depicting a romantic style of singing that blends Hindu and Persian cultures.
Khayal became a popular form of music in the 18th century AD. Its origins are
very controversial nonetheless. Some people trace its origins to Hussein Shah
Sharqi of Jaunpur, while others propound that it was the invention of
"Sadarang" Nyaamat Khan, a beenkaar in the Mughal court of Muhammad
Shah "Rangila".
     While the most important features of a Khayal are "Tans" or the running
glides over notes and "Bol-tans", it is the latter that distinguishes it from
Dhrupad. To the extent its performer can imagine and improvisations he is
able to incorporate, Khayal dependent to a largely on the performer. There
are two varieties of khayals: Vilambit (slow tempoed) and Drut (fast
tempoed). Furthermore, a Khayal is composed in a particular raga and thala
and contains a brief text, which deals with various subjects ranging from
praise of kings, or seasons, description of seasons, to the pranks of Lord
Krishna, divine love and sorrow of separation. The texts contain rhyme,
alliteration and play with words.
     Although more often than not composed in the archaic Hindi dialect
known as Brij Bhasha, khayal songs are also written in languages like
Bhojpuri, Punjabi, Urdu, Rajasthani, Marathi and occasionally Sanskrit.
Instruments accompanying khayal performances are essentially the tanpura
and tabla. Other instruments that also take part in the performance of khayal
include the sarangi, harmonium, violin and swarmandal.
     Six main gharanas in khayal are: Delhi, Patiala, Agra, Gwalior, Kirana
and Atrauli-Jaipur. Among these, Gwalior Gharana is the oldest and is also
considered to be the supreme, in other words, mother of all other gharanas.
Different gharanas and their pioneers or founders are: the Agra Gharana–Haji
Sujan Khan; the Jaipur-Atroli gharana–Ustad Allaudin Khan; and the Kirana
Gharana–Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan and Ustad Abdul Karim Khan.
     Among the eminent khayal singers, names of Faiyaz Khan, Amir Khan,
Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Kishori Amonkar, Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Jasraj,
Sawai Gandharva, Sureshbabu Mane, Balakrishnabuwa Kapileswari,
Roshanara Begum, Hirabai Barodekar, Feroz Dastur, Gangubai Hangal,
Manik Verma, Saraswati Rane and Prabha Atre are worth mentioning.