Alaap a form of classical music that employs high technique and lends itself to aesthetic expression, meditation and creativity. It is, perhaps, the most evolved, purest and complete in form and to render it beautifully is the dream of every great artiste in the North Indian system of music. Notwithstanding the high technique employed, Alaap's appeal is universal, crossing cultural frontiers.
The hallmarks of Alaap are its simplicity and authenticity underpinned by a highly structured format. As distinct from works and phrases that are used in other classical forms like dhrupad, Dhamar or kheyal, Alaap is rendered through the invocation of specific sound symbols, themselves creating special effect.
Alaap is an exposition in nada niantran (sound or volume control). It invokes sur, sruti, (microtones) swar, gupt-swars and gupt-layas (hidden notes and beats), nir and sampurna akars (indefinite and complete tonal formations), meend. soot, kampit, andolan, lehak, gamak, hudak, dhuran, churan, merukhund together with their application in half, full and multiple saptaks (octaves) enabling the Alaapiya (Alaap artiste) to present a particular rasa (sentiment) or combination of rasas with great variety and depth.
Alaap is born of Guru-Shishya Parampara, a method of learning and documentation. In its manifestation, whether from father to son or from Guru to disciple, the process involves the imparting of teaching and learning spanning decades. There is no place for it in schools or universities. The process involved is direct, on a one-to-one basis. Alaap, as indeed other classical forms, admits no copying from records or taleem from brief meetings with Gurus bereft of the Guru-Shishya methodology.
Alaap is either performed on its own or followed, after a full rendering, by Dhrupad or Dhamar and in the very rare instance by Dhrupadang Kheyal. [Tawfique Nawaz]