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Raag and Its Terminologies - Learn Music Online
4th January 2022 By Monish
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RAG and its terminologies – Learn music Online

In the last blog or class of the online music classes by Pt. Bhimsen Joshi Sangeet Academy, we introduced to the Hindustani Classical Music , The Basic Swaras –  Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha and Ni – and The “Raga”. In continuation we will describe the basic terminologies used to describe the Raga.

Terminologies Used to Describe “Rag”

The ragas are described and classified with music terminologies which make them unique in its own ways and then describes the time of singing the “Rag”. The terminologies are :

– Thaat (parent scale)
– Jati (class)
– Aroha (ascent) and avaroha (descent)
– Vadi (most important note) and samvadi (second most important note)
– Peshkash (rendition)
– Rasa (aesthetic joy or emotion)
– Pakad (catch or grip of the raga)

You will be introduced to the Ragas  in the Hindustani Classical In the Next session of our Online Music Classes Let us take a look at each of these musical terms.

Thaat :This is a method of grouping of ragas according to the specific notes used. Two ragas using the same notes will be placed in the same thaat even if their melodic structures, mood, and emotions are different. The ten thaats in Hindustani classical music are Kafi, Bilaval, Purvi, Asavari, Todi, Khamaj, Kalyan, Bhairav, Marwa, and Bhairavi. Some ragas like Ahir Bhairav and Charukeshi do not fall into any of these thaats.

Jati: Jati literally means “caste.” Just as there are castes in any community in India, there are three castes or classes of raga. There is Arava/Audava/Oudava, pentatonic (five notes); Sharva/Shadava, hexatonic (six notes); and Sampoorna, perfect heptatonic (seven notes). Thus an Aurabh-Sampoorna raga means five distinct notes are allowed in ascent, seven in descent.

Aroha and avaroha : The sequence of permissible notes in ascent (aroha) and descent (avroha), respectively. They help in characterizing the mood of the raga.

Vadi swara: This is the most important or dominating note in a raga, which is a sort of key to the unfolding of its characteristics. As it is the pivotal note, it is played very prominently or repeatedly. In it lies the particular rasa of that raga. It also determines the time for the singing of the raga. If the vadi swara falls in the first half (Sa to Pa), then the raga is called Poorvang Pradhan. If it falls in the second half (Ma to Sa), then the raga is called Uttaranga Pradhan. Ma and Pa are common to both the halves. If the vadi swara is Ma or Pa, expert’s guidance is needed to decide whether the raga is Poorvang or Uttaranga Pradhan.

– Samvadi swara: This is the second important note in the raga, after the vadi note. Its position is at an interval of fourth or fifth from the vadi note. It has the same status as a minister in relation to a king represented by the vadi note.
– Peshkash: Classical musicologists have assigned a specific time to the performance of a raga. This has been based on the types of swara (notes) used in a particular raga.

The main architect of the present system of Hindustani music is Pandit V N Bhatkhande, who was responsible for the classification of the Ragas into the 10 'thaats'. There are total 83 parent ragas in Indian classical music. In the entire list of Ragas – Raag Yaman (an evening rag) is widely used to introduce the first composition to the Indian classical singing aspirants.