Dhrupad

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Dhrupad is a vocal genre in Indian classical music, said to be the oldest still in use in that musical tradition. Its name is derived from the words "dhruva" (fixed) and "pada" (words). The term may denote both the verse form of the poetry and the style in which it is sung.

History There is no reference to Dhrupad in Bharat's Natya Shastra, commonly dated to the 1st Century AD, nor even in Sangit Ratnakar, a 13th Century text, taken as authoritative. Ravi Shankar states that the form appeared in the fifteenth century as a development from the prabandha, which it replaced. Under Mughal ("Mogul") rule it was appropriated as court music. However the musical background of dhrupad is commonly thought to have a long history, traceable back to the Vedas themselves.

Practice

Dhrupad as we know it today is performed by a solo singer or a small number of singers in unison to the beat of the pakhavaj or mridang rather than the tabla. The vocalist is usually accompanied by two tanpuras, the players sitting close behind, with the percussionist at the right of the vocalist. Traditionally the only other instrument used was the Rudra Veena. Some artists have used other instruments. Preferably, such instruments should have a deep bass register and long sustain.


Style There are said to be four broad stylistic variants (vanis or banis) of classical dhrupad – the Gauri (Gohar), Khandar, Nauhar, and Dagar, tentatively linked to five singing styles (geetis) known from the 7th Century: Shuddha, Bhinna, Gauri, Vegswara, and Sadharani. But more importantly, there are a number of dhrupad gharanas: "houses", or family styles.