The present form of the sarode was developed some 150 odd years ago as adaptations of the rabab and sursringar. Since then the art of Sarode playing has undergone continuous improvement in the hands of some exceptional and dedicated geniuses. In fact, North Indian or Hindustani classical instrumental music today has earned its international renown chiefly through the sitar and the sarode.
The sarode gharanas as we know them today all have their roots in the Afghan rabab with a considerable Seni influence. About 300 years ago, three or four equestrians from Afghanistan migrated to India. One of them was Ghulam Bandegi Khan of Bangash, a soldier and rabab player. He trained his grandson, Ghulam Ali in the art of rabab playing. Ghulam Ali, who became court musician at Gwalior, also received musical training from seni rabab players who were direct descendants of Tansen. Ghulam Ali had 3 sons, Hussain Ali, Murad Ali and Nanhe Khan, all of whom were rabab players. Two of the prevalent Gharanas today, from Nanhe Khan and Murad Ali Khan can be attributed directly to Ghulam Ali.
The Afghan rabab players were inducted into Tansen's musical training particularly through their discipleships with important Seni ustads, who were beenkars and dhrupadiyas. The Afghans naturally wanted to translate dhrupad into their instrument. Their rabab used to have catgut strings and the fingerboard was made of wood. The inherent lack of resonance did not facilitate the long glides that emulate the slow movements of vocal music. This led to the evolution of the sarode, which developed, on a host of vocabulary of pluckings of different kinds (a la the Afghan rabab) for the right hand as well as the long glides for the left hand. But the finishing touches to the sarode were given by somebody belonging to a totally different gharana, as recently as 60 years ago - Ustad Allauddin Khan.
From Ghulam Ali's youngest son, Nanhe Khan descended Hafiz Ali. Hafiz Ali Khan's musical education took place under the tutelage of Ustad Wazir Khan of Rampur who was the leading representative of the Seni Beenkar Gharana in the last century. Hafiz Ali's son Amjad Ali Khan is one of the most accomplished Sarode players of the present day and the family represents one of the oldest surviving sarode gharanas. The Gwalior gharana is also referred to as Seni-Bangash today.
Murad Ali, Ghulam Ali's second son, left his father's home in Gwalior and moved to Shajahanpur. He adopted an orphan boy, Abdullah Khan and proceeded to give him talim (tutelage). Abdullah Khan became an outstanding sarode player and it was his son and disciple, Mohammed Ameer Khan who became the guru of the late Radhika Mohan Moitra, a brilliant sarodiya, when the latter was at the tender age of 5. After the death of Mohammed Ameer Khan, Radhu Babu, as he fondly known as, began learning from Dabir Khan, of Seni-Beenkar lineage and a grandson of Wazir Khan. Buddhadev Dasgupta is Radhu Babu's foremost disciple. His style reflects the beauty of the gharana's legacy - a perfect blend of the rababiya and beenkar traditions.
Around the same time that Ghulam Bandegi Khan migrated to India, two other Afghans equestrian-rababiyas, Najaf Ali Khan and Madar Khan also moved to India. From them began the Shahjahanpur and Lucknow gharanas respectively. The Lucknow lineage eventually faded away but had by then merged with the Shahjahanpur gharana through the marriage of Asadullah Khan's daughter with Shahjahanpur gharana's Sakhawat Hussain Khan. The legacy of the merged stream passed on to the children from this alliance Umar Khan (sarode) and Ilyas Khan (sitar) and their descendants. Asadullah Khan, more popularly known as Kaukab, was the brother of Ustad Karamatullah Khan (not to be confused with the tabaliya of the same name), also a sarode player and their father was Niamatullah Khan. Asadullah Khan was largely responsible for the introduction of sarode into Bengal.
Author - ITC SRA
Perhaps the most important occurrence in the history of Sarode playing is the fact that the foremost Sarodiya of the last generation, Allauddin Khan came to be a disciple of Wazir Khan of the Seni-Beenkar gharana. The full power and accumulated musical knowledge of the Seni Gharana was incorporated into the Sarode art by this genius and visionary. The gharana that evolved from his distinctive style came to be known as Seni-Maihar or Maihar. The Seni-Maihar is probably one of those few gharanas wherein the transition from one generation to the other has not necessarily been through family members only and has been in fact been more through guru-shishya parampara only. The result was that a style of Sarode playing developed in which the vocal traditions of Dhrupad and Khayal and the instrumental traditions of Veena (slides and glides) and Rabab (rhythmic, staccato and plucked) came to be blended beautifully and aesthetically into this one majestic instrument. The legendary Allauddin Khan spearheaded the most brilliant galaxy of musicians in the country today and in fact, the true essence of the Seni Maihar sarode tradition has blossomed under the genius of the living legend, Ali Akbar Khan, the son and disciple of Baba Allauddin Khan.