Description of the Music Scale : Indian Classical Music

Description of the Music Scale : Indian Classical Music

Music Scale: Each Raga is not so much a set melody as a definite melodic framework within which the musician freely improvises. It implies that the notes of the scale are used in certain ways.

I.1 Swara – svara

The seven main notes or Swaras of Indian classical music. in their proper sequence, are:

I.1.1 Shadja – Sa – shadja –

1.1.2 Rishabh – Re-rshabh

I.1.3 Gandhar – Ga-gandhar

1.1.4 Madhyam – Ma – madhyam

1.1.5 Pancham-Pa-pañcam

1.1.6 Dhaivat – Dha-dhaivat

I.1.7 Nishad – Ni-nishad

1.2 Saptak and Moorchana:

The seven notes of the scale or Moorchana, played in order, are known as the Saptak. The importance of Sa in Indian classical music is that it is the base line with reference to which the other notes, according to their distances or heights, derive their identity.

In Western music, the entire range of notes within human perception has been divided into fixed steps according to their various frequencies of vibration and these fixed notes are named A,B,C,D,E,F and G. In Indian music, on the other hand and this is its peculiar feature, the base line Sa can be fixed anywhere, according to the convenience of the vocalist or the instrumentalist. But once the Sa has been fixed, all the other six notes Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha and Ni must be at predetermined distances or heights from Sa.

Of the seven notes, the Sa and Pa are fixed and unalterable, in the sense that they do not have any variations. The other notes, Re, Ga, Ma, Dha and Ni, can be sharper or flatter than their main forms. This gives a particular colour or sentiment to the Raga, when these notes are used according to the rules of the Raga.

1.2.1 Mandra, Madhya and Tar :

mandra- madhya – tā+- Ha The musician often moves in three octaves. The lowest in pitch is known as Mandra Saptak, the middle is called Madhya Saptak and the upper octave is named Tar Saptak.

1.3 Sargam – sargam

All the notes of a Raga, sung in the proper order, form its Sargam. This word is constructed by naming the first four notes of the scale – Sa, Re, Ga, Ma.

1.4.1 Shuddha – shuddha swara:

The seven main notes are known as Shuddha or ‘pure’ notes.

I.4.2 Komal – komal swara :

Komal means ‘soft’. When a note is used which is half way lower in scale than the Shuddha or pure note, then it is known as Komal or flat note.

1.4.3 Tivra- tivra swara :

The Madhyam does not have a Komal; its variation is slightly higher in scale than the Shuddha and is known as Tivra or ‘sharp’ Ma.

The Shadja and the Pancham do not have any variations. The initial seven-note Saptak can thus be expanded into twelve notes – Sa, Komal Re, Re, Komal Ga, Ga, Ma, Tivra Ma, Pa, Komal Dha, Dha, Komal Ni, Ni, which is in fact the chrom atic scale.

1.4.4 Atikomal and Atitivra –

The musicians, of course, have a very trained ear and are capable of distinguishing even minuter differences of notes on the scale. The words Atikomal or Atitivra, as the case may be, are used to distinguish these microtonal differences. So there is a difference between Re, Re Komal, and Re Atikomal, or between Ma, Ma Tivra, and Ma Atitivra.

1.4.5 Shruti-shruti –

Between any note and the next, there exists theoretically an infinite number of steps in microtones. It is not practicable to distinguish them or give each one a separate identity. Only those steps which are clearly perceptible to the human ear have been fixed as Shrutis and are used in our music, there being twenty-two such Shrutis in one octave. The word Shruti originates from Shravana, the faculty of hearing.

The concept of Shruti is very fundamental to Indian music. There being seven main notes in an octave but 22 Shrutis or intermediate steps, it followes that each note may have several forms or Shrutis. All these variations of the main notes – Komal, Tivra, Atikomal, Atitivra, and the even more minute and refined divisions between them, the Shrutis, play an important role in giving a Raga its peculiar mood and features.

Further it is not only a question of a particular Shruti but also the way it is played in the Raga that is important whether it is given its full value or merely touched or hinted at, whether the composition flows through it, or sways or rests on it. These are the finer elements which give joy to the true listeners.

Thus in two Ragas the same note may have slightly different forms based on two different Shrutis. As for example, both Ragas, Todi and Multani, use the same notes but the Komal Ga of Multani is relatively sharper than the Komal Ga of Todi.

1.5 Use of notes in Ragas:

All Ragas do not necessarily use all the seven notes of the Saptak or the octave. While considering the notes used in a Raga it is to be borne in mind that the Shuddha, Komal or Tivra forms of a note are all reckoned as the same note. For instance, if a Raga uses both Shuddha and Komal Ni, these would be reckoned as one note, Ni and not two.

1.5.1 Sampoorna – sampurna :

Those Ragas which use all the seven notes Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni are called Sampoorna which means ‘complete’. Some of the Sampoorna Ragas are Todi, Darbari Kanada, Yaman, etc.

1.5.2 Shadav-shadav :

Ragas using only six notes are called Shadav Ragas, as for example Lalit, Sohini, etc. The notes used in Raga Lalit are Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Dha and Ni and the notes in Raga Sohini are Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Dha, and Ni.

1.5.3 Auday-odav :

Then there are the pentatonic Ragas, using only five notes, and known Audav Ragas. Malkauns, Bhoopali Hansdhwani are some examples. The notes of Malkauns are Sa, Ga, Ma, Dha and Pa Ni.

1.6 Aroha and Avaroha :

rendering Raga, particular prefixed sequence has be maintained while ascending from lower higher notes and also while descending from higher lower notes. These sequences are Aroha Arohi meaning ‘ascent’ and Avaroha Avarohi meaning ‘descent’. Any rules considered be distortion of Raga.

Two Ragas using the same notes can entirely different characters due differences their Aroha-Avaroha. The two Ragas, Mian Todi and Multani, have same notes, but different aroha and avroha. Once you hear you will see how different they sound.

1.6.1 Subdivisions Sampoorna, Shadav and Audav:

The categories Sampoorna, Shadav and Auday not mutually exclusive. We often come across a which one the notes skipped the Aroha while Avaroha uses the prescribed notes. In Ragas notes may omitted like Shadav-Sampoorna Audav-Sampoorna.

It is interesting to observe how, due to skipping of different notes in their Arohas, two Ragas using the same notes develop entirely different colours and characters. A similar change is also wrought by differently routed Avarohas.

To illustrate, Bageshree and Bhimpalasi, use the same notes Sa, Re, Komal Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Komal Ni, but have their Arohas as Sa-Ga-Ma-Dha-Ni-Sa and Sa-Ga-Ma-Pa-Ni-Sa respectively. The Avarohas are Sa-Ni-Dha-Ma-Pa-Dha-Ma Ga-Re-Sa in Bageshree and Sa-Ni-Dha-Pa-Ma-Ga-Re-Sa in Bhimpalasi. Listening to these it becomes clear what a vast difference this creates between them.

1.7.1 Vadi – vādi :

In a Raga, merely an order, a way of passage from note to note is not enough. Each Raga has a predominant note which is greater in importance than the other notes due to emphasis and frequency of use. This is known as the Vadi – literally that which sounds’. Listen to Raga Yaman where Ga is the Vadi.

1.7.2 Samvadi – samvādi :

Next only to the Vadi in importance is another note – the Samvadi. The Vadi and the Samvadi normally lie in two dif ferent halves of the octave. The Samvadi sometimes echoes and balances the movements of the composition around the Vadi. The two together give the composition a satisfying richness. Different Ragas may have different combinations of Vadi and Samvadi changing completely the complexion of the Raga.

Let us again listen to the Raga Yaman where the Samvadi is Ni and observe the echoing of the movements the Samvadi. the Vadi and Samvadi.

1.7.3 Niyas Swara-nyas svara:

For each Raga there are certain notes upon which the musician can linger and dwell. These points of rest are called Niyas Swaras of the Raga. As for example for Raga Yaman the Niyas Swaras are Sa, Ga, Pa and Ni. Here is Raga Yaman to understand. Notice the pause on the Niyas Swaras.

1.7.4 Varjita Swara-varjit svara :

Since only a limited number of notes are permissible within the frame-work of a Raga, those that cannot be used are known as Varjita Swaras. Varjita means ‘prohibited’. The presence of these notes would be jarring to the ear during any performance. As for example for Raga Malkauns the note Re is Varjita.

1.7.5 Vivadi Swara – vivādi svara :

Vivad means ‘quarrel’. A Vivadi Swara is a note generally averse to the sentiments of a Raga and for all practical purposes the same as a Varjit or banned Swara. The only difference lies in the fact that a creative musician may sometimes use a Vivadi Swara in a Raga, where it is normally taboo, to create a beauty spot or an element of surprise in it. As for example in Raga Khamaj, Tivra Ma is excluded but there may be phrases where Tivra Ma may be included for the sake of a special effect.

Let us listen to Raga Khamaj. The permitted notes are Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha and Ni. Tivra Ma is not used. However observe the unexpected effect created by its use.

1.8 Basic Phrases :

Each Raga has, through time, acquired a set of basic phrases which portray its distinctive features. The easiest way to recog nise a person is to look at his or her face or, more specifically, > at the components of the face like the eyes, ears, lips, nose and so on. The basic phrases are these essential components of the face of a Raga and they have evolved through practice, revision and remodelling by musicians over the years or even centuries. Similarly a person can also be identified by the way he carries himself, the way he walks and moves.

1.8.1. Pakad pakad –

Out of the basic phrases of a Raga, one phrase (some times more also) is generally considered to be the most prominent feature of the Raga. This is called the Pakad of the Raga; it lit erally means ‘hold’, and helps to identify the Raga immedi ately. However these phrases are not totally standardised and universal.

As for example for Raga Yaman the Pakad is, “Ni-Re-Ga Re-Sa, Ni-Re-Ga-Re-Ni-Re-Sa, Pa-Ma-Ga-Re-Sa”.

Let us observe the weaving in of the Pakad in the rending of the Raga Yaman.

1.8.2. Chalan :

Chalan means ‘gait’ or ‘movement’. set basic phrases Raga, which determine the route the Raga takes traverse the various notes and character istic movement of Raga.

It noted that the merely by the notes used and their sequences. Equally important are the time spent each note, which longer some shorter others, and the grace notes associated with each note.

We shall listen to two raga Raga Jaunpuri and Raga Darbari Kanada which use same notes and the difference in gait or the Chalan.

Ref Tracks :

Shubha Mudgal- Vocal- the seven notes

Protyush Banerjee – Sarod – the scale in 3 octav

Shubha Mudgal – Vocal – Sargam

Shubha Mudgal – Vocal – illustration of Komal Swara

Shubha Mudgal- Vocal – illustration of Tivra Ma

Shubha Mudgal – Vocal – 12 notes of the scale

Shubha Mudgal- Vocal – illustration of Atikomal

Shubha Mudgal – Vocal – Raga Todi and Raga Multani

Amir Khan – Vocal – Raga Darbari Kanada Vilayat Khan – Sitar – Raga Yaman

D. V. Paluskar-Vocal- Raga Lalit

Bismillah Khan – Shehnai – Raga Sohini

Nikhil Banerjee Sitar Malkauns

Amir Khan – Vocal – Raga Hansdhwani

Shubha Mudgal- Vocal Raga Miyan Todi and Raga Multani Let also listen Ragas Bageshree and Raga Bhimpalasi

Amir Khan – Vocal – Raga Bageshree

Bade Ghulam Ali Khan – Vocal – Raga Bhimpalasi

Shubha Mudgal- Vocal – Raga Yaman

Shubha Mudgal- Vocal – Raga Khamaj

Arun Bhaduri – Vocal – Raga Jaunpuri and Raga Darbari Kanada

Description of the Music Scale : Indian Classical Music
Description of the Music Scale : Indian Classical Music

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