9. The Nature of Poetic Lyrics in Dhrupad Compositions

An important feature of Hindustani vocal music is the lyric of the song. As already noted, Dhrupad music developed from Hindu devotional music, with songs sun in praise of, and offered to, Hindu deities. When this music came under the patronage of the Mughal courts, it began to be practiced by both Hindu and Muslim musicians, and in the composite Hindu-Muslim culture that resulted, lyrics addressed Muslim subjects as well as Hindu. There had been a tradition of devotional poetry in the songs of the Muslim mystical Sufi tradition, with either God or a given saint being the object of the singer-poet's love and dedication. In the lyrics sung on this Website, songs are addressed to the Hindu deities Rama, Ganesh (and by implication, Siva), as well as to Muslim saints—Ghaus, Khwaja Muinuddin, Khwaja Kutubuddin, and Nizamuddin Aulia—and even God (Allah) himself.

In the secular setting of the court, lyrics were composed to honor the emperor as the patron of the musician-poet. The name of the emperor Akbar appears twice and that of Aurangzeb occurs once in the lyrics on the Web site.

In Dhrupad music, the poetry can be in two, three, or four stanzas. As already mentioned in the notes on the development of Dhrupad, a complete song can have up to four parts: asthai, antara, sanchari, and abhog, with each section having its own distinct lyric. In general, the language of the lyrics of Dhrupad is medieval Hindi, also called Braj Bhasha.

It was customary for the poet-singer to introduce his name at some point in his composition, usually at the end; the singers Tansen and Baiju (Bawra) are credited by name with the composition of two of the lyrics on the Web site.

-- Brian Q. Silver

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