Dhrupad is perhaps the oldest style of classical singing in north Indian music today. The heyday of this style was in the time of Tansen. It is a very heavy, masculine style performed to the accompaniment of the pakhawaj (an ancient mridang). It is known for its austere quality and strict adherence to the tal. The moods of dhrupad may vary, but themes revolving around the victories of great kings and mythological stories are common. Devotional themes are also very common.
The dhrupad usually adheres to a four-part structure of sthai, antara, abhog, and sanchari. It is usually set to chautal of 12 beats, tivra of 7 beats, or sulfak of 10 beats. Occasionally one hears matt of 9 beats, or farodast of 14 beats. Its formal structure makes it a very difficult style to master. Unfortunately, this rigidity has also made it very difficult for the average person to appreciate. Today this style is almost extinct.
Dhrupad is also an instrumental form. However as an instrumental form, it is a mere imitation of the vocal dhrupad
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