\ a-ˈläp How to pronounce alap (audio) \
variants: or less commonly alapa \ a-​ˈlä-​pə How to pronounce alap (audio) \ or alapana \ a-​ˈlä-​pə-​nə How to pronounce alap (audio) \

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

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First Known Use of alap

1834, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for 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)

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Cite this Entry

“Alap.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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