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Alankara (or Alankaram or Alankar) means "ornament"[1] in Sanskrit and is used in the context of Hindustani classical music to collectively refer to the various embellishment techniques used in both vocal and instrumental music. In Carnatic music, it is a sophisticated form of beginner and advanced level melo-rhythmic exercises in various talas (rhythm cycles) like Dhruva, Mathya, Roopaka etc. Though only 7 alankaras are predominantly taught by most schools, there are 35 alankaras in all.[2]


Here are some common types of alankara used in classical music are

  • meend, a technique of singing notes in a fluid manner with one note merging into the next - there are many different kinds of meend
  • kan-swar, grace notes - the use of grace-notes depends on the raga being performed
  • andolan, a gentle swing on specific notes, used selectively
  • gamaka, a heavy to-and-fro oscillation involving two or three distinct notes
  • khatka/gitkari, a rapid rendition of a cluster of notes distinctly yet lightly
  • murki, an even lighter and more subtle rendition of a cluster of notes

Other definitions[edit]

Alankara also refers to:

  • a swara group pattern in ancient Indian music.[1]
  • a type of exercise based on the 7 main talas and their variations.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Prof. P Sambamoorthy (2005), South Indian Music - Vol I, Chennai, India: The Indian Music Publishing House, p. 51 
  2. ^

External links[edit]