Types of Music Compositions: Thumri

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 14:05 IST


The text is romantic or devotional in nature, and usually revolves around a girl's love for Krishna. The lyrics are usually in Uttar Pradesh dialects of Hindi called Awadhi and Brij Bhasha. Thumri is characterized by its sensuality, and by a greater flexibility with the raga.

Thumri is also used as a generic name for some other, even lighter, forms such as Dadra, Hori, Kajari, Saavan, Jhoola, and Chaiti, even though each of them has its own structure and content — either lyrical or musical or both — and so the exposition of these forms vary. Like Indian classical music itself, some of these forms have their origin in folk literature and music.

Types of Thumri

There are different types of Thumri

Bandisa Thumri: This is the third pattern of thumri where the composition has high musical value. Here, the text is longer having a literary charm, and the composition may be in a raaga and the rendering restricted to it. Kathaks are better reputed to know this type of thumri. This third type is practiced less frequently nowadays. The reason for this appears to be the fact that bhajana, gita, pada and other such fare, called light music, offer nearly everything that a Bandisa Thumri may have to offer musically.

Bola Banao Thumri: It is known as artha-bhava. Artha means meaning and bhava means emotions. The bola-banao thumri is performed at a much slower tempo than the bandisa thumri. In the choreographic context, this form was appropriate for dance formats devoid of fast or intricate footwork. By the early twentieth-century, it stabilized at a rendition tempo approximately twice the beat-density of the contemporary bada khayal.


Some of the most commonly used ragas are Pilu, Kafi, Khamaj, Gara, Tilak Kamod and Bhairavi. The compositions are usually set to kaherava taal of 8 beats, addha tal of 16 beats, dipchandi of 14 beats or jat of 16 beats and in "dadra' tal of 6 beats.


Thumri arose in popularity during the 19th century in the Lucknow court of nawab Wajid Ali Shah. At that time it used to be a song sung by courtesans accompanied by dance. That was the bandish ki thumri or bol bant ki thumri. When this style of thumri went out of vogue, a new style became more popular, which is known as bol banao, sung in Varanasi.





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