Saturday , September 24 2022
Thumri or Thumree


Thumri or Thumree

As mentioned earlier, Indian Classical Music has various divisions like Khyaal, Thumari, Tappa, Tarana, Hori, etc. If a singer or a player wishes to sing/play Khyaal style, he initially expands Raag through singing/playing. Then he starts Khyaal Cheej in Vilambeet Laya. Then bit by bit, he sings/plays this Cheej in Asthayee and Antara. Once the Raag is beautified with Aalaap, Taan and Bol Taan, he then joins Chhota Khyaal in the same Raaga, but in Druta Laya. To end Khyaal, Taanas are sung/played noticeably. Through a separate article, we shall discuss about Khyaal in future.

Thumri style of singing is as popular as Khyaal singing, which describes activities of Radha-Shrikrishna’s expressions of love and physical intimacy and the grief of a woman who is agitated by the parting of her lover. This method of singing becomes entertaining by the use of small Khatake, Murkee etc.

The Thumri is one more form of presenting Ragas. On the other hand, this very fashionable, light classical form of Indian music, is restricted to particular Ragas whose chief importance is on the words of its poetry and eroticism. These Ragas are Bhairavi, Gara and Pilu. A successful lyrics typically portrays a Thumree. It is primarily linked with folk songs of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, and so the Thumri lyrics are in Hindi dialects.

Related Article: 

The word “Thumri” means “Thumakana” i.e. “to make a dance-like movements”. Most of these dance performers were courtesans, with their goal as dancing and singing to make themselves as gorgeous as possible. As a result, the main aim of the Thumri was enjoyment, and it habitually brought to mind the Shringara rasa (joy and love). As a rule, it was written in lighter mood Ragas like Piloo or Khamaj. The lyrics were vital as the melody, and creativeness was founded on the lyrics, rather than sargam or Taans.

Thumree is usually a light or semi-classical form, but being cheerful; it is not insignificant or one-dimensional. Lord Krishna’s courtship with the gopis and his companion Radha is a common theme in Thumri, with the last piece as dadra tal, which is customarily the concluding piece of a Thumri concert.

There were many traditionalists who opposed to blend of music and dance in this form. Nevertheless, there were also many classical musicians who were attracted to it, fairly because its liberty to merge notes from other Ragas through the creativeness. For this reason, the Thumri was a part of the selection of many performers, including singers and instrumentalists. This resulted in numerous new forms of the Thumri, which re-introduced the more composite fundamentals, which the first Thumri performers had purposely left out.

Though ironically, yet reasonably, there are modern Thumri traditionalists who oppose this blending of khayal elements just like the purists of a 150 years ago might have opposed the innovative foundation of the Thumri itself. Some criticize that for khayal singers, the Thumri is a kind of “dessert” to be presented only at the end of a concert. On the other hand, there are some music experts and lovers, who argue that the dancing is essential to the Thumree, which the modern performers have injured by reducing it to only a music form.

  • Dhrupad is also another branch of Indian Classical Music. Must read about this ancient form here…  What is Dhrupad?