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A raag performance at College des Bernardins, France Raga du soir au College des Bernardins cropped.jpg
A raag performance at Collège des Bernardins, France

A raga or raag (IAST: rāga; also raaga or raagm ; literally "coloring, tingeing, dyeing" [1] [2] ) is a melodic framework for improvisation akin to a melodic mode in Indian classical music. [3] While the raag is a remarkable and central feature of the classical music tradition, it has no direct translation to concepts in the classical European music tradition. [4] [5] Each raag is an array of melodic structures with musical motifs, considered in the Indian tradition to have the ability to "colour the mind" and affect the emotions of the audience. [1] [2] [5]

Indian classical music ancient music and music theories from the Indian subcontinent

Indian classical music is the classical music of the Indian subcontinent. It has two major traditions: the North Indian classical music tradition is called Hindustani, while the South Indian expression is called Carnatic. These traditions were not distinct till about the 16th century. There on, during the turmoils of Islamic rule period of the Indian subcontinent, the traditions separated and evolved into distinct forms. Hindustani music emphasizes improvisation and exploring all aspects of a raga, while Carnatic performances tend to be short and composition-based. However, the two systems continue to have more common features than differences.


A raag consists of at least five notes, and each raag provides the musician with a musical framework within which to improvise. [3] [6] [7] The specific notes within a raag can be reordered and improvised by the musician. Raags range from small raags like Bahar and Shahana that are not much more than songs to big raags like Malkauns, Darbari and Yaman, which have great scope for improvisation and for which performances can last over an hour. Raags may change over time, with an example being Marwa, the primary development of which has gone down to the lower octave compared to the traditionally middle octave. [8] Each raag traditionally has an emotional significance and symbolic associations such as with season, time and mood. [3] The raag is considered a means in Indian musical tradition to evoke certain feelings in an audience. Hundreds of raag are recognized in the classical tradition, of which about 30 are common. [3] [7] Each raag, state Dorothea E. Hast and others,[ clarification needed ] has its "own unique melodic personality". [9]

Bahar is a Hindustani classical raga.

Malkauns Hindustani raga

Malkauns is a raga in Indian classical music. It is one of the oldest ragas of Indian classical music. The equivalent raga in Carnatic music is called Hindolam, not to be confused with the Hindustani Hindol.

Yaman is a heptatonic (Sampurna) Indian classical raga of Kalyan Thaat.

There are two main classical music traditions, Hindustani (North Indian) and Carnatic (South Indian), and the concept of raag is shared by both. [6] Raag are also found in Sikh traditions such as in Guru Granth Sahib , the primary scripture of Sikhism. [10] Similarly it is a part of the qawwali tradition found in Sufi Islamic communities of South Asia. [11] Some popular Indian film songs and ghazals use rāgas in their compositions. [12]

Hindustani classical music form of Indian classical music originating in modern-day northern India and Pakistan

Hindustani classical music is the traditional music of northern regions of the Indian subcontinent. It may also be called North Indian classical music or Śāstriya Saṅgīt. Its origins date from the 12th century CE, when it diverged from Carnatic music, the classical tradition of southern regions of the Indian subcontinent.

Guru Granth Sahib Primary scripture of Sikhism

Sri Guru Granth Sahib was compiled by the tenth religious Guru of Sikhism, regarded by Sikhs as the final, sovereign, and eternal living guru following the lineage of the ten human Sikh gurus of the Sikh religion. Adi Granth, the first rendition, was compiled by the fifth Sikh guru, Guru Arjan. The tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh, added one shloka, dohra mahala 9 ang, 1429 and all 115 hymns of his father, Guru Tegh Bahadur. This second rendition came to be known as Sri Guru Granth Sahib. After Guru Gobind Singh's death in 1708, Baba Deep Singh and Bhai Mani Singh prepared many copies of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib for distribution.

Sikhism, or SikhiSikkhī, pronounced [ˈsɪkːʰiː], from Sikh, meaning a "disciple", "seeker," or "learner") is a religion that originated in the Punjab region in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent around the end of the 15th century, and has variously been defined as monotheistic, monistic and panentheistic. It is one of the youngest of the major world religions, and the world's fifth largest organized religion, as well as being the world's ninth-largest overall religion. The fundamental beliefs of Sikhism, articulated in the sacred scripture Guru Granth Sahib, include faith and meditation on the name of the one creator, divine unity and equality of all humankind, engaging in selfless service, striving for justice for the benefit and prosperity of all, and honest conduct and livelihood while living a householder's life. In the early 21st century there were nearly 25 million Sikhs worldwide, the great majority of them living in Punjab, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica.


The Sanskrit word raag (Sanskrit: राग) has Indo-European roots, as *reg- which connotes "to dye". It is found in Greek, Persian, Khwarezmian and other languages, in variants such as "raxt", "rang", "rakt" and others. The words "red" and "rado" are also related. [13]


Rāga (Sanskrit: राग), states Monier Monier-Williams, comes from a Sanskrit word for "the act of colouring or dyeing", or simply a "colour, hue, tint, dye". [14] The term also connotes an emotional state referring to a "feeling, affection, desire, interest, joy or delight", particularly related to passion, love, or sympathy for a subject or something. [15] In the context of ancient Indian music, the term refers to a harmonious note, melody, formula, building block of music available to a musician to construct a state of experience in the audience. [14]

Monier Monier-Williams Linguist and dictionary compiler

Sir Monier Monier-Williams, KCIE was the second Boden Professor of Sanskrit at Oxford University, England. He studied, documented and taught Asian languages, especially Sanskrit, Persian and Hindustani.

The word appears in the ancient Principal Upanishads of Hinduism, as well as the Bhagavad Gita . [16] For example, verse 3.5 of the Maitri Upanishad and verse 2.2.9 of the Mundaka Upanishad contain the word raag. The Mundaka Upanishad uses it in its discussion of soul (Atman-Brahman) and matter (Prakriti), with the sense that the soul does not "color, dye, stain, tint" the matter. [17] The Maitri Upanishad uses the term in the sense of "passion, inner quality, psychological state". [16] [18] The term raag is also found in ancient texts of Buddhism where it connotes "passion, sensuality, lust, desire" for pleasurable experiences as one of three impurities of a character. [19] [20] Alternatively, raag is used in Buddhist texts in the sense of "color, dye, hue". [19] [20] [21]

Hinduism Religion and way of life

Hinduism is an Indian religion and dharma, or way of life, widely practised in the Indian subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia. Hinduism has been called the oldest religion in the world, and some practitioners and scholars refer to it as Sanātana Dharma, "the eternal tradition", or the "eternal way", beyond human history. Scholars regard Hinduism as a fusion or synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions, with diverse roots and no founder. This "Hindu synthesis" started to develop between 500 BCE and 300 CE, after the end of the Vedic period, and flourished in the medieval period, with the decline of Buddhism in India.

<i>Bhagavad Gita</i> A scripture of the Hindus in Sanskrit

The Bhagavad Gita, often referred to as the Gita, is a 700-verse Sanskrit scripture that is part of the Hindu epic Mahabharata.

<i>Mundaka Upanishad</i> One of the ancient Sanskrit scriptures of Hinduism

The Mundaka Upanishad is an ancient Sanskrit Vedic text, embedded inside Atharva Veda. It is a Mukhya (primary) Upanishad, and is listed as number 5 in the Muktika canon of 108 Upanishads of Hinduism. It is among the most widely translated Upanishads.

Indiskt That-1.jpg
Raga groups are called Thaat. Indiskt That-2.jpg
Raga groups are called Thaat.
Raga groups are called Thaat. [23]

The term raag in the modern connotation of a melodic format occurs in the Brihaddeshi by Matanga dated ca. 8th century, [24] or possibly 9th century. [25] The Brihaddeshi describes raag as "a combination of tones which, with beautiful illuminating graces, pleases the people in general". [26]

According to Emmie Te Nijenhuis, a professor in Indian musicology, the Dattilam section of Brihaddeshi has survived into the modern times, but the details of ancient music scholars mentioned in the extant text suggest a more established tradition by the time this text was composed. [24] The same essential idea and prototypical framework is found in ancient Hindu texts, such as the Naradiyasiksa and the classic Sanskrit work Natya Shastra by Bharata Muni, whose chronology has been estimated to sometime between 500 BCE and 500 CE, [27] probably between 200 BCE and 200 CE. [28]

Bharata describes a series of empirical experiments he did with the Veena , then compared what he heard, noting the relationship of fifth intervals as a function of intentionally induced change to the instrument's tuning. Bharata states that certain combination of notes are pleasant, certain not so. His methods of experimenting with the instrument triggered further work by ancient Indian scholars, leading to the development of successive permutations, as well as theories of musical note inter-relationships, interlocking scales and how this makes the listener feel. [25] Bharata discusses Bhairava, Kaushika, Hindola, Dipaka, SrI-raag, and Megha. Bharata states that these have the ability to trigger a certain affection and the ability to "color the emotional state" in the audience. [14] [25] His encyclopedic Natyashastra links his studies on music to the performance arts, and it has been influential in Indian performance arts tradition. [29] [30]

The other ancient text, Naradiyasiksa dated to be from the 1st century BCE, discusses secular and religious music, compares the respective musical notes. [31] This is earliest known text that reverentially names each musical note to be a deity, describing it in terms of varna (colors) and other motifs such as parts of fingers, an approach that is conceptually similar to the 12th century Guidonian hand in European music. [31] The study that mathematically arranges rhythms and modes (raag) has been called prastara.( Khan 1996 , p. 89, Quote: "(...) the Sanskrit word prastara, which means mathematical arrangement of rhythms and modes. In the Indian system of music there are about the 500 modes and 300 different rhythms which are used in everyday music. The modes are called Ragas.") [32]

In the ancient texts of Hinduism, the term for the technical mode part of raag was Jati. Later, Jati evolved to mean quantitative class of scales, while raag evolved to become a more sophisticated concept that included the experience of the audience. [33] A figurative sense of the word as 'passion, love, desire, delight' is also found in the Mahabharata . The specialized sense of 'loveliness, beauty,' especially of voice or song, emerges in classical Sanskrit, used by Kalidasa and in the Panchatantra . [34]

History and significance

Classical music has ancient roots, and it primarily developed due to the reverence for arts, for both spiritual (moksha) and entertainment (kama) purposes in Hinduism. The Buddha discouraged music aimed at entertainment, but encouraged chanting of sacred hymns. [35] The various canonical Tipitaka texts of Buddhism, for example, state Dasha-shila or ten precepts for those following the Buddhist spiritual path. Among these is the precept recommending "abstain from dancing, singing, music and worldly spectacles". [36] [37] Buddhism does not forbid music or dance to a Buddhist layperson, but its emphasis has been on chants, not on musical raag. [35]

Raag, along with performance arts such as dance and music, has been historically integral to Hinduism, with some Hindus believing that music is itself a spiritual pursuit and a means to moksha (liberation). [38] [39] [40] Raags, in the Hindu tradition, are believed to have a natural existence. [41] Artists don't invent them, they only discover them. Music appeals to human beings, according to Hinduism, because they are hidden harmonies of the ultimate creation. [41] Some of its ancient texts such as the Sama Veda (~1000 BCE) are structured entirely to melodic themes, [38] [42] it is sections of Rigveda set to music. [43] The raags were envisioned by the Hindus as manifestation of the divine, a musical note treated as god or goddess with complex personality. [31]

During the Bhakti movement of Hinduism, dated to about the middle of 1st millennium CE, raag became an integral part of a musical pursuit of spirituality. Bhajan and Kirtan were composed and performed by the early South India pioneers. A Bhajan has a free form devotional composition based on melodic raags. [44] [45] A Kirtan is a more structured team performance, typically with a call and response musical structure, similar to an intimate conversation. It includes two or more musical instruments, [46] [47] and incorporates various raags such as those associated with Hindu gods Shiva (Bhairava) or Krishna (Hindola). [48]

The early 13th century Sanskrit text Sangitaratnakara , by Sarngadeva patronized by King Sighana of the Yadava dynasty in Maharashtra, mentions and discusses 253 raags. This is one of the most complete historic treatises on the structure, technique and reasoning behind raags that has survived. [49] [50] [51]

The tradition of incorporating raag into spiritual music is also found in Jainism, [52] and in Sikhism, an Indian religion founded by Guru Nanak in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent. [53] In the Sikh scripture, the texts are attached to a raag and are sung according to the rules of that raag. [54] [55] According to Pashaura Singh – a professor of Sikh and Punjabi studies, the raag and tala of ancient Indian traditions were carefully selected and integrated by the Sikh Gurus into their hymns. They also picked from the "standard instruments used in Hindu musical traditions" for singing kirtans in Sikhism. [55]

During the Islamic rule period of the Indian subcontinent, particularly in and after the 15th century, the mystical Islamic tradition of Sufism developed devotional songs and music called qawwali . It incorporated elements of raag and tala. [56] [57]


A raag is sometimes explained as a melodic rule set that a musician works with, but according to Dorottya Fabian and others, this is now generally accepted among music scholars to be an explanation that is too simplistic. According to them, a raag of the ancient Indian tradition is best described as "a non-constructible set in music", just like non-constructible set in language for human communication, in a manner described by Frederik Kortlandt and George van Driem. [58]

Two Indian musicians performing a raag duet called Jugalbandi. Sitar Sarod Jugalbandi - lakshay & Aayush Mohan Gupta.jpg
Two Indian musicians performing a raag duet called Jugalbandi .

The attempt to appreciate, understand and explain raag among European scholars started in the early colonial period. [59] In 1784, Jones translated it as "mode" of European music tradition, but Willard corrected him in 1834 with the statement that a raag is both mode and tune. In 1933, states José Luiz Martinez – a professor of Music, Stern refined this explanation to "the raag is more fixed than mode, less fixed than the melody, beyond the mode and short of melody, and richer both than a given mode or a given melody; it is mode with added multiple specialities". [59]

A raag is a central concept of Indian music, predominant in its expression, yet the concept has no direct Western translation. According to Walter Kaufmann, though a remarkable and prominent feature of Indian music, a definition of raag cannot be offered in one or two sentences. [4] raag is a fusion of technical and ideational ideas found in music, and may be roughly described as a musical entity that includes note intonation, relative duration and order, in a manner similar to how words flexibly form phrases to create an atmosphere of expression. [60] In some cases, certain rules are considered obligatory, in others optional. The raag allows flexibility, where the artist may rely on simple expression, or may add ornamentations yet express the same essential message but evoke a different intensity of mood. [60]

A raag has a given set of notes, on a scale, ordered in melodies with musical motifs. [7] A musician playing a raag, states Bruno Nettl, may traditionally use just these notes, but is free to emphasize or improvise certain degrees of the scale. [7] The Indian tradition suggests a certain sequencing of how the musician moves from note to note for each raag, in order for the performance to create a rasa (mood, atmosphere, essence, inner feeling) that is unique to each raag. A raag can be written on a scale. Theoretically, thousands of raag are possible given 5 or more notes, but in practical use, the classical tradition has refined and typically relies on several hundred. [7] For most artists, their basic perfected repertoire has some forty to fifty raags. [61] Raag in Indian classic music is intimately related to tala or guidance about "division of time", with each unit called a matra (beat, and duration between beats). [62]

A raag is not a tune, because the same raag can yield an infinite number of tunes. [63] A raag is not a scale, because many raags can be based on the same scale. [63] [59] A raag, according to Bruno Nettl and other music scholars, is a concept similar to a mode, something between the domains of tune and scale, and it is best conceptualized as a "unique array of melodic features, mapped to and organized for a unique aesthetic sentiment in the listener". [63] The goal of a raag and its artist is to create rasa (essence, feeling, atmosphere) with music, as classical Indian dance does with performance arts. In the Indian tradition, classical dances are performed with music set to various raags. [64]

Joep Bor of the Rotterdam Conservatory of Music defined raag as a "tonal framework for composition and improvisation." [65] Nazir Jairazbhoy, chairman of UCLA's department of ethnomusicology, characterized raags as separated by scale, line of ascent and descent, transilience, emphasized notes and register, and intonation and ornaments. [66]

Rāag-Rāgini system

Bhairavi Ragini of Bhairava (6125107068).jpg
Vasant Ragini, Ragamala, Rajput, 1770.jpg
In the Hindu traditions, raga musical notes have personalities, and they are reverentially linked to gods and goddesses. [67] Left is Bhairava-Bharavi pair (Shiva), right is Vasanta raga-ragini (Krishna).

Rāginī (Devanagari: रागिनी) is a term for the "feminine" counterpart of a "masculine" rāga. [67] These are envisioned to parallel the god-goddess themes in Hinduism, and described variously by different medieval Indian music scholars. For example, the Sangita-darpana text of 15th-century Damodara Misra proposes six raag with thirty ragini, creating a system of thirty six, a system that became popular in Rajasthan. [68] In the north Himalayan regions such as Himachal Pradesh, the music scholars such as 16th century Mesakarna expanded this system to include eight descendants to each raag, thereby creating a system of eighty four. After the 16th-century, the system expanded still further. [68]

In Sangita-darpana, the Bhairava raag is associated with the following raginis: Bhairavi, Punyaki, Bilawali, Aslekhi, Bangli. In the Meskarna system, the masculine and feminine musical notes are combined to produce putra raags called Harakh, Pancham, Disakh, Bangal, Madhu, Madhava, Lalit, Bilawal. [69]

This system is no longer in use today because the 'related' raags had very little or no similarity and the raag-ragini classification did not agree with various other schemes.

Raags and their symbolism

The North Indian raag system is also called Hindustani, while the South Indian system is commonly referred to as Carnatic. The North Indian system suggests a particular time of a day or a season, in the belief that the human state of psyche and mind are affected by the seasons and by daily biological cycles and nature's rhythms. The South Indian system is closer to the text, and places less emphasis on time or season. [70] [71]

The symbolic role of classical music through raag has been both aesthetic indulgence and the spiritual purifying of one's mind (yoga). The former is encouraged in Kama literature (such as Kamasutra), while the latter appears in Yoga literature with concepts such as "Nada-Brahman" (metaphysical Brahman of sound). [72] [73] [74] Hindola raag , for example, is considered a manifestation of Kama (god of love), typically through Krishna. Hindola is also linked to the festival of dola, [72] which is more commonly known as "spring festival of colors" or Holi. This idea of aesthetic symbolism has also been expressed in Hindu temple reliefs and carvings, as well as painting collections such as the raagmala. [73]

In ancient and medieval Indian literature, the raag are described as manifestation and symbolism for gods and goddesses. Music is discussed as equivalent to the ritual yajna sacrifice, with pentatonic and hexatonic notes such as "ni-dha-pa-ma-ga-ri" as Agnistoma, "ri-ni-dha-pa-ma-ga as Asvamedha, and so on. [72]

In the Middle Ages, music scholars of India began associating each raag with seasons. The 11th century Nanyadeva, for example, recommends that Hindola raag is best in spring, Pancama in summer, Sadjagrama and Takka during the monsoons, Bhinnasadja is best in early winter, and Kaisika in late winter. [75] In the 13th century, Sarngadeva went further and associated raag with rhythms of each day and night. He associated pure and simple raags to early morning, mixed and more complex raags to late morning, skillful raags to noon, love-themed and passionate raags to evening, and universal raags to night. [76]

Raag and mathematics

According to Cris Forster, mathematical studies on systematizing and analyzing South Indian raag began in the 16th century. [77] Computational studies of raags is an active area of musicology. [78] [79]


Although notes are an important part of rāga practice, they alone do not make the rāga. A rāga is more than a scale, and many rāgas share the same scale. The underlying scale may have four, five, six or seven tones, called swaras (sometimes spelled as svara). The svara concept is found in the ancient Natya Shastra in Chapter 28. It calls the unit of tonal measurement or audible unit as Śruti, [80] with verse 28.21 introducing the musical scale as follows, [81]

तत्र स्वराः –
षड्‍जश्‍च ऋषभश्‍चैव गान्धारो मध्यमस्तथा ।
पञ्‍चमो धैवतश्‍चैव सप्तमोऽथ निषादवान् ॥ २१॥

Natya Shastra, 28.21 [82] [83]

These seven degrees are shared by both major raag system, that is the North Indian (Hindustani) and South Indian (Carnatic). [84] The solfege (sargam) is learnt in abbreviated form: sa, ri (Carnatic) or re (Hindustani), ga, ma, pa, dha, ni, sa. Of these, the first that is "sa", and the fifth that is "pa", are considered anchors that are unalterable, while the remaining have flavors that differs between the two major systems. [84]

Svara in North Indian system of Raag [85] [86]
12 Varieties (names)C (sadja)D (komal re),
D (suddha re)
E (komal ga),
E (suddha ga)
F (suddha ma),
F (tivra ma)
G (pancama)A (komal dha),
A (suddha dha)
B (komal ni),
B (suddha ni)
Svara in South Indian system of raag [86]
16 Varieties (names)C (sadja)D (suddha ri),
D (satsruti ri),
D (catussruti ri)
E (sadarana ga),
E Doubleflat.svg (suddha ga),
E (antara ga)
F (prati ma),
F (suddha ma)
G (pancama)A (suddha dha),
A (satsruti dha),
A (catussruti dha)
B (kaisiki ni),
B Doubleflat.svg (suddha ni),
B (kakali ni)

The music theory in the Natyashastra, states Maurice Winternitz, centers around three themes – sound, rhythm and prosody applied to musical texts. [87] The text asserts that the octave has 22 srutis or microintervals of musical tones or 1200 cents. [80] Ancient Greek system is also very close to it, states Emmie Te Nijenhuis, with the difference that each sruti computes to 54.5 cents, while the Greek enharmonic quartertone system computes to 55 cents. [80] The text discusses gramas (scales) and murchanas (modes), mentioning three scales of seven modes (21 total), some Greek modes are also like them . [88] However, the Gandhara-grama is just mentioned in Natyashastra, while its discussion largely focuses on two scales, fourteen modes and eight four tanas (notes). [89] [90] [91] The text also discusses which scales are best for different forms of performance arts. [88]

These musical elements are organized into scales (mela), and the South Indian system of raag works with 72 scales, as first discussed by Caturdandi prakashika. [86] They are divided into two groups, purvanga and uttaranga, depending on the nature of the lower tetrachord. The anga itself has six cycles (cakra), where the purvanga or lower tetrachord is anchored, while there are six permutations of uttaranga suggested to the artist. [86] After this system was developed, the Indian classical music scholars have developed additional raags for all the scales. The North Indian style is closer to the Western diatonic modes, and built upon the foundation developed by Bhatkhande using ten Thaat: kalyan, bilaval, khamaj, kafi, asavari, bhairavi, bhairav, purvi, marva and todi. [92] Some raags are common to both systems and have same names, such as kalyan performed by either is recognizably the same. [93] Some raags are common to both systems but have different names, such as malkos of Hindustani system is recognizably the same as hindolam of Carnatic system. However, some raags are named the same in the two systems, but they are different, such as todi. [93]

Rāgas that have four swaras are called surtara (सुरतर) rāgas; those with five swaras are called audava (औडव) rāgas; those with six, shaadava (षाडव); and with seven, sampurna (संपूर्ण, Sanskrit for 'complete'). The number of swaras may differ in the ascending and descending like rāga Bhimpalasi which has five notes in the ascending and seven notes in descending or Khamaj with six notes in the ascending and seven in the descending. Rāgas differ in their ascending or descending movements. Those that do not follow the strict ascending or descending order of swaras are called vakra (वक्र) ('crooked') rāgas.[ citation needed ]

Carnatic rāga

In Carnatic music, the principal rāgas are called Melakarthas , which literally means "lord of the scale". It is also called Asraya raag meaning "shelter giving raag", or Janaka raag meaning "father raag". [94]

A Thaata in the South Indian tradition are groups of derivative rāgas, which are called Janya rāgas meaning "begotten raags" or Asrita raags meaning "sheltered raags". [94] However, these terms are approximate and interim phrases during learning, as the relationships between the two layers are neither fixed nor has unique parent-child relationship. [94]

Janaka rāgas are grouped together using a scheme called Katapayadi sutra and are organised as Melakarta rāgas. A Melakarta rāga is one which has all seven notes in both the ārōhanam (ascending scale) and avarōhanam (descending scale). Some Melakarta rāgas are Harikambhoji , Kalyani , Kharaharapriya , Mayamalavagowla , Sankarabharanam and Todi . [95] [96] Janya rāgas are derived from the Janaka rāgas using a combination of the swarams (usually a subset of swarams) from the parent rāga. Some janya rāgas are Abheri , Abhogi , Bhairavi , Hindolam , Mohanam and Kambhoji . [95] [96]


Classical music has been transmitted through music schools or through Guru-Shishya parampara (teacher-student tradition) through an oral tradition and practice. Some are known as gharana (houses), and their performances are staged through sabhas (music organizations). [97] [98] Each gharana has freely improvised over time, and differences in the rendering of each rāga is discernible. In the Indian musical schooling tradition, the small group of students lived near or with the teacher, the teacher treated them as family members providing food and boarding, and a student learnt various aspects of music thereby continuing the musical knowledge of his guru. [99] The tradition survives in parts of India, and many musicians can trace their guru lineage. [100]

Persian Rāk

The music concept of Rāk in Persian is probably a pronunciation of raag. According to Hormoz Farhat, it is unclear how this term came to Persia, it has no meaning in modern Persian language, and the concept of raag is unknown in Persia. [101]

See also

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Odissi, also referred to as Orissi in older literature, is a major ancient Indian classical dance that originated in the Hindu temples of Odisha – an eastern coastal state of India. Odissi, in its history, was performed predominantly by women, and expressed religious stories and spiritual ideas, particularly of Vaishnavism. Odissi performances have also expressed ideas of other traditions such as those related to Hindu gods Shiva and Surya, as well as Hindu goddesses (Shaktism).

Bansuri transverse flute of Indian subcontinent

A bansuri is a side blown flute originating from the Indian subcontinent. It is an aerophone produced from bamboo.It is one of the most common instruments in the North Indian or Hindustani classical music. A similar flute is called venu in the South Indian or Carnatic classical tradition. It is referred to as nadi and tunava in the Rigveda and other Vedic texts of Hinduism. Its importance and operation is discussed in the Sanskrit text Natya Shastra.

Tala (music) meter, time cycle measure in Indian music

A Tala, sometimes spelled Taal or Tal, literally means a "clap, tapping one's hand on one's arm, a musical measure". It is the term used in Indian classical music to refer to musical meter, that is any rhythmic beat or strike that measures musical time. The measure is typically established by hand clapping, waving, touching fingers on thigh or the other hand, verbally, striking of small cymbals, or a percussion instrument in the Indian subcontinental traditions. Along with raga which forms the fabric of a melodic structure, the tala forms the life cycle and thereby constitutes one of the two foundational elements of Indian music.

Shruti or śruti, is a Sanskrit word, found in the Vedic texts of Hinduism where it means lyrics and "what is heard" in general. It is also an important concept in Indian music, where it means the smallest interval of pitch that the human ear can detect and a singer or musical instrument can produce. The musical shruti concept is found in ancient and medieval Sanskrit texts such as the Natya Shastra, the Dattilam, the Brihaddeshi, and the Sangita Ratnakara. Chandogya Upanishad speaks of the division of the octave in 22 parts.

Natya Shastra an ancient Sanskrit text on dance, music and dramatic arts

The Nāṭya Śāstra is a Sanskrit text on the performing arts. The text is attributed to sage Bharata Muni, and its first complete compilation is dated to between 200 BCE and 200 CE, but estimates vary between 500 BCE and 500 CE.

The venu is one of the ancient transverse flutes of Indian classical music. It is an aerophone typically made from bamboo, that is a side blown wind instrument. It continues to be in use in the South Indian Carnatic music tradition. In Northern Indian music, a similar flute is called bansuri. In the South, it is also called by various other names such as pullankuzhal (புல்லாங்குழல்) in Tamil, പുല്ലാങ്കുഴല് in Malayalam, and ಕೊಳಲು (koḷalu) in Kannada. It is known as pillana grōvi or Vēṇuvu (వేణువు) in Telugu.

<i>Sangita Ratnakara</i> 13th century Sanskrit text on music and dance by Sharngadeva

The Sangita-Ratnakara, सङ्गीतरत्नाकर,, literally "Ocean of Music and Dance", is one of the most important Sanskrit musicological texts from India. Composed by Śārṅgadeva (शार्ङ्गदेव) in the 13th century, both Hindustani music and Carnatic music traditions of Indian classical music regard it as a definitive text. The author was a part of the court of King Singhana II (1210–1247) of the Yādava dynasty whose capital was Devagiri, Maharashtra.

Svara or swara is a Sanskrit word that connotes a note in the successive steps of the octave. More comprehensively, it is the ancient Indian concept about the complete dimension of musical pitch.

Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande Indian musicologist

Pandit Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande was an Indian musicologist who wrote the first modern treatise on Hindustani classical music, an art which had been propagated earlier for a few centuries mostly through oral traditions. During those earlier times, the art had undergone several changes, rendering the raga grammar documented in scant old outdated texts.

Śārṅgadeva (1175–1247), also spelled Sharngadeva or Sarnga Deva, was the 13th-century Indian musicologist who authored Sangita Ratnakara – the classical Sanskrit text on music and drama. It is considered to be the authoritative treatise in Indian classical music by both the Hindustani music and the Carnatic music traditions.

Murki is a short taan or inverted mordent in Hindustani classical music, known as pratyahatam in Carnatic music. It is a fast and delicate ornamentation or alankar, employing two or more notes and is similar to a mordent or ulta murki. A murki is less forceful than a khatka or a zamzama. A combination like R R S S could be a murki or a khatka or the starting point of a zamzama, depending on the force of delivery. Murkis may or may not be appropriate for a given raga. It is also employed in thumris and other lighter genres.

Alankara, also referred to as palta or alankaram, is a concept in Indian classical music and literally means "ornament, decoration". An alankara is any pattern of musical decoration a musician or vocalist creates within or across tones, based on ancient musical theories or driven by personal creative choices, in a progression of svaras. The term alankara is standard in Carnatic music, while the same concept is referred to as palta or alankara in Hindustani music.

Veena A stringed Indian musical instrument

The veena, comprises a family of chordophone instruments of the Indian subcontinent. Ancient musical instruments evolved into many variations, such as lutes, zithers and arched harps. The many regional designs have different names such as the Rudra veena, the Saraswati veena, the Vichitra veena and others.

Sangita, also spelled Samgita or Sangeeta, refers to "music and associated performance arts" in the Indian traditions. According to Guy Beck, the root "saṃ-" implies "combining, coming together, convergent wholesome blending, unison" in the context of musical arts. Sangita connotes any form of singing with music, harmonious recitation or chorus singing in particular. In some medieval era literary genre such as the Puranas and poetic texts such as Kathasaritsagar, a related term Sangita-shastra and Sangita-vidya mean the "art, science or knowledge of singing and dancing with music". According to Alison Arnold and Bruno Nettl, the modern term music fails to capture the historic sense of "Sanskrit sangita and Greek mousike". In the Indian tradition, the term sangita includes melodious singing, rhythmic dancing, instrumental music, classical, provincial, ritual chanting and incidental forms of music-related performance arts.

A Theka literally means "support, prop". The term also refers to a musical composition in classical Indian music for percussion instruments that establish a rhythm (Chanda), beats (Matras) and the metric cycle of beats (Tala) in a performance.


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