|Know Your Ragas Alphabetically :|
The Raag in Indian Classical music is a melodic combination that follows specific rules and grammar using the Seven Notes (Swaras) and its variations. Raag is defined in Vedas as “रंजयतिइतिरागः”, which means one that pleases and entertains the mind. Raagdaari (Music based on Raag) has been an integral part Hindustani and Carnatic Music Systems, two main branches of Indian Classical Music they are as follows : Related to love, eros (Śṛngāra, शृङ्गार), Humorous, comic (Hāsya, हास्य), Pathetic, disgust (Bībhatsa, बीभत्स), Fury, anger (Raudra, रौद्र), Compassion, sympathy (Kāruṇya, कारुण्य)
Ragas Heroic (Vīra, वीर), Terrible, horrifying (Bhayānaka, भयानक), Marvellous, amazing (Adbhuta, अद्भुत).
Concept of Raag :
Before we delve into the definition of Raag, let us see some foundation definitions of Hindustani Classical Music, upon which Raag is based.
S and P are the two fixed notes and do not have flat (or Komal) or sharp (or Tivra) variations like rest of the notes. Movement from lower notes to higher notes is known as Ascend (or Aaroh) and movement from higher notes to lower notes is known as Descend (or Avroaha)
1. Saptak: Set of the Seven Swar (including all the variations and therefore actually 12 Swars) is called Saptak. It starts from S , the first and reference note and finishes on N, the 12th note majority of Raags revolves around the three Saptaks, known as Mandra Saptak(Lower Register), Madhya Saptak (Middle Register) and TivraSaptak (Upper Register)
2. Aaroh (Ascend) and Avroha (Descend) : In a Raag, ascending sequence of notes in a Raag (lower notes to upper notes) is known as Aaroh and descending sequence of notes is known as Avroha.
3. Thaat: A Raag is derived from a Thaat or parent scale, which is described as a unique combination of 12 Swars such that each Thaat will have 7 notes. It is to be noted that a Thaat cannot be performed unlike a Raag. Although Raags have existed for many centuries, they were not formally classified based on Thaats and common characteristics, until Pandit Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande (1860-1936) took upon himself to study and classify Raags into Thaats, and propose Swar notation system which is commonly used today. The 10 Thaats in Hindustani Classical Music are listed below, which are named after a famous Raag in the respective Thaat :
Basic Grammar of Raag :
1. A Raag must belong to a unique Thaat (although some exceptions exists) and have suggested performance time slot of 3 hours out of the 24 hour cycle, based on the Time theory of Raag (Note: A separate section is devoted on Time Theory of Raag).
2. A Raag must have minimum of five and maximum of seven notes in its ascending and descending moves, and thus can be divided into three main categories (or Jaati) as below :
a. Sampurna (Septatonic) Raag – Raag with 7 notes.
b. Shadav (Hexatonic) Raag – Raag with 6 notes.
c. Audav (Pentatonic) Raag – Raag with 5 notes.
Each Raag should have ascending and descending notes, and therefore we get nine sub-categories (Upjaati) of Raag based on number of notes present in its Aaroh and Avroha
1. Sampurna – Sampurna.
2. Sampurna – Shadav.
3. Sampurna – Audav.
4. Shadav – Sampurna.
5. Shadav – Shadav.
6. Shadav – Audav.
7. Audav – Sampurna.
8. Audav – Shadav.
9. Audav – Audav.
1. A Raag must have Vaadi (dominant Swar) or Samvadi (sub- dominant Swar). These two Swars are used more frequently in the Raag performance and gives a unique mood and emotion to a Raag.
2. A Raag should have a Pakad/Chalan (Key Phrase) that establishes the movement of Swars, mood and characteristics of Raag.
3. Two Raags from same Thaat can have same Aaroh, Avroh and Vadi, Samvadi notes, but their Pakad must be unique.
- Every Raag should have “S” or Tonic, which is the reference note. Think of S a pivotal note around which the entire Bandish (song) is structured.
- A Raag may omit m or M’ (fourth note) or P (fifth note) but not both at the same time. These are resting places and “connector” between lower set notes and upper set of notes.