glossary of terms of Indian performing arts
ālāp
alap
[ आलाप – hindi ] invocation, the first three movements of the raga, played or sung in solo, (ālāp, jor, jhālā); as well as the name of the first, typically slow, rhythmless movement, which precisely follows the traits of raga in every detail (typical phrases, vādī and samvādī, ārohana and āvarohana, rasa etc.)
ārohana
[ आरोहण ] ascending (scale)
ati drut
very fast (tempo)
audava
[ औडव ] a scale of five notes, one of the three jātis
āvarohana
[ अवरोहण ] descending (scale)
bandish
vocal composition (set to a tala), which can be played on an instrument
bhajan
Hindu religious song and the way of performance related to it
bilawāl
[ बीलवाल ] scale, containing only shuddha, that is natural notes, one of the ten thāts.
bīnkar
[ बीनकार ] someone who plays the bīn (rudra-vina) , as well as the name of a gharānā , originating from Miyan Tansen
bol
[ बोल ] ‘syllable’, short syllables denoting the traits (place and pitch) of the beats of the tabla , which help in memorizing the complicated compositions
dhamār
[ धमार ] composition with strict rhythm (14 bars) used in the style of dhrupad
dhrupad
[ धुपद ] compositional form which obtained its present form in the 14th-15th century AD, the stylistic origins of which go back to Vedic times. Four of its forms endured till the last century: dagar, gauhar, khandar, nauhar
drut
fast (tempo)
gat
[ गत ] instrumental composition with strict rhythm
gharānā
[ घराना ] a special way of performance; normally a family tradition [ ghar – ‘house’ ], which has endured in the guru-shishya parampara/master-disciple-relation at least for three generations.
ghazal
Urdu, or Farsi romantic song
jāti
[ जाति ] system of classification: the classification of the raga according to the length of the ascending and descending scale: sampūrna – seven-note scale, shādava – six-note scale, audava – five-note scale. Eg.: sampūrna-shādava, the ascending scale is a seven, the descending scale is a six-note scale.
jhālā
[ झाला ] closing movement of the alap and also of the raga with special rhythm, following the jor (closing the ālāp), and conlcuding the gat respectively.
jor
[ जोड ] the second movement of the raga, following the ālāp, characterized by pulsating rhythm and increasing tempo
kathak
[ कथक ] North Indian dance using complex footwork (using the feet as a rhythmical instrument) and sometimes telling a story. [ katha – to tell a story ]
khālī
[ खाली ] the second most important point of the tala, or the start of the “empty”, unstressed beats, showing by waving hand.
khyāl
[ खयाल ] one of the most important, richly ornamented singing style of Hindustani Classical Music, which was probably invented by Amir Khusro (1253-1325), a Sufi of Turkish origin, from the elements of Persian (qaul and qawwali) and Indian (dhrupad) music.
khyāliya
[ खयालीय ] khyāl singer
komal
[ कोमल ] the flattening of the natural note by half a note, denoted by an underline: R, G, D, N
madhya
medium (tempo)
matra
metric in tala
mīnd
[ मींड ] the “bending” between the notes which is one of the most important bearers of the emotional essence of the raga
mohrā
[ मोहरा ] short melody pattern separating the units of the ālāp
qawwali
religious Sufi song, the purpose of which is to spread the doctrine of the Muslim religion, the deepening of religious belief, and the experiencing of the unity with Allah
Pandit
the title of an honourable, educated man in Hindu culture, the denomination of such a master in music, whose student is already a recognized performer, since from a traditional point of view, who is important is the person who helps carry on the tradition, no matter what unique level of realization is achieved by an individual.
rāg
raga
rāga [ रागः – sanskrit ], rāg [ राग – hindi ] the form of performance of Indian Classical Music, characterized by improvization in an increasingly intricate system of rules. Each raga has its own unique character, different from other ragas.
rasa
[ रस ] ‘taste’ – the emotional essence of the raga
sam
[ सम ] the main stress of the tala, which is normally the first beat of the tala, showing by clapping hand
sampūrna
[ संपूर्ण ] a scale of seven notes, one of the three jātis
samvādī
[ संमवादी ] the second most important note of the rāga, the “minister”, which is the most often played note after the vādī
saptaka
an octave; its seven basic notes are the shadja, rishaba, gāndhārva, madhya, panchama, dhaivata, nishāda (S, R, G, M, P, D, N)
shādava
[ षाडव ] a scale of six notes, one of the three jātis
shruti
the smallest audible interval, the significance of which typically lies in the ornamentation (mīnd etc.), through which the main notes of a raga sound in a unique way. In Indian music, there are 22 different shrutis in an octave.
shuddha
the denotation of the seven unmodified basic notes of an octave (shuddha rishaba, etc.)
tāl
tala
tāla [ तालः – sanskrit ], tāl [ ताल – hindi ] ‘clap’ – rhythmic cycle, which is minimum 3 maximum 108 beats long.
tān
taan
[ तान ] melodic form in the gat movement, which can be heard between the bandish. If Indian Classical Music is a musical language, then tān is the sentence.
tappa
originated from the folksongs of Punjabi Muslim cameldrovers, a fast, vocal and instrumental style with very rich ornamentation and firm rhythm.
thāt
thaat
[ ठाट ] a classification system, the idea of which is the classification of the raga under one of the ten thāts, that is one of the ten basic scales. These are: bilawāl, khamaj, kafi, bhairav, asawari, bhairavi, kalyan, marwa, purvi, todi (based on the six-volume book of Vishnu Nārayān Bhātkhande (1860-1936), Hindustani Sangeet Paddhati Kramik Pustak Mālikā, published in 1939.)
thumri
[ ठुमरी ] a so called “light”, romantic performing style, the system of which is freer than that of the raga’s, originating from the 19th century, the text of which is always depicting the romantic episodes of Krishna’s life.
tihāi
[ तिहाई ] a phrase, repeated three times, the last note of which generally arrives on the sam, that is, on the first bar of the tala. One of the most typical elements of Indian Classical Music.
Ustad
The Urdu denomination of a guru, mostly used by Muslims, generally, the title of an honoured, educated man.
vādī
[ वादी ] the most important note of the raga, the “king”, which is the most often heard note in the raga.
vilambit
[ विलमबित ] slow (tempo)