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Article: Terms: Notation - Notation Systems in Indian music

By Haresh Bakshi
  Simple Notation Systems for Indian MUsic

Computer Keyboad-based system (KB system) ABC system (ABC system) Bhatkhande system (Bh. system) Gandharva Mahavidyalaya system (GM system)

We will deal with the first system only, for now.

Any notation system for Indian music should be able to do the following:

1. Indicate the notes of the Indian gamut, namely, Sa, komal Re, shuddha Re, komal Ga, shuddha Ga, shuddha Ma, tivra Ma, Pa, komal Dha, shuddha Dha, komal Ni, and shuddha Ni.

2. Indicate at least the three octaves (saptaka-s), namely, mandra saptaka, madhya saptaka, and taar saptaka.

3. Indicate the duration of each note.

4. Indicate the duration of silence.

5. Indicate the taal of a composition. This includes the details like the the number of beats, the sub-divisions of the taal, the "sum", the khali, the taali etc. It should indicate the tempo in which the composition is to be performed.

This is the limited purpose for which the Indian music is written.

1. THE NOTES: (to represent Sa, komal Re, shuddha Re, komal Ga, shuddha Ga,
              shuddha Ma, tivra Ma, Pa, komal Dha, shuddha Dha, komal Ni,
              and shuddha Ni respectively)

              S, r, R, g, G, m, M, P, d, D, n, N

2. THE OCTAVES: mandra saptaka: a double quote mark to the left of the note.
                e.g. "G, "d, "M.
                madhya saptaka: no sign.
                taar saptaka: a single quote mark to the right of the note.
                e.g. S', g', m'.

3. THE NUMERALS at the top of the composition notation indicate the beat

Under a beat number, if a single note is shown, it will last one full
beat; if two notes, without any gap, are shown, each note will last half a
beat. And so on.


1   2   3   4  |
S   RG  m   DP |

will mean that 'S' on the first beat will have a duration of just
beat; 'R' and 'G' will each last half a beat on the second beat; 'm' will
get full one beat on the third beat, and 'D' and 'P', like 'RG', will each
last half a beat on the fourth beat.

4. SILENCE: This is indicated by the sign of 'dash' (-).

5. DETAILS OF THE TAAL: These detaiis are shown separately, under the list
of the taals. They are not repeated along with the composition. But, the
following details are shown: the beat numerals; the end of a sub-division,
by the upright line ( | ); the end of the sthayi, and the end of the
antara, by the upright double lines ( || ).

The tempo is indicated in the beginning of the composition, by the words
"vilambitas laya" (slow tempo); "madhya laya" (moderate tempo); and "druta
laya" (fast tempo).


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