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Fundamentals of the Raga

 

Understanding ragas and their flavors takes a lifetime to understand its potencies in full. However, before one reaches that high of level, it is important to know how ragas are technically made. Any combination of notes does not make a raga. In addition, a simple scale does not make a raga. Raga is a melody-based mode that has emotions, expressions, and patterns. According to Matanga Muni, a "raga" is what "colors the mind.


Rules of the Raga


1) A raga must have a minimum of five notes.

More combinations can be made with at least five notes. Only two notable exceptions have four note ragas.


2) A raga may not have two forms of the consecutive note together.

One may not have the different forms of the same note together. For instance, S r g G g is not allowed as ga has its pure and flat forms being consecutive. They may be sandwiched however: S r g m G r g. Of course, there are notable exceptions to this rule.


3) A raga must have Sa

Every musical scale MUST have a tonic. Sa may be used the least, but it must exist in order for the other notes to function. "Sa" is short for "Sadja" which means "the origin of six." Without the origin, the other six cannot function.


4) A raga must have a Re or Ga, or both.

It would be helpful to think of a raga as a cake. There must be layers in there. Either Re or Ga can exist in either form, but a raga cannot be without either of these notes together.


5) A raga must have a Ma or Pa, or both.

Pa is the perfect fifth. Perfect fifths imply stability. Pa can exist, or ma (pure or augmented) can exist or both can exist.


6) A raga must have a Dha or Ni, or both.

This is the final layer to the cake. One cannot climb from the middle of a mountain to the top without the final steps.


7) It must be able to produce a sound pleasing to the ear.

This is more aesthetic than theoretical. This is the rule what differentiates a scale from a raga.


ELEMENTS OF THE RAGA - WHAT WILL YOU FIND?

 

1) Aroha: The raga in scale form in an upward direction

 

2) Avaroha: The raga in scale form in a downward direction

 

3) Svarupa (also known as Pakkad): The general flow and catchphrase of the raga

 

4) Jati: The caste of the raga. This is determined by the number of notes in the aroha and the avaroha.


Five notes is called audava

Six notes is called sadava

Seven notes is called sampurna


For example, if a raga has five notes in the upward direction and seven notes in the downward direction, it's called a "audava-sampurna"


5) Vadi: The most important note in the raga. This can be considered as the sonant.


6) Samvadi: The second most important note in the raga. This can be considered as the consonant. It is almost always a fourth or fifth note of the vadi.


7) Bhava:
Harmony between the vadi and samvadi shown by how they are related.


The ragas found in the Ragamala page will contain all of these elements mentioned above.

 

UPDATED: April 2, 2009