Western Notes Vs Carnatic Ragam

Discussion in 'Tamil Guitar Tabs - Submit or Request' started by SATHYA167, Jul 21, 2011.

  1. SATHYA167

    SATHYA167 New Member

    This post is basically to share what I learnt (as a beginner) over the last two years about playing guitar and some basic information about carnatic ragam. I request the veterans in guitar and carnatic music to bear with me for using simple words as against the normal technical words.

    Just like major and minor scales following a particular pattern of notes, a ragam follows a clear cut pattern in carnatic music. The attached file gives the ‘Arohanam’ and ‘Avarohanam’ (the ascending and descending pattern) of 72 melakartha ragams – both carnatic notes and guitar notes are given.

    Melakartha ragams are 72 in number which uses all the seven swaras in both ascending and descending way in a well structured way. Carnatic ragam uses 3 variations of all the swaras except ‘s’, ‘ma’ & ‘pa’ – the lower, normal and higher of ‘ri’, ‘ga’, ‘da’ & ‘ni’. ‘ma’ has two variations lower & higher. A permutation and combination of the 7 swaras with above said variations result into 72 melakartha ragams. These are also called ‘parent’ ragams.

    You might be wondering one of your known ragam is missing in this list.

    The other ragams are called ‘Janya’ ragams which basically came out of these 72 parent ragams. A janya ragam may contain any subset of (minimum of 5 notes) of these 7 swaras with variations. The ascending and descending may have same number of notes or different. The ascending and descending of the notes may not also strictly follow a specific pattern (as seen in parent ragam). The use of notes may also be in a zig zag way. There may be ‘anniya swaram’ either in ascending or descending.

    The ragams are set in the attached file in such a way that the note ‘s’ corresponds to western note ‘C’

    If you carefully see Sankarabharanam ragam (29th melakartha ragam) corresponds to C Major.
    Natabhairavi ragam (20th melakartha ragam) corresponds to C Minor (Natural Minor)
    Kiravani ragam (21st melakartha ragam) corresponds to C Minor (Harmonic Minor)
    Gowrimanohari (23rd melakartha ragam) corresponds to C Minor (Melodic Minor)

    I am unable to identify any other pattern with my little knowledge.

    A carnatic ragam can be started and played in any western note – the starting note should correspond to ‘s’ and the pattern of the ragam is to be maintained subsequently.

    As I see only Sankarabharanam can be played in any major scale. Other ragams can started in any note but will not follow the scale of the starting note.

    I request everyone to comment on above and also write more about your views and share your knowledge in this topic.

    I am not a guitar chord player – but interested in knowing the relationship between a particular chord and a carnatic ragam. Your input will enrich the knowledge of everyone.

    Pick, Play & Enjoy the melody that each ragam creates…….. Sathya

    Attached Files:

  2. GuitarKnight

    GuitarKnight New Member

    Hi Sathya,

    This is really superb..Thanks alot..
    As like you, me to a beginner and interested in relationship with carnatic ragams and western notes. Your post really helps me alot..

    Could you please post Both carnatic and western notes for any on of the song..Hope that will help more.
  3. SATHYA167

    SATHYA167 New Member

    I will post the requirement soon. Just watch my another post for the song "Janani Janani", which I will refine the tabs and post with the western and carnatic notes.
    Super-Admin likes this.
  4. GuitarKnight

    GuitarKnight New Member

    Hi Sathya,

    Thanks alot for your Quick Response...
  5. GuitarKnight

    GuitarKnight New Member

    Hi Sathya,
    I want to learn and get good knowledge on Carnatic Ragams. Could you please suggest me how can i learn and know about Ragams.

    How can i get to know a particular song is based on particular ragam.

    Please help me
  6. SATHYA167

    SATHYA167 New Member

    I am not good in carnatic raga. Whatever, I write is based on the knowledge I gained from net only during the last one year. Neither do I have any background. If you are young, it is better to find a teacher and learn. Listen to more music videos in you tube. You can also get the list of tamil songs with carnatic raga information in google. Listen to all songs from a particular ragam and try to understand the melody behind the tune. In the long run you should get the feel and start identifying a particular raga. It is difficult than easily said. You need to listen to lot of music. Talk with some of your close friends / relatives who have some background on classical music.
  7. GuitarKnight

    GuitarKnight New Member

    It make sense to me...Thanks i'll do that..
    I was searching Ragas and the moods..
    Will get more raga based song and hear them...
  8. venukailash

    venukailash New Member

    Thanks a lot :)
  9. Guitarsen

    Guitarsen New Member


    Some people ears are gifted (like your friend), I am not. I play 90% of the time instantly, my fingers find the frets automatically, I guess that because of over the years of experience. But I was having a hard time identifying the notes for some raga based songs, then I had to refer the raaga scales. Of course, all the songs are belongs to some ragas automatically, like major scale is Sankarabaranam. We don't need to know all raaga scales, but its good to have it as reference. BTW, I am not fan of Carnatic music.
  10. deimos

    deimos New Member

    if u can help me out in this :D i would like to know how to relate the raags to the mood of the song
  11. WatchingYou

    WatchingYou New Member

    I would say that while western music provides variety in the breadth of the different chorsds, styles, genres and instruments it uses, carnatic provides variety theoretically. Raagas in carnatic music, according to me, can NOT be correlated to scales in western music. For example, a natural minor scale in western music corresponds to the raagam Natabhairavi, but carnatic-trained vocalists or instrumentalists will never accept it as Natabhairavi - mainly because, in carnatic music, each raagam is not only associated with the notes (i.e whether it is a R1 or R2, G1 or G2, etc) but also with many, many different factors. Which anuswaras are added to a raaga? Which phrases can be used in the raaga, and which phrases cannot? It is not just playing or singing the notes present in the scale, which is what western music does. As I said, western music does not display variety in notes, but in other areas. Playing the scale of Thodi in a discrete sense (i.e playing each note distinctly) completely spoils the raaga, as the whole effect lies in HOW the notes are played, not WHAT notes are played.

    So yes, on a very basic level, you can say that scales and raagas are similar. Raagas are like a huge superset of scales; they contain almost every possible combination of different notes.

    Therefore about chords, one important thing is that the notes in each chord MUST be present in the raaga. This is not a problem when it is a melakarta, but when it is not, playing a root major chord for a song in Madhyamavathi totally negates the feel of the particular raaga. Raaga-based composers like Ilaiyaraja use suspended chords and the like when majors and minors cannot be applied, while ARR and others do not worry about being pure to the raaga. But in my opinion, pure carnatic music cannot be accompanied by chords if you want to get the full feel of the raaga. Chords are a western idea of giving a particular feel for a phrase (like happiness, or sadness, or terror) without affecting the notes of the melody. Since a raaga is capable of doing that by itself, chords can sometimes create the wrong feel and stamp on the very essence of the raaga. Unless you want a fusion, which will be wonderful, I personally don't like associating chords to pure carnatic music. :/
  12. SATHYA167

    SATHYA167 New Member

    Thanks to all for the feedback and comments. To understand things in a simple way, we can relate ragas, scale and chord and for this we may be taking the help of a chromatic scale or relative chord or mode to narrow down the differences and get things closer.

    In guitar there are only 12 notes in an octave but there are several microtones within a raga cycle. Let us not go deep into the carnatic raga research. Let us concentrate how to get to use the 7 notes (5 or 6 sometimes) into western notes. As WY writes, just by playing the 7 notes, we do not get the raga flavour unless we understand the nuances of a raga in using a particular set of notes or the way in which the notes are used and use the same in tabbing.

    Guitar is a western instrument and getting the carnatic flavour is not quite easy particularly if the raga is gamakam prone, like Thodi.

    Sankarabharanam is one raga that can be played using any major scale notes. We can play the songs set in this raga easily starting the root note in the base chord of the song.

    Similarly, natabhairavi is one raga that can be played using any natural minor scale notes. In fact, about 80% of the film songs are set in this raga.

    We will discuss separately in some other thread each raga and its janya ragas, the chord usage together with the popular songs.

    I am not so great in carnatic music and anything I write is here based on my own learning and little understanding and I request the music veterans to correct and/or supplement further for the benefit of IGT members including me................. Sathya
  13. Thanks Satya Sir...
    Logging on after a long long time cause life is very busy right now....
    Am not into carnatic music but your work is awesome....
    Thanks again,
  14. SATHYA167

    SATHYA167 New Member

    Before going into separate raga based thread, one should clearly understand the notes in each tabs across the fret board - Either the western notes or the carnatic notes. I would like one to learn both - Western notes are useful to play pentatonic notes progression, which might help in doing BGM tabs.

    As I said earlier the song may be in any chord and you should know where to start 's' if the root note is say ' G '

    For example, if you want to play 'Happy Birthday To You' the western notes are like CC DC F E.

    The equivalent carnatic notes will be ss r2s m1 g3. Normally this song is played in G, D & C chords. If 'G' is taken as the root note, then one should be playing GG AG C B which will correspond to the same carnatic notes given here.

    Sorry, if I am too basic.

    The attached file will give you how the carnatic notes can be taken in each root note across the fret board.

    Please note that the notes G1, G2, N1 and N2 in the attached file could be G2, G3, N2 and N3 as different notation practices are there.

    The attached file will help you in understanding the background picture before tabbing a song.

    You may get the notes for a song in net or come across some notes from books or friends or you may develop the art of creating the notes and you should be able to play the guitar correctly if you remember the notes across fretboard clearly.

    This will come only by practice and not overnight. See you soon in separate thread.................... Sathya

    Attached Files:

  15. SATHYA167

    SATHYA167 New Member

    To get used to the raga based songs and try individually, I share two files showing the raga, film and the name of the song.............

    Hope these would be quite useful to you.................. Sathya

    Attached Files:

  16. WatchingYou

    WatchingYou New Member

    @Sathya - Are you sure the list is accurate?
  17. SATHYA167

    SATHYA167 New Member

    The list may not be accurate, but it definitely gives a starting point. Further, the song may not continue in the same raga till the end. Between Pallavi and Charanam, the raga may change. So also inclusion of foreign notes. Even the notes available in web need not be accurate. It still needs some correction................ Sathya
  18. WatchingYou

    WatchingYou New Member

    ^Ya, that's exactly what I meant. :) Many songs have relative major-minor changes from the charanam (especially Raja songs) from where some notes are added/changed. Anyway the list is pretty good, thanks! :)
  19. Soulforguitar

    Soulforguitar New Member

    Hi Sathya

    Please refer the fret borad patter i draw up in excel which is very useful. I am doing some research on this . Definetly we need to create a link between Carnatic and Western and that is my interest for last one year. My mobile no 9791127045 and please keep in touch . I have some useful findings in the carnatic that can help everyone of us here.

    This is the simple structure of any Octave that starts from one pitch and ends with another pitch.

    For example C Major ( Sankarabaranam) is highlighted below for your reference. Like wise you can build your own permutation and combination to identify which Raga a scale falls in to.

    I am sorry , the PDF named carnatic notes in the fret board attached by you is too much round about and it is also difficult to understand. You can refer the below rule to arrange any Raga. Please call on for any clarification.



    Attached Files:

  20. Soulforguitar

    Soulforguitar New Member

    Hi As far as i know there two moods . One is created by Major and Another one is created by Minor. Major Song usually used for Positive mood and Minor song generally used for Less positive mood. But neverthless Raja has proven in Many songs to ring positive mood in Minor chords. I think ( But not sure) Senthazhampoovil vanthadum thendral is minor scale and it conduce with Positive mood.


Share This Page