Hindustani Music Alankar and Palte: Spicing up the swaras

Hindustani Music Alankar and Palte: Spicing up the swaras

Alankar, also known as ornaments or adornments, plays a significant role in Hindustani Classical Music, adding depth and artistic expression to compositions. In this article, we delve into the world of Hindustani Classical Music Alankar, discussing its historical significance, types, and benefits it offers for musicians during their riyaz (practice) sessions.

Historical Background and Classification of Hindustani Classical Music Alankar

Alankar has been an integral part of Hindustani Classical Music since ancient times. Ancient Indian musical treatises, such as Bharata’s Natyashastra, mention various types of Alankars, highlighting their importance. Over the centuries, Alankars have evolved and expanded, contributing to the rich diversity of styles seen today.

Alankars are broadly classified into two groups. Varnalankar and Shabdalankar. Varnalankar focuses on the structural aspects of a raga, including sthayi, arohi, avarohi, and sanchari. Shabdalankar emphasizes the aesthetic aspects, encompassing sound production techniques employed by vocalists and instrumentalists.

Types of Alankar and Their Significance

In Hindustani Classical Music, several types of Alankars are commonly practised. These Alankars hold unique characteristics and contribute to the artistic expression of performance.

Let’s explore 5 Alankars in music:


Meend involves smooth gliding between two or more notes, creating a seamless transition and adding a melodic grace to the rendition.


Kan refers to grace notes that embellish melodic phrases, adding ornamentation and intricacy to the composition.

Sparsh and Krintan

Sparsh and Krintan focus on grace notes, particularly as applied in plucked stringed instruments. These Alankars enhance the overall aesthetics of the performance.


Andolan is a slow oscillation between adjacent notes, imparting a gentle sway and subtle rhythmic variation to the melody.


Gamak involves forceful oscillations between adjacent and distant notes, adding depth, expressiveness, and emotional impact to the rendition.

Practising Alankar for Riyaz: Benefits and Techniques

Regular practice of Alankar during riyaz sessions offers numerous benefits for musicians. By incorporating Alankar exercises into their practice routine, musicians can develop voice control, precision, and a deep understanding of the melodic structure of different ragas. Alankars enable vocalists to explore improvisation within the boundaries of a raga and tala, fostering creativity and artistic expression.

To facilitate effective Alankar practice, musicians can follow various techniques. They can start with simple Alankars and gradually progress to more complex ones, paying attention to intonation, timing, and overall expression. Additionally, seeking guidance from experienced gurus or vocal coaches can provide valuable insights and personalized feedback.

Hindustani Classical Music Alankar

Alankar holds immense significance in Hindustani Classical Music, offering musicians a pathway to enhance their artistic expression and master the intricacies of ragas. Through regular practice and exploration of various Alankars, musicians can develop their vocal skills, improvisation abilities, and overall musicianship. Embracing Alankar as an integral part of riyaz sessions empowers musicians to create captivating renditions that resonate deeply with audiences and showcase the beauty of Hindustani Classical Music.


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