Raga Desh PowerPoint

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Indian Raga - Rag Desh
In the study of this set work you will learn about:
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the importance of improvising music as part of the oral tradition
the rag as a form of Indian melody
the tala as the basic cyclic rhythm pattern
the musical characteristics of the different sections of a raga
performance
• common Indian instruments and playing techniques
• an analysis of Rag Desh,
Indian music
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Indian music has a long history, going back more that 2000 years.
It is closely linked to Hinduism and religious philosophy.
The many Hindu gods are often worshiped through performances of raga, both vocal and
instrumental.
In particular, the god Shiva is associated with music and dance in Hindu philosophy and there
are many pieces in praise and honour of this particular deity.
The music of India can be divided into two great musical traditions:
The music of Northern India (the Hindustani tradition) & the music of the South (the Carnatic
tradition).
The set work is taken from the Indian classical tradition of Northern India.
The oral tradition
• Unlike Western classical music, Indian music is not
written down as conventional musical notation.
• Instead, it is taught through listening and playing by ear
- called the oral tradition.
• Indian families have a system of master-pupil teaching
known as a gharana.
• A father might teach his son how to play through an
intensive course involving listening and memorising.
• The son would then pass on his skills to the next
generation and so on.
• However, playing styles will inevitably change as new
techniques are added by subsequent generations and
so the process is a duel one of consolidation and
evolution of playing skills.
Elements of a raga
• The three most common elements or strands in
Indian classical raga music are:
• the melody - made up (improvised) from notes of
a particular rag. Sung by a voice or played by an
instrument such as the sitar or sarod
• the drone - a supporting 'drone' of usually one or
two notes provided by the tambura
• the rhythm - a repetitive, cyclic rhythm pattern
played by the tabla drums.
Melody - the rag
• The rag is the set melody on which the music is improvised.
• This is a cross between a collection of pitches and a scale.
• Like a scale, a rag ascends and descends, but the pitches often differ in
each direction.
• Unlike the pattern of scales in Western classical music with the same
number of notes, the number of notes in a rag will vary considerably.
• Some rags have just five notes, rather like the pentatonic scale.
• Other rags commonly have seven or eight notes. Here are two examples:
one an early morning rag called Vibhas and the other a night-time rag
called Kalyan
• There are over 200 different rags in existence in Indian classical music, and
each has a particular mood (called a rasa) associated with it.
• There are celebration rags, seasonal rags and even some associated with
certain feelings and emotions.
• The music is then made up by the performers. This technique of making
up music without notation is called improvisation.
Drone accompaniment - the tambura
• There is no sense of harmony in Indian raga music - the
emphasis is placed purely on the melody and is
therefore linear in concept.
• However, from the very first notes of a piece, you will
hear a supportive drone played by the tambura.
• This usually sounds the tonic and dominant notes of
the chosen rag.
• Its function is to keep a sense of tuning or intonation as
a reference point for the melodic part, such as the sitar.
• Its ever-present sound adds texture to the music as a
whole.
Rhythm - the tala
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The rhythm provided by the small tabla drums is organised into repeating rhythmic cycles
called tala.
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The most common tala is the teental (or tintal), which is a 16-beat pattern (with each beat
called a matras) organised in four bars as 4+4 + 4+4.
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There are many other talas with different numbers of beats per cycle, including 6, 7, 8, 10,
12, 14 and 16.
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The complex rhythms sound exciting when played against this steady beat by both the tabla
player as well as the instrumentalist (or singer).
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These rhythm patterns, called bols, are independent of the beat and can be inventive,
displacing accents off the beat to create syncopations.
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However, these rhythms must start and end together precisely on the first beat of the cycle,
called sam.
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In a raga performance, this can lead to exciting competitions between instrumentalist and
drummer as they attempt to copy and out do each other's clever and novel rhythmic ideas
whilst still keeping within the cycle of beats - a sort of musical duel!
The structure of a raga performance
• A raga performance usually has a structure based on
defined sections called
• the alap, jhor, jhalla and gat (this is called a bandish if the
piece is vocal).
• However:
some sections can be omitted, for example a raga might
just have an alap and a gat.
• raga performances can vary vastly in time - up to five or
more hours in some cases! Some performances can last all
night!
• The table on the next slide shows the main characteristics
of each section of a raga.
Section
Alap
Instruments
Sitar & Tambura
Tempo
Slow and
meditative
Description
Improvised
No pulse or rhythm
Explores the raga ascending and
descending
Ornamentation
Now has a pulse and gentle
rhythm
Improvised
Explores the raga ascending and
descending
Ornamentation
Jor
Sitar & Tambura
A little faster
Steady /
Medium
Jhala
Sitar, Tambura
Gradually gets
faster and faster
Improvised
Virtuoso display
Moderate to fast
Tabla enters playing the tala
Memorised melody section
Players improvise using question
and answer
Gat
or
Bandish (if it is a song)
Sitar, Tambura & Tabla
Sarod
Sitar (plays the
melody / raga
Tambura (plays
the drone)
Bansuri
(Flute)
Rebab
Shehnai
Harmonium
Dholak
Sarangi
Tabla (plays the tala)
Indian Instruments
Tumbi
The sitar
• This is the most well-known plucked string instrument.
• It has seven principal metal strings of which two are used as drone
notes.
• Below these are usually up to a dozen loose-fretted strings called
'sympathetic', as they vibrate when the top strings are plucked.
• This gives the traditional 'twangy' sound that makes the instrument
instantly recognisable.
• The main strings are played by plucking with a wire plectrum. Two
common playing techniques are:
• sliding between notes (called meend or mind) in intervals of quarter
• tones or less playing rapid scale-like flourishes called tan. These virtuoso
passages of improvisation feature in later sections of a typical raga
performance, i.e. the jhalla and gat.
Other instruments
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The sarangi This is smaller than the sitar and differs in that it is fretless and uses a bow rather
than plucking the strings. A bit like a violin, the instrument has a gentle tone and is ideally
used to accompany singers.
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The sarod is also smaller than the sitar but like a sitar it has two sets of strings to create the
distorted effect common to the sitar. It is fretless and has a metal fingerboard so that the
player can slide up and down the strings to obtain different notes. The instrument has a
lower range and heavier tone than the sitar.
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The tambura A simple instrument with only four strings and a resonator. It is used to provide
the drone notes to accompany the singer or instrumentalist.
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Tabla This is a small set of two drums of different sizes - the smaller one made of wood is
called the tabla and the larger one made of metal is the baya. Both drum heads are of skin
and the black centre circle is made of a paste of iron filings and flour. The drums play the
chosen rhythm cycle, known as the tala, as well as improvisatory rhythms.
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The flute (bansuri) and oboe (shehnai) do not have keys like modern Western equivalents
but a series of holes. The players skilfully managed to produce a wide range of pitches by half
covering the holes and varying the blowing. Sliding effects, as on string instruments, are
possible too.
RAG DESH
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This rag is traditionally played at night.
Rag Desh (which translates as 'country') is also known as a rainy season or
monsoon raga.
The primary moods (rasa) expressed are devotion, romance and longing,
with origins in courtly love songs called thumri.
The notes used in Rag Desh are based on the Indian system known as
sargam in which the notes are named Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni, Sa.
The tonic note is C (Sa) and this forms the principal drone note.
The notes in Rag Desh are:
Sa
C
Re
D
Ma
F
Pa
G
Ni
B
Sa
C’
Ni
Bb
Dha
A
Pa
G
Ma
F
Ga
E
Re
D
Sa
C
There are three versions of the Rag Desh for you to study and compare and
contrast with each other.
Section
Bar Numbers
and timing
Analysis
Version 1: Anoushka Shankar (Sitar)
Instruments: sitar and tabla
Alap
0.00-0.55
This is slow and unmetered. The sitar is unaccompanied and explores
notes of the rag. Rhythms are fluid and free and sound improvisatory
due to a lack of regular pulse. There is some decoration to the notes of
the melody line.
Section
Bar
Numbers
and timing
0.55-9-27
Gat 1
3.55
5.02
Analysis
• The sitar plays the fixed composition (i.e. it has been previously
worked on and thought out rather than spontaneously improvised).
• Decoration is added to this composition.
• The tempo is medium speed (called madhyalaya).
• The tabla enters at 0.58 seconds and plays the 10-beat jhaptal tala.
Jhaptal (10 beats): (2 + 3 + 2 + 3)
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
10
clap
clap
wave
clap
• The tabla player adds decoration to this basic pattern.
• There are also flourishes and ornaments in the sitar part. This
comprises complex patterns of scalic passages including dialoguing
with the tabla in short melodic and rhythmic improvisations.
• A tihai is heard to indicate the end of these improvisations. This is a
short phrase played three times, across the beat, before finishing on
the first beat of the cycle (sam). Examples of these section endings can
be heard in many places, for example at 3.40-3.50.
• The sitar starts to improvise in triplets (called chand).
• Improvisations with four notes per beat. There are passages for sitar
followed by tabla in alternation. The tihai is used to mark out the end
of solo sections.
Section
Bar
Numbers
and timing
9.27
Gat 2
10.10
Analysis
This is faster than the first gat and uses the common teental
(tintat) 16-beat tala. This is grouped in four, four-beat units
(4+4+4+4).
In this final part of the rag, drone strings are used on the sitar
in strumming fashion providing a striking rhythmic effect
called jhalla. The piece concludes with a tihai.
Section
Bar
Numbers
and timing
Analysis
Version 2: 'Mhara janam maran' performed by Chiranji Lai
Tanwar (voice)
The pakhawaj is a large double-headed drum. Descriptions of
the other instruments can be found in
previous pages in this chapter.
This song is a Hindu devotional song from Rajasthan and is
known as a bhajan. The song tells of tender waiting in longing
anticipation of the arrival of Lord Krishna in the morning.
The words in translation from the Hindu are:
You are my companion through life and death and I cannot
forget you night and day. My heart pines for you and I feel
totally restless when I am not able to see you.
Structure: two movements - Alap, Bhajan (song)
The tal used in this piece is the eight-beat Keherwa Tal (2 + 2
+ 2 + 2).
Keherwa Tal (eight beats): (2 + 2 + 2 + 2)
1 2 3
4 5
6 7
8
Clap
clap
wave
clap
Instruments: voice, sarangi, sarod, pakhawaj, cymbals and
tabla
Section
Alap
Bar
Numbers
and timing
0.00-0.50
Analysis
Short introduction as the sarod player, then the singer,
vocalises a melody in free time based on notes of the rag. This
is a version of the chorus from the song.
This is the 'fixed composition', in this case a song in verse
form.
The tabla joins in at 0.50.
There is a short sarod solo at 1.10
Bhajan
0.50-end
and then the sarangai at 1.22.
The dynamics and tempo increase and the music becomes fast
and exciting.
The pattern established is a verse (heard at 1.32
3.04
and 4.50)
followed by the first line used as a refrain (chorus), followed by
more solos for sarod and sarangai.
Section
Alap
Bar
Analysis
Numbers Version 3: Benjy Wertheimer (esraj and tabla) and Steve Corn
and timing (bansuri)
Instruments: bansuri, esraj, tambura and tabla
The esraj is a bowed fretted string instrument played sitting
on the floor rather like the sarangi. Like
the sitar, the instrument has a number of sympathetic and
drone strings.
0.00-8.35
Part 1
This is a slow and unmeasured section.
The drone is established from the outset by the tambura which plays
the notes Sa (C) and Pa (G) (tonic and dominant).
The bansuri (flute) then comes in, taking up notes from the rag itself.
This develops from trying out the various pitches in short fragments to
a more developed melodic part.
Section
Bar
Numbers
and timing
Analysis
This is at a slow tempo.
There is a lyrical unaccompanied melody for the bansuri and the tabla
comes in at 0.31 playing the seven-beat rupak tala.
Rupak tal (7 beats): 3 + 2 + 2
1
2
wave
Gat 1
0.00 - 4.41
(Part 2)
3
4 5 6 7
clap
clap
The fixed composition then starts at 0.43.
Following this, the music becomes more agitated and dramatic as
improvisation takes over around the gat, while the tabla player also
embellishes upon the original tala pattern.
The bansuri then plays the gat repeatedly whilst the tabla player
improvises around the tala cycle.
At 3.32 the two instruments swap function, so that the bansuri
improvises while the tabla accompanies.
Several tihais are heard to mark out section ends.
The last of these leads into the second gat at 4.41.
Section
Bar
Numbers
and timing
Analysis
A fast tempo (drut) in ektal tala.
Ektaltal (12 beats): 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2
1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
clap
clap
wave clap
wave
clap
Gat 2
4.41-end
This is a 12-beat ektal tala
The tabla sets a fast tempo and the bansuri plays an elaborate
gat containing wide ranges of pitch, scalic runs and slides.
These fast scale passages are called tans.
Several tihais are heard as the music draws to a close.
Glossary
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gharana Indian system of master-pupil teaching
raga improvised music in several contrasting sections, based on a series of notes
from a particular rag
pentatonic scale a scale built on five notes (penta=5) of the scale on the first,
second, third, fifth and sixth degrees of the scale. In C major, these are C, D, E, G
and A
rasa mood created by the sounds of the pitches in a particular rag
bols in a tala, these are the independent rhythm parts that go against the main
beat of the cycle creating exciting syncopations
matras individual beats in a rhythmic cycle
sam the first beat of the rhythmic cycle
syncopations notes accented off the beat. The weak part of the beat is often
emphasised
teental (or tintal) common 16-beat (4+4+4+4) rhythmic cycle
meend/mind the sliding effects between notes
tan the rapid scalic flourishes on the sitar/sarod or sarangai
timbre particular tone colour of an instrument or voice
Text taken from Edexcel GCSE Music – John Arkell, Jonny Martin Pearson Education Ltd. 2009

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