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date: 13 November 2019

Hangal, Gangubaifree

  • Bonnie C. Wade
  •  and Inderjit N. Kaur

(b Dharwar, 5 March 1913; d Hubli, 21 July 2009).North Indian (Hindustani) classical music vocalist. She was born into a South Indian family and her mother was an accomplished Karnatak (South Indian classical) musician, but Gangubai studied North Indian music rather than South Indian. At the age of 13 she began formal training in Hubli at Krishna Acharya’s music school. She became a disciple of Sawai Gandharva of the Kirana gharānā, but she was only able to study with him for 15 days a year when he returned to his village. After he settled there in 1938, Gangubai received three years of intensive training, then sporadic training until his death in 1942. It is remarkable that Gangubai managed to become a musician and to achieve success. She performed throughout India and broadcast for All-India Radio stations until 1945; her performances included lighter genres such as bhajan, ṭhumrī, and Marathi songs, but she finally devoted her creative attention to khayāl. She received the Padma Bhushan from the Government of India in 1971, the President’s Award for Hindustani Vocal Music from the Sangeet Natak Akademi in 1998, and the Padma Vibhusion in 2002.

Gangubai’s voice was powerful and vigorous. She cultivated dramatic contrast through ornamentation and vocal production; with minimal use of textual material and little emphasis on rhythm, her style resembled that of the Kirana gharānā.


  • Gangubai Hangal, HMV 7 EPE1225 (1961) [Khayāl in rāgas Asāvari, Chandrakauns]
  • Gangubai Hangal, HMV 7 EPE 1232 (1961) [Khayāl in rāgas Ābhogi, Yaman]
  • Gangubai Hangal, HMV 7 EPE 1239 (1961) [Khayāl in rāgas Devgiri, Jaijaiwanti]
  • Gangubai Hangul, INRECO 2411 5091 (1981) [Khayāl in rāgas Ahīr Bhairav, Mārwa]


  • B.C. Wade: Khyāl: Creativity within North India’s Classical Music Tradition (Cambridge, 1984/R)
  • H. Gangubai The Song of My Life: Autobiography (New Delhi, 2003)