Definition of alap
: an improvised, unaccompanied prelude to an Indian raga normally lacking rhythmic pulse and meter that is either played or sung as vocalise The practice of beginning musical pieces with a seemingly free-form introduction that becomes a metered ensemble performance is common to India in the alap of a raga in classical Hindustani music … — Leonard Brown, John Coltrane and Black America’s Quest for Freedom, 2010
Love words? You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.
Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with:
- More than 250,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
- Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
- Advanced search features
- Ad free!
Origin and Etymology of alap
borrowed from Hindi ālāp “speaking, modulation of the voice in singing, prelude to a piece of music,” borrowed from Sanskrit ālāpaḥ “speech, conversation,” noun derivative of ālapati “(he/she) speaks to, addresses,” from ā- “toward” + lapati “he/she chatters, talks” (probably of onomatopoeic origin) — more at acharya
First Known Use: 1834
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up alap? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).