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Importance of Alankaars(Paltas) in Indian Classical Music

Introduction: Alankaars (Paltas) are like Our Ornaments

Ornaments add to the beauty of a person. Likewise, Alankaras or Paltas play the role of beautification in Indian Classical Music. Elaboration of Indian Classical Music in the form of Ragas involves many levels. Each level involves beautification in its own way. A  good musician employs various technicalities like Aalap, Taan, Murki, Gamak, Meend, Jod, Jhala and of course Alakaars. The elaboration of Indian Classical Music lasts for hours, yet beauty is never compromised. Each step advances into another level without being monotonous. This is the beauty of Indian Classical Music. Alankaars or Paltas play a great role not only in elaboration (Swar Vistaar) but also in Swar Sadhan (Initial practice) during the early phase of learning Indian Classical Music.

In this article, we are going to see what Alankaars or Paltas are. We will also try to explain various kinds of Alankaars with examples.  Towards the end of this article, we will compile various Alankaars which are extremely helpful for beginners for their daily practice.

What are Alankaars or Palta?

According to Indian Classical Music, Alankaars are arrangements of musical notes (swaras) in a definite pattern. The swaras while ascending (Aaroh) and descending (Avroh) following a specific pattern adding beauty to a musical phrase. Beautiful Alankaars or Paltas can be composed easily by combining swaras.

What are the kinds of Alankar?

Besides Paltas,  there are other forms of Alankaars which are used in Indian classical Music. Some of the types of Allankaars are mentioned below:

Meend (Glissando or a glide from one note to another

  • Example -D.~S, Here, Dhaivat takes a glide up to Shadj including all the shrutis in between

Kan (Grace note)

  • Example – SD.  , Here , a swara lands to mandra Dhaivat taking a kan swar (grace note) from Shadj

Sparsh (Subtle touch of an intermediate swara)

Andolan (A moderate wavering between nearby notes and shrutis),

Gamak (Embellishment on a note or between two notes)

Kampan (A swaying or vibrato on a solitary note)

Gitkari or Khatka (a Swara or cluster of swaras sung or played very fast and with gusto to decorate or embellish another note)

Zamzama (progressive combinations of swaras used while landing)

Mark (A quick and inconspicuous taan-like development of swaras)

How does rehearsing them help you?

All things considered, alankars and palte are fundamental for you to pick up voice control and sing with beauty! It likewise causes you to sing appropriate notes when you need to skip notes as per a raga’s structure [2]. In the video beneath, tune in to how Javed Ali skims through the swaras. His ability originates from the thorough act of alankars/palte. Tune in to his tips on the best way to do Riyaz.