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By Manjiree Vikas Gokhale
Note: Where it is not mentioned in particular, the concepts are of Hindustani Music.
Before going in the concept of ‘Raaga’ let us first understand the concept of ‘Thaat’ also called as ‘Melaa’.
Thaat or Melaa is quite equivalent to the scales of Western Music, like the major and minor heptatonic scales (scales with 7 notes). These are the parent scales of the ‘Raagas’.
The basic 7 notes are sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha and ni. These are similar to the solfege pattern. Now, sa and pa do not have any variation and are called as pure notes. Whereas, re, ga, dha and ni have their flat variation and ma has a sharp variation. In all there are 12 notes. (Carnatic Music follows a pattern of 16 notes in total). Every Thaat has 7 notes. All the seven notes are included, with only 1 of its variations. There are 32 Thaats according to Hindustani or North Indian style and 72 according to Carnatic or South Indian style. Among the 32 Thaats of Hindustani Music, only 10 are popular.
Thaat does not have melodic or aesthetic value. It is a theoretic scale used for the derivation of ‘Raagas’.
Raga is a special concept of Indian music. This concept is unique to Indian Music, both Hindustani or North Indian and Carnatic or South Indian style.
Raaga is a particular type of scale that has aesthetic value. The notes of the scale have a specific melodic structure. Moreover it can be called as a melodic mode of notes.
There are certain general rules which make a Raaga. Every Raaga further has a set of rules of its own, to be followed while building up its melodic frame.
There are a few ragas, which are exception to the 2nd rule; yet, they are quite popular and well accepted as classical ragas.
Apart from these rules, it has to be understood that a raga is much more than these rules. There may be 2 or more ragas with the same notes and their ascending or descending order; yet, they will sound very much different from one another. This is because; every raga has its own style of pronouncing every note and also the movement of notes.
In classical music performance, all these rules have to be followed strictly. But, in semi classical, light, and devotional and other forms of Indian music, even if the tune of a song is composed in a raga, the rules may not be strictly followed.
Origin Scales of Ragas, i.e., Thaats or Melas
Where ‘sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni, sa’, mean ‘do, re, me, fa, so, la, ti, do’, respectively of the solfege notation or solfa notation.
Ma¹ means sharp ‘fa’.
Re, ga, dha, ni mean flat re, me, la, ti respectively.
Note: this notation writing style is not a standard one. This is used specially because of the limitations of the fonts.
About the Author
Manjiree Vikas Gokhale is a Indian musician, Music Therapist of a sort, poet and Yoga practitioner. She sings professionally with her beautiful melodic voice, has had a number of recordings published and has performed on All India Radio.
Email: manjireegokhale at yahoo.com
¹ A musical scale having all seven notes in succession, with any one form, flat or sharp, of a note. There are 32 thaats in Hindustani (out of which, 10 are followed), and 72 in Carnatic style.
² The most important note which is used and shown the maximum number of times in the raga.
³ The note that is in harmony with the ‘vadi’, and is next in importance, in the raga.
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