Sargam refers to singing the notes instead of the words of a composition, with use of various ornamentations such as meend, gamak, kan and khatka, as part of a khyal performance. This is generally done in medium-tempo as a bridge between the alap and taan portions. As an example, one could sing PmRSnSRRSRnSPnmPgmnnPmgmRSnS in raga Adana, given that raga's vadi-samvadi and the rules of the raga (see swara for explanation of the notes).
The use of sargam in khyal performances was introduced by Abdul Karim Khan, who was inspired by its use in Carnatic music. Aman Ali Khan further refined its use and made it an integral part of the Bhendibazaar style. Many of the khyal styles today use sargam to some extent, with the exception of the Jaipur-Atrauli and Gwalior styles.