Alapana is a form of melodic improvisation that introduces and develops a raga (musical scale) in Indian classical music. As a term that is Sanskrit in language, alapana means "to speak, address, discourse, communicate". The flavor of the raga is outlined in the alapana by rendering the raga's permitted notes in structures and phrases unique to the raga (known as "raga lakshanam"). Alapana typically precedes a song that is going to be sung in the same raga.
Alapana is rendered in different speeds, with a gradual increase in tempo. Likewise, the complexity of the patterns increases steadily as the alapana progresses.
Alapana is divided into three parts: