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Ornamentations in

Hindustani Classical Music


Introduction
Ornamentations or alankars in classical music are specific treatments
given to a set of notes so that the melody sounds beautiful and gets a
specific identity. Alankars are not specific to Indian Classical Music,
but to Indian music in general.
It is important to use the right proportion of different alankars or
ornamentations , or not use at all in some cases, because they define
the melody of the composition
KAN
Meend GAMAK ANDOLAN
SWAR

MURKI KHATKA ZAMZAMA

Click here for audio explanation.


Smooth glide from one swara to another
Execution can be slow or fast
Proper rendition of meends depends on :
i. Accurate pitching of the starting and ending swars
ii. Knowledge of the kan-swars of the ragas
iii. Accents on intermediate swars
iv. Tempo
The strongest weapon in the dhrupad singing
Types:
i. Basic meend: slow paced and usually rendered in the first part of the alaap-vistaar
ii. Rests on intermediate notes:The G~S (without pause) in a smooth movement followed
by G~R~S, with a hint of a pause on R as in raga Bihag.
iii. Tarangit meend: instead of going straight up or straight down, it combines the notes in a gently
swaying back and forth motion. Rendered in raag Kedar
iv. Soonth Meend: Fast paced meend employed by the vocalists.
v. Sargam Meend: can be sung by the vocalist in aakars, bols of the bandish or in Sargams.For
Meend
sargam meends, it is important to know which swar is to be pronounced and which ones are to be
hidden.
Significance in Ragas:
Meend is an important part of any classical performance. There are
certain ragas which cannot be properly presented without the necessary
meend.
The following are examples of Meend Pradhan Ragas
Miyan ki Malhar - The descending progression from Ma to Re is an
essential element of any raga belonging to the Malhar family. But, a
mere movement from Ma to Re will not characterize a raga as one of
the Malhar family if the absolutely mandatory meend from Ma to Re is
absent.
Other ragas : Jog, Bhairavi, Shudh Kalyan, Bilaskhani Todi etc
There are occasions where the primary difference between two ragas is
that while one dictates the use of meend, the other dictates that meend
must not be used, or used minimally, if at all. Examples:
Bhoop (or Bhoopali) is a raga that dictates an absence of meend while
Shuddh Kalyan demands that meend must be used, although the two ragas
Meend
have virtually similar notes.
Raga Darbari Kanada, where meend is absolutely mandatory and raga Adana,
Literal meaning: "ornamented note" in Sanskrit.
Gamak is any graceful turn, curve or cornering touch given to a single note or a group of
notes, which adds emphasis to each raga's individuality.
Very important in Indian Clssical music: Shadowing of notes or giving weightage to the
notes to give an effect
involves the variation of pitch of a note, using heavy forceful oscillations and vigour
between adjacent and distant notes.
Can be defined as a fast meend (spanning 2-3 notes normally) delivered with deliberate
force and vigour and repeated in an oscillatory manner. R G is a meend if it is a glide
from R to G at a moderately slow tempo. But the same R G repeated twice or more at a
relatively faster tempo, often forcefully, is termed as gamak.
The gamak is distinguishable from the andolan because of its faster speed and its clearly
audible starting and ending points. It is swarbased while the andolan is more shruti-
based.
The speed of alternating between the notes ranges between 2 and 8 times a second
Are mostly not used in Indian light music because of the mood of the songs.
Types: There are several types of gamak, ranging from really heavy ones that involve
using the jaw muscles to produce the required intensity (called jabde-ki-taan), to wavy
gamaks (called lahak) as well as very light ones (called halak).
Gamak
Additional Detials: Various commentators on Indian music have mentioned different
numbers of gamaks. For example, Sarangdeva describes fifteen gamaks, Narada in
Sangeeta Makaranda describes nineteen gamaks, and Haripala in Sangeet Sudhakar
Slow swing applied to a note. Used to give a serious ting to the raga
meditating on a note.
The note that is being oscillated is known as andolit swar. It must be
noted that these andolit swars are raga specific and should not be
applied to any raga that uses them. For instance, we use andolans on
Dha and Ga in Raag Darbari.
Other examples:
i. A constitutive element of Bhairav is the andolan on vadi and samvadi, dha
and re, respectively
ii. Another example of andolan is the Ga in Raag Jog on the way down, which
is quite distinct from the Raag Darbari andolan on the same note.
This ornament is particularly hard to imitate on a keyboard instrument,
also because it mostly incorporates microtonal scale degrees.
Andolan
In order to illustrate the shrutis in Indian music, the swars applied are never static
and rarely in disjointed form. Each note has some link with its preceding and
succeeding note. These linking notes are called grace notes or Kan-swars.
The Kan-swar is never fully pronounced and is sung or played in a subtle manner.
They are very important for the proper rendition of a raga. Two or more ragas
sharing a common note differ vastly from each other primarily due to the
application of their Kan-swars.
A Kan-swar is very often the starting point of a meend.
In practice, a meend usually originates from a note that is only fleetingly touched.
It is the grace note or Kan-swar that enhances the beauty of the succeeding notes
(of the meend).. An incorrect Kan-swar (within a meend) would bring in shades of
some other related raga into the performance
Deal with so called touch notes. They can be executed vocally and on instruments
in three ways:
using a swift short glide (meend or ghaseet),
as a Sparsh (technique of playing a note on a plucked stringed instrument, the
movement of notes is ascending) and
as a Krintan (the opposite of a Sparsh, movement of notes is descending).
Kan Swar
A beautiful explanation of the various ornaments is provided by Shri Anand Nande
: https://soundcloud.com/anand-nande-1/meend-murki-khataka-etc
It is a short taan - fast and delicate ornamentation or alankar,
employing two or more notes
Is employed in thumris and other light genres. Thumris are often built
around it.
Is less forceful than Khatka or Zamzama

Murki
Two or more notes sung with a jerk. Its a combination of Kan and Murki. The Khatka is
a faster improvisation of the principal note. The speed ofexecution gives it a jerky
movement.
Khatka Literally means Fear, Suspicion, etc. Musically Its a variety of Sabdalankar in
form of aknot. To decorate another note eg. SNRSNS the knot of notes SNRSN written
on the left of S to decorate it and is produced so quickly as to appear almost a single note,
although it isa phrase of notes.
A khatka is a technique for embellishing a note by singing it in a small cluster including
neighboringnotes. The main note is held the longest. The other notes are sung very
rapidly but quite clearly sothat each note is distinctly audible.
examples from Raag Yaman, which often features khatkas on the notes S and P. In the
first example, S' is actually a rapid combination of the notes (S' R' S' S' N). And below
that, the P is a combination of the notes (P D P P M).
i. Khatka, Raag Yaman 'N R G M D N S'(=S'R'S'S'N)
ii. Khatka, Raag Yaman M D N, N D P(=PDPPM) Khatka
Zamzama is an urdu word meaning thunder or roar addition of notes. Like a khatka, it is a
cluster of notes, used to embellish the landing note.
Unlike a khatka, notes in a zamzama are rendered in progressive combinations and
permutations. The end result sounds like a complex taan pattern with sharp gamaks.
The difference between khatka and zamzama is that khatka only hits 13 notes, whereas
Zamzamas continue up and down the scale. It moves so fast that it seems more like a texture
than a line.
Form an integral part of tappa singing-applied on the bols of the song and must be applied in
khayal renditions with great caution.
To put it more simply, zamzama is a series of khatkas woven together, for example:M P, M P,
M M P D D P.
G RGR SRS 'NS'N 'D'N'D 'P'D
Or 'P 'D'N'D'P'D 'NS'N'D'N SRS'NS RGRSR G
Examples:
i. A very famous hindi song Jhumka gira re is ornamented with zamzama :The bol
Haye is a series of notes: G RGR SR 'NS'N

Zamzama
ii. One of the best examples of Zamzama is a tappa Lal wala Joban sung by Vidhushi
Malini
iii. Rajurkar in Raag Bhairavi where almost every word Lal Kis Desh Joban is