Thumri Thumri originated in the Eastern part of Uttar Pradesh, mainly in Lucknow and Banaras (Varanasi), around the 18th century AD and was believed to be first patronized in the court of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Lunknow. Thumri was developed by the famous musician Sadiq Ali Shah. It is believed to have been influenced by Hori, Kajri and Dadra, popular in Eastern Uttar Pradesh. Some people consider that an older musical presentation called Chalika, described in the Harivansha (400 AD), to be the precursor of Thumri. Thumri is supposed to be a romantic and erotic style of singing and is also called “the lyric of Indian classical music”.
The song compositions are mostly of love, separation and devotion. Its most distinct feature is the erotic subject matter picturesquely portraying the various episodes from the lives of Lord Krishna and Radha. They are usually sung in slower tempo, giving more importance to the lyrics with short alaps. Thumris are composed in lighter ragas and have simpler talas. Thumri is generally written in Braj Bhasha, Khari Boli and Urdu. A Thumri recital typically consists of one or two male/female vocalists accompanied by sarangi and/or harmonium, tanpura and tabla. A Thumri is usually performed as the last item of a Khayal concert.
There are three main Gharanas of thumri— Benaras, Lucknow and Patiala. Qadar Piya, Sanad Piya, Lallan Piya, Kenwar Shyam, Nawab Wajid Ali Shah and Rang Piya are some well-known thumri singers of the Lucknow Gharana. Rasoolan Bai, Siddeshwari Devi and Girja Devi are exponents of the Benaras style of thumri. Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan one of the most famous thumri singers belonged to the Patiala Gharana. Shobha Gurtu is a renowned contemporary singer of thumri.