Below is a collection of terms used on this site, and a brief explanation. For a more thorough glossary of terms, take a look at this web page, courtesy Rajan Parrikar. The glossary here is compiled by Raga-Mala, principally Andrew Buhr.
Alaap — the first part of the elaboration of a Raga, in which it is built up note by note, starting below the tonic and working up past the octave. Alaap is performed in free rhythm, unaccompanied. Khayal and lighter vocal styles tend to have a very short alaap.
Bhajan — a hindu devotional song. Bhajans are sometimes used as light classical repetoire.
Dhrupad — the oldest style of north indian classical music, derived ultimately from temple music. Dhrupad performance places emphasis on careful, methodical Alaap.
Chikari — a rhythmic drone string on a stringed instrument (e.g sitar or sarod).
Dhun — folk song, typically associated with a particular region or season. Dhuns are often incorporated into light classical repetoire.
Gamak — generally, any one of the many types of ornamentation used in Indian classical music. Specifically, it refers to a movement (slow or rapid depending on the style) between two nearby notes.
Gharana — a tradition or lineage within north indian classical music. Each gharana has certain characteristics of style and emphasis. Most take their names from the locations where their founders came from.
Ghazal — a traditional form of poetry in either Persian or Urdu. Ghazals are sometimes performed in a light classical style.
honorifics — see this article.
Jhala — the third part of the elaboration of a raga in instrumental performance (after Alaap and Jor). Jhala is typically played at a fast temp, and uses complex rhythms.
Jor/Jod — the second part of the elaboration of a Raga in instrumental or Dhrupad performance, after Alaap. Jor introduces a basic pulse into the performance and again builds up the raga note by note.
Kathak — one of the main styles of indian classical dance. Kathak emphasizes the telling of stories through portrayal of a variety of traditional characters.
Khayal — the main style of classical vocal performance in north India. Khayal places emphasis on presentation of compositions, and in improvisation.
Taan — an improvised phrase, often performed at a fast tempo, leading back to the refrain of the composition.
Thumri — a classical style similar to Khayal. In performance, a singer will place less emphasis on developing Raga and more on the text.