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Samia M. Ahmad – Version 3

Samia Mahbub Ahmad Quartet

Hindustani classical music Bethesda, Maryland
Photo Credit: C & C Photography
Samia M. Ahmad – Version 3

For Samia Mahbub Ahmad, Hindustani (North Indian) classical music is as much a tradition cemented in master-apprentice learning exchanges as it is a family inheritance. A current resident of Maryland but born and raised in Bangladesh, Samia began her studies of the richly diverse Hindustani expressions over three decades ago, as an apprentice of versed practitioners from both India and Bangladesh. Her immersed studying, exemplary of guru-shishya parampara learning—meaning an oral tradition passed on through the centuries from one generation of grandmasters to the next generation of apprentices—is typical of Hindustani classical music training, and often encompasses graduating to artistic mastery through live performances. 

Hindustani classical music is an ancient Vedic-Hindu-Sanskritic art that originated in the 12th century as a musical practice that told stories of mythological deities as masterful musicians. Through time, it has been enriched by the presence of Buddhist, Islamic, and Jain cultural influences crossing the North Indian geography. The music is characterized by intricate vocal scales based on ragas, the foundation of improvisation in Indian classical music, that incorporate various languages (Hindi, Persian, Sanskrit). Often accompanied by tabla (percussion), tanpura (a long-necked plucked string instrument), and harmonium (a type of keyboard), Hindustani classical music offers melodic interactions with complex vocalizations, creating a beautiful harmony between song and instruments.

A vocalist, musician, and passionate educator, Samia has applied her teachings to a broader community in Maryland and her own family—teaching her children both the instrumental and vocal elements of Hindustani music. She can often be seen performing with them in various venues throughout the state. Samia has become a central figure in Maryland’s Indian-Asian music community, having received several accolades for her work and teachings, including two Maryland State Arts Council Folklife Apprenticeship Awards, where she was able to deepen her teachings to her children. 

True to the guru-shishya parampara style, Samia (vocals, tanpura, harmonium) will be joined by one of her current apprentices, Aditi Sadia Rahman (vocals), with additional accompaniment on tabla.

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