The system of Indian classical music known as Raga Sangeet can be traced back nearly two thousand years to its origin in the Vedic hymns of the Hindu temples. Unlike Western classical music which has written scores, an Indian classical performance is based on improvisation, and anywhere from 10% to 90% of the performance could be extempore, depending on the creative imagination of the artist.
Gharana essentially means a school of thought, or a school of music, that follows a particular style perfected over the years by rigorous practice and enhanced by coming generations that combine contemporary styles and incorporate new ideas. Gharana literally means family tradition, members of a family of musicians establishing their own unique musical discipline consistently over three or more generations.
Khayal literally means imagination, thought or fancy. Khayal is that vocal genre of all North Indian vocal styles which gives its performers the greatest opportunity and also the greatest challenge to display the depth and breadth of their musical knowledge and skills. Khayal has dominated the performing art for past 150 years.