Ornamentation in Raag

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Ornamentation in Raag
Classical Music

Ornamentation in Raag

Ornamental Melody in Raag (Alankaars)

To make the raag rendering more beautiful and varied, different ornamental patterns are used.

Alankar :

Alankar literally means ornaments or adorations. Specific melodic presentation in succession in which a pattern is followed is called Alankar.

Some decided Varna combinations are called as Alankar. The meaning of Alankar is ornament. Like ornament increase physical grace in the same way with Alankar there is a grace in singing.
Alankar is also called as Palta. In the initial stage of learning Hindustani Classical Music students are primarily taught Alankar, because without Alankar student cannot gain good swar knowledge and neither he can get success in Indian classical music. With Alankar we also get help in Raag Vistar. A raag can also be decorated with the help of Alankar. Taan etc are also made with the help of Alankar. Therefore Alankar’s are practice to gain swar gyan (knowledge) and to improve vocal abilities.
For example: Sa Re Ga Sa, Re Ga Ma Re, etc.
Alankars are decided phrases of swaras which covers whole saptak, Alankars are made with Varna combinations for example we will take a Varna combination (Sa Re Ga Sa). Aarohi and Avarohi both the Varna are present in this Varna. Now to make Alankar we will take this Varna as step.
If we start making Alankar with the first step as (Sa Re Ga Sa) then the second step would be (Re Ga Ma Re) and then the third step will be (Ga Ma Pa Ga) and it goes on till it ends at Taar Sa to complete it Aaroh.
In this way 100s and 1000s of Alankars can be made. Alankars can also be made by including Komal Swar and Tivra Swar but we have to be careful that we have to use only those swaras that are present in that particular Raag for the Raag we are making the Alankar.

For example : “SaReGa, ReGaMa, GaMaPa, MaPaDha, PaDhaNi ,DhaNiSa”.

This phrase is a part of an alankar in which three notes in succession are used at each time.

Gamak : These are many ways of ornamenting the notes. In the ancient books fifteen types of gamaks are found.


⦁ Kampita – Shake
⦁ Andolita – Swing
⦁ Aaghaat – Strike
⦁ Valit – Vipple
⦁ Tribhinna – Threefold
⦁ Gumphita – Threaded
⦁ Plavita – Flowing
⦁ Mishrit – Mixed
⦁ Kurula – Spiral
⦁ Sphurita – Pulsating
⦁ Tirip – Flurry
⦁ Leen – Absorbing
⦁ Mudrita – Imprint
⦁ Ullhasit – Happy
⦁ Naamita – Obeisance
Many of these gamaks are still in use in Karnatak music under different names. However, today in the North Indian music, vibrating the notes with force is now called Gamak. This is an important technique in Dhrupad and often in Bada Khayal singing.


Kan or Sparsh Swar : Kan means a small particle of a neighboring note used with the main note. It can be higher or lower than the main note.




Murki : It’s a short taan of three or four notes. It’s sung very fast.




Khatkaa : Two or more notes sung with a jerk. Its a combination of Kan and Murki.




Meend : Stretching or lengthening the sound from one note to another. This technique maintains the continuity of the sound. Meend brings a continuos flow, softness and continuity.