Thumri is a vocal genre in North Indian (Hindustani) art music. It was traditionally used in songstress-courtesan performance, in the early nineteenth century as an accompaniment to interpretive dance, and later as a lyrical and emotive song form. Thumri is now one of the most popular genres in contemporary art music. The lyrics of thumri have not been the subject of extensive academic enquiry. This dissertation examines thumri texts from two perspectives: linguistic and contextual. It is primarily based on song texts collected during field work in North India in 1996-97, as well as on material transcribed from commercial recordings and printed sources. The detailed linguistic analysis carried out in chapter two provides an overview of the idiosyncrasies of the language of thumri texts, and explores their stylistic consequences. Chapter three examines the formal structure of the texts. Chapter four discusses the main themes that occur in thumri, and their literary antecedents. Thumri's contextual element is salient: in the process of negotiating the gradual move from courtesan's salon to modem concert stage, awareness of the relevance of thumri's historical role has been eroded to such an extent that we can speak of a 'reinvented' tradition. Chapter five locates thumri within the milieu of North Indian music culture, and examines how changes in the genre's context have affected its lyrics. Chapter six addresses issues of authenticity, as the ramifications of how genres respond to changing performance environments are considered. The conclusion is followed by three appendices. Appendix one contains the main corpus, the 108 texts upon which the dissertation is based. The texts are given with their variant versions where known, resulting in a total of 180 texts. These are translated, and problematic points of grammar and translation are briefly discussed. Appendix two consists of five charts which overview the use of rhyme and other poetic devices in thumri. Appendix three comprises a glossary of technical terms used in the thesis.