Dhrupad Singer Zia Fariduddin Dagar

Dhrupad is a form of music that is meant to bring the mind to a peaceful, meditative state. It's an ancient science of sound and music that aim to develop human consciousness and the corresponding nervous system. It is the original form of Indian classical music and has been retained in its pure form to date by succsessions of masters. Hence, it also forms a major part of the Indian cultural heritage. Like other great sciences of old India, as for instance Yoga or Ayurveda, it is a powerful tool for life improvement.


The form and concept of Dhrupad, with its particular way of developing a composition, came about around 1100 - 1200 AD, though its origin can be traced back to the Vedas. Dhrupad is a form of Gandharva Veda, the Vedic science of music, which again is a branch of Sama Veda. Although the original text of Gandharva Veda, which contained 3000 verses, have been lost, Vedic knowledge is primarily an oral tradition, of which Dhrupad is an integral part.[1]

By the eleventh Century Dhrupad music had crystallised into a perfect form which has retained its original structure and purity through to the present day. One significant characteristic of Dhrupad is the emphasis on maintaining purity of the Ragas and the Swaras. According to some accounts, Dhrupad was sung in the temples, the singer facing the divinity. From this early chanting, Dhrupad evolved into a sophisticated classical form of music.[2]

language of Dhrupad

The language of Dhrupad changed from Sanskrit Brij Bhasha some time between the 12th and the 16th century. About six centuries ago, Dhrupad came to be patronised by the royal courts and its complex rendering became intended for highly sophisticated royal audiences. The compositions became more secular. Some were written in praise of the emperors; others elaborated on music itself. However the pristine nature of Dhrupad survived and even today we hear this majestic form of music performed like it was more that 500 years ago in the royal courts of the emperors and kings of India.

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, Dhrupad (The fixed composition part) is sung with the accompaniment of a two headed barrel drum called Pakhawaj. A vocal Dhrupad performance begins with a meditative Alap in which the artist develops except the drone of the tanpura the Raga, note-by-note, without any instrumental accompaniment. 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. So 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."

The alap begins very slowly and the tempo gradually increases. The alap comprises the major part of the performance. It uncovers the personality of the raga. The contemplative music surrounds and absorbs the audience. The alap evokes a mood in the audience that coincides with the mood of the raga that is chosen.The singer uses certain syllables (Om, Num, Re, Ri, Na, Ta, Tom) that have a very peaceful and meditative effect. These syllables are taken from a Mantra and denote various Hindu gods. The philosophy behind not using words is that words may distract and thus lessen the chance of floating in a spiritual plane. Without the distraction caused by words, what one hears in the Alap is the sound of pure music, purportedly leading to Divine Fusion. The artist concludes the alap after exploring the three octaves and the limits of the raga being sung through improvisation. This marks the beginning of the composition, called Dhrupad. The artist is joined now by the drum, Pakhawaj.

Generally the Dhrupad compositions are sung in Chautala (12 beat cycle). Other tala cycles that are used are Sula tala (10) and Tivra tala (7 beats), and Dhamar (14 beats). The meaning of text in composition is very important and the artists must pay careful attention to the enunciation of words. Even during improvisation, care is taken not to mispronounce the words. The singer and pakhawaj player engage in a lively dialogue, but do not attempt to compete with each other.[3]


  1. Dhrupad (English) dhrupadmusic.com। Retrieved : 5 April, 2016।
  2. About Dhrupad (English) dhrupad.org। Retrieved : 5 April, 2016।
  3. DHRUPAD: AN ANCIENT TRADITION (English) raga.com। Retrieved : 5 April, 2016।

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