Journal of Arts & Ideas, no. 4 (July-Sept 1983) p. 61.


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The Khayal: What It Is and What It Is Not

Neela Khopkar

HE RAAG is often considered to be the main characteristic of Indian classical music. But this is true only of the dhrupad style, a style that must be recognized in the stages of development of classical music as earlier to the khayal. As we take note of these stages, and certain shifts in emphasis that have taken place in the growth of the form, we would have to recognize that the fundamental characteristic of the khayal is not the raag but the bandish: the composed form of the song.

The bandish of the khayal is composed of three elements - the raag, theka and poetry. The dhrupad also has three elements in it: raag, taal and poetry, but the interaction between the three is of a different kind. The dhrupad divides the words of the poem further into syllables, and the notes of the raag, the beats of the taal and the syllables of the word are sung in unison. A triad is created, of the note, the beat and the syllable, which has lines that are equidistant and symmetric. These lines divide the taal twice, thrice, four or eight times as fast, but always maintaining the mathematical graph.

A dhrupad makes extensive use of slides - curves in the line known as meend sindghasit, and gamakas or wavy patterns caused by variations in the volume of the voice. These patterns are however explored independently; the singer in the earlier part of his recital - called the mm-torn - explores, and as it were explains, the raag and this part is rendered without percussion. Once the percussion is introduced, the graph of

Journal of Arts and Ideas 61


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