From the Archives of Ali Ayub

A Treasure Trove Lost for a Decade

Hello dear reader! Or better still, dear researcher! Save the Sitar is proud to bring to you the field work of Ali Ayub, a former student at NCA whose graduation dissertation explored the major sitar gharanas found in Pakistan. In 2007 he set off on a journey across the country to interview prominent sitarists and document the diversity of their styles and the details of their family histories. The resultant 9 hours of tapes have no parallel on this side of the Indo-Pak border, so immerse yourself in this in depth musical journey!

Special thanks to Madam Sarah Zaman for guiding and supporting us throughout this project. Ali Ayub would like to remember the late Riaz Ahmad Barni for his kindness and thank his videographer Vishal Rajput.

If you are a researcher interested in using this work, have questions or language difficulties, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us in the comments, via email at or through our various social media pages.

Creative Commons License
All video media on this page is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

An Interview With Shahid Khan and a Visit to Radio Pakistan, Hyderabad
Sitarist Shahid Khan, son of Abid Khan, performs Raag Aiman and discusses his family. He and Ali Ayub then visit Hyderabad’s Radio Pakistan Office.
An Interview with Ustad Nafees Khan on the Current State of Classical Music
Ustad Nafees Khan discusses the lack of patronage and the pathetic conditions of classical musicians nowadays, as well as the effects of governmental organizations like Pakistan Radio.
An Interview with Sajid Khan and some Performances by his Family
Sitarist Sajid Khan is interviewed at his home in Karachi and plays Raag Aiman. His son Shahroze Khan and other family members join the performance. Has audio issues.
A Performance by and a Discussion with Ustad Abid Hussain Khan
Ustad Abid Hussain Khan plays the sitar, describes his family tree and discusses how he gave up the sitar. His son, Shahid Khan, performs as well. In the second half of the video, Farhan Khan talks about the electric sitar, with Rais Khan and his wife contributing too. Ends at 1:01:41.
A Visit to the Karachi Arts’ Council and Ustad Imdad Khan’s House
Ali Ayub first goes to the Karachi Arts’ Council to get recordings of Ustad Nafees Khan’s performances. He then visits Ustad Imdad Khan’s house, where they discuss his life. His maternal nephew Turab Khan also demonstrates his gharana’s playing style with a short performance.
Various Interviews of Sitarists
Ali Ayub interviews an amateur sitarist at NAPA, who describes how he started playing. We then follow noted sitarist Abid Hussain Khan as he sells kulfis on the streets of Hyderabad, illustrating the current state of many sitar players. Lastly, Ustad Rais Khan highlights many of the current problems that musicians face.
Some Performances by Sajid Khan and a Display of his Family Tree and Various Other Heirlooms
Sajid Khan performs several times on the sitar, at times accompanied by his family, and then shows old letters and pictures as well as his family tree to Ali Ayub.
A Discussion on Classical Music in Hyderabad
Zulfiqar Ali discusses his family and classical music in Hyderabad. We also get to see old records, as well as some familial heirlooms like pictures.
Two Interviews with Zafar Ali and Sajid Khan
Zafar Ali demonstrates how a sitar is made and maintained. The sitarist Sajid Khan is then interviewed at the Karachi PNCA, where he is asked about his family tree and playing style.
A Lesson with Ustad Nafees Khan and an Interview with Zafar Ali
In the first half of this video, Ustad Nafees Khan is shown teaching his students at NAPA how to make paltas, which are variations on a raag. The video cuts to a rooftop performance by NAPA students in the presence of Ustad Nafees Khan. In the second half, Mr. Ali Ayub interviews NAPA’s instrument maker, Zafar Ali, who talks about his family and their tradition of instrument-making. He then goes into greater detail about his work, showing how a sitar is made.
A Lesson and an Interview with Ustad Nafees Khan
Ustad Nafees Khan from the Kapurthala gharana teaches his student Harris about how to develop an alaap. He then discusses his family history with Mr. Ali Ayub, mentioning different sitar-playing families in Lahore and taking the names of his father’s disciples. He also demonstrates a maseet-khani gat.
A performance by Sajid Khan and Ali Ayub
In this short video, the sitarist Sajid Khan, son of Habib Khan from the Senia gharana, performs at the PNCA in Karachi (accompanied by Ali Ayub, who had never properly played the tabla before!). Then they discuss the performance and classical music in general.
A Conversation with Zulfiqar Ali
Ali Ayub travels to Hyderabad from Lahore to meet with Zulfiqar Ali to discuss various matters relating to music. No audio is available.

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