Sakar Khan learned to play the instrument in exactly the same way as any Manganiyar does: from a very young age, under the tutelage of a master in the family. Sakarji’s father, Chunar Khan, was a legend in his community— Hindu lower caste converts to Islam whose vocation was music — and had made the kamancha the signature instrument for this Hamira family. It has remained so to this day.
To those who love traditional music for its own sake, Sakar Khan is to the kamancha what Yehudi Menuhin is to the violin. To those who subscribe to the view that the origins of several musical traditions including the Flamenco, and later, the Blues, are to be found in the songs of the nomads who traveled West from Rajasthan many centuries ago, Sakar Khan’s music takes on a deeper meaning.
Sakar Khan’s kamancha is one of the last connections to the roots that fed the branches of music across continents. That his sons Ghewar and Dara Khan are both highly accomplished kamancha players (and accompany him at performances) is a comforting thought. The tradition is alive, and will be for at least another generation, thanks to the commitment of this family from Hamira.
"Our songs are not dead yet, but I see that at some point they may be… The kamancha should stay alive and we should be able to teach it to our children. We hope that we can do this." Sakar Khan quoted in The Independent, UK, 2012
"At Home: Sakar Khan" - single take recordings with the maestro and his sons Ghewar, Firoze and Dara at home in Hamira, Rajasthan. Recorded in May 2012, the kamancha maestro is in fine form and on the album we hear Sakar Khan's voice on record for the first time!
At Home: Sakar Khan (AMAR 006) CD | mp3
Single take recordings at home in Hamira, Rajasthan
Padma Shri Sakar Khan (1938-2013), from the village of Hamira in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer district, was one of the great folk musicians of India. His instrument - the ‘kamancha’ (or kamaicha, kamaycha, kemancheh) - traces its roots back to the 8th century. A bowed lute with a goat skin sound box and three main gut strings with 14 sympathetic metal strings, it harks back to the lost bowed Raba'ab of Arabia, and perhaps further, in terms of both geography and time. Accompanying him on this album are his sons Ghewar, Firoze and Dara.
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Video: Aayal - Sakar Khan and sons (from the album "At Home with Sakar Khan")
Video: kamancha duet - Dara Khan accompanying his father, Sakar Khan (from the October 2011 field recording sessions)
Video: Lele (the bird song) - Sakar Khan and Dara Khan, Hamira, Rajasthan (October 2011)
Video: The train - Sakar Khan, with sons Ghewar, Firoze and Dara at Hamira in Jaisalmer, India (May 2012)