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Types of Music Compositions: Dhrupad

The major vocal forms or styles associated with Hindustani classical music are dhrupad, khyal, and tarana. Other forms include dhamar, trivat, chaiti, kajari, tappa, tap-khyal, ashtapadis, thumri, dadra, ghazal and bhajan; these are folk or semi-classical or light classical styles, as they often do not adhere to the rigorous rules of classical music.
Aug 8, 2012 13:24 IST
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The major vocal forms or styles associated with Hindustani classical music are dhrupad, khyal, and tarana. Other forms include dhamar, trivat, chaiti, kajari, tappa, tap-khyal, ashtapadis, thumri, dadra, ghazal and bhajan; these are folk or semi-classical or light classical styles, as they often do not adhere to the rigorous rules of classical music.

Dhrupad

Dhrupad is an old style of singing, traditionally performed by male singers. It is performed with a tambura and a pakhawaj as instrumental accompaniments. The lyrics, some of which were written in Sanskrit centuries ago, are presently often sung in brajbhasha, a medieval form of North and East Indian languages that was spoken in Eastern India. The rudra veena, an ancient string instrument, is used in instrumental music in dhrupad.

Dhrupad music is primarily devotional in theme and content. It contains recitals in praise of particular deities. Dhrupad compositions begin with a relatively long and acyclic alap, where the syllables of the following mantra is recited.

History

Dhrupad is the oldest existing form of North Indian classical music. The dhrupad tradition is a major heritage of Indian culture. The origin of this music is linked to the recitation of Sama Veda, the sacred Sanskrit text. Dhrupad is the oldest vocal and instrumental style, and the form from which Indian classical music originated. The continuity of dhrupad, a contemplative and meditative form, has been sustained by traditions of devotional music and worship. Indeed, the leading dhrupad maestros remark that rather than to entertain the audience, dhrupad's purpose is aradhana (worship). The nature of dhrupad music is spiritual, seeking not to entertain but to induce deep feelings of peace and contemplation in the listener.

The Music

Dhrupad music has two major parts (each of the two parts is further subdivided into several), alap and dhrupad. Alap is sung without words and dhrupad (also called bandeesh, the fixed composition part) is sung with the accompaniment of a pakhawaj, a two-headed barrel-shaped drum. A vocal dhrupad performance begins with a meditative alap in which the artist develops the raga, note-by-note, without any instrumental accompaniment except the drone of the tanpura. The emphasis is on developing each note with purity and clarity. To quote Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar: Alap entails the search to get the most perfect pitch of every note. It takes you into a sort of meditation in which you are lost in the waves of sound and forget everything. There remains only sound.