The kamaicha is a bowed musical instrument from Rajasthan. It is one of the oldest bowed instruments in the world and is a key presence in Rajasthani folk music. Made from a single piece of wood, the kamaicha consists of a spherical bowl extended into the neck, a fingerboard, and a resonator covered with leather. The upper portion is covered with wood. It usually has four main strings (plus a few subsidiary strings) passing over a thin bridge and is played with a bow, producing a haunting melody.
The esraj or israj (Hindi: इसराज) is a string instrument similar to the dilruba. The latter is found in the north, where it is used in religious music and light classical songs in the urban areas; the esraj is found in the central, south, and western regions of India and is used in a somewhat wider variety of musical styles than the dilruba. The esraj is a young instrument by Indian terms, being only about 200 years old.
A bhajan is any type of Indian devotional song. It has no fixed form: it may be as simple as a mantra or kirtan or as sophisticated as the dhrupad or kriti with music based on classical ragas and talas. It is normally lyrical, expressing love for the Divine. The name, a cognate of bhakti, meaning religious devotion, suggests its importance to the bhakti movement that spread from the south of India throughout the entire subcontinent in the Moghul era.
Anecdotes and episodes from scriptures, the teachings of saints and descriptions of gods have all been the subject of bhajans. The dhrupad style, Sufi qawwali and the kirtan or song in the Haridasi tradition are related to bhajan. Nanak, Kabir, Meera, Narottama Dasa, Surdas and Tulsidas are notable composers. Traditions of bhajan such as Nirguni, Gorakhanathi, Vallabhapanthi, Ashtachhap, Madhura-bhakti and the traditional South Indian form Sampradya Bhajan each have their own repertoire and methods of singing.
Sufi music is the devotional music of the Sufis, inspired by the works of Sufi poets, like Rumi, Hafiz, Bulleh Shah and Khwaja Ghulam Farid.
Qawwali is the most well known form of Sufi music, common in India and Pakistan. However, music is also central to the Sema ceremony of the whirling dervishes, which is set to a form of music called Ayin, a vocal and instrumental piece featuring Turkish classical instruments such as the ney (a reed flute). The West African gnawa is another form, and Sufis from Indonesia to Afghanistan to Morocco have made music central to their practises. Some of the Sufi orders have taken an approach more akin to puritan forms of Islam, declaring music to be unhelpful to the Sufi way.
Sufi love songs are often performed as ghazals and Kafi, a solo genre accompanied by percussion and harmonium, using a repertoire of songs by Sufi poets.
Khyal or Khayal (Hindi: ख़्याल, Urdu: خیال) is the modern genre of classical singing in North India. Its name comes from an Arabic word meaning "imagination" and the style is imaginative, elaborate and romantic.
Khyal is thought to have developed out of the qawwali singing style. It appeared more recently than dhrupad, is a more free and flexible form, and it provides greater scope for improvisation. Like all Indian classical music, khyal is modal, with a single melodic line and no harmonic parts. The modes are called raga, and each raga is a complicated framework of melodic rules. Khyal compositions are rendered in a highly ornamental style using all forms of gamakas (embellishments), making its texture delicate and light.