"The introductory section of a musical performance. In the instrumental style it consists of three major parts, the first one of which is also called alap, and characterized by free rhythm." (Neuman 270)
The alap (pronounced in English as //) is the opening section of a typical North Indian classical performance. It is unmetered, improvised (within the raga) and unaccompanied (except for the tanpura drone), and started at a slow tempo. In instrumental performance and dhrupad singing, this part receives heavy emphasis and can last for more than an hour; in the more popular modern vocal style of khyal, generally less so.
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