A Tarana is a bandish in classical vocal music framed in raga and taal, consisting of mere syllables or words similar to the syllables produced on drums and other instruments. Taranas were found in ancient times in the Prabandhs. Compositions consisting partly of mnemonics of instruments (known as Paltas) and partly of Sahitya (lyrics) were also in vogue in those ancient times. In a Tarana, the mnemonics are very similar to string instruments. Words like Dir Tom, Tarana, Derena, Dim Radare, Dani, etc. are employed and at the end syllables of the Tabla or Pakhawaj Paran are added as a climax. Some Taranas also have Persian ‘Shers’ (couplets) in the antara. Historians believe that the Persian poet, Amir Khusro had a hand in popularizing, if not actually creating it. Tarana is composed of two parts:- sthayi and antara. Some believe that Tarana of North India is an adaptation of Tillana of Carnatic music.
A Tarana composition is usually sung in the same raga in vilambit (slow) and drut (fast) laya in order to create an interesting variation. Usually Taranas are sung in a very fast tempo. Tarana singers are required to have a good practice in tongue-twisting syllables. Sometimes one also comes across very rare Taranas set to madhya laya (medium tempo).
The Taranas composed by Ustad Bahadur Hussain Khan, Ustad Tanras Khan and Saddu Khan are well known and appreciated for their superior form and structure.