The Dadra is semi-classical form that is somewhat similar to thumri. Thumri is another light classical form, in most respects. In fact, according to legendary musicians, the Dadra and the Thumri emerged together sometime around the middle of the nineteenth century in the court of the Emperor Wajid Ali Shah. The form which was sung till that time as the Lachari evolved into the Thumri and the Dadra. However, though the Dadra resembles the Thumri in so many aspects, it is much looser and allows more freedom for the artist.
The text of the Dadra is amorous, affectionate and sentimental. Thus, the songs of Dadra mostly deal with love. It was originally accompanied by the tala (rhythmic cycle) Dadra, which is probably how it gets its name. Apart from the Dadra tala, various other talas used are kaherava of 8 beats, chanchar, muglai or any other light tala. It is commonly performed in light raagas such as mand, pilu or pahadi. It may also be sung madhya laya or even faster according to the requirements.
Among the instruments used to accompany dadra are: the Tabla, Sarangi, Harmonium and the Tanpura. Frequently, singers follow a thumri with a dadra, in a sequence like bara khayal being followed by a chhota khayal. Theoretically, therefore, it is distinguished from thumri by tala. The same group of singers who cultivate thumri as a specialty cultivate dadra as well. Among these performers, two particularly famous ones who deserve mention here are Begum Akhtar and Rasoolan Bai.
Dadra is quite popular and commonly found in qawwalis, bhajans, gazals, and folk music throughout India. Dadra is also popularly used in various film songs due to its ease of performing. The places that are famous for Dadra are Agra and Bundelkhand region.