Dhrupad Music

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Apr 18, 2022, 5:26

An ancient Indian vocal musical form, Dhrupad initially comprised devotional compositions rendered in the temples. It later developed into a sophisticated classical music form intended for audiences in the royal courts. This led to several refinements in Dhrupad Music. The majestic nature of Dhrupad continues to enthral music enthusiasts even today.

Interestingly, this genre was facing a dip in popularity. But in recent years, it witnessed a tremendous revival on the international stage and the home front.

What Is Dhrupad Music?

Dhrupad Music is a genre of Hindustani classical music. It is the oldest style of Indian vocal and instrumental classical music. Dhrupad was coined by combining two Sanskrit words, Dhruva (meaning permanent or fixed) and pada (meaning hymn or verse).

Dhrupad is a meditative and devotional form of song-music combination. It underlines the authenticity of the raga through sounds. The purpose of Dhrupad Music is to worship and not to entertain. It seeks to induce profound spiritual and peaceful feelings in the listener. While this music genre has a poetic bias, instrumental music is also a vital part of it.

Dhrupad Music Features

The distinguishing features of Dhrupad Music are:

  • An easy-going and deliberate presentation style.
  • A serious approach towards the elaboration of raga and melodic phrasing.
  • Upholding the purity of the Swaras and the ragas.
  • Highly structured melodic development.
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Dhrupad Music - History and Evolution

Dhrupad Music traces its origin to the recitation of the ancient Sanskrit text called Sama Veda. The rhythmic chanting of the scriptures in the Sama Veda was called Samgana. Prabandha and Chhanda are two vocal styles that developed from Samgana and involved verse and meter. Dhrupad evolved from the fusion of these two elements.

Traditionally, this music had compositions formed as prayers. These were sung in Sanskrit in the Vaishnava temples across North India and are known as Haveli Dhrupad. Between the 12th and 16th centuries, the language of Dhrupad changed to Brij Bhasha.

Later, Dhrupad Music evolved further and flourished in the royal courts of Rajput and Mughal rulers. Many compositions were formed in praise of the emperors and kings. This style became popular as Darbari Dhrupad.

Dhrupad retained its sacred character despite the evolutions it sustains to date.

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Essential Facts About Dhrupad Music

  • Dhrupad is based on the yoga of sound, called naad yoga.
  • It is the only music genre to include yoga techniques.
  • A Dhrupad presentation has two components, Alap (prelude) and Pada (verse).
  • An alap is rendered devoid of any poetic content or percussion accompaniment. A pada is sung with the accompaniment of percussion.
  • Surdas, Swami Haridas, Govind Swami, Baiju Bawra, and Tansen were popular singers of Dhrupad.
  • Dhrupad Music peaked during the reign of rulers like Emperor Akbar and Man Singh Tomar of Gwalior.
  • According to the Hindu, Kalpadruma was composed by Tansen, who compiled 300 of his Dhrupads.
  • The advent of the Khayal genre led to the decline of Dhrupad's popularity.
  • Dhrupad compositions written in praise of Lord Vishnu are known as Vishnupad.
  • Abu Fazl's Ain-i-Akbari (1593) is the earliest source to mention Dhrupad as a musical genre.
  • UNESCO's cultural heritage committee accredits the Dhrupad Sansthan on the outskirts of Bhopal.

Dhrupad Music has overcome a survival crisis and is in the revival mode. A new generation of Dhrupad artists is evolving. The path ahead seems to be bright for this music genre.

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FAQs on Dhrupad Music

Q.1. What differs between Dhrupad Music and Khayal?

The Main Difference Between Dhrupad Music and Khayal is that the Dhrupad Music is spiritual and solemn, while Khayal is celebratory and has ornamental notes.

Q.2. How many singers perform Dhrupad Music?

Dhrupad Music can be performed solo or by a small group of singers.

Q.3. What instruments are used in Dhrupad Music performance?

Dhrupad Music is performed on the beats of mridang or pakhavaj. Traditionally, Rudra Veena was used.

Q.4. Which is the most well-known Gharana of Dhrupad Music?

Dagar gharana is the most well-known gharana of Dhrupad Music.

Q.5.Who composed Dhrupad Music?

Dhrupad Music composed by Mia Tansenin the Raag Malkauns

Q.6.What are the four branches or variants of Dhrupad Music?

The four branches of Dhrupad Music are

  • Gauri (gaurhar)
  • khandar
  • Nauhar
  • Dagar