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 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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Raag Pahadi amrohi arohi in terms of Indian Music

Raag Pahadi amrohi arohi in terms of Indian Music

Raag Pahadi:

Raag Pahadi is one of the most popular raag in Indian music. Many famous compositions
have been made in Raag Pahadi. It is easy to sing even for a person with little knowledge of music.

raag pahadi indian music theory

Raag Pahadi is the raag of Bilawal thaat. This is the Awodo Raag (5 notes) Ma and Ne are not allowed in this raag.

The main quality of this raag is that it can be sugn anytime.

The lower octave and middle octave notes of this raag when played with fast rhythm, leave amazing musical magic in the mind of the listeners and their
heart beats become faster.

Sa is wadi whereas pa is sumwadi in this raag.

Dha leaves special effect when played in the lower octave. Raag Pahadi also resembles Bhopali at some stage, therefore the experienced performers slightly use Ma so that it’s structure may not sound like Bhopali. In Garanth one pahadi raag has been described in Bahroon thaat but that is not in use now-a-days and is almost a forgotten raag in Bahroon thaat. Notes can freely be used in pahadi raag therefore no special Chaal is being mentioned.


Sa-re-ga-pa-dha-sa(high octave)


sa (high octave)-dha-pa-ga-re-sa-dha (low octave)

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Raag Kamod part 2 and raag gaud sarang-Indian Music Theory

raag gaud sarang

This may be noted that in Raag Kamod Arohi must be played from Re to Pa, whereas in Chayanat Amrohi is played form Pa to Re. See below how it is to be played:

Sa-Re-Pa-Ga-Ma-Dha-Pa-Ga-Ma-Pa-Ga-Re-Sa, this is the Taan for Kamod.

Dha-pa-re-re-ga-pa-ma-ga-ma-re-sa is the Taan for Chayanat.

Simple Taans have been mentioned above so that every student may learn it with ease.

Remember the wadi note for kamod is pa whereas the wadi note for Chayanat is Re.

Kamod is the Raag that is played on poorwang (first part of octave) whereas chayanat is played on uttarwang that means (second part of octave).

gaud sarang:

gaud sarang is the sampuran raag (7 notes) of kalyan thaat. The notes are not played in sequence in this Raag therefore it is called vikar raag.

Both Madhams i.e.Ma (F and F sharp) are allowed in this Raag.

This Raag is to be sung in the afternoon. Ne must be played less in this Raag.

In Amrohi Ga is vikar in this Raag Dha is wadi and Ga is sumwadi in Gorsarang.

Suppose if we consider Ga as wadi note for this Raag, then it’s time must be evening not afternoon, according to the principle of Indian music theory.

Some pandits believe it to be the raag of Bilawal Thaat whereas some believe it to be the combination of Nutt, Kidara and Purbi.

The taan of gaud sarang is as follows:-



Remember black Ma (F sharp) is not to be used in Arohi.




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Raag Kamod & Raag chayanat Notes-Indian Music Theory

Raag Kamod & Raag Chayanat Notes-Indian Music Theory

raag kamod notes

Raag Kamod:

Raag Kamod is the sampuran (7 notes) Raag of Kalyan Thatt. It is customery to use both Ma (F + F sharp) notes in this Raag, that is why some people think this raag has evolved from Kalyan Thaat while others think it has been extracted from Bilawal Thaat.

The wadi note of this raag is Pa (G) whereas it’s samwadi note is Re (D) note and Ga (E) as vikar (not played in sequence). Remember black Ma (F sharp) is barely used.


This raag can easily be recognized due to the harmony of Re and Pa. This Raag is to be sung before evening. Some pandits believe this raag is the combination of raag Gonda and Hameer.

According to present day music theory, the notes of Ga-Ma and Ne are not to be played in Arohi but they must be played in Amrohi but not in sequence. So it must be played as under:-


Sa-Re-Pa-Pa, Dha-Pa-Ga, Ma-Dha-Pa, Ga-Ma-Pa-Ga, Sa-Re-Sa

Sa-Ne-Dha-Ga-Ma-Ga, Ma-Pa-Ga-Ma,Re-Sa-Re.

Raag Kamod is very popular and the musical composition in this raag are very easy to sing. Even the person of average ability can sing easily in this raag.

Raag Kamod is very demanding for the composition of commercials and light singing.

Raag Chayanat


raag chayanat is also a sampuran Raag of Kalyan Thaat. In this Raag, Re (D) is the wadi note whereas Pa (G) is the samwadi note. Samwadi means next important note to wadi. Most of the Pandits believe that this raag must be started from Dha (A) and it must finish on Sa (C) or Pa (G). In this Raag Ga (E) is also vikar (not played in sequence).

Some Pandits say this Raag is the mixture of Kalyan, Gond, Hameer and Nutt.

Remember Raag Kamod and Chayanat are very close in resemblance, therefore it must be kept in mind that notes Arohi of Kamod will never play (Ga-Na-Pa)

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Thaat Music to explain Indian Music Theory

Thaat Music to explain Indian Music Theory:


Comprehensive description of thaats:

First the names of all thaats have been mentioned here for the memory of students.

  1. Kalyan Thaat
  2. Bilawal Thaat
  3. Khamach Thaat
  4. Behroon Thaat
  5. Bharween Thaat
  6. Asawari Thaat
  7. Todi Thaat
  8. Purvi Thaat
  9. Marwa Thaat
  10. Kafi Thaat

Now we shall grasp the knowledge of Raags and Raagnis the are formed in different Thaats.

Kalyan Thaat:

The following are in Kalyan Thaat

  1. Aeman
  2. Sud Kalyan
  3. Bhoop Kalyan or Bhoopali
  4. Hameer
  5. Kedara
  6. Chayanet
  7. Kamod
  8. Sham Kalyan
  9. Handole
  10. Gord Sarang
  11. Malsiri
  12. Aemni Bilawal
  13. Chardor Kant
  14. Sawani Kalyan
  15. Jeet Kalyan

Bilawal Thaat:

  1. Bilawal
  2. Bhaag
  3. Bhagra
  4. Deskar
  5. Pahari
  6. Kabka
  7. Shankara
  8. Nutt
  9. Maand
  10. Sarparda
  11. Aliya
  12. Gunkali
  13. Sikal
  14. Nutt Bilawali
  15. Hans Dhan
  16. Lachasak
  17. Haime
  18. Durga
  19. Norochaka
  20. Malohe Kedara
  21. Devgari
  22. Jaldhar Kedara
  23. Pat Maujri

Khamag Thaat:

  1. Khamag
  2. Jhanjoti
  3. Surath
  4. Dais
  5. Kambwati
  6. Talang
  7. Durga
  8. Rageshri
  9. Jajewanti
  10. Gordmala
  11. Natt Malar
  12. Tilak Kamod
  13. Budhause
  14. Ghera
  15. Naraiyni
  16. Partaab
  17. Naag Surawali

Bahroon Thaat:

  1. Bahroon
  2. Kangara
  3. Maig Rangni
  4. Surashister
  5. Jogia
  6. RamKali
  7. Parbhat
  8. Bhaas
  9. Gori Lalat Pancham
  10. Sawayri
  11. Bangal Bahroon
  12. Shelumat Bahroon
  13. Anand Bahroon
  14. Gun kali
  15. Aheer bahroon
  16. Zailef
  17. Des Gonda

Baharween Thaat:

  1. Baharween
  2. Malkonce
  3. Asawari
  4. Dhanasiri
  5. Bhopaal
  6. Zangola
  7. Motaki
  8. Sud Sawand
  9. Basant Mukhari
  10. Balas Khan Todi