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Article: Terms: Sargam

By Haresh Bakshi
Sargam (short for Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa Dha, Ni, and Sa' )
       ( known as 'swara-kalpana' in Karnatic music)
       ( Solfeggio: sol-fa syllables: Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti, and Do)
sargam is a way of assigning syllables to names of the notes in a raga or a musical scale. In order, The sargam syllables are: Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa Dha, Ni, and Sa' (for the octave).

It is the application of the Sa-Re-Ga-Ma-Pa-Dha-Ni syllables in a raga, during exercise or improvisation. These syllables are used in place of the "aaaa.." in the alapa. The sargam passages are, of course, "ordered" sets, that is, are marked by an orderly; they are aesthetically and structurally consistent with the raga format.

It is singing, whether improvised or as an exercise, using sol-fa syllables.

sargam is a pedagogical technique. It is structurally and aesthetically important.

It can, obviously, be used only in vocal music.

solmization : In Western music, it means a system of naming the notes of a musical scale by syllables (Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti, and Do), instead of letters (C, D, F, G, A, B, and C). -- for our music, we can coin a term like SARGAMATION.

sargam is a vocal exercise in which the Indian sol-fa syllables are used. It has the dual purpose of vocalization and practice.

The Aesthetics of sargam: Introducing sargam during the alap is aesthetically a meaningful change. It provides variety. It provides the vowels (with consonants) 'e', 'a', and 'ee', in addition to the 'aa' in the alap. It uses syllables without any meaning, so that the listeners' attention is not diverted from music.

Haresh Bakshi 2003/09/12



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