SHRUTI AND SAPTAKA The Indian musical scale is said to have evolved from 3 notes to a scale of 7 primary notes, on the basis
of 22 intervals. A scale is divided into 22 shrutis or intervals, and these are the basis of the musical notes. The musicians
know the 7 notes of the scale as Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Da and Ni. These 7 notes of the scale do not have equal intervals
between them. A Saptak is a group of 7 notes, divided by the shrutis or intervals as follows -
The first and fifth notes (Sa and Pa) do not alter their positions on this interval. The other 5 notes can change their
positions in the interval, leading to different ragas.
Raga - THE SOUL OF CLASSICAL MUSIC The combination of several notes
woven into a composition in a way, which is pleasing to the ear, is called a Raga. Each raga creates an atmosphere, which is
associated with feelings and sentiments. Any stray combination of notes cannot be called a Raga. The Raga is the basis of
classical music. It is based on the principle of a combination of notes selected out the 22 note intervals of the octave. A
performer with sufficient training and knowledge alone can create the desired emotions, through the combination of shrutis
There are a limited number of ragas in Hindustani music; as the use of a ``KING" note and a ``QUEEN" note restricts to a
great extent, the creation of new ragas. The raga forms the backbone of Indian music, and the laws laid down for the ragas
have to be carefully observed to preserve and safeguard their integrity. The following points are required in the
construction of a Raga -
Thaatas or sequence of notes,
Jaatis or classification
``King" and ``Queen" relation of the notes, i.e.
Vadi and Samvadi
The Ascent and Descent of the raga, i.e. Aroha and Avaroha
Important cluster of notes
Every Raga is derived from some Thaata or Scale.
Ragas are placed in three categories
Odava or pentatonic, a composition of five notes,
Shadava or hexatonic, a composition of six notes,
Sampoorna or heptatonic, a composition of seven notes,
Every Raga must have at least five notes,
starting at Sa,one principal note,
a second important note and a few helping notes.The principal note, ``KING" is the note on which the raga is built.It is emphasised in various ways, such as stopping for some time on the note, or stressing it.
The second important note or the ``queen" corresponds to the ``King" as the fourth or fifth note in relation to it.
The ascent and descent of the notes in every raga is very important.
Some ragas in the same scale differ in ascent and descent.
In every raga, there is an important cluster of notes by which the raga is identified.
There are certain ragas, which move in a certain pitch and if the pitch is changed,the raga fails to produce the mood and sentiment peculiar to it.
The speed is divided into three parts:
Madhya (Medium) and
Another aspect of the ragas is the appropriate distribution in time during the 24 hours of the day for its performance,
i.e. the time of the day denotes the raga sung a particular time.
Ragas are also allotted a particular time space in the cycle of the day.
These are divided into four types -
Sandi - Prakash ragas or twilight ragas when the notes Re and Da are used -- such as Raga Marwa, Purvi.
Midday and Midnight ragas which include the notes Ga and Ni (komal).
Ragas for the first quarter of the morning and night which include the notes Re, Ga, Da and Ni (komal).
For the last quarter of the day and night, the ragas include the notes Sa, Ma and Pa.
All the ragas are divided into two groups
Poorva Ragas and
The Poorva Ragas are sung between 12 noon and 12 midnight.
The Uttar Ragas are sung between 12 midnight and 12 noon.
The variations on the dominant or ``King" note help a person to find out why certain ragas are being sung at certain times.
This raga classification is about 500 years old and has been adopted by Pandit V. N. Bhatkhande in his textbooks on Hindustani music.
The beauty of the raga will not be marred by the time of the day it is sung. It is the psychological association with the
time that goes with the mood of the raga. The object of a raga is to express a certain emotional mood and sentiment without
any reference to time and season. For a student of classical music, this classification may give an idea as to how to base
his reasons for the traditional usage of ragas.
Another division of ragas is the classification of ragas under five principal ragas
From these five ragas, other ragas are derived.
The first derivatives of the ragas are called raginis,and each of the five ragas have five raginis under them.
Further derivatives from these ragas and raginis resulted in attaching to each principal raga 16 secondary derivatives known as upa-ragas and upa-raginis.
All the ragas are supposed to have been derived from their thaatas. Every raga has a fixed number of komal(soft) or
teevra(sharp) notes, from which the thaatas can be recognised. In other words, a certain arrangement of the 7 notes with the
change of shuddha, komal and teevra is called a thaatas. There are several opinions in this matter. According to Pandit V.N.
Bhatkhande, the 10 thaats used to classify the ragas are -
Bilaval -- with all shuddh or natural notes.
Khamaj -- with the ni note as komal.
Kafi -- with the ga and ni notes as komal.
Asavari -- with the ga, dha and ni notes as komal.
Bhairavi -- with the re, ga, dha and ni notes as komal.
Bhairav -- with the re and dha notes as komal.
Poorvi -- with the re and dha notes as komal and the ma note as teevra.
Todi -- with the re, ga and dha notes as komal and the ma note as teevra.
Marwa -- with the re note as komal and the ma note as teevra.
Yaman -- with the ma note as teevra only.
TALA -- RHYTHMICAL GROUPINGS OF BEATS
There is a perfect balance in the universe. This balance is the essence of Tala and therefore Tala is in classical music is
an important factor. The Tala is the theory of time measure. It has the same principle in Hindustani and Carnatic music,
though the names and styles differ.
The musical time is divided into simple and complicated meters. When accompanying the
dance, vocal and instrumental music, the Tala maintains the balance, which is the most essential function of music. Tala is
independent of the music it accompanies: it has its own divisions. It moves in bars, and each beat in it is divided into the
Rhythm has three aspects: Tala, Laya and Matra. Tala is a complete cycle of Metrical phrase composed of a fixed number of
beats. There are over a 100 Talas, but only 30 Talas are known and only about 10-12 are used.
The Laya is the tempo, which keeps uniformity of time span and it has 3 divisions -- Vilambit, Madhya and Drut.
The Matra is the smallest unit of the tala.
Tala is the most important aspect of classical music, and it can be considered to be the very basis or pulse of music. To
appreciate the structure of simple and complicated divisions, the improvisations of Tala and its theory, one should listen to
an accomplished solo drummer. A classical drum player requires at 8-10 years of methodical training and another 4-5 years of
One of the four parts of a song.
Elaboration of a melody without accompaniments
The second half of a song based on the higher notes of the scale
The ascending order of notes
The descending order of notes
Use of words in the improvisation of notes in medium or fast tempo
A style of Hindustani music composition
A style of composition in 14 beats of a Tala
A style of composition in 12 beats of a Tala
Fast Tempo of the music
A fixed composition of instrumental music
Traditional teacher or preceptor
A musical form of composition mostly sung in the spring festival
Composition in Hindustani music, usually in a slow tempo, in which the artist uses a great deal of improvisation
One beat of the rhythm
Pentatonic mode emphasizing any five notes
Ragas sung between the hours of 12 midnight and 12 noon
Combination of notes which conveys a definite emotion
The flavour to be realized in the aesthetic emotion
All the seven notes
Presentation of a melody in actual notes
Sexatonic mode emphasizing any six notes
A pure note
An octave of natural notes
Time measure of rhythmic beat
Improvisations of notes in medium and fast tempo
A scale or mould out of which a group of ragas originate