Indian Music Theory:
Indian music is more than just the Bollywood movies sounds that have become so famous in the last 10 or 20 years and it is more than the uncomfortable stabs that many UK rock musicians made at it in the 1960. Indian music is a tradition that interlocks with Indian history and culture. It is a vibrant and rich medium and remains even in 2016 largely outside the keen of the typical latest westerner. Across the dominant centuries it has evolved into a complex system based on melody and rhythm.
Melody is perhaps the most important part of Indian music. A system of sweet ideas known as Raga drives melodic compositions. Each Raga can be thought of as a character with its own personality.
The raga became an integration part of spiritual practice and Indian culture. There were set of rags that were to be played at different times of the day and also unique ones for ceremonies. Further, they were generally used in prayer and meditation, sometime as chant. A lot of the time these scales were sun vocally, but they are played on a range of instruments as well.
The Octave comprises 22 equal divisions known as Sruti. These may be gathered and re-grouped into 12 Swara which may be similar in the ways they move to the 12 semitones of European scales. Like those of European scales too, 7 are regarded as being primary while the other 5 the “sharps” and “flats” of the 7 primary Swaras. The 7 primary Swara are illustrated in Hindi script.
In the 1800, Chaturpandit Vishnu Narayan managed to make system called as the “That” to classify all the ragas. Unluckily, as useful as this system was, it still failed to account for many of the ragas. It is anyway the initial system in use today. There are also 2 other ways to classify rags.
In South India, the word for musical scale is mela. The Southern and Northern Indian music largely differs from each other in sound and in tools but may share the same scales. The application of these scales in terms of Indian music in common goes beyond this scope of this site but if you want to incorporate some of the wonderful sounds of these scales into your music then that is probably the remarkable usage for them.
Indian music is like Western music in many ways and extremely unlike it in many others. If you don’t have a background in music or need a refresher on Indian music theory, there are several best classics to ground you in music appreciation and music theory.