||The singing of melody using the vowel sound aa. It can be sung with
as improvisation or without rhythm in alap form.
||Exercises of specific note combinations which normally possess
ascent and descent.
||Introduction of the raga without
is designed to set the mood of the raga using its common note phrases. Alap can
in many styles most notably in sargam and akar.
||It is the second part of a composition or bandish
normally consisting of notes in the tar saptak
||The ascent of notes in a raga.
||Denotes an extreme. For example ati vilambit
laya would be considered to be very slow tempo.
||The descent of notes in a raga.
||The completion of one cycle of a tal.
||A style or school of playing generally referred to by gharana.
||A composition that consists of words. A bandish
more commonly referred to in classical music to refer to a well-known piece in a
particular raga. They are taught in order to help
student to understand classical music since it is the bandish
itself which characterises many of the elements of the raga.
||The left hand drum of a tabla set
measuring 9-12 inches in diameter and made with metal alloy frame such as
or aluminium. When played it is considered to produce the bass sound of the tabla
and is normally played with the left hand. Amongst others it produces the tabla
bols or notes Ghi, Ghe, Ke, Ki Ka and Kat.
||A devotional song sung in light classical style set normally to 6,7
beat cycles. The traditional bhajan has been popularised by many famous
gurus of the Eastern sub-continent such as Meera, Tulsidas, Surdas and
Many mystical bhajans describe the poet’s unconditional love for their
whom they owe their inner experiences. These bhajans are a speciality of the
region and are appropriately referred to as sant vani (words of the
||Words. In musical terms it refers to the words of a composition or
||Movement or flow. The character of a melodic pattern which
flow of the raga in question.
||A pre-composed tabla composition
normally contains an in-built tihai but is played
times over and is mathematically calculated to end on the sum
the underlying time-cycle.
||Sometimes called dahina. The right
of a tabla set usually measuring 4-6 inches in
and made of wooden frame. The treble sound of the tabla normally played with the
hand producing the tabla bols or notes Na, Ta,
Tee, Te, Tu, Tet, Tak, Trak, Din and others.
||Considered to be the oldest genre of singing it covers themes such
philosophy, devotion and celebration of the seasons. It descended from spiritual
called praband, a style which existed around the
thirteenth century. Today’s style of dhrupad came about in the courts
fifteenth century. There are now few specialist dhrupad singers for
reasons including lack of popularity. The piece begins with an extended alap
section which gradually increases in speed and uses the bols
ne, ri,re, di,de. The composition (itself called dhrupad) follows
normally played in chau tal, a cycle of 12 beats,
pakhavaj player. The dhamar variation of
is played in 14 beats or dhamar tal. Most
be linked in some way to the Dagar family and their disciples. Recordings of
and Wasifuddin Dagar are available as are those of the Gundecha Brothers.
||A light classical piece normally played in instrumental form based
folk melody. They are most commonly played in 8 matra
(beat) cycle or tal keherva.
||Songs that are specifically used in movies. They refer to Bollywood
Hindi film song titles. Among the thousands of playback singers over the last
years none stand out more than Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi.
||An improvisational instrumental composition. Also a tabla
composition made up of certain bols specific to
learning style that allows room for improvisation and normally follows a kaida
in a tabla solo performance.
||A style of singing.
||Household or Family. Used to refer to a particular style where the
would have been the rigid guru-shishya parampara
teacher-disciple learning system. The academic Deshpande suggests that a school
only be called a gharana if it were in existence for at least three
and had markedly different stylistic features from other schools.
||From the Arabic literally meaning talking to women. It is said to
originated in tenth century Iran from the Persian qasida. The part of the
called tashbib got detached over years and formed the ghazal. The
written in Urdu, now rarely exceeds twelve couplets and always opens with a
matla. Each couplet is self-sufficient, detachable and quotable. The
concern of the ghazal is love but political, social and moral themes are
found. Arguably the most famous writer of ghazal was Ghalib (1797-1869).
are many renown musical exponents of today and yesteryear such as Talat Mahmood,
Hassan, Ghulam Ali, Hariharan and Jagjit Singh.
||The traditional teacher-disciple method of learning all forms of
classical music. The teacher would impart knowledge on the student that he had
from his teacher thus maintaining a lineage of artists and protection of the
material upon which the style was based. This method required of the student
total dedication to the teacher's art and learning in this format would normally
particular style or gharana.
||Rule or law. Integral to learning tabla
kaida is a theme or an idea which could use quite simple notes but which
expanded using the specific techniques of the style of tabla
learnt. The expansions or variations of the kaida are referred to as paltas.
It is an improvisational part of a tabla solo performance at an advanced level
also be used as a tabla exercise at a simple one.
||A style of north Indian dancing which traditionally uses the pakhawaj
||Sometimes written as 'qawwali'. Literally means utterance. It is
variety of rhythms and in this style the lead vocalist will sing a line which is
repeated by several stage singers. The base rhythm is clapped throughout
origins can be traced to the tenth century in Persia and kawali in its
form started at the end of the thirteenth century in the Indian sub-continent
by Amir Khusro. It is considered the devotional music of the Sufis, a mystical
the Islamic faith with emphasis placed on inner experience and attaining
The most famous kawali singer is of course the late Ustad Nusrat Fateh
Current exponents of this style are Begum Abida Parveen and Sabri Brothers.
||Literally meaning empty it is a beat or matra
with a dampened or closed sound. The importance of the khali is to make
vocalist or instrumentalist aware of the imminent sum
to help to ascertain where he is in a long tal or
cycle. It is denoted by a '0' clearly marked on top of the beat or matra.
There can only ever be one khali in a given tal.
||Thought, idea, conception, imagination, lyric. Historically said to
mixture of kawali and dhrupad
styles. Compositions of khayal are now the most common form of
classical Hindustani music covering aspects such as love, separation, the
praise of various gods and goddesses. A performance normally consists of
main khayal sung in slow speed followed by chota or short
sung in faster tempo. Khayal has two sections called stai
and antara and the presentation of these parts
the gharana or style of the artist.
||A flat of an equivalent note or swar.
Indian classical music the notes Re, Ga, Dha and Ni possess flat notes in any
saptak or scale. Komal notes are denoted
line under the note.
||A fast rendition of certain pre-composed note combinations on tabla
in a particular tal to add dynamism and effect to
accompaniment. Laggi is normally played towards the end of a thumri
performance and rendered frequently in the accompaniment of ghazal.
||Means the tempo or speed of the tal.
well-known general speeds are referred to as vilambit
slow, madya or medium and drut
fast. The basic tempo is referred to as barabar or thah laya which
normally means the original speed or one note per beat (one bol
per matra). A doubling of barabar
referred to as duggun. It is not in itself an exact timing but it would
mathematically a doubling of barabar speed. So if barabar was one
beat then duggun would be two notes per beat. Laya can also
refer to the emphasis placed on certain notes in any given time cycle.
||Improvisation of words in a khayal
designed to show the thayari (literally readiness or virtuosity) of the
||A simple melody set to a specific number of beats that repeats
the purpose of holding a rhythm for a tabla solo
performance. It can be played on sarangi but normally on harmonium.
||See laya or saptak.
||A single beat in a time cycle.
||The ending phrase of a piece of improvisation in a composition. It
refer to a short tabla composition ending in a tihai played in some styles at the beginning of
a tabla solo.
||The practice of changing the keynote of a raga
keeping the notes intact and thereby forming a new raga.
It used to be rarely undertaken in performance. Can also be a method used to
scales in music.
||The opening of an instrumental or vocal composition. The part of
the bandish that is played up until the first beat
time cycle. Can also refer to a short tabla
which is normally designed to emphasize the first beat of the time cycle or sum.
||Use of the syllables na, ni, re, de, da et al to bring out the
of a raga. Normally, nom-tom is used in alap form in the dhrupad
genre of singing.
||The ending note of a particular phrase of notes. The designated
of a particular raga.
||A phrase of note combinations usually no more than five notes in
that when played exemplifies the flow or character of the raga.
It's purpose largely looses relevance to the advanced artist who will be well
understanding the main note combinations of the main ragas. It is however an
starting point for most musicians.
||In the same mould as a tabla but is
as a single drum and was used in accompaniment of north Indian or Hindustani
music. Largely extinct on the concert stage now due to the demise in popularity
dhrupad style of singing that the drum
accompanied. It is responsible for the majority of tabla
solo repertoire which exists today and is therefore of considerable historical
||Exercises designed to learn fingering, note and sound production of
instrument. Also refers to expansions or variations of a tabla
theme called kaida. Each variation is different
||A composition traditionally formed from the pakhawaj
playing style which was designed to describe an action. The pieces were changed
tabla format and used in the north Indian dance
genre kathak and therefore require the player to
handed open sounds akin to styles like Benares.
||To present. An opening composition of a tabla
based on the set rhythm. It is normally played in slow tempo or vilambit
||The lower tetrachord of a saptak
consists of Sa, Re, Ga and Ma.
||A melodic structure of fixed notes or swars
but which has certain characteristics pertaining to rules governing their
See the website question 'what is a raga?' for more in-depth detail about a
||Rushing. A tabla piece which is
specifically so that the notes that can be played in quick succession. A
normally played at the end of a solo tabla performance as a flourish.
||The first beat of a time cycle or tal.
most emphasized beat represented by the symbol 'x' above the starting note. The
of improvisational understanding in Indian classical music.
||The secondary note of importance in a raga
behind the vadi. The complimentary note of the vadi in a raga. Some artists demonstrate its
by singing or playing their opening variations of an alap
around the samvadi.
||Sapt literally means seven. It is quite simply the Indian classical
scale. It refers to the entire set of seven swars
notes of the Indian classical scale; shadaj (Sa),
rishab (Re), gandhar
(Ga), madyam (Ma), pancham
(Pa), dhaivat (Dha), nishaad
There are mainly three such scales or saptak; mandra
to the lower scale and notes are written with dots underneath them, madya
to the middle scale and tar to the higher scale
notes are written with dots above them. It is similar to the Western octave
eighth note is not counted since it is in the same pitch as the starting note.
actuality there are twelve notes in a given scale since Re, Ga, Dha, and Ni have
equivalent flat or komal notes which are written
line underneath them and Ma has an equivalent sharp or tivra
has a line above it, taking the total to twelve.
||The pure or natural notes or swars
there are seven in a given saptak.
||To hear. Sound intervals that the ear can reasonably discern which
between recognised notes or swars.
||Sometimes called asthai. It is the opening part of a composition or
bandish rarely consisting of notes in the tar
saptak (high scale).
||Note or pitch.
||From the Arabic 'tabl' meaning drum. The traditional percussion
of north India it is played on two separate drums referred to as bayan
(left) or duggi, made of a metal alloy frame and dayan
(right), made of a wooden frame. Both are covered by goatskin. It is said to be
than 300 years old and takes most of it's repertoire from the older pakhawaj.
The Delhi gharana (style) is considered to be the
tabla playing style. Tabla has embedded itself as the foremost Eastern
instrument abroad and has been popularised by famous exponents like Ustad Zakir
Pandit Anindo Chatterjee and more recently in the percussion fusion sounds of
||A cycle of matras or beats used as a
standard for accompaniment in Indian music.
||Literally means a clap. The sum is
tali and is marked with a 'x'. Written therefore
number other than '1' it is normally played with emphasis and is denoted by its
the order of talis in a particular tal or
cycle after the sum. ie '2', '3' etc
||A common improvisational element of classical and light vocal and
instrumental styles using sargam (the swars
like Sa and Ga etc), akar (aa sounding vowel
and ekar, ookar etc. It is normally sung at double the speed of
||A composition using certain syllables which normally ends a
a full raga performance and is sung in madya
(medium) or drut (fast) laya
(speed). Examples of such syllables may be taken from Indian drums like Ta, Di,
Da, Ni, Dhim, Nom and Tom.
||A system created by Pandit Bhatkande in the 1920's in order to
ragas into one of ten parent scales. Although
certain respects the system acts as a good starting point for learning ragas
||The particular bols or notes that
given tal or beat cycle. Certain thekas would be
considered to be central to understanding a tal
be classed as main thekas. Other thekas, whilst still maintaining the
are learnt for the specific use of certain types of accompaniment in lighter
classical music such as ghazal, bhajan
and filmi geet.
||A song normally sung in a language traditional to the Agra-Mathura
called Brij which can have several themes such as love or the stories of
Traditionally it was sung by females and used only certain ragas.
After political change the traditional aristocratic styled bandish thumri
resembled the khayal genre of the Delhi and Avadh
gradually became eclipsed by the bol banao thumri from Benares, a more
slower style thumri. Bade Gulam Ali Khan was considered to be the greatest
singer of the recent generation. There are many modern exponents.
||A phrase of notes or bols with or
gaps repeated three times which normally ends on the sum
or the first beat of a time cycle. The gaps must be of equal length in time.
||A sharp note. In Indian classical notation Ma is the only swar
or note in a given saptak that contains an
sharp form referred to as tivra Ma.
||A pre-composed set of bols or notes
in a tihai on tabla
designed to show the virtuosity of the tabla player and emphasize the sum
of a rhythm cycle. It normally follows a kaida in
||The higher tetrachord of a saptak
of the notes Pa, Dha, Ni and Sa.
||The primary note of importance in a raga.
The vadi is central to the performance piece with emphasis being placed upon it
alap, bandish and
improvisational components in the rendition of a raga.
||A bar or a sub-division in a tal
a straight line. A vibhag will invariably open with either a tali
or a khali.