Thumri (Devnagari: ठुमरी, Nastaliq: ٹھمری) is a common genre of semi classical Indian music from the Hindustani classical music of North India.

The text is romantic and devotional in nature, and usually revolves around a girl's love for Krishna. The language is a dialect of Hindi called Braj bhasha. This style is characterized by a greater flexibility with the rag.


Most commonly used rags are Pilu, Kafi, Khamaj, Tilak Kamod, Bhairavi etc. The compositions are usually set to kaherava of 8 beats, addha tal of 16 beats, dipchandi of 14 beats or jat of 16 beats.


Thumri arose in popularity during the 19th century in the Lucknow court of navab Wajid Ali Shah . At that time it used to be a song sung by courtesans accompanied by dance. That was the bandish ki thumri or bol bant ki thumri. When this style of thumri went out of vogue, a new style became more popular, which is known as bol banao, sung in Varanasi.

Noted Thumri artists

Purab Ang

Famous artists of the 'Purab Ang' thumri' of the Benares gharana or Banaras gayaki are Badi Motibai Rasoolan Bai, Siddheshwari Devi, Girija Devi and Pandit Channulal Mishra .

Gaya Ang

This style of Thumri originated in Bihar and is hence also known as Bihar style .

Classical Thumri

Other famous singers of thumri are Gauhar Jan, Begum Akhtar, Shobha Gurtu, and even the Pakistani melody queen Noor Jehan. The bol banao style has a slow tempo and is comcluded by a laggi, a faster phase where the tabla player has some freedom of improvisation.

Another stalwart in the genre of thumri was Naina devi, who was married to a royal family but later devoted her life to the singing of the song of Tawaifs. For a member of the royal family to take such a step in those days meant fighting countless social stigmas that had enough power to totally alieanate someone from the society. But she had the support of her husband.

Some khyal singers took interest in thumri and sang it their own way, as in the case of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and Abdul Karim Khan.

Today, thumri is mainly sang at the end of khayal concerts as a concluding item. With tabla and the tanpura, other typical instruments in thumri are dholak, sarangi, harmonium, and Swarmandal.


Many classical singers pay considerable attention to the lyrics, though they may be difficult to follow in the ornamented enunciation. This is especially where the focus is on love, and many lyrics deal with separation or viraha. Krishna's rags leelA or love play with Radha and other gopi's of Vrindavan appear frequently. Here are the lyrics of a thumri composed by the medieval poet Lalan, celebrating Krishna's flute - how its tunes are driving Radha mad. Braj or Vrindavan is where Krishna is indulging in this love play; Radha is the "girl of Braj".

ab naa baajaao shyaam
ba.nsuriyaa naa baajaao shyaam
(e rii) vyaakul bhaayii brajabaalaa
ba.nsuriyaa naa baajaao shyaam
nit merii galii.n me.n aayo naa
aayo to chhup ke rahiyo
ba.nsii kii terii sunaaiyo naa
ba.nsii jo sunaaiyo to suniye
phir shyaam hame.n aapnaaiyo naa
aapnaaiyo to suniye laalan
phir chhoDo hame.n kahii.n jaaiyo naa
ba.nsuriyaa naa baajaao shyaam
enough! now stop
playing on your flute, dark lover
this braja girl's heart is aflutter,
i ask you, please stop playing
don't come to my lane all the time
and if you have to come,
just don't play your flute
I am warning you now:
if you have to play that flute
then you'll have to be mine
you won't be able to go elsewhere
so will you please stop playing now?

This piece is often sung by Pandit Channulal Mishra.


External links


  • Thumri in Historical and Stylistic Perspectives by Peter Manuel

Search another word or see aflutteron Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature