Selected Ornaments in Hindustani Music:


Click on name of ornament to read its description-


  • Meend

  • Andolan

  • Gamak

  • Sparsha Svara

  • Krintan or Kan

  • Kampan

  • Kampan, Gamak, Andolan compared











    Meend:

    pronunciation: MEE-nd.

    A musical ornament, somewhat similar to the glissando of western music. This is a glide from one note to another. It may be executed slowly or fast, and the rate of progressing from the first to the second note may be constant or changing (progressively increasing or decreasing).

    The Meend is arguably the most important of ornaments in Hindustani music. It is a compulsary ornament in many Raga of Shuddha Geeti or Gaurhar Bani. Such Raga cannot be properly presented without the necessary Meend. The paramount thing to remember is that in Hindustani music, the ornament is absolutely at least as important as the note itself. For example, the descending progression from Ma to Re is an essential element of any Raga belonging to the Malhar group. But, a mere movement from Ma to Re will not characterise a Raga as one of the Malhar family if the absolutely mandatory Meend from Ma to Re is absent.

    Similarly, there are occasions where the primary difference between two Raga is that while the one dictates the use of Meend, the other dictates that Meend must not be used, or used minimally, if at all. For example, Bhoopali is a Raga that dictates an absence of Meend while Shuddha Kalyan demands that Meend must be used. The two Raga have virtually similar notes. Similar is the case with, for example, the Raga Darbari Kanada, where Meend is most absolutely de rigueur and the Raga Adana, where Meend must not be used.

    The moral of the story is that Raga notes of themselves do not the Raga make.....

    There are particular types of Meend known as Soot, Aansh or Ghaseet. These are mostly terms in stringed instrumental music, adopted by vocal music. They refer to types long and fast Meend produced by the finger sliding quickly across a large expanse of the string in a stringed instrument. Soot means "thread" and Ghasit means "pull" - the names themselves giving an indication of their nature.

    Listen to the several musical examples on this website for various types of Meend and other ornaments.


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    Andolan:

    pronunciation: aan-DOH-lun

    A musical ornament comprising the slow oscillation of the pitch of a note, back and forth from its true pitch to a pitch just a fraction higher.

    This ornament is sometimes dictated by some Shuddha Geeti of Gaurhar Bani Raga, such as Bhairav (where Re and Dha are subject to Andolan) or Darbari kanada (where Dha and Ga are subject to Andolan).


  • Listen here to examples of Andolan


  • Read below for a comparison of Andolan with Gamak and Kampan








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    Gamak:

    pronunciation: GU-muck. A musical ornament that is a fast Andolan. There are many types of Gamak, some faster than others and/or "heavier" or more "full-bodied" than others. The word Gamak derives from the Sanskrit word Gaman meaning "to go". The reference here is to a movement away from true pitch and subsequent return to the true pitch.




  • Listen here to examples of Gamak


  • Read below for a comparison of Andolan with Gamak and Kampan








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    Sparsha Svara:

    pronunciation: SPUR-sha SVU-ra

    An acciaccatura or grace note. This term is mostly used in vocal music. The common term used in insrtumental music, particularly stringed instrumental music, is Krintan. Another name used in vocal as well as instrumental music for this ornament is Kan Svar.













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    Krintan or Kan:

    pronunciation: KRIN-ton (with a soft "t", about as "t" in "whither"). Another name for an acciaccatura or grace note, usually used in stringed instrumental music.















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    Kampan:

    pronunciation: COME-pun. Equivalent to the vibrato of western music - a quiver on the note resulting in a tremulous effect that adds an emotional dimension to the sound.


  • Listen here to examples of Kampan


  • Read below for a comparison of Andolan with Gamak and Kampan



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    Kampan, Gamak, Andolan compared:

    Kampan (Vibrato in western music) – Here the note is articulated with a quiver so that instead of a steady or unwavering tone the note sounds tremulous or undulating, adding an emotional dimension to it. What is the precise mechanics of the ornament? Let us analyse it in detail:
    1. The ornament spans two distinct pitches – the note itself (we will call this the “true note”) and another tone (we will call this the “supporting tone”). The supporting tone is not in itself a true musical note (i.e., it is not a tone that qualifies to be a musically acceptable note by being related in frequency to a predetermined tonic note – ½, 2/3, ¾, 4/5, 8/9 etc.)

    2. The supporting tone is very close to the true note in pitch – so close that if the performer had sounded the supporting note in place of the true note the qualified listener would have justifiably commented that the performer played the true note but erred very slightly in intonation while doing so (that is, was just a little bit “out of tune”)

    3. The supporting tone is higher in pitch than the true note

    4. The ornament comprises sounding of the true note and the supporting tone alternately, starting with the true note

    5. The speed of alternating between the true note and the supporting tone is rapid – varying between 5 or 6 times and 9 or 10 times a second, with an average of about 6 per second.
    Gamak – Here too there are two tones involved, namely, the true note and the supporting tone, with meanings as above. As in vibrato, so in Gamak, the ornament comprises alternating between the two. However, there are differences:
    1. The supporting tone in a Gamak is farther away from the true note than it is in a vibrato or Kampan. The distance between the true note and the supporting tone is large enough to qualify the supporting tone as a distinct musical note, except that this is not possible because the supporting tone is of indeterminate pitch because it is not related to the tonic in a recognised musical relation – ½, 2/3, ¾, 4/5, 8/9 etc.

    2. The supporting tone may be either higher or lower in pitch as compared to that of the true note

    3. If the supporting tone is higher in pitch than that of the true note, the ornament starts with the supporting note and descends to the true note (“Gamak from above”). But if the supporting tone is lower in pitch than that of the true note, the ornament starts with the true note (“Gamak from below”)

    4. The speed of alternating is slower than in a vibrato. In a Gamak the speed ranges between 2 and 8 times a second

    5. The ornament can be executed with varying force or “weight” – slow Gamak are generally heavier and more guttural with more “body” while fast ones are much lighter and throaty.
    Andolan – As in Kampan or in Gamak, so too in Andolan, there are two tones alternated – the true note and the supporting tone, with meanings as above. The distinguishing chatacteristics are:
    1. The distance between the supporting tone and the true note is either the same as that in a Gamak or even greater

    2. The supporting tone is always higher in pitch than the true note – the distance may be as much as a full whole tone, on occasion. However, the supporting tone is always of indeterminate pitch

    3. The ornament starts with the supporting tone

    4. The speed of alternating between the supporting tone and the true note is much slower than in Gamak – a single set of supporting tone and true note in an Andolan may span as long as a good 2 seconds or may be as short as a ½ second.

    5. The supporting note is never held for the same time duration as the true note – the supporting note always acts as a grace note (Sparsha or Kan), with a glide down to the true note, which is held for a longer time

    6. The supporting tone is never approached from the true note in a glide: each set of a single supporting tone followed by the true note is distinct from the next set – it is really sounding the true note repeatedly, each time starting anew from the supporting tone

    7. Each supporting tone in the Andolan may be a different indeterminate pitch as compared with every other supporting tone in the same Andolan



  • Listen here to examples of Kampan


  • Listen here to examples of Gamak


  • Listen here to examples of Andolan



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