An Introduction to Dhrupad, Dhamar and Khyal Tradition

Major Styles 

    The major style of Hindustani Shastriya Sangeet is associated with Dhrupad, Dhamar, Sadra, Khyal, Thumri, Tappa, Trivat, Chaturanga, Tarana, etc. Some folk musical traditions smarten up to semi-classical based on some typical Ragas like Khamaj, Bhairavi, Kafi, Desh, Pahadi, Mand, Pilu, Tilang, Sarang, etc. These Ragas are sometimes called upgraded versions of folk melodies to systematic music form. The refurbished semi-classical compositions like Kajri, Chaiti, Bhajan, Jhula, Kirtan and Geet Ghazals, etc are also the upgraded form to the classical/ semi-classical form from the living tradition of Folk repertoire now popularly based on melodies of Ragas



          Dhrupad is one of the distinctive forms of Hindustani Classical Music supposed to emerge in the medieval period. Dhrupad means - Dhru - A consistent Star Dhruva star in the Northern Corner of the sky and pad means the text or the literature sung in this format. So the entire meaning of Dhrupad is a composition or text like Dhruva star with the devotional value composed in a unique way of singing with raga melody. It is supposed to emerge from the Astapadi Gaan of Prabandha (Sharma, 2010). Dhrupad is one of the oldest styles in Hindustani Classical Music form. Initially, it was dominated by the male singer accompanying with Pakhawaj and composition were in Sanskrit and regional languages like Avadhi and Braj Bhasha (widdess, 2004).

          The tradition of Dhrupad style emerges in West Uttar Pradesh, Gwalior, and Vrindavan.  Gwalior Court was one of the fertile places for the Dhrupad where it emerges from the Astapadi Recital of Prabandha. Raja Mansingh Tomar was the promoter where swami Haridas was supposed to be the generator of the tradition of dhrupad. It is distinctly a different style of Classical singing that gradually started with Alap, Jood, and Jhala, slow medium, and fast speed of the rhythmic cycle. Alap is always in slow speed, a melodic portion intricates the Raganga of a particular raga with Kaan, Gamak, and Meed. The rhythmic section called Jod and Jhala is extraordinary to unfold of notes and elaboration of gamak and meed. Devotional theme and content are the particular compositions dedicated to the deities that began with the Nom-Tom Alap, Om Anantam Hari Narayan - Tribute to Lord Vishnu.

          Dhrupad is a style of Hindustani classical music, which accepts four Vani, a tradition of adopting the notes in its own style. Vani means the singing style of Dhrupad or the way of making melody during the recital. All four Vani has their own destiny and variation from one another. Dagar Vani, Nahar Vani, Gauhar Vani, and Khandahan Vani are the traditional acceptance style of dhrupad called the Vani or technique of dhrupad practice and performance.

          The compositions of Dhrupad are generally sung in the time cycle of 12 beats called Chautal. The other taals commonly accompany Dhrupad recitals are Sul Taal of 10 beats cycle and Tevra Taal of 7 beats cycle. The composition in dhrupad is of four divisions or four aang called Sthai, Antara Sanchari, and Aabhog (widdess, 2004). Dhrupad is often called as a composition of four dimensions (Charo pat-IV), a complete singing style of all dimensions. The compositions are sung in various laytakari (varied tempo) of which determination defines the ability of the singer during the dhrupad recital. Mostly Dhrupad singer performs in Dugun, Tigun, Chaugun, Aaad, and layakari, perhaps some rare layakaries are Kuaad, Viaad with a variety of mathematical calculation to meet the sama- the first beat of the composition. It is an extraordinary singing style which haulage from the generations with devotion determination and sacrifice to became sacred musical essence of Dhrupad which is not to entertain the public but to pray the Lord Narayana with the Garlands of notes and the feeling through the embodiment of melody and literature.



          Dhamar is a singing style that comes under the Dhrupad Aang Gayaki Tradition of Hindustani Classical Music. The composition, layakari are as similar as in dhrupad but the time cycle of Taal and aesthetical expression of literature is special expressing the beauty of Holi, the moods of seven colors. Usually, Dhamar is a composition having the text relating Holi and Rasa-Leela of Gopi and Krishna of Vrindavan usually sung in the 14 beat cycle of Dhamar Taal (Sharma, 2010). The Raga expansion (Badhat) and various layakri are composed as similar as in Dhrupad tradition with Tha, Dugun Tigun, Chaugun, Aad, and other various rhythmic variations with the ability of the artist. It is supposed to be the lighter form than Dhrupad so deep nom tom aalap in very slow tempo are usually not in practice with Dhamar tradition.

It is supposed that the tradition was begun in Vrindavan and its periphery in the medieval era when the Bhakti Andolan was highly flourished. The concept of Dhamar singing is highly based on the colors and the beauty of love and attraction. The fragrance of the literature shows the attraction and expression of love, adore, devotion, worship, and admire happiness towards beloved ones in tribute to the love and engagement of Lord Krishna, Radha, and Gopiya of Braj and occasionally sung in Vasant Ritu (Spring Season).



          Khyal in the modern innovation merely popularized in the 16th Century. Khyal literally means the 'through' or the imagination which a singer improvises and expresses the eternal feeling and emotion in language or in tune. The concept of Khyal singing was probably established, flourished, and popularized by Sadarang and Adarang, Darbari Gayak (Court musician and singer) of Mohammad Shah Rangeele of Agra Darbar (Prajnananda, 2002) (Mahajan, 1990). After the generation, many disciples groomed in the palace spread the style of Khyal from one place to another place and flourished to the enormous height that today.  It is established as a prominent singing style of Hindustani Classical music.  Khyal usually describes the emotions, expression of love and separation, misery or solidity of life, anger or sadness or the courage or bravery or the gallantry (adhbhut) rasa. The literature contains a greater variety of embellishments and ornamentations compared to other past singing styles. It is quite liberal than Dhrupad, Dhamar to express the eternal feeling is language. Extempore creativity, Alap, the craving Pukar of musical sounds that glorify to become popular genre of Hindustani music 

          Khyal is complete singing handy imagination set with in the particular raga. The emotions the improvisation and the expression are inspired. Within the peculiar raga to depict the Khyal. The importance of literature is highly accepted in Khyal. It has usually Sthai and one Antara, composed of one Raga following the Vilambit laya in Teentaal, Jhumra, Tilwada, Ada Chautaal, Ektall, and Jhaptal. Sometime Vilambit laya is also composed in Rupak Taal. Vilambit Khyal is also called Bada Khyal. It has a wide range of innovation and creativity in vilambit laya. The medium tempo of khyal singing is called chota khyal (small khyal). The tempo of chota khyal is usually 120 beats per minute. Expression and innovation of lyrical beauty in the major component of Khyal singing. Both patterns of khyal singing are based on creativeness, expressions, and innovation. The Alap, Taan, Bol Taan, Tehai are the part that decorates the entire singing (Sharma, 2010). Drut khyal followed by high-speed taan reflects the extensive preparation of singers. 


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