There is a normal procedure for developing a North Indian classical vocal performance. The exact procedure is determined by the genre (e.g., dhrupad, kheyal, etc.). However regardless of the genre, there are a few well defined structures. We will now introduce these.
Alap and nomtom are two basic structures. Alap is a slow rhythmless elaboration upon the rag; this is at the beginning of most performances. After the alap, some styles move into a form which has rhythm but no rhythmic cycle. This is known as nomtom.
The theme is very important in North Indian vocal. There may be up to four themes. The most important is the sthai (primary theme) and the antara (secondary theme). Additionally one may sometimes find other themes such as the sanchari and the abhog.
The tihai is an important component. Whenever one is improvising, it is important to have some device to resolve this improvisation. The tihai performs this function. It is basically a phrase which is repeated three times. This is a musical punctuation which breaks the performance into artistic sections.
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