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Article: Terms: Raaga - Creation and Characteristics 1

By Haresh Bakshi
  Regarding the creation of raga-s, a study of several raga-s has resulted in deriving some generalisations. Many of those are formalized statements of the obvious. It should be noted that the aesthetics of the raga gets precedence over the theory of the raga. The following are among the more important guidelines:

1. The "Sa" (called tonic, or the key) can never be absent in a raga. The "Sa" in a raga is the reference note. The remaining notes can be defined only in relation to "Sa". Hence the Sanskrit name of Sa: shadja. It means generator of the six (notes), namely, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha and Ni.

Exception: There can be no exception to the fact of "Sa" being the reference note. However, the "Sa" is de-emphasized during the performance of the raga Marwa.

2. A raga does not have less than five notes. And, it cannot have more than seven notes.

Exceptions: e.g. only four notes comprise the raga Malashri (Sa, Ga, Pa, Ni).

3. A raga can exclude either "Ma", or "Pa"; but no raga excludes both "Ma" and "Pa" simultaneously.

4, A raga has to have at least one note in each of the two anga-s (tetrachords).

The presence of "Sa" being mandatory, this means that each raga must have present at least one of RE, Ga, and Ma; and at least one of Pa, Dha, Ni and Sa. Of course, the rule #2 and #3 are presumed to have already been observed.

The two anga-s are: (i) poorvanga: Sa, Re, Ga, Ma; (ii) uttaranga: Pa, Dha, Ni. The anga-s are often represented as Sa-Re-Ga-Ma-Pa, and Ma-Pa-Dha-Ni-Sa respectively.

5. Two variations of the same note are not performed one immediately after the other.

Examples of two variations of the same note: (1) shuddha Ma, teevra Ma; komal Ga, shuddha Ga, etc.

Exception: e.g. in the raga Lalit, shuddha Ma and teevra Ma are sung one immediately after the other.

6. An indication about a raga can be given in terms of its aroha, avaroha, vadi-samvadi and the thaat to which is assigned.

Notes: (1) Since a raga can be aesthetically represented by its note patterns, mere aroha-avaroha can be uninformative and even misleading. (2) There can exist difference of opinions regarding the vadi-samvadi of a raga. (3) Some raga-s, like Madhukaus, Chandrakaus cannot be satisfactorily classified in terms of the ten thaat-s.

7. The sonant (vadi) and consonant (samvadi) represent several aspects of the theory as well as the aesthetics of a raga. Two important points to note: (1) The samvadi is either the fourth (shadja-madhyama bhaava), or the fifth (shadja-panchama bhaava) from the vadi; (2) If the vadi is located in the poorvanga, its associated samvadi will be located in the uttaranga, and vice versa.

Examples of shadja-madhyama bhaava: Sa-Ma, Re-Pa, Dha-Ga (Dha, Pa, Ma, Ga). Examples of shadja-panchama bhaava: Sa-Pa, Ma-Sa (Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni, Sa), Ga-Ni.

8. According to a general feeling, the poorvanga-pradhana raga-s get represented better in the ascending mode; conversely, the uttarang-pradhana raga-s get represented better in the descending mode.

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