Hindustani music : Online Ias notes

  • Hindustani music has 10 main forms of styles of singing & compositions: dhrupad, dhamar, hori, khayal, tappa, chaturang, ragasagar, tarana, sargam and thumri.
  • Nowadays ghazals have become very popular as the ‘light classical’ form of music.

Hindustani musicDhrupad

  • Oldest & perhaps the grandest form of hindustani vocal music.
  • Sanskrit & Vedic origin.
  • Also called as ‘temple music’ (Emerged from temples)
  • Raja Man singh of Gwalior popularised it.
  • Performance consists of 2 parts i.e ‘Alap’ & ‘Bandish’
  • Theme: Religous & Devotional theme.


  • Khayal literally means ‘a stray thought’, ‘a lyric’ & ‘an imagination’.
  • Most prominent genre of hindustani vocal music depicting a romantic style of singing.
  • It is dependent to a large extent on the imagination of the performer & the improvisations he is able to incorporate.
  • It is composed in a particular raga & tala and has a brief text.
  • 6 main gharanas in khayal: delhi, patiala, agra, gwalior, kirana & atrauli-jaipur.
  • Gwalior gharana is the oldest & is also considered the mother of all other gharanas.


  • Originated in the eastern part of uttar pradesh, mainly in lucknow and benares, around the 18th century.
  • Believed to have been influenced by hori, kajri & dadra.
  • Supposed to be a romantic & erotic style of singing and is also called “the lyric of Indian classical music”.
  • Compositions are mostly of love, separation and devotion.
  • Its most distinct feature is the erotic subject matter picturesquely portraying the various episodes from the lives of lord krishna and radha.
  • Usually performed as the last item of a khayal concert.
  • There are 3 main gharanas of thumri — benaras, lucknow and patiala.


  • Close resemblance to the thumri.
  • The texts are as amorous as those of thumris.
  • Major difference is that dadras have more than one antara and are in dadra tala.
  • Singers usually sing a dadra after a thumri.


  • Compositions are similar to dhrupad but are chiefly associated with the festival of holi.
  • Compositions are specifically in praise of lord krishna.
  • This music, sung in the dhamar tala, is chiefly used in festivals like janmashthami, ramnavami & holi. These compositions are mainly based on the love pranks of radha-krishna.


  • Developed in the late 18thcentury from the folk songs of camel drivers.
  • Tappa literally means ‘jump’ in persian.
  • They are essentially folklore of love & passion and are written in punjabi.


  • Consists of different parts of musical passages in different ragas as one song composition.
  • Compositions have 8 to 12 different ragas & the lyrics indicate the change of the ragas.
  • Depends on how smoothly the musical passages change along with the change of ragas.


  • Consisting of peculiar syllables woven into rhythmical patterns as a song.
  • It is usually sung in faster tempo.


  • Denotes 4 colours or a composition of a song in 4 parts: fast khayal, tarana, sargam and a “paran” of tabla or pakhwaj.


  • Mainly a poetic form than a musical form, but it is more song-like than the thumri.
  • Described as the “pride of urdu poetry” & Originated in iran in the 10th century.
  • It never exceeds 12 shers (couplets) & on an average, ghazals usually have about 7 shers.
  • Found an opportunity to grow and develop in india around 12th century ad when the mughal influences came to india, & persian gave way to urdu as the language of poetry and literature.
  • Developed & evolved in the courts of Golconda &Bijapur under the patronage of muslim rulers.
  • The 18th & 19th centuries are regarded as the golden period of the ghazal with delhi & lucknow being its main centres.

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