Introduction

What is the vocalist going to sing?

That depends upon several factors. Hindustani music recommends certain Raags based on the time of the day. Typically the artist will start with a Raag that is suitable for the time of the day or evening. Exactly which Raag will be depends upon the mood of the artist, the artist’s perception about the audience, etc.

What is the role of each accompanist?

The percussionist, normally the Tabla player, provides the rhythm for the performance. The rhythm shows the speed or the tempo of the composition being sung. A Harmonium player follows the vocalist like a shadow and delivers the same Swars, i.e. notes or patterns of Swars or notes that the vocalist sings. Sometimes instead of or in addition to a...

How does a Raag begin?

The Raag begins with an Alap. The idea in the Alap is to present the Raag in a nutshell but without the rhythm. In that sense the Alap is a quick sketch of what is to follow. The notes of the Raag may be sung in various forms, e.g., in the form of a prayer to God or in “Akar” which is the long “A” sound or with a small set...

How is a Raag presented?

After singing the Alap, the vocalist sings a composition in a slow tempo or medium tempo followed by another composition in a faster tempo. If only one composition is to be presented, the vocalist will first sing in a slower tempo and then after making one pass through the composition, he or she will speed up and sing the same composition at a...

Why certain lines of the composition are repeated?

The vocalist sings the same words in different Swars or patterns of Swars, as allowed by the Raag framework. This is analogous to taking pictures of an object from various angles or viewpoints. For example, a photographer may take pictures of the Sun at various times of the day from various spots with different levels of exposure. The object of...

Does the vocal performance include only Raags?

Typically in a concert, the vocalist will begin with one Raag. Hindustani classical vocal music comprises of several forms including Khayal, Dhrupad, Thumri, Chaiti and Kajri. Out of all these forms, the most prevalent art form is Khayal which means thought or imagination. After presenting a Raag in Khayal style, the vocalist may sing another...