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Ornaments in Indian Music

Indian music is already provided with a total of twelve notes, all attained with different sets of microtones to add subtle feelings. These notes have been used to create melodies in general. However, these notes havenít been used to make a raga yet. Even though ragas some of the twelve notes in a particular order, there are some feelings and decorations needed to be put to give a raga a distinct flavor, or simply to make it sound even more expressive. Here are some of the ornamentations commonly heard in North Indian music.

 

Mind

A mind (pronounced as meend) is the connection of two notes without a breaking. This is different from a legato in Western music, because a legato considers when the two notes are playing without consideration to microtones. The mind covers all of the microtones from the starting note to the finishing note. In Raga Bhairava, there is a mind from Shuddha Ni to komal dha. The mind would slide from Shuddha Ni down to komal dha, hitting every single microtone from Shuddha Ni to komal dha. Every microtone is hit, yet it is not noticeable. This is the actual trick about the mind. From Shuddha Ni to komal dha, the range of komal ni and Shuddha Dha will pass through, yet it should not be distinctly heard. This method is used in Western music instruments like the violin. The closest equivalent of the mind is called a glissando.

 

Andolan

An andolan is a simple shaking of a note. Itís like a vibrato but in slow motion. A vibrato is oscillation around the note few microtones above and beneath the note. The andolan will do the same action, except in a very slow speed, such that itíll sound like a shake. Raga Darbari Kanhada has andolans on komal ga and komal dha.

 

Kana

The kana is when notes are jerked really quickly giving hints of notes yet to come. It can be thought of as a fast andolan, but not as smooth and much sharper.

 

Murki

A special type of mind where between two notes, the flow will hit other distinct notes. It can go in a zig-zag form. For instance, from Shuddha Ga to shuddha dha to shuddha pa, a good murki would probably from G to m to P to d to P.This happens without breaking the flow.

 

Khatka

It is a mix between kana and murki. A kana has the jerky feeling which the murki element includes the use of many other notes attached to it.

 

Gamak

The gamak is when a note is being heavily shaked in such a way that it will either go higher than or below the desired note. This is commonly heard as a description of Indian music, where singers are heard going ďaaĒ really quickly.

 

These are the most common ornaments in Indian music. It is these ornaments that enliven and sweeten up the taste in Indian music. When browsing through any Indian music, do check for these ornamentations.

 

UPDATED: April 2, 2009

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