Tarana, a vocal form in Hindustani music said to have been developed by Amir Khusrau, probably best represents the vocalist's urge to move away from song-text and into the realm of instrumental music. It uses syllables like dere, naa, deem, tana, and pakhawaj syllables. These syllables, therefore, are used as a musical language tied in with melody and rhythm, allowing musicians to be unfettered by the restrictions that literal language may pose.

It is possible that the use of such syllables was inspired by those used in aalaap or the melodic improvisation of a raag unaccompanied by any percussion instrument. However, tradition informs us that Persian language also influenced the tarana. This is evident from the Persian verses that are incorporated in the latter part of many traditional compositions. Some musicians also believe that the syllables used in the tarana, in fact have a base in Persian, but that these connections have been lost over the years.

Amir Khan 

This tarana by the pathbreaking vocalist Amir Khan demonstrates the Persian connection. His composition in the Carnatic raag Hansadhvani is set to the 16-count teentaal.

Rashid Khan

Taranas have been composed in various taals and in different tempi. The next clip features Rashid Khan, a popular representative of the Rampur-Sahaswan tradition, singing a tarana in the afternoon raag Gaud Sarang. Set to the twelve matra Ektaal, this tarana presentation begins in the madhya laya or medium tempo and gradually accelerates to the drut laya or fast tempo. Rashid Khan is accompanied by Anand Gopal Bandopadhyaya on the tabla, Jyoti Guho on the harmonium and Ramesh Mishra on the sarangi.

Ravi Shankar 

Tarana compositions have often been used in  ensemble presentations featuring Carnatic and Hindustani musicians. The tillana is a Carnatic equivalent of the north Indian tarana, but it does not include Persian verses. Here is early footage of an ensemble conducted by sitar maestro Ravi Shankar. This is a tarana composed by him in the raag Kirvani and is set to Ektaal. The ensemble consists of several renowned musicians like vocalist Lakshmi Shankar, flautist Hariprasad Chaurasia, vocalist TV Gopalkrishnan, tabla player Alla Rakha, sarangi player Sultan Khan among others.

Jal Balaporia and others

Khayalnuma is a variant of the tarana that is sung at a slow pace. This form is rarely heard now, but the film Tarana directed by Rajat Kapoor in 1995 and produced by Films Division begins with a khayalnuma in raag Yaman presented by vocalist Jal Balaporia. The film also features vocalist Neela Bhagwat.