remember the exact period when I shifted to Sitar.

VISHWAS: I don't know anything about how you came to do what you do. What drew you to the studio. What made it happen for you?
USTAD RAFIQUE KHAN: During my PUC I got high B grade in All India Radio in Sitar. It helped me in choosing my field.  Those days I used to get recording in every month or every alternate month. Hence that was the time I decided I will be a musician.  My father's and brothers music careers also influenced my decision. One of those days I saw an advertisement in newspaper from AIR Mangalore. I sent an application on a plain paper.  I was interviewed and got appointment as a staff artist in 1991.  Since then I am in Mangalore. At the age of 22 before I could become a professional I got a job.

VISHWAS: You are a humble person and a great Guru. What do you feel about your students and their development?
USTAD RAFIQUE KHAN: Many students come to learn music. Many come because others come. When you teach you can make out the really interested students.  2 to 3 students out of 15 to 20 students may go ahead in musical career.  So for these 2 to 3 some special training automatically gets started, without their knowledge. The rest of the students learn for time pass.  These students may excel in music with regular practice, but the 2 to 3 are definite to achieve. At times even these 2 to 3 talented students drop out of music which hurts.  I try to motivate the real talents with out any discrimination.

Some teachers do not impart full knowledge to their wards due to the fear of the students excelling the teacher in the field. But I try to train my students with whatever knowledge I have, and their performance gives me satisfaction and pleasure. More than that I also become more perfect..  In addition I become more known to more people.

VISHWAS: What is your special expertise in Sitar?
USTAD RAFIQUE KHAN: I have yet to work on the expertise part of it. Well known sitarists have already experimented on Sitar and standardised it.  There is little scope for experimentation. Still I keep on trying and it has to come.

Interview with Ustad Rafique Khan | Beauty Wall Spot

VISHWAS: What is your Sitar practice patterns? This information will be helpful to students of music and Sitar.
USTAD RAFIQUE KHAN: There is a difference between practice and performance. Performance is whatever best you have, you present it.  Practice is working on your weaknesses, your shortcomings or learning new things.  This is applicable to all instruments.  First you have to take up exercise patterns.  That is to become friendly with the instrument.  There after you get to learn techniques in that itself.  You perfect it and perform.
Some people do the performance in the guise of practice daily.  By this you don't improve on your performance. You may do the performance once in a week. Rest of the time do the practice and improve yourself on your weakness, shortcomings, or the unknown techniques.

VISHWAS: As an Artist, What is Art for you?
USTAD RAFIQUE KHAN:  To me art in any form, if performed with full involvement, is meditation. You get a link to the God Almighty through art.

VISHWAS: What is your message to artists and art teachers and art students?
USTAD RAFIQUE KHAN: To students, I suggest, along with academics you choose one activity, may be music, may be sports, swimming,  karate, or anything and devote your maximum time to that.  You will succeed in this..  Don't choose many activities and experiment on it. I suggest to parents also. Please don't take your children in to many activities.  It is of no use.  You are wasting your child's time, energy, talent and your money.  For teachers, I feel every teacher teaches earnestly.  What I suggest is that, please share whatever knowledge you have with your students.

VISHWAS: Thank you Rafique Sir. It was a wonderful experience interviewing you. I also thank my Guru, Vittal Ramamurthy for making this happen. You are a humble and happy person, an inspiration to other artists. Thank you for being with us today.
USTAD RAFIQUE KHAN: I am thankful to the God Almighty for that. I have not done anything to look like that. If you are good to others, they also will treat like that. Some people become egoistic once they achieve some name.  I don't want to do that.  I feel I have still to learn a lot.  So being down to earth and humble person, you become happy after every performance and meeting. And I like Vittal Sir very much and I always enjoy playing with him. He is a wonderful artist.

Thank you for spending time with me.
Namaste 🙂

1 thought on “Indulgence in Art is Meditation: Ustad Rafique Khan

  1. Very motivating informative words. Very humble too.
    Good work by you Vishwas..

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