Origin of Khayal
The origins of Khayal can be traced back to the 12th and 13th centuries when Islam was gradually growing in India. The newly arrived Muslim rulers were just spellbound by the diversity of North Indian music and its singers. During this time, Dhrupadwas already and established musical genre. To this were added Persian and Arabic tinges. Thus the new form of Khayal started to emerge in all its splendor and dhrupad started to take a backseat. Most of the gharanas are known to have evolved from old Dhrupadi Gharanas. There is some evidence which also suggests that Khayal might have improvised from Amir Khusrau, the legendary Persian musician. The musical form of the khayal came into full vogue during the rise of the Mughal Dynasty. Mohhamed Shah can be called the propagator of this classical musical genre, who much enthusiastically endorsed khayal in his court. Gradually, themes like alaap, raaga, taans, or bol-taan were introduced into this genre.
Form and Structure of Khayal
Essentially, a khayal consists of a composition (chiz) of two sections- sthai and antara- and extensive improvisation. It differs from dhrupad in one significant way: no lengthy unmetered alaap precedes the singing of the composition, except in the Agra Gharana. Singers introduce the raaga for a few seconds, and occasionally, for as long as five minutes. But the exposition of the pitches rarely exceeds pitch Pa of the middle octave and is often merely an anticipation of the melody of the chiz. Since the chiz is sung immediately, and since all chiz are metered songs, all of the improvisation in khayal is metered and accompanied on the tabla. The chiz is very short. It presents in song form the characteristics of the raaga and tala in which it is composed. In particular, the first section of the chiz, the sthai, states the melodic bundle of the raga. The second section of most chiz, the antara, are very similar in shape, ascending to tar Sa in a manner peculiar to the raaga, going higher into the upper octave, then descending to link with the sthai again. The antara section of a chiz is frequently omitted altogether, which reduces the composed portion of the performance to one or two tala cycles of sthai. The entire presentation of the chiz takes a very small amount of time, usually no more than five minutes of the half-hour to forty minutes of performance time. Khayal singers avoid enunciating the words clearly, except in bolbant. This is often cited as a major difference between Khayal and dhrupad, in which every syllable must be clear. This characteristic, and perhaps others, tends to make Khayal the most difficult classical vocal medium to interpret.
Gharanas of Khayal
Most Khayal singers are "of a Gharana," and there are numerous Khayal Gharanas. Gharanas are customarily named after a place where the family of musicians originated or where they developed their style, for example, Kirana, Agra, Jaipur, and Gwalior. A number of Gharanas sprouted in several parts of North and Central India, towards the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. A considerable number of them came into being, owing to breaches and fissions between occurring in a parent Gharana. A musical tradition is generally considered "of a Gharana" when at least three successive generations of able musicians have pursued a distinctive style of singing. Part of the style is the quality of voice that is cultivated. Consequently, vocal training is developed to help successive members of the Gharana cultivate that vocal quality. Thus in Kirana, the voice emerges from a deliberately constricted throat and has a nasal twang. An Agra voice is also nasal (nakki); in addition it has a gruff, grating quality. On the other hand the Jaipur tradition emphasizes a natural, free and full-throated voice.
Khayal in Modern Era
Modern khayal is quite young in age. In fact it has gained in popularity over the Dhrupad. The several Khayalas composed by Sadaranga Adaranga, followed by many more, have become a rather popular genre in Indian Classical Music. Gwalior which was the nursery of the Dhrupad-Dhamar in the times of the Sindhias, became the main patron of the Khayal and Bade Mohammed Khan, Haddu Khan and Hassu Khan received their patronage from the Gwalior rulers. In fact the rise of Gharanas in Hindustani can be attributed to the several musicians who were trained within and outside their clan. The freedom of expression has been one of the major factors that have helped the Khayal gain in currency and sustained it as a popular genre. The Khayala received great impetus during the times of Mohmmed Shah Rangile and in the Gwalior tradition it came to the forefront. Professional musicians trained their sons and relations in the art. Most of the later Gharans mark or draw their genealogy back to the renowned Haddu Khan or Hassu Khan, the names which stand for the Gwalior Gharana.