It won’t be an exaggerated statement, if we rever khayal vocal music (or Khyal music) as one of the best aromas of Indian classical music, with its history deeply rooted in Dhrupad music. It was spread by Niamat Sah, who was called as “Sadarang”. He was a Dhrupad singer and Rudra Bin player of Tansen’s daughter’s lineage. He was a court singer of the Emperor Mohammad Shah and taught Dhrupad and Rudra Bin to his sons and relatives. It was his struggle to compose Khayal Gayaki as a gift for the Emperor, under whom he had saught shelter. One day, with some reason, he had fallen out with the Emperor and hid left the court. When the Emperor chanced to listen to Khayal song sung by Niamat Shah’s disciples, he instantly appointed Niamat Shah as a royal Musician.
At that time, Khyal was a cooperation between the established Hindu tradition and the budding style of tolerance in music. This certainly had a valuable effect on Hindustani music, i.e. the North Indian classical music. It improved it a lot by introducing some significant and helpful elements of Persian music and also by permitting musicians much possibility of imaginative appearance.
With its derivation from a long history, this singing approach has a very extensive range of performance styles (i.e. gharanas), where for rhythm a typical accompaniment is the tabla. Even if the raga in dhrupad is tremendously exciting, the characteristic khayal performance has more delicate emotions.
Unintentionally, Khayal has partly been less well-received in the West than instrumental music or even dhrupad.
“Khayal” literally means an idea or imagination. Khayal Vocal Singing is the picture of many frames of mind, beliefs, with a stimulating range and attractiveness. This style of singing portrays these feelings. From the last 200 years, the Khyal Singing style still has an unflinching influence on music lovers.
As mentioned earlier, as the Khayal Music style has its deep roots in the Dhrupad brand, it has widely made use of four Dhrupad Vanis.The Khayal singers, according to their voice and moods, developed it on two lines—the Alapi style and the Laya style. Some musical gharanas use the “akar” form; while some use the words of the Khayal. Some singers start with the khayal music in full with no “alap” to go then on to exhibit the Raga. Some singers also start with the first line of the Khyal and then clarify the remaining lines gradually.
Here, it should be reminded that depending on voice and incessant practice, a Khayal singer has to build up his style of singing. No singer can ever achieve every degree of Khayal singing. Khyal is pleasant-sounding and has sufficient chance for creativeness.
These days too, khyal continues with this prosperous legacy. In particular, owing to the varied nature of the types of creativeness in khyal, it is superior than any single Hindustani vocal type.