Khayal and Thumri



Khayal is a Persian word which means ‘thought’ or ‘imagination’. In simple words, when a singer follows the rules of ragas and at the same time uses his talent in singing and his imagination to present a more beautiful rendition of alaaps, taal or taans, it is called a ‘Khayal’.


Khayal are of 2 types:


  1. Bada Khayal: This Khayal is also known as Vilambit (slow) Khayal as it is sung very slowly. It is sung only in long taals like Trital, Ektaal or Zhumra.
  2. Chota Khayal: It is sung very fast. With practice, a singer can sing alaap, taan and the lyrics of the song in Chota Khayal.



Thumri is a semi –classical form of singing. It derives its name from the word ‘thumka’ which means to walk with dancing steps. It is mostly sung in Brajbhasha, Hindi or Awadhi. It originates from the region of Uttar Pradesh, in Northern India. A Thumri has two parts: Sthayi and Antara. It is sung in Dipchandi, Rupak, Kherwa and Addha Taal. A Thumri singer does not adher to all the raga rules and is known to deviate from the original raga to add colour to the rendition. Unlike a Khayal were the artist pays utmost importance to the unfolding of a raga, a Thumri singer goes straight to the emotional aspect of the song and is allowed liberties in the rules of ragas to do so. A Khayal presents poise and splendor in music whereas a Thumri is a romantic poetry in motion. A Thumri revolves around the love of Radha and the Gopis for Lord Krishna.