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Principles of Hindustani music

The rhythmic organization is based on rhythmic patterns called tala. The melodic foundations are called ragas.
Aug 7, 2012 13:46 IST
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Principles of Hindustani music
The rhythmic organization is based on rhythmic patterns called tala. The melodic foundations are called ragas. One possible classification of ragas is into "melodic modes" or "parent scales", known as thaats, under which most ragas can be classified based on the notes they use.
Thaats may consist of up to seven scale degrees, or swara. Hindustani musicians name these pitches using a system called Sargam, the equivalent of the Western movable do solfege:
Sa (Shadaj) = Do
Re (Rishab) = Re
Ga (Gandhar) = Mi
Ma (Madhyam) = Fa
Pa (Pancham) = So
Dha (Dhaivat) = La
Ni (Nishad) = Ti
Sa (Shadaj) = Do


Both systems repeat at the octave. The difference between sargam and solfege is that re, ga, ma, dha, and ni can refer to either "Natural" (shuddha) or altered "Flat" (komal) or "Sharp" (tivra) versions of their respective scale degrees. As with movable do solfege, the notes are heard relative to an arbitrary tonic that varies from performance to performance, rather than to fixed frequencies, as on a xylophone. The fine Internationale differences between different instances of the same swara are called srutis. The three primary registers of Indian classical music are mandra (lower), madhya (middle) and taar (upper). Since the octave location is not fixed, it is also possible to use provenances in mid-register (such as mandra-madhya or madhya-taar) for certain ragas. A typical rendition of Hindustani raga involves two stages:

Alap: a rhythmically free improvisation on the rules for the raga in order to give life to the raga and flesh out its characteristics. The alap is followed by a long slow-tempo improvisation in vocal music, or by the jod and jhala in instrumental music.

Bandish or Gat: a fixed, melodic composition set in a specific raga, performed with rhythmic accompaniment by a tabla or pakhavaj. There are different ways of systematizing the parts of a composition.
The rhythmic organization is based on rhythmic patterns called tala. The melodic foundations are called ragas. One possible classification of ragas is into "melodic modes" or "parent scales", known as thaats, under which most ragas can be classified based on the notes they use.

Thaats may consist of up to seven scale degrees, or swara. Hindustani musicians name these pitches using a system called Sargam, the equivalent of the Western movable do solfege:

Sa (Shadaj) = Do

Re (Rishab) = Re

Ga (Gandhar) = Mi

Ma (Madhyam) = Fa

Pa (Pancham) = So

Dha (Dhaivat) = La

Ni (Nishad) = Ti

Sa (Shadaj) = Do

 

Both systems repeat at the octave. The difference between sargam and solfege is that re, ga, ma, dha, and ni can refer to either "Natural" (shuddha) or altered "Flat" (komal) or "Sharp" (tivra) versions of their respective scale degrees. As with movable do solfege, the notes are heard relative to an arbitrary tonic that varies from performance to performance, rather than to fixed frequencies, as on a xylophone. The fine Internationale differences between different instances of the same swara are called srutis. The three primary registers of Indian classical music are mandra (lower), madhya (middle) and taar (upper). Since the octave location is not fixed, it is also possible to use provenances in mid-register (such as mandra-madhya or madhya-taar) for certain ragas. A typical rendition of Hindustani raga involves two stages:

 

Alap: A rhythmically free improvisation on the rules for the raga in order to give life to the raga and flesh out its characteristics. The alap is followed by a long slow-tempo improvisation in vocal music, or by the jod and jhala in instrumental music.

 

Bandish or Gat: A fixed, melodic composition set in a specific raga, performed with rhythmic accompaniment by a tabla or pakhavaj. There are different ways of systematizing the parts of a composition.