Dhrupad is the oldest surviving classical style of Hindustani (or North Indian) vocal music.  Its name is derived from dhruva-pada, simply meaning "refrain," and today denotes both a form of poetry and a style of music in which the poetry is sung.  Dhrupad music traditionally has three major parts - alap, jor-jhala, and composition.  A dhrupad is introduced by a slow tempo-ed, rather somber and controlled, recurrent set of syllables (non-words) known as an alap.  The singer attempts to emphasize the purity and clarity of each note, with perfect pitch.  It can last up to an hour before the melody begins.  An example of an alap set pattern is: a re ne na, té te re ne na, ri re re ne na, te ne toom ne (this last group is used in cadences to reach the tonic or the end of a long phrase).  It is the elaborate alap, without drum accompaniment and gradually developing into an accelerating rhythmic pulse, that sets this genre apart from other Indian styles.   The alap is followed by the jor, a raga the develops a steady beat which is non-cyclical, and then continues into a faster paced jhala.  The song concludes with the Dhrupad composition, usually is set in chau taal (12 beat  cycles), sul tall (10 beat cycles) triva taal (7 beat cycles) or dhamar (14 beat cycles).  

Like all classical Indian vocal music, Dhrupad is monophonic and modal, with a single melodic line and no harmonic parts.  The modes are called raga, and each raga is a complicated framework of melodic rules. 

Dhrupad are performed by a solo singer, or a small number of singers in unison, to the beat of a barrel drum, the mridangam or pakhawaj, and can be accompanied by a sitar.  The songs are highly devotional, and are mostly in praise of Hindu deities. 

The origins of Indian classical music can be found from the oldest of scriptures, the VedasSamaveda, one of the four Vedas, describes the role and importance of music at some length.  Dhrupad and other Indian classical music styles have been used a meditative tool for attaining self realization.  All the different forms of these melodies, the ragas, are believed to affect the various "chakras" (energy centers or "moods") of a person.


In ancient Hindu sculpture, painting, and mythology, the mridangam is often depicted as the instrument of choice for a number of deities including Ganesha and Nandi, who is the vehicle and companion of Lord Shiva.

 An etching of an Indian man playing a sitar, 18th century.

An example of a three-part traditional Dhrupad song - sung by Wasifuddin Dagar

Raga Chandrakauns (Alap) - (33 min.)

Raga Chandrakauns (Jor-Jhalla) - (8 min.)

Dhrupad in Chautaal (12 beats) - (13 min.)

from Dhrupad (2005)

Washifuddin Dagar with Ensemble. 

with some contemporary variations on the theme:

Om Namah Shivay - sung by Veena Sahasrabuddhe (8 min.)

Dev Bade Data - sung by Veena Sahasrabuddhe (8 min.)

Shankar Panch Vadan - sung by Umakant and Ramakant Gundecha (7 min.)

Jai Shiva Shankar - sung by Rajan and Sajan Mishra (8 min.)

from Best of Shiva Bhajans (1992)

Veena Sahasrabuddhe

Umakant and Ramakant Gundecha

Rajan and Sajan Mishra

    The pakhawaj


 some of the source information is from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhrupad and http://www.dagar.org

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