Sargam on Guitar (Indian Raagas on Guitar)

Discussion in 'Guitar Lessons, Tutorials & Tips' started by amit82cse, Apr 17, 2006.

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  1. amit82cse

    amit82cse Silent observeR

    Now its good time for us to expand our horizons and learn something about Indian Classical Music (ICM).

    There is plethora of information floating on net and its very hard to find a consolidated and systematic way to learn. I am starting this thread with the purpose to learn and understand ICM step by step. I would like to emphasis on word "understand" because without it you will not appreciate ICM.

    All of you who want to come along with me on this exciting voyage are most welcome!

    So lets start answering with the most basic question:
    "How will I map Sa Re Ga Ma ..." on Guitar?

    The only thing require for remembering this mapping is that western's note "C" maps to Indian's note "Sa".

    Here is complete mapping:
    C - Sa
    D - Re
    E - Ga
    F - m
    G - Pa
    A - Dha
    B - Ni

    Why I have used 'm' instead of 'Ma' will require more knowledge to understand which will get cleared in subsequent posts. For the time being just denote Ma with 'm'.

    Here is fretboard with Indian Notes:


    I have highlighted 3 "Sa"-s. These are in comfortable zone of hand. Later we will find that most of the raags require movement on 3 octaves and hence frets 5 to 8 I find more convenient to play them.

    Just practice Sa Re Ga m... in ascending and descending order till we meet again with more exciting stuff.

    Sooner you have to brushup your hindi as well, so lets start with two words:
    Ascending -> Arohan
    Descending -> Avarohan

    If you are curious on what are we going to learn next then I can give a hint that by the end of next session you will be playing your first raag, you will be knowing most of the important terms used in a raag and if you are looking for more then I will give you hindi songs which have been composed on the raag that you have just learned. Howz that!!!
  2. amit82cse

    amit82cse Silent observeR

    Welcome back guys!

    Its always good to know some history of our Hindustani music system, its origin and development.

    The origin of Indian music is said to be rooted in the Vedas. According to Hindu mythology, Music originated from the first sound ever to be heard in the universe, the NaadBrahma or OM. In the early Vedic period, the Svaras were called Krushta, Prathama, Dvitiya, Tratiya, Chaturtha, Mandra and Atisyarya. Later, these were called Shadja, Rishabha, Gandhara, Madhyama, Panchama, Dhaivata and Nishada." Or, Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha and Ni as they are sung.

    Brahma is said to be the author of the four Vedas, of which the SamaVeda was chanted in definite musical patterns. Vedic hymns were sung in plain melody, using only 3 notes. The Hindustani 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. A Saptak is a group of 7 notes. 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 raagas.

    What is Raaga?

    The combination of several notes weaved into a composition in a way which is pleasing to the ear is called a raaga. Each raaga creates an atmosphere which is associated with feelings / emotions / sentiments. A raaga is based on the principle of a combination of notes selected out the 22 note intervals of the octave.

    Raaga is neither a scale, nor a mode. It is, however, a scientific, precise and melodic form with its own peculiar ascending and descending movement which consists of either a full octave, or a series of six or five notes. Raaga has its own principal mood such as tranquility, devotion, eroticism, loneliness, pathos, heroism, etc. Each raaga is associated, according to its mood, with a particular time of the day, night or a season.

    Raaga, in the Sanskrit dictionary, is defined as "the act of coloring or dyeing" (the mind in this context) and "any feeling or passion especially love, affection, sympathy, vehement desire, interest, joy, or delight". The root word for the term 'Raaga' is the Sanskrit word 'Ranja' meaning to please, to colour or to tinge.

    A raaga is basically a set of Vedic-rooted rules for how to build a melody. It specifies rules for movements up (arohi) and down (avrohi) the scale, which notes should figure more and which notes should be used more sparingly, phrases to be used, phrases to be avoided, and so on. As raagas were never codified but transmitted orally from teacher to student, some raagas can vary greatly across regions, traditions and styles. Indian classical music is always set in raaga, but all raaga music is not necessarily classical.

    Fox Strangeway defines a raaga as: "An arbitrary series of notes characterised as far as possible as individuals, by proximity to or remoteness from the note which marks the general level of melody, by a special order in which they are usually reinforced by a drone". - Music of Hindustan, Oxford University, 1914.

    What is Thaat?

    The tune of seven ascending and descending notes is called 'Thaat'. A system created by Pandit Bhatkande in the 1920's in order to classify all raagas into one of ten parent scales. Although flawed in certain respects the system acts as a good starting point for learning raagas containing varying notes.

    A Thaat must have seven notes out of the twelve notes [Seven Shuddha, Four komal (Re, Ga, Dha , Ni), one teevra (Ma) ], placed in an ascending order. Both the forms of the notes can be used.

    Thaat has only an Aaroha

    Thaats are not sung but the raags produced from the Thaats are sung.

    Thaats are named after the popular Raaga of that Thaat. For example Bhairavi is a popular Raagaand the thaat of the RaagaBhairavi is named after the raag.

    The music books record ten basic thaats:

     Kalyan
     Bilawal
     Khamaj
     Bhairav
     Bhairvi
     Asawari
     Todi
     Poorvi
     Marwa
     Kafi

    There are problems whenever one is talking about the number of thaats. Generally only ten are acknowledged; twenty are in common usage; while 32 are possible given present concepts of scale construction.

    What are the important Terms in Raaga?

    Vaadi (Sonant) - The most prominent note of the raaga which gets emphasized in the raaga and used very often.

    Samvaadi (Consonant) - The second most important note of the raaga. It used lesser than the vaadi but more than the other notes of the raaga. This is the fourth or fifth note from the Vaadi.

    Anuvaadi - The other notes of the raaga (other than Vaadi and Samvaadi)

    Vivadi - The meaning of vivadi is "one which produces dissonance ". Which is not present in the raaga. But still a vivadi sur is used in a raaga by able singers in such a way that it enhances the beauty of the raaga. This is done very rarely. For example some times in the raaga "Yaman" Shuddh Madhyam is used in between two Gandhar (Ga)

    Arohi - Ascend of the notes. Here each note is higher than the preceding note. Example : Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni

    Avrohi - Descend of the notes. Example : Ni, Dha, Pa, Ma, Ga, Re, Sa

    Aurav - A raaga of five notes

    Khaurav - A raaga of six notes. Also called Khado or Shudav

    Sampooran - A raaga of seven notes

    Pakad - A small group of notes which describe the unique features of the raaga.

    Challan - A series of melodic notes pattern

    Jaati - Gives the number of notes in Arohi as well as the Avrohi of the raaga. Odav has 5 notes. Shadav has 6 notes and Sampoorn has 7 notes. Thus there are 9 jaati based on Odav, Shadav, Sampoorn in Arohi and Avrohi.
    Samay - Each Raaga has a specific time at which it can be performed. This is so as those notes are supposed to be more effective at that particular time.

    What are musical terms of a Raaga in vocal style?

    Asthaee - The first part of the composition. Mainly develops in the lower and the middle octave.

    Antra - Second part of the composition. Develops in the middle or higher note.

    Mukhadaa - The first line of the composition.

    Khyaal - This is the most prominent genre of Hindustani (vocal) music. A khyaal is also composed in a particular raaga and taal and has a text. The text is very brief. The composition again consists of two parts: Asthaee and antra. The khyaal text range from praise of kings or seasons, description of seasons, divine love, sorrow of separation etc. The text contains rhyme, alliteration, and play on words. A khyaal performance is of two types: bara Khayaal and chhota Khayaal each of which has a two-part )Asthaee + antra) composition and extensive improvisation. Baraa and chotaa Khayaal are performed in slow tempo or Madhya laya medium tempo and chotaa Khayaal is always in phrase of the Asthaee (or the antra) is called Mukhraa. This vital phrase serves as the cadence phrase and remains intact during the improvisation. The melody of the baraa Khayaal is relatively unimportant compared to the text, taal and the mukhra. Khyaal recital typically consists of one or two male/female vocalists accompanied by sarangi or harmonium, taanpura and tabla.
  3. amit82cse

    amit82cse Silent observeR

    One thing that is exciting to know is what are the feelings these raagas communicate.

    Feelings communicated by the music of Raagas

     Soohi - joy and separation
     Bilaaval - happiness
     Gaund - strangeness, surprise, beauty
     Sri - satisfaction and balance
     Maajh - loss, beautification
     Gauri - seriousness
     Aasa - making effort
     Gujri - satisfaction, softness of heart, sadness
     Devgandhari - no specific feeling but the Raagahas a softness
     Bihaagra - beautification
     Sorath - motivation
     Dhanasari - inspiration, motivation
     Jaitsree - softness, satisfaction, sadness
     Todi - this being a flexible Raagait is apt for communicating many feelings
     Bhairaagi - sadness, (Gurus have, however, used it for the message of Bhakti)
     Tilang - this is a favourite Raagaof Muslims. It denotes feeling of beautification and yearning.
     Raamkali - calmness
     Nat Narayan - happiness
     Maali Gaura - happiness
     Maaru - giving up of cowardice
     Tukhari - beautification
     Kedara - love and beautification
     Bhairav - seriousness, brings stability of mind
     Basant - happiness
     Sarang - sadness
     Malaar - separation
     Jaijawanti - viraag
     Kalyaan - Bhakti Ras
     Vadhans - vairaag, loss (that is why Alahniya is sung in this Raagawhen someone passes away)
     Parbhati - Bhakti and seriousness
     Kaanra - Bhakti and seriousness
    paranoid13rohan likes this.
  4. sixstringsin

    sixstringsin ||||||

    very nice article. a rep seems to be too less ... yesterday i also learned to master the entire fretboard by one of ur 'marvellously writen' posts ...& im so very thankful to you!

    yes lookin for more ...... :beer:
  5. amit82cse

    amit82cse Silent observeR

    thanks post will contain detailed explaination of Thaat and Raag Bhilawal, Hindi songs based on this raaga and if possible then some recordings as well...

    stay tunn...ned...
  6. amit82cse

    amit82cse Silent observeR

    Raaga Bhilawal or Alhaiya Bhilawal

    Ok guys, as promised, here is you first playable raaga.

    This raaga is based of Thaat Bhilawal (ancient name Velavali). Bilaval had become the basic scale for North Indian music by the early part of the 19th century. Its tonal relationships are comparable to the Western C- major scale.

    Raagas of Bilawal Thaat:

    1. Raaga Bhilawal (Alhaiya Bhilawal)

    2. Raaga Pahadi

    3. Raaga Deshkar

    In Bhilawal Thaat only one note Ma is komal and its shown with small letter (m).

    Raaga Bilawal or Alhaiya Bhilawal

    Arohi: S – GR – GP – DN - S'

    Avrohi: S'N - DP, DnDP, mG – mR - S

    [[Listen to this raaga in attached file]]

    Bhilaval appears in the Ragmala as a ragini of Bhairava, but today it is the head of the Bhilaval thaat. The Ragmala gives Bhilaval as a putra (son) of Bhairav, but no relation between these two raagas is made today. Bhilaval is a morning raaga to be sung with a feeling of deep devotion and repose, often performed during the hot months.

    Literally, Bhilaval means ‘delight’ and therefore this raaga is often sung in the spring season.

    This raaga is sung at the first part of the day i.e., from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. The season of its recitation is spring (basant) i.e., during February and March

    It is a morning Raaga, and uses all the seven notes in the ascending and descending order. All notes are shuddha (full). The derivative raagas out of this structure are grouped under the broad head of Bilawal Thaat.

    Its vaadi (main sur) is Dha and samvaadi (the second important sur) is Ga

    Its pakad is GPDnS',S'NDnDP-mGmRS

    Its jaati is Shadav-Sampoorn. The repeated notes are not count is defining jaati. Its bhaav is Shadj-Madhyam. Important anuvaadi is Pa.

    Songs of Raaga Bilawal

    1. Ik pyaar ka nagma hai
    2. Choo ker mere man ko

    [[Detailed analysis of above songs on why they are on this raaga will be done in next post...stay tunn..ned]]

    Attached Files:

    Piush Pawar likes this.
  7. amit82cse

    amit82cse Silent observeR

    Ok time to do little bit R & D on why "Ik pyaar ka nagma hai " is on raaga Bhilawal.

    First listen to the recording at following url...


    Simple way is that play this song, find the notes used and try to match them with the raaga bhilawal's notes either in aroh or in avroh. If you do this, you will find that this song is really on Raaga Bhilawal. So simple!!!
  8. amit82cse

    amit82cse Silent observeR

    Com'on guys .. no interest in Hindustani Music...??
  9. aysh

    aysh -|h3 ori9in4| (ui!aris-|-

    ok amit when to match the notes of a song with aaroh and when with avroh ..
  10. amit82cse

    amit82cse Silent observeR

    I didn't get you...
  11. amit82cse

    amit82cse Silent observeR

    Raaga Yaman

    Welcome back after the break!

    Raaga Yaman is derived from Thaat Kalyan. Its a sampurna raaga performed in the first part of the night. Vadi is Ga and Samvadi is Ni.

    Aroha : 'Ni Re Ga M Pa Dha Ni Sa'
    Avroha: Sa' Ni Dha Pa M Ga Re Sa

    Notice that I have written "Ma" using capital letter "M" and not with "m" which I had used in Raaga Bhilawal. Reason is that by default "Ma" is komal and is denoted by just "m" but when you have to tell the Sharp of Ma then we use capital "M".

    Here is how these notes layout on fretboard:


    Songs on this raaga:
    Old : Ahsaan tera hoga mujhpar - Janglee
    New : Tera Suroor
  12. amit82cse

    amit82cse Silent observeR

  13. arparwan

    arparwan New Member

    great work

    Amit you are really doing a great job man........
    very few people have the knowledge of both icm and western instruments...
    keep going man.... i am going to learn frm u...... actually u provided the information which i always searched on net
  14. taxyse

    taxyse t3h.

    havent checked out ne of this as yet...but really ...looks like a very coool effort man...dunno why such low replies...keep it up!!!
  15. amit82cse

    amit82cse Silent observeR

    Raaga Pahadi

    Time to learn one more Raaga: Pahadi

    It is drived from thaat Bhilawal. It can be sung at any time. It consists of just 5 notes in aroh..

    Sa Re Ga Pa Dha

    This raaga is used in most of the old hindi songs. My favorite is song from movie Taj Mahal : Jo vada kiya vo nibhana padega
  16. nabzy

    nabzy New Member

    thanks u know raag charukeshi by any chance? have heard a recording of it by Ustd Amjad Ali Khan and find it a beautiful raag...but one that most ppl havent heard about...any idea what its arohi/avrohi are? and its layout on the guitar? thanks....
  17. amit82cse

    amit82cse Silent observeR

    Raaga Charukeshi

    Charukeshi raaga is mainly in Carnatic music (south indian classical music) and has been recently import to Hindustani music (North indian classical music).

    It contains all 7 notes, Dha and Ni are flat:

    Aroha : Sa Re Ga m Pa dha ni Sa'
    Avroha : Sa' ni dha Pa m Ga Re Sa

    Film Songs:

    1. Bedardi balama tujh ko mera man yaad karta hai - Aarzoo
    2. Kisi Raha mein - Mere Humsafar
    Saptashaw and prit_undead like this.
  18. neo301

    neo301 New Member

    hey amit .i went through your work.brilliant job's nice to know that still there are people who haven't forgotten their roots.
    only a true appreciater of music will see the beauty of raagas
  19. prit_undead

    prit_undead New Member

    ruddy brilliant if u ask me
  20. sambitsatpathy

    sambitsatpathy New Member

    so far a great post. amit please continue. it is so nice to know about the indian music. i do not think there are any sites which have this kind of a simple composition. bravo. good work.
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