Hindustani music is comprised of both vocal and instrumental music. The ten main forms of this art are: dhrupad, khayal, thumri, dadra, dhamar, tappa, ragasagar, tarana, chaturang, and ghazal.

The two most well-known vocal forms are dhrupad and khayal. The former originated as a religious type of vocal, while the latter was more focused on a romantic style of singing. As the oldest form, dhrupad means the "literal rendering of verse into music," while khayal is more of a "stray thought or imagination," and is a blending of Hindu and Persian cultures.

Thumri and dadra have an amorous and erotic nature, while dhamar describes the love pranks of Radha Krishna. Tappa encompasses folk songs, while the ragasagar incorporates various musical ragas within one composition. The tarana makes use of rhythmic syllables to create patterns in a piece of music. The chaturang is a four part song composition. The ghazal is more consistent with poetry rather than music, but its quality is more song-like than the thumri.

Hindustani music uses a scale very different from that used in classical Western music. The bols Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa represent the octave in this style of vocal.

The voice in Hindustani music is a complex art which requires years of intense practice as well as a broad range of technical knowledge to master.