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Tarana is a special style of singing in Hindustani classical music. A collection of words, with no relation to each other, is sung in a fast-paced manner. The words do not stress on any particular theme and are basically meaningless. They are believed to be of Persian origin. This style of singing conforms to the ‘nibadh’ (closed) form in Hindustani classical music. The rhythmic accompaniment forms an important component in the music.

According to legend, Tarana originated in a music competition between the legendary singer Amir Khusru and a Hindu singer named Gopal Nayak. This competition was held in the court of the Mughal emperor Allaudin Khilji. Gopal Nayak recited a Sanskrit song, knowing very well Amir Khusro’s lack of knowledge in Sanksrit. Amir Khusro, in a bid not to give up the fight, sang a song in the same tune but with Persian words replacing the Sanskrit ones, irrespective of the meaning. This song, according to some people, gave rise to the Tarana style of singing.

The Tarana has similarities with the Tillana of Carnatic music in South India.

Updated on 2nd June, 2014

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