For other uses, see Tarana (disambiguation).
Hindustani classical music



melody: VocalsSitarSarodSurbaharRudra veenaViolinSarangiEsraj/DilrubaBansuriShehnaiSantoorHarmoniumJal tarang

rhythm: TablaPakhawaj

drone: TanpuraShruti boxSwarmandal


classical: DhrupadDhamarKhyalTaranaSadra

semiclassical: ThumriDadraQawwaliGhazalChaitiKajri



Tarana or Taranah (Urdu: ترانہ, Hindi: तराना) is a type of composition in Hindustani classical vocal music in which certain words and syllables (e.g. "odani", "todani", "tadeem" and "yalali") based on Persian and Arabic phonemes[1] are rendered at a medium (madhya) or fast (drut) pace (laya). It was invented by Amir Khusro (1253-1325 CE),[2] and is similar to the Qalbana form of Sufi poetry. In modern times the tarana is most commonly associated with the singer Amir Khan, who helped popularize it and researched its origins and the syllables used. Tarana was also used by Sikh tenth Guru Sri Guru Gobind Singh in his compositions like "jagardang nagardang bagardang".[3]


The structure consists of a main melody, usually short, repeated many times, with variation and elaboration at the performer's discretion. There is a second, contrasting melody, usually with higher notes, which is introduced once before returning to the main melody. The tarana may include a Persian couplet, and may use syllables from sitar or tabla such as "dar-dar" or "dir-dir"; singers might recite full compositions (e.g. tihais, gats, tukdas) within the body of the tarana.


In the words of Thakur Jaidev Singh, an influential commentator on Indian music:

[Tarana] was entirely an invention of Khusrau. Tarana is a Persian word meaning a song. Tillana is a corrupt form of this word. True, Khusrau had before him the example of Nirgit songs using śuṣk-akṣaras (meaningless words) and pāṭ-akṣaras (mnemonic syllables of the mridang). Such songs were in vogue at least from the time of Bharat. But generally speaking, the Nirgit used hard consonants. Khusrau introduced two innovations in this form of vocal music. Firstly, he introduced mostly Persian words with soft consonants. Secondly, he so arranged these words that they bore some sense. He also introduced a few Hindi words to complete the sense…. It was only Khusrau’s genius that could arrange these words in such a way to yield some meaning. Composers after him could not succeed in doing so, and the tarana became as meaningless as the ancient Nirgit.[4]


The thillana from Carnatic music is based on the tarana, according to Balasaraswati,[5] and is widely used in dance performances.


  1. ITCSRA Glossary - Tarana
  2. Massey, Reginald. India's Dances. Abhinav Publications. p. 13. ISBN 81-7017-434-1.
  3. https://www.sikhnet.com/shabad-printer/20393. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. Singh, Thakur Jai Deva (1975). "Khusrau's Musical Compositions". In Ansari, Zoe. Life, Times & Works of Amir Khusrau Dehlavi. New Delhi: National Amir Khusrau Society. p. 276.
  5. Discussion with Amir Khan, from the AIR archives, commercially unpublished.

Coordinates: 23°19′48″N 76°01′48″E / 23.33000°N 76.03000°E / 23.33000; 76.03000

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