variants or less commonly alapa or alapana
: 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

Word History


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)

First Known Use

1834, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of alap was in 1834

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Dictionary Entries Near alap

Cite this Entry

“Alap.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jul. 2024.

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