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Astounding Indian Music Glossary With 61 Terms

Indian Music Glossary

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The perpetual sound of Ganges water and the symphony of dusky Awadh music sits at the vast Indian Music Culture threshold. The south Indian music variations fuse with the heartland rhapsody to make a thrilling Indian Music Glossary.

India is a multicultural society with vibrant music culture. This multiculturalism has joined the threads of diverse music tempers from every corner of the country.
Here is a collection of different musical traditions, processes, and forms of music.

Indian Music Glossary


 1. Alankara

Alankara means ornament or decoration. In Indian classical music, it enhances the beauty of the structure of a raga. Musicians use Alankara within or across tones to beautify the swaras.

2. Alap

It is an elegant arrangement of notes to improve the nature of raga, making it unique. It helps in the gradual development of raga.

3. Antara

Antara is an important component of the Indian Music Glossary, like the Hindustani Classical Music verses. It is the secondary theme of a vocal performance.

4. Aftab-e-Mausiqui

Aftab-e-Mausiqui means Sun of Music. This prestigious title is conferred to the geniuses of Agra Gharana of Uttar Pradesh.

Follow: The Top 15 Unforgettable Voices of India to discover some exceptional Indian Music Icons.


1. Bandish

Bandish is the outline of a raga. Most of the bandishes are created by musicians themselves. It is the reflection of the understanding of ragas.

2. Bhajan

Another entry in Indian Music Glossary is Bhajan. Bhajan is the representative of Indian religion based on spiritual themes.

3. Baithak

Baithak is a music performance style where listeners get the chance to hear the performer very closely.

4. Bol

It is an integral part of Indian music used to define the rhythmic pattern. It is the narrative of a melody.


1. Carnatic Music

Carnatic Music is the traditional music of South Indian states, including Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. It preserves the Dravidian art music culture.

2 .Chaiti

Another inclusion in the Indian Music Glossary is Chaiti, which are semi-classical, season-based songs sung in the Hindu month of Chaitra (March-April). These are the folk songs of Uttar Pradesh.

3. Chalan

Chalan means patterns. In Hindustani music, Chalan is a key component in the development of a particular raga. It is a comprehensive series of note patterns that structure the ragas.

4. Chaturanga

The meaning of Chaturanga is of 4 colors. In Hindustani Music, Chaturanga symbolizes the four colorful components: Khayal, Tarana, Sargam, and a Paran of tabla.


1. Dadra

Indian Music Glossary is incomplete without Dadra. It is very similar to Thumri. It is a light classical form, performed in the Agra and Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh.

2. Dhamar/ Dhamar-Hori

A Dhrupad song style set to Dhamar Tala is called Dhamar. It is a 14-bit signature style.

Holi is a festival of color with religious and cultural significance. Dhamar-Hori is quite similar to Dhrupad and performed specifically to praise Lord Krishna.

3. Dhrupad

Dhrupad is an integral component of the Indian Music Glossary for its poetic exuberance. It is an ancient form of Hindustani vocal music. It elaborates a raga in a precise and orderly way.

Pt. Ritwik Sanyal, Pt. Uday Bhawalkar, Ustad Sayeeduddin Dagar, and Umakant Gundecha are some famous Dhrupad singers.

4. Dhun

Dhun is literally a tune. It is a light instrumental piece in Indian Classical Music. 

5. Dholak

Dholak is a folk drum, a popular percussion instrument in North India. This barrel-shaped drum is extensively used in bhajan, folk music, dhun, and Indian Film Music.


 1. Gamak

Gamak is a decoration used in North and South Indian Classical Music. It is basically the ornamentation of a note between two notes.

2. Gayaki

Gayaki is the style of singing. It is associated with different Gharanas of Indian Music.

3. Gharana

Gharana is the most comprehensive term in Indian Music Glossary. Gharana means house. In Indian Music, it also refers to style.

A Gharana is established when a certain music tradition or methodology is practiced from generation to generation. It is generally named after the founder or pioneer musician.

Gwalior Gharana, Agra Gharana, Bhendi Bazaar Gharana, and Kirana Gharana are some famous Indian gharanas.

4. Ghazal

Ghazal is a popular form of Indian music, exhibiting its musical attributes. It is the vocal presentation of rhyming couplets.


1. Haveli Sangeet

It is a piece of Hindustani Classical music performed in the Havelis (Castles). It is an ancient feudal-tradition music style. It was originated in North India with dhrupad as an essential component.

2. Harmonium

Indian Music Glossary is incomplete without mentioning the unique Indian musical instrument, Harmonium. Imported from Europe, it has become an integral part of Indian music culture.


It is extensively used in ghazal, folk songs, bhajan, khayal, and others. It is remarkable for its design and pumping bellows.

3. Hori

It is a semi-classical singing style quite popular in the Indian states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. It is a song of the festival and enriched with Bhairavi and Thumri ragas.


 1. Jhala

Another component of Indian Music Glossary, Jhala, is the most important Indian musical composition. It is string-based and part of any sitar or sarod recital.

2. Jor

Jor is used to elaborate a raga at the beginning of a performance. It accompanies by instruments and used with slow to medium rhythm.

3. Jugalbandi

Jugalbandi is the duet of two solo musicians. It is quite popular in Hindustani as well as Carnatic Classical style music.

Jugalbandi is either vocal or instrumental-based. It is a playful competition between two performers on equal footing.

4. Jasrangi

Jasrangi is a new form of jugalbandi where a male and a female musician sings two different ragas. Eminent Indian Vocalist Pt. Jasraj had created this musical genre.


1. Kajri

Kajri is the popular folk music of North India. It is season-based music with the theme of Radha-Krishna’s eternal love depiction.

This semi-classical music is performed in the rainy season by folk singers of Uttar Pradesh. It is quite emotional and depicts the pain of separation.

2. Khayal/ Khyal

Khayal or khyal is a Persian word meaning imagination. It is part of the North Indian classical music tradition.

It has been associated with Indo-Persian cultural forms with traces of Vedic origin. Gwalior, Patiala, Kirana, and Jaipur-Atrauli are some prominent khyal gharans.


1. Ladi/ Lari

Ladi is primarily associated with instrumental music. It is the systematic reeving of notes in a composition.

2. Laykari

An important part of Indian Music Glossary, Laykri is the soul of rhythmic Indian classical music. Laya denotes tempo, and laykari is the organization of tempo in a raga.


 1. Madhyalaya

It is the medium tempo of a rhythm.

2. Meend

Hindustani music is highly experimental in nature with several Indo-Persian traditions. Meend is an important part of instrumental music which is the drift from one note to another.

3. Mehfil

Mehfil is the courtly concert of Hindustani Classical Music.

4. Mishra Raga

Another important part of the Indian Music Glossary is Mishra Raga which is a mixture of two ragas. It is mixed or with variations.


1. Nisāda

Nisāda is the 7th Savara of Indian Classical Music.

2. Nomtom

Nomtom or Numtum is a median introductory style in Indian Classical Music. It is part of dhrupad and other concerning styles.


1. Padhant

Padhant is the recitation of bol during a performance.

2. Pakad

Pakad is the arrangement of notes to identify a specific raga.

3. Pakhawaj

Another notable term in Indian Music Glossary is Pakhawaj which is a barrel-shaped drumming instrument. Dhrupad singers traditionally use it.

4. Pandit

Distinguished musicians and experts of music are honorarily referred to as Pandits.


1. Raga

The most important Indian Glossary Term and the basis of Indian Classical Music are Raga. Each raga has a musical structure and specific motifs to provide melody to any classical composition.

Raga Darbari, Raga Pahadi, Raga Bhairavi, and Raga Marwa are some famous types.

2. Rabindra Sangeet

Rabindra Sangeet is a collection of songs composed by Nobel Laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore. The songs represent the vivid colors of the Bengali tradition.

3. Riyaz

It means to practice a song.


 1. Saptak

Saptak is a series of 7 notes. Primary notes, Sa and Pa, are unalterable.

2. Shabad

Shabad is a Sikh devotional song quite similar to bhajans.

3. Shastriya Sangeet

It is music based on ancient Vedas and spiritual texts.

4. Sargam

Another important term in Indian Music Glossary is Sargam which is the collection of Indian Music notes. Sargam is derived from the first notes: Sa, re, ga, ma, and others of Indian music swaras.

5. Sarangi

Sarangi is a stringed instrument. It is similar to a violin.

6. Shishya

It refers to a learner or pupil.

7. Sarod

Sarod is a Hindustani Classical Music stringed instrument. It has a metal fingerboard with numerous strings.

8. Shruti

Shruti is micro notes with basic frequencies.

9. Sitar

Another stringed instrument that became popular due to maestro Pt. Ravi Shankar

10. Swara

A vast Indian Music Glossary term is Swara. Swaras are the seven notes of the Indian music scale.



Taal is the rhythm or beat. This musical phrase generally occurs in slow tempo, medium tempo, and fast tempo.

2. Tabla

The next Indian Music Glossary term is Tabla which is a pair of twin hand drums.

3. Thumri

The vocal style of folk songs of Uttar Pradesh.


1. Ustad

An Ustad is a person who is a Master in Indo-Persian music tradition.


1. Vedas

Ancient Aryan scriptures.

2. Vivadi

The final Indian Music Glossary term is Vivadi which are the dissonant pitches in Hindustani Classical Music.

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