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by David Courtney working tools

The alap is a totally rhythmless style based upon a free elaboration upon the rag.  It is usually the introductory section.  The alap may vary in length from a few seconds to over an hour.  It is in this section that a rag is explored completely.

There are several types of alap.  Whenever there are no words or bols, it is called anakshar alap.  Whenever words or bols are used it is referred to as sakshar alap.  It is very common to use words of the subsequent song or in some cases general purpose words such as anantha, hari, om, or narayan.

Although alap does not have a wide popular appeal, it is still considered the mark of proper training.  Where other forms of the song allow some latitude in the interpretation of the rag, the alap requires strict adherence to the rules.  This requires a firm knowledge, therefore the execution of alap is very difficult.

The vocal alap will always be accompanied by some instruments.  The tanpura is always present.  Other instruments may also be used.


Common Instruments to Accompany the Alap


Selected Video

Puriya Danashree Alap - Neela Bhagwat


Charulatha Mani - Shanmugapriya Alap




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For comments, corrections, and suggestions, kindly contact David Courtney at david@chandrakantha.com