Raag in Indian Classical Music

Raag in Indian Classical Music

raag in indian classical music


The question must have arisen in the minds of many people as what exactly is raag in Indian classical music? Well why don’t we take this up today and discuss the matter to make it known to all interested. Many of you might be acquainted with Indian classical music but those who are not acquainted must have at least heard this word of raag many times,well this term raag is very unique and important to indian classical music and it forms its backbone, and you all know that without back bone no structure would be able to have its shape. In Hindi it is called raag, in carnatica it is called raagam and many people also call it raaga, but it all means the same. Now in the simplest term raag is a set of note to express a feeling in the form of melody. Now melody is an ear pleasing combination of musical notes. So raag is not a random combination of melody. In order to understand the
raag you will have to understand the three layers that form the raag, or the three steps in the formation of the raag. The first step is to understand that raag is a set of note in ascending and descending order. Everyone must know that in raag there should at least be five notes in asending and decending order. The ascending order is called aroh while descending order is called amroh. The number of notes in the raag determine the jati of the
raag, so if the raag has 5 notes in the ascending and descending order the raag is called Audav Audav jati raaj.

The example of Audav Audav raag is raag bhoop, it has five notes in the ascending and five notes in the descending order. If there are six notes in the ascending and descending order it is called shadav shadav jaati raag.
If a raag has got seven notes in asencing and decending order, it is called samporan raag. There are some raags that have five notes in the ascending order and seven in the descending order, and still there are many raags that can be discussed at length. The people who are seeking knowledge about Indian classical music basic, they need to have a proper teacher who can explain them the three important layers of raag that form the real structure of raag, this has to be learnt practically however the theory is also important to provide the basic needs of music
lovers all over the globe who wish to explore the secrets of the formation of raags. I hope this short article would give you little exposure to that. In the upcoming articles I will discuss more aspects of classical and light music.

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Indian Musical Instruments

Indian Musical Instruments

indian musical instruments

Indian Musical Instruments
When we talk about the Indian music whether it is classical or light, we always think of kinds of instruments that are used in the performing arts. For ages the Indian music is being sung by the well renowned performers and even in the court of Mughal emperors the music was very popular and they used to call the best performers to
entertain them. When it comes to entertainment, it has been noticed that people seem to be more interested in the instrumental performances, they love to listen to different melodies and raags on the instruments. Not only in sub continent but it has become so popular all over the globe. In recent times the instrument playing performers are being invited in various countries of Europe, Australia, America, Japan and in Mideastern countries. The reason being that the people of sub continent are spread all over the world and they love to see the performers from their country. It has been noticed that many foreigners have started taking interest in Indian music, specially the instrument performances, People love to attend the musical instrumental concerts rather than vocal concerts. Well
there are many many primitive and old instruments in Indian music. If I try to introduce you to all the musical instruments it would require ages to do so, I will tell you about the musical instruments that you are likely to see frequently in concerts and pvt performances. So we can discuss about the classification of types of musical instruments. Well it can be classified in different types and groups. Well there are four categories of
musical instruments they are as follows:
Indian Musical Instruments categories

1. Tantu Vadiya (these are string instruments which are called chordophons in western music)

(Taanpura-which is a drone instrument in Indian music but it is a accompanying instrument which means it can not be used for solo performances) the other string instruments are veena and sitar there are also instruments without frets like sarod, then there are instruments play with a bow, popular examples of these are sarangi and violin, there are instruments that can be played without being played by fingers or struck by nails or without the help of bow and that is santoor, which is played with the help of the hammer like spoon.

2. The second category is sushir vadiya or the wind instruments and in western music they are called aerophons. The most popular is Bansori, it is an Indian flute without reeds, also the shahnai, it has two reeds but sound is produced from the air columns. Then there emerged a below blown instrument to produce sound the best example of this is harmonium.

3. The 3rd category is called Avanad vadya, which is called Drums/memrophons in western music. The contain a layer of animal skin that helps in the production of sound.some of these instruments are played with palm and fingers, for example carnatica music it is mridangam and khanjira. We also have Indian instruments like pakhawaj and tabla. Then there are instruments that are played with the help of the sticks such as chaugadha and the dhol.

4. The final category is that of ghana vadya, they are called ideophons according to Western music. These are made of metal, clay or wood, they don’t need any further tuning these instruments are used as side rhythm instruments. The examples of these instruments in carnatica music is ghatam or moursi, the other examples are manjira and kartaal.
You may ask what about the electric organ or the electric rhythm, well they fall in the category of electronic instruments. Well in the ancient times the melodic instruments were called veena and the human voice was called gatar veena which meant produced by human voice. I hope this article would help the music learners in their research work too.

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Why is Music Considered a Universal Language

Why is Music Considered a Universal Language?


why is music considered a universal language

Well music is a universal language and everyone can relate to this. Let me give you an example which would help you in understanding the fact I just mentioned. The musical notes are the same comprising of seven white and 5 black notes but when they are molded in the composition they are sung in many different ways, like if you take major western scale and ask the people of different nationalities and cultures the interpretation would be entirely different because the basic notes are the same. The way in which the notes were interpreted was entirely different in performance, therefore singing the same song would have distinct difference in all the different cultures. For example, if you listen to the Christmas Carols from different people belonging to different life style and cultural background, in each case you will notice the expression is extremely different. I would say that music and food are so similar in nature, lets take an example if you take rice and give it to a Japanese cook, he would make the rice in the Japanese style and would come up with Asoshi if you give rice to a south Indian cook, he might come up with dosa, similarly an Afghan would cook the rice in his own way so the flavor and recipe changes according to the culture and taste, though the basic element is the same, and it is rice.
Similarly the basic elements of the music are the same as I mentioned above but the interpretation is entirely different. This give it a unique flavor thus we can say the music is a universal language. so to understand the philosophy we need to understand the liking and disliking according to the regions and continents. The international performers have to keep this element in mind while performing in different places around the globe. You must have listened to many Bollywood songs having some western or Arabic flavors but the essential part is that they have to be based on the techniques of the Indian classical music. Which is the traditional or Art music in India but this is unfortunate that most of the common people don’t understand the real essence of Indian classical music, may be they listen to the music just for fun or to entertain themselves and in their conscious they certainly have their liking’s and disliking’s, for example many people would love to listen to classical music while the young generation would go for the light music. So one can say that Indian classical music is much beyond what we know about it but still it receives its appreciation throughout the globe but many people who have musical background and are acquainted with western, Japanese, Chinese or any other form of music can at least make the
difference and comparison of Indian music with other forms of music that are being followed throughout the world.

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Importance of Gamaka in Indian Classical Music

Importance of Gamaka in Indian Classical Music

This post is about the importance of GAMAKA, also known as gamak in Indian Classical Music

Importance of Gamaka

I think most of the readers must not have heard about this word, however the Indian classical music learners must have heard about it. This is actually the backbone of the Indian classical music. In fact this is Gamaka that differentiate our Indian music from the rest of the world. So lets learn about the importance of Gamaka, this would be very helpful for the Indian
classical music learners. So what is a Gamakas, this is actually a connector between two notes. So the notes are not taken
in a plan manner, but in a curved manner like waving notes, so when we do that it adds more life to the notes that are being sung by the performer, it brings out more life and essence to the ragas.

Now you would like to know what are the types of Gamakas in indian classical music, well carnatic music recognizes 15 different types of Gamakas but in the article we shall discuss only the most common 4 types of Gamakas that you can easily find and recognize in Indian classical music. The first type of gamakas is the sliding notes, that means you connect two or more notes

in a sliding manner. So instead of taking the notes plan you have to take it in a sliding manner. This can be applied in ascending or descending orders and this type of gamaka is called Jaaru, this can be found in carnatica music but you can also find it in
light music, like every syllabel sliding to the next. So remember there is no straight note at all. You need to master these sliding of notes from one to another. The next one is wavery gamakas, so we keep on waving the notes back and forth, like in raga shankara bharan, if you take the notes straight they would sound like western major scale, but if you make it wavery
they would sound like the requirement of the raga. This wavery technique is called kampitan in carnatica music. The third type is called Janatas swaras, that means taking the double notes, remember the note has to be taken with a push second time. Like sS, rR,,,,,this means the second note taken with push or force. The fourth type is known as the vibration gamaka

which is also known as spuritum in carnatic music. In this type this is almost like the double note, the second time note is taken by strong push,,but the only difference is that the notes are taken very quickly, like speedily, to give real rich texture and flavor to the Indian classical music but the learner has to take a proper training of these kinds of gamakas. In music
you will find a number of these kinds of gamakas. So next time when you practice any song, listen to it carefully and note whether it is a wavery, vibratory or the double pattern notes that have been taken by the performer.

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RAAG PAHADI TUTORIAL-Indian Classical Music

RAAG PAHADI TUTORIAL-Indian Classical Music:

This is a tutorial about “raag pahadi”. We will also discuss Raag Pahadi notes below.

RAAG PAHADI TUTORIAL-Indian Classical Music

It is believed that the origin of raag pahadi is Kashmir, kashmir is a land of mountains, so
perhaps this name has been taken keeping in mind the land of mountains and valleys. This raag
has been taken from Balawal thatt, its Arohi is (Sa Re Ga Pa Dha), and its Amrohi is
(Sa ne dha pa ma ga re sa), so you must have noticed that in Arohi there are only five notes
whereas in Amrohi there are all seven notes but it must be kept in mind that while taking
Amrohi we will slightly touch the notes (ne and ma) which means we will not stay longer
on these two notes. It’s wadi note is Pa, well you all must be knowing what is meant by wadi
note, the wadi note is the one which is used the most in this raag, its samwadi note(which
is used slightly less than the wadi note) is (sa). Its anowadi note (which means its is used
slightly less than the samwadi note) is (ga), while the amwadi (which is used the least or
not used altogether are (ne or ma). Many bollywood hit songs have been composed in the raag,
so I feel if the student can practice its Arohi and Amrohi perfectly then he would be able to play many
songs based on this raag. Its my suggestion to all that instead of only following the staff
notation (which is also important for the musicians) we must try to find the root of the
composition, that will certainly help in enhancing your musical knowledge about Indian
classical music. Mostly in this raag the note ma or F sharp is considered as the C note or
Sa note. I would suggest that this raag must be practiced in all three octaves to get the
more pleasant effect of the raag. There is one very famous song based on this raag which has
been sung by great singer Mohammad Rafi sahib (Chowdawin ka chand ho ya aftab ho). The
other famous hit song composed by great composer Naushad for film Dulari is (Suhani Raat
dhal chuki na jane tum kab aao gay) and another famous hit song (Chal ud ja re panchi) is
also based on this raag. One very old hit song (Agay bhe jane na tu pechay be jane na tu)
is based on this raag. So to get the exact and correct knowledge of this raag, the above
mentioned songs must be practiced and the formation of notes should be remembered.

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Indian Classical Music - raag bahron indian ragaas

Raag bharon is one of the most popular and sweet raag in Indian classical Music. The name of the thatt of this raag
is also known as Bahron thatt. Seven notes are used in this raag, but remember that note
Re and Dha are komal (black)notes in this raag. This raag is also know as the jhank raag
of Bharon Thatt. All seven notes are used in Arohi and Amrohi therefore its jati is
samporan which means all seven notes are used in ascending and descending order. The
wadi note of this raag is dhawat (dha) and the samwadi note is Re. The effect of this raag
is very deep and sad, so many sad songs are composed in this raag. Dhurpat, dhamar and
tarana are sung in this raag. Arohi is Sa Re(black) Ga Ma Pa Dha(black) Ne Sa. Sa ne
dha(black) pa ma ga Re(black) sa. The pakar of this raag is Sa Ga ma pa dha(black).
Sur Malika satai would be like this, Ga ma Dha(black) pa dha(black) pa ma Ga ma re sa. ne
sa ga ma pa dha ne sa dha(black) sa ne dha(black) pa ga ma dha(black) pa. There is one
very popular rachna based on the pure suwar malik, that is Jago Jago hua swera. The best
example of this raag can be found in old hit indian movies Baiju bawara, the song is
Mohe bhol gaye samwariya. You can remember this song to remember the mood of raag bharon
and there is one more song based on the raag, Albela sajan from the film Hum dil de chukay
sanam. In the forthcoming articles we shall discuss about finding the identity of raags,
we should all know that each raag has its own identity by which we can find the raag,
there are musical phrases by which the identity of raag becomes easy.

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RAAG YAMAN KALYAN-Indian Classical Music


Rag Yaman Kalyan is one of the most famous raags in Indian classical music. This raag has been abundantly used in many old and new Bollywood songs. All seven notes are used in this raag. There are many famous songs based on raag yaman . It is a very versatile raag, which means you will not only find classical pieces but also the semi classical pieces in this raag. You will also find light music pieces such as bhajan, Ghazals and many film songs such as ZARA SI AHAT HOTI HAI TOU DIL SOCHTA HAI, jAB DEEB CHALE ANA JAB SHAM DHALE ANA, CHANDAN SA BADAN, NAAM GUM JAYEGA, NIGAHAIN MILANE KO JEE CHATA HAI. The question must have risen in you mind that how was it known that these songs are based on raag yaman.

raag yaman kalyan

No raag can be recognized only by the notes that are being used. No raag is recognised by its phrases, the way it is sung, in Indian classical music it is known as chalan, so with the help of the chalan you can find out which raag is it. So all the songs that I have mentioned above are based on the chalan of raag yaman. Now what is the chalaan for raag yaman by listening to which we can say yes this is raag yaman. So remember the best phrase or the chalan is Ne – Re- Ga (B – D- E), so if you listen to these songs carefully you will see this first phrase. Now the second phrase of raag yaman is the combination of Pa- Re, and these two notes are to be taken in the form of glide, they must not be sung separately but with a glide or curved voice from Pa to Re (G to D). This glide can easily be seen in the song Chandan sa badan, or jab deeb jale.and Gar yaad rahey. It is very important to know that all seven notes are used in this raag but Ma (F) is sharp note in it. Some people used F note plainly , but remember in that case the name of the raag would not remain Raag yaman but it would change to raag yaman Kaliyan. If you listen to most of the Bollywood songs, you will find that F sharp note is not used in most of the cases. So we can undoubtedly say those songs are not based on raag yaman but on raag yaman kalyan. The most classical example of this song is the Mohammad Rafi’s Hit song,( Abhi na jao chor kar). This was important to give flavor to the song of requesting mood, if F sharp had been used in place of F major the flavor would have been entirely different. If you sing this song with F sharp, it won’t sound nice and would present an odd flavor to the romantic song.

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Many people have question in mind and want to know what exactly alankar means and how to perform Alankar in Indian Classical Music. Well we shall discuss this topic in length to make known to music lovers what it exactly means. Can you imagine what ornamentation means to Indian culture? without ornamentation the culture of different parts of India is hard to understand, in each Province of India there is different kinds of ornamentation. In my view the alankar is just like the ornamentation of Indian classical music. without which perhaps the Indian classical music is just like an empty vessel. In Indian classical music the word alankar is used to denote ornamentation, it can also be called as paltas(different forms of singing the combination of notes in aroha and amroha, which means ascending and descending of notes.


Read more below to understand the importance of Alankar in Indian Classical Music

These are taught to the students so that they can understand the distant and difference of various notes but today we are not referring to paltas as alankar but we are referring to alankar as ornamentation. This is special treatment given to a set of notes so that the melody looks beautiful and present specific identity. Well ornamentation is not just specific to Indian classical music but to general Indian music. The very first step that we learn in alankar is meend, which means a glide to other note in a kind of a curved manner. Like if you take plan note C, G, N you will just sing it as they are played on the instrument but in alankar you will have to sing them like the glide as it goes up and down without any break in it, I hope you understand.The good example of alankar can be found in the song sung by great Lata Mangeshkar, RISIK BALMAN. If you listen to this great song, you will understand how the alankar is performed. The next ornament is called khatka, which means to take notes with break, the best example is the song (MAIN TENU SAMJHAWAN KI). So the notes are taken with a little jerk or break, not planly. Khatkas are found in many Indian Bollywood songs. Now let me introduce you to the concept of Zamzam. It is a cluster of khatkas taken together. This is found in maharaster and punjabi folk songs in abundance. It is also a characteristic of tappa singing. It can also be termed as semi classical form of singing. The next is murki, it is nothing but a set of notes taken together quickly for example a very famous song of great Lata ji,,,,(baiyan na dharo balma) But in most of the cases the musician are not to take a lot of murkis because it may mess with the correct form of the raag. The next is called Andolan, which a slow isolation of notes it is used to give serious touch in raag or melody. For example Bollywood song sung by Mandey (poocho na kaisay main ne raain betai). A beautiful composition and perfect example of andolan. The last but not the least is called Gamak, which is very very important for Indian classical music. It is giving shadow to the notes or giving emphasis to the notes to make an effect. Karnatak music gives a lot of importance to the Gamak. It is kind of shaky emphasis to the notes. But point is to be noted that all forms of alankar that have been mentioned above are taken according to the situation, like in our daily life we use ornaments (heavy or light) according to the events that are going to take place. I hope this article must be useful for most of the music lovers.

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In Indian music you will find that there are very few performers on stage rather few musicians are on stage with the singer who participate in one concert.. Most of the time there is one main artist and three or four accompanying musicians, this is because Indian music believes in melody, one tune at a time.. This melody is sung or performed by the main artist and the accompanying musicians just follow the main artist, this is customary in Indian music.. The main artist has all the liberty to improvise the melody as he wishes but following the raag that he is performing-


Now we will discuss and see the difference in Western Concert settings. In western music , there is a grand setting of musicians and it is like a very big orchestra, this is because the western music believes in harmony. Just one singer can’t perform harmony therefore they have to have many singers, who can perform harmony along-with the main artist. similarly they need to have many instruments to play different harmonies. So we can say there is not one specific artist in the performance. There are all artists who are participating and working like a team, so this is a team effort rather than the sole effort as in Indian concerts. Everybody has his own melody line to contribute in the harmony. Well this certainly doesn’t mean that there are no solo performances, when it comes to western classical music. The main artist follows the melody but the accompanying artists provide consonent to create a harmony. That’s why all the composition or the music is in written form and this leaves very little improvisation in western classical music. Till now we have discussed the tune aspects of Indian and western music. Now lets discuss how rhythm is interpreted in Indian music and how it is interpreted in western music. In Indian music the Rhythm (lai) is interpreted in the form of Taal, Taal is a rhythmic cycle, so in Indian music there are different numbers of rhythmic cycles , like 6 beats, 8 beats, 7 beats, 12 beats , 14 beats, 16 beats etc. in western music the rhythm is interpreted as time signature on the staff sheet, so this is a linear concept than a cyclical concept. So what you have is bars and beats in those bars. Very common time signature is 2 is to 4, which means there are two beats in each bar. then it is 4 by 4 which means there are 4 beats in one bar. so counting is like 1,2,3,4 etc then you have 3 is to 4, which means there are 3 beats in one bar.

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Well there has been a lot of talk about the major difference in Indian and Western music, therefore I found it important to discuss Indian Music vs. Western Music. The people who are music lovers have asked this question over and over again. So today we will discuss about this very burning topic of main differences between the two types of music i.e Indian and western. The basic difference between these two types of music is Melody vs Harmony.

We must keep this fact in mind that Indian music is based on the concept of melody. Now what is the melody? well melody is a tune where one note follows the other so it becomes a kind of structure, to some of the people it might sound very complicated but believe me its very simple, if you hum a tune, play a tune or sing a tune its all called melody. so basically raag is a melody, so we can say Indian music is certainly based on melody but with western music its a little bit different.

Just as you have the concept of melody in Indian music, there is a concept of harmony in western music, Now what exactly is the difference between melody and harmony. Well melody is just one individual tune where harmony is layering of two or more tunes which will go hand in hand with each other that is they sound very good when they are played together or sung together for example is the first tune is taken from C major note, the second tune is taken from E note while the third tune is taken from the G note. So when all these tunes are played together they would create harmony and it sounds great and very pleasing to the ears. So if you are a music lover and want to visualize the concept of melody and a food lover too, then lets take it this way, melody is just like a simple burger, where as the harmony is just like having a burger which has multiple layers of cheese, salad and chicken or beef etc. So naturally you would prefer to go for the one which has more layers to enjoy the food rather than taking the simple bun. I hope you have understood the difference between the melody and harmony. How they make Indian music sound different from western music.

Vocal Techniques (Indian music vs. Western Music)

Next lets move on to understand the vocal techniques used in two different forms of music. In Indian music the singer is supposed to sing in a very full throat-ed manner. Apart from this the singer is expected to sing in three octaves that is lower, middle and high octaves. He needs to be very fluent in all the three octaves. He should be able to sing in the range from the G of lower Octave to F or G note of the high or the 3rd octave. Technically speaking the singer is not allowed to use the false voice (which is not full throat-ed), specially in Indian classical music it is forbidden. The point is to be noted that false voice is mostly used in the 3rd or the high octave where the singer may find it difficult to cope with the high notes. It feels like a hollow kind of a voice which is strictly forbidden in Indian classical music. In western music there is a believe that each person has got a specific kind of voice. which means they have particular range where they are comfortable in singing. Some people have low pitched voice and some people have high pitched voice, so accordingly they have a specific territory in which they operate comfortably. They do not need to move all along the three octaves and hit the highest pitched notes or the lowest pitched notes. So there are four kinds of voice which are commonly known as Bass, Tener, Alto and superano. Generally Bass and Tener are the male voices, Alto and superano are female voices. In western music a lot of false voice or seto is used. In Indian music the note is applied plainly whereas in western music the ending note is usually used a vibrato , it is wavy vibration given to the note as u sustain it.

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