Dhrupad is a type of vocal composition in North Indian art-music, and the style in which such compositions are performed. The composition has two or four rhymed lines of verse, in Hindi, usually on religious (Hindu or Islamic) or philosophical themes (including musical theory).
These are set to music in any classical mode (rāg), and in one of a number of special metres (tāla). Dhrupad is sung by one or two singers, usually male; accompaniment is provided by the tanpura and the barrel drum pakhāvaj. The vocal style is austere with restrained ornamentation.
It is considered to be the oldest and ‘purest’ style of Hindustani music, and to be the basis of other vocal and instrumental styles such as khayāl. The dhrupad style itself is rendered instrumentally on the bīn and surbahār. The origins of dhrupad are traditionally ascribed to the court of Mān Singh Tomar of Gwalior (1486–1516); introduced by Tānsen and other Gwalior singers to the court of Akbar (1556–1605), it became the preferred musical style at the Mughal court.
Although largely supplanted by khayāl from the 18th century onwards, it has survived to the present day and has undergone a recent revival. 20th-century exponents included several members of the famous Dagar family.