Dhrupad (Hindi: ध्रुपद dhrupad ) is the classical Indian music of the strictest vocal style of Hindustani music. The term is shortened from dhruva pada, where dhruva " solid form ", a well-defined composition in a certain mode and pada ( " verse ", " verse " ) is a poem to a predetermined music. Dhrupad is a verse of the poem and a vocal style in which it is sung.

The vocal style is considered to be serious, male and gravely. It requires great control by the singer of the respiratory tract and excellent vocal variation technique. Dhrupad is especially the praise of heroes, gods and rulers. In the Carnatic music of South India, the classic, coming from the Dhrupad style as Kriti (also kirtanam ) denotes (not to be confused with kirtan, a devotional song form in northern India ).

Origins and history

Dhrupad probably goes back to the older musical form of Prabandha in the 12th and 14th centuries, as in Indian music theory Sangita Ratnakara ( "Ocean of music and dance ") of the Sharngadeva ( 1210-1247 ) is described. In the courtyard of the art-loving Hindu prince of Gwalior, Raja Man Singh Tomar (1486-1525), the Dhrupad was given its present form by the action of Haridasa Swami and Tansen ( 1506-1589 ). With the capture of the residence city by the Mughal troops in 1523 dispersed the court musician who found partially at the Mughal court appointing later. While the language of the Prabandha was mainly Sanskrit, the Dhrupad already availed of a medieval dialect of Hindi, the Brijbhasha, which was to Agra and Gwalior in the 14th to 16th centuries spoken, in which the mystic Mirabai ( 1498-1546 ) and the philosopher, poet and Bhaktijünger Tulsidas (1532-1623) compacted. Today, even modern Hindi is being used.

Dhrupad was converted from the Hindu musicians and famous singer Tansen. A native of Gwalior interpreted the court musicians of the Mughal emperor Akbar (1542-1605) in succession to his historically specific assignable teacher Swami Haridas Dagar Dhrupad the revolutionary new. Tansens occurrence is regarded as the culmination of the court Dhrupadstils, his Dhrupadas as " ideal prototype". " Such a singer like him did not exist in India for a thousand years," the chronicler knew at Akbar's court, Abu- l - Fazl (1551-1602) to boast in his list of contemporary musicians (Ain i Akbari II, p 445 ). Tansens offspring divided into three lines: the eldest of the sons, Vilas Khan, played as the father Rubab and founded the Rababi Gharana ( the Rubab -playing family or line), a daughter called together with the son the vina -playing Binkar Gharana to life, while another son, Surat Sen, the Seniya Gharana of Jaipur founded.

After the embossing by Tansen of Dhrupad flourished and lasted until the 18th century as the dominant musical form of vocal music. Dhrupad was required at princely courts for elite sahŗdaya (Sanskrit " matter of the heart " ), the high level of connoisseurship from the early 19th century. In contrast, most of the Sarangis was the khyal music that was originated in the 17th century., And Tablas supported slight female singing in the khyal style accompanied the royal houses of dancing girls. Added to the instrumental music of sitar and sarod came in the 19th century, the romantic and devotional thumri and the Tappa style. too, preferred the other styles, so that the Dhrupad almost in was forgotten.

Topics of Dhrupad singing

Dhrupad displayed his religious aspect in the context of Vishnu worship as praise of the popular Hindu deity Krishna, who is said to have spent in Vrindavan, a small town near Mathura, a carefree youth under shepherds and shepherdesses. Sanskrit texts, which were soon transferred to the vernacular, described the ( partially amorous ) Adventures of popular pastors of God, especially with his beloved Radha, and provided much of the textual basis of Dhrupad, the order for the musical medium for the Bhakti cult was that until today widespread, devotional worship to Lord Krishna ( Haveli Dhrupad ). Vrindaban is still the real center of Dhrupad, where in November 2009 the last festival was held ( Dhrupad Mela ); similar Melas now find at other places in India instead, for example at the Tulsi Ghat in Varanasi.

With the access to the courts, there was an expansion of the policy group: now ( Radha- poetry) the worship of the ruler, the music came as such, heroic songs and the song of praise of female beauty to. In general, the Dhrupad is characterized in that it brings both the qualities of the text ( Matu ) and the melody ( dhatu ) adequately reflected.

Dhrupadgesang traversed as a temple and court music the entire annual flow of the devout Hindu and spread among others with the Vishnu wandering monks of the Vallabha sect over the subcontinent. With the conversion of the musician Tansen converted to Islam, however, put all in mind for the Mughal Emperor Akbar, a broadening and intensification of bhakti thought one that offered many points of contact to the Sufi faith of Islam.

Tansens art music stopped so moving into the centers of political power, that is to the Muslim and Hindu princely courts, and was presented by Hindu, but mainly by Muslim musicians.

As a means of contemplation, as a spiritual discipline than that of Dhrupad understood originally, the Dhrupad is now as then, the tension between the public performance and the inner experience. The refusal of renowned Dhrupad singers like Fahimuddin and Rahimuddin Khan Dagar (1901-1976) ever to appear in public or to allow recordings can be explained by this fear of profanation.

Instruments, occupation

To date, only one is considered to be a singer, all four styles - in addition Khayal, Ghazal and Bhajan also Dhrupad - as charmukha ( " four faces" ) refers to the music dominates. Only thanks to the patronage of some princely courts in northern India and the All India Radio survived the art form in the form of a strict, yes jealously guarded tradition for some families of musicians. Especially since the 1970s experienced the exclusive music of Dhrupad at national and international level a revival. She has to fight against the so-called " Khayalisierung " ( Saiduddin Dagar ), that is against aestheticization or smoothing.

Except by vocal interpretation can Dhrupad only by the Rudra Vina be interpreted, a bar zither with 22 frets and 7 strings, which is played with a plectrum ( mizrab ). It is regarded as the noblest and most difficult instrument, their mythical inventor Narada played with it before the gods. These sounds, the long-necked lute tanpura, a Borduninstrument with 4 strings in fundamental, octave, fifth and octave, which starts sounding the keynote behind the vocal speakers.

Dhrupadkompositionen consist of four or five parts. In Dhrupad dominates the - mostly male - voice or singing, although rare, but has been practiced from time immemorial Dhrupad and women, today among others by Sulochana Brahaspati or Italian and Malik or Dagar student Amelia Cuni. To Dhrupad ensemble includes in addition to the dominant vocalists - it can also be more in unison singing singer - one or two a sound carpet weaving Tanpuras located directly behind the vocalists, as well as a rhythm instrument the large barrel drum Pakhawaj with two different sized skins that is played right of the singer. In addition, is tolerated as an instrument only the Rudra Veena or a comparable deep -tuned instrument that produces a similar long -lasting tone.

Like all Indian classical music does not run also the Dhrupad, as in Western music, tonal along the major-minor system, but modal in ragas.


Like other forms of music in India begins the Dhrupad with the introductory alap ( hindi "conversation, conversation "), an up to half an hour, melodic and totally free improvisation of the vocalists in the amount of about two and a half octaves, in which the singer without rhythmic accompaniment, only if accompanied by the tanpura, with the help of syllables the raga in three different tempos ( skt. laya " clock speed " ) - slow, medium and fast ( Vilambit, madhya, Druta laya ) - passes through while in predefined order the tonal range of the respective RAG sometimes dramatic increase of explored below upwards. Name and type of rag here define, what time of day, will be carried forward in what tone sequence and with what frequency. The ALAP generally takes most of the time during the performance, usually about 30-45 minutes.

In madhya laya uses a regular rhythm, and the singer goes into a more lively tempo; Druta finally laya is characterized by vocalic ornaments and more complicated rhythms, before the vocalist is back in the end part of Alap for strict, simple elegance of the beginning and the output sound. Another classification distinguishes the real, free improvisation ( ALAP ) at the beginning, jor (constant rhythm ) and Jhala or nom - tom (accelerated singing of syllables) in Alap.

Subsequently, the actual composition sets in, with generally four, sometimes five, but at least two parts: sthāyī ( Skt. " immutability ", includes the middle octave ) and Antara as contrasting alternative ( Skt. "Inside, the space " upper octave). Most are two additional sections added: sañcārī ( Skt. " hike ", the middle and upper pitch space downward movement ) and ābhoga ( Skt. " curvature ", return to the starting point ( coda ) of the sthāyī ); sometimes considered as a separate, fifth part bhoga within the sañcārī. - In the south of the continent, the sections are also referred to Sanskrit terms: Pallavi, Anupallavi and caraņam; the Abhog is also present but is not performing its own name.

After the improvisation in Alap sets, often without transition, the actual composition with fixed text accompanied by a Pakhawaj. With a clock speed of 7 ( tivra ), 10 ( sul ) or 12 ( chau ) shocks ( hindi Tal " rhythm, beat " ) is called a Dhrupad, the faster, 14 relevant from a Dhamār composition, as they usually is listed for Holi festival or in honor of Krishna. The drum player receives during the lecture manifold opportunities for soloists. Before the actual dhrupad singer cites the most ancient or traditional lyrical text in part or as a whole, often in Sanskrit and with religious or musicological background, he then by the technique of bol - bant ( hindi " word - division " ) partly to decomposed beyond recognition in his syllable ingredients and combined together with the drummer in rich rhythmic structure.

Dhrupad is not just a concert, but still listed in temples where the Alap is eliminated and instead of Pakhawaj the smaller Mridangam used. Bells and cymbals complete the ensemble here.

Styles, schools, artists and centers

There are four Vani ( Vani skt. " voice, articulate words "), ie stylistic variants of the classical Dhrupad: gaudahāra ( Gauri, Gohar, Gauhar, etc. ), khaņdāra ( Khandar ) nauhāra ( Nauhar ) and Dagara ( Dagar ), which already Faqirullah 1666 lists in his book Rāgdarpan which, however, his hand on Man Singh Tomar ( 1486 - 1516) back.

Importantly however, the Gharanas or family styles that are passed in strict treasured tradition from generation to generation only to family members and selected adepts. This hermetic process is typical for private, meditative, and ultimately elitist character of Dhrupad, but allows him so great sacrifices of its supporting families after the failure of the princely patrons survival in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Dagar Gharana

The Dagar family, one of the oldest and most important families of musicians classical music of Hindustan in India, were originally Brahmins and court musician in Jaipur, but changed under the art-loving Muhammad Shah (1702-1748) at the Mughal court in Delhi, which is why they gave up their caste and Muslims were. They practice from time immemorial the dagar Vani ( Dagar style) with a focus on the Alap and a melodic, full voice guidance, which they also owe their patronymic Dagar. The Dagars occurred since generations preferred as a couple on, especially as a pair of brothers ( " Dagar brothers" ), often a masculine voice contrasts pleasantly with the second, softer. Rahimuddin Dagar (1904-1975) is the father of Fahimuddin, whose uncle Hussainuddin and Imamuddin were court musicians in the Holkars of Alwar. In the senior Dagar brothers Moinuddin (1919-1966) and Aminuddin (1923-2000) was followed by the junior brothers Zahiruddin (1932-1994) and Faiyazuddin ( 1934-1989 ). Rahim Fahimuddin (* 1927) and Hussein Sayeeduddin and the grandson of the Rudra Veena player Zia Mohiuddin ( 1929-1990 ) and the singer Zia Fariduddin ( 1932-2013 ) continued the tradition.

The members of the Dagar family are Muslims, but still sing lyrics in praise of Hindu deities. The Dagar singer agrees personally the Tanpura to the particular raga, usually on the fifth, the fourth, or at night, often on the major seventh. Some artists derive their concerts one with a Sanskrit mantra that describes God as sound ( Nada Brahma, see Brahman ), because the bridge between sound and world, between nature and spirit, must be re- created again and again, even under adverse circumstances. Focus is on the music theory and practical lessons from the Dagar. One speaks, since the end of the 20th century by Dagarvani - revival and refers to the revival of the Dagar style, even through concerts in the West.

The Dagar are famous for their elegant, intellectual form of Dhrupad and go in natural vocalization the finest nuances of tone and pitch after. The Dagarvani style also maintain singers outside the Dagarfamilie, such as Ritwik Sanyal (* 1953), Uday Bhawalkar from Ujjain and also originating from Ujjain Gundecha Brothers ( Umakant and Ramakant Gundecha ), all four students of Fariduddin Dagar, as well as on the Surbahar Pushparaj Koshti, a student of Ziya Mohiuddin.

Darbhanga - Gharana the Malliks

The Mallik are Brahmins from the Gaur - caste from Amta in Darbhanga ( Bihar ); they play the Khandar Vani. The musicians of the Mallik family move in contrast to the strict Dagars Dhrupadkomposition the improvised alap before, emphasize brilliantly the rhythmic aspect of singing and putting on a manieriertere type of vocal production.

The family is musically back to Tansen (1506-1589), the most famous singers of Indian music history. To come to Bihar in 1785, they succeeded, according to the family tradition, a drought that had hunger and disease in the wake to end only by the presentation of the Megh Malhar Regenragas. As a reward to them the rule ( hindi "Lord, owner of " persian, ) were two villages and the honorary title awarded Maalik -. Too, in the Principality of Dumraon Dhrupad singer of the Malik family worked under the patronage of the local Maharaja.

The most important representative was Ram Chatur Malik ( 1902/06-1991 ), who was regarded as dhrupad Samrat ( " Emperor of the Dhrupad " ) As a court musician and personal friend of the then ruler of Darbhanga -. Until independence in 1947 one of the richest landlords of India, he accompanied his master to the first Round Table Conference in 1930/31 and the coronation of George VI, 1937 -. . Nowadays put under another Abhay Narayan, Prem Kumar and Vidur ( Bidur ) Narayan Malik († 2002) and Siya Ram ( Syaram ) Tiwari tradition of the. for further circle of musicians also includes the family Pathak -. the film Jalsaghar the Indian director Satyajit Ray from 1958 has parallels to Ram Chatur Malik's life and reflects the musical connoisseurship, but also music obsession of many former zamindars ( landowners ) resist.

Bettiah Gharana -

The Mishra from Bihar are from the caste of the Maithil Brahmins who derived their name from the ancient kingdom of Mithila on the bottom of today's Bihar. The Maithil Brahmins are famous for their orthodoxy and their eagerness to learn and usually bear the additional name Mishra. The musical dynasty of Mishra flourished under the patronage of the Raja of Bettiah on Gandak in Bihar and making music mostly in Gaurhar, Nauhar and Khandar style, which is characterized by vocal ornamentation and rhythmic variation. After the end of royal patronage at the courts of Nepal, Bettiah and Bishnupur, the Mishra in Varanasi settled. Your representatives today are mainly Indrakishore Mishra, Bholanath Pathak and Falguni Mitra. Her style is also known as Haveli style.

Talwandi Gharana -

This Dhrupad tradition originates from Punjab, but is now practiced in Pakistan; they preferred to Khandar style ( khandar Vani ). The Talwandi Gharana - from Faisalabad leads the Dhrupad style continued, the justified Nayak Chand Khan ( Khanderi ) and Suraj Khan in the 14th century in Ludhiana ( in the Indian state of Punjab ). Today the brothers Malikzada Muhammad Hafiz Khan and Muhammad Afzal Khan represented this " oriented to the spiritual practice of the Sufis unique tradition," it is in the Dhrupad, a Muslim saint, a Pir, sung.


  • According to legend, Tansen was once forced by his enemies at court to present the passionate Raga Dipak, drought, fever and fire with the result. Promptly lighted lamps, scorching heat was evolved and Tansen would be burned by a hair itself in burning heat, had not his daughters once the rain Raga Megh Malhar -making intoned.
  • During a visit of the Emperor Akbar, Tansen drew his reclusive old masters, Swami Haridas Dagar the ascetic, only by a trick a vocal sample by presenting Akbar as a groom and sang himself intentionally wrong. Haridas was surly and put the song away now correct. When Akbar asked why he could not, Tansen sing, so he answered: " Haridas always singing to God while I have to sing in front of the Emperor. "


The musicologist Alain Daniélou already blames Tansen and its musical compromises for the decline of dhrupad and the rise of pleasing styles Khyal and Thumri. The current situation is marked both by the growing interest in India and to the west by a revival of those considered almost extinct of singing, on the other hand completely new dangers threaten by flattening, called Khayalisierung, and commercialization.

The same problems - quick marketing, shallowness and lack of young people - raises the Qawwali musicians of Pakistan and northern India, where threatens to wither the local tradition in the shadow of international stars. The future of Dhrupad such as classical music in general was met with much skepticism few decades ago, yet the tradition of broad-based seems to stay alive.


  • Flight of the Soul - Qawwali from Pakistan. Bahauddin Qutbuddin Qawwal & Party, Asif Ali Khan Manzoor Hussain Qawwal Santoo Khan & Party. Place and year of recording: Berlin, House of World Cultures 1997 text the supplement. Pannke Peter. Wergo, Mainz 2001. (SM 1534-2 )
  • The King of Dhrupad. Ram Chatur Mallik in Concert. An acoustical gallery of the great masters of Indian music ( Masters of Raga ). Place and year of admission. Vrindaban 1982 text the supplement: Peter Pannke. Wergo, Mainz 1988. (SM 1076-50 )
  • Pakistani Soul Music. An acoustical gallery of the great masters of Indian music ( Masters of Raga ). Place and year of admission. Pakistan 1996 text the supplement: Peter Pannke. Wergo, Mainz 1997. (SM 1529-2 )
  • Dhrupad. R. Fahimuddin Dagar. An acoustical gallery of the great masters of Indian music ( Masters of Raga ). Place and year of admission. New Delhi 1988 text the supplement: Peter Pannke. Wergo, Mainz 1991. (SM 1081-2 )
  • Dhrupad. (1982). A documentary film by Mani Kaul on the Dagar vani dhrupad ( Duration: 1:09 ).
  • Satyajit Ray: Jalsaghar (1958), as the original version with German subtitles under the title The Music Room.