There are three main divisions in Indian Classical Music. Unless we understand those divisions and sub-divisions of Indian Classical Music, we can never understand the soul of this music. This type of music has three divisions: Dhrupad, Hindustani Classical Music and South or Carnatik Classical Music.
- Read here What is difference between Hindustani Classical Music and South or Carnatik Classical Music?
In them, Dhrupad is an ancient and powerful style of Indian Classical Music, which was very popular in olden days. It is also called as Dhruvapada, which is another form of presenting a raga.(You can get more information about Indian Classical Raagas here) The temperament of Dhrupad music is religious. The word Dhrupad is a resultant from the words ‘DHRUVA’ i.e. the persistent evening star moving through the galaxy and ‘PADA’ means poetry. It traces its origin to the ancient text of Sam Veda. The SAM VEDA was steadily developed into the vocal styles of ‘Chhanda’ and ‘Prabandha’ i.e. verse and meter. Their melodious union was the beginning of Dhrupad.
This style of singing supports the emotions like Veer Ras (expression of gallantry), Shant Ras (expression of peace) and Shringar Ras (expression of love or physical intimacy). Dhrupad style of singing is suitable for singer’s manly voice. This style has no Taan, yet uses Dugun, Tigun etc. The Veena and Rudra Veena are the instruments that are fitting for Dhrupad singing. Like various Gharanas in Indian Classical Music, Dhrupad singing also has four types, which are called as ‘Dhrupad Baani’. They are Gaubarhaar (Gaudiya) Baani, Khandaar Baani, Dagur Baani and Nauhaar Baani. Dhrupad method of singing is comparatively less practiced/popular in Indian Classical Music. There are very few singers who sing this style, viz. Dagar Brothers, Gundecha Brothers, Uday Bhavalkar.
For Dhrupad, the Mridang or Pakhawaj is the percussion accompaniment, in preference to the Tabla in Khayal. The most important dissimilarity between these two musical forms is that the Dhrupad is strictly bound by the piece of music and the Tala, within which creativeness has to be made. On the other hand, in the Khayal, there is the liberty to free itself from the periodic beat and then to come back to the start of each Tala. Also, the two indispensable parts i.e. Sargam and Taan in Khayal, are missing in Dhrupad.
By the 11th century, Dhrupad had an ideal form, keeping its unique arrangement. One of the most important features of Dhrupad is the prominence on preserving purity of the Ragas and the Swaras. For this reason, Dhrupad was also sung in the temples.
Between the 12th and the 16th century, the Dhrupad language changed from Sanskrit. It was then supported by the royal courts and its intricate presentation became proposed for classy audiences. Consequently, pieces of Dhrupad music became more liberate. Some were even written to praise the royals. Yet, it couldn’t affect the Dhrupad purity and even these days also we hear this royal form of music as it was performed about 500 years ago in the royal Indian courts.
As discussed earlier ‘Dhruva’ means ‘unmoving’. It indicates at the return of the Swara (tonal), Kala (time) and Shabda (textual) trails to an unchanging point. This was a pioneering parameter. All the surviving music nowadays has arrived at this importance because of Dhrupad. Possibly, this is the basis, ‘Why Dhrupad is considered the soul of Indian music?’.