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In the Indian Classical Music, Raga is the basis of melody and Tala is the basis of rhythm. Each melodic structure of Raga has something akin to a distinct personality subject and to a prevailing mood.

Ragas involve several important elements.  The first element is sound -- metaphysical and physical, which is referred to as nada. Nada is the manifestation of the first of the five elements of creation--the element of space. There are two types of nada, anahata nada or un-struck sound and ahata nada or struck sound. The next element of raga is pitch, relegated into swara (whole and half tones), and sruti (microtones). Raga also involves the production of emotional effects in the performer and listener, which are known as rasa. The aim of raga is to elicit emotional and psychological responses from the listener. The production of these specific responses can be understood by exploring the concept of rasa. Rasa has been referred to as "aesthetic delight" and is free from the limitations of personal feelings. There are nine rasas: Love (Shringar), Humour (Hasya), Pathos (Karuna), Anger (Rudra), Heroism (Vir), Terror (Bhayanaka), Disgust (Veebhatsa) and Wonder (Abdhuta).

Raga is the basis of classical music. Raga is neither a scale, nor a mode. It is based on the principle of a combination of notes selected out the 22 note intervals of the octave. There are 72 'melas', or parent scales, on which Ragas are based. Raga has its own principal mood such as tranquility, devotion, eroticism, loneliness, pathos and heroism.  Each Raga is associated, according to its mood, with a particular time of the day, night or a season. A performer with sufficient training and knowledge alone can create the desired emotions, through the combination of shrutis and notes. Every Raga is derived from some Thaat or Scale.  Improvisation is an essential feature of Indian music, depending upon the imagination and the creativity of an artist. A great artist can communicate and instill in his listener the mood of the Raga.

Ragas are placed in three categories: (a) Odava or pentatonic, a composition of five notes, (b) Shadava or hexatonic, a composition of six notes and (c) Sampoorna or heptatonic, a composition of seven notes,

Every Raga must have at least five notes, starting at Sa, one principal note, a second important note and a few helping notes. The principal note, "King" is the note on which the raga is built. It is emphasized in various ways, such as stopping for some time on the note, or stressing it. The second important note or the "Queen" corresponds to the "King" as the fourth or fifth note in relation to it. The ascent and descent of the notes in every raga is very important. Some ragas in the same scale differ in ascent and descent. The speed of a raga is divided into three parts: Vilambit (slow), Madhya (Medium) and Drut (fast).

Another aspect of the ragas is the appropriate distribution in time during the 24 hours of the day for its performance, i.e. the time of the day denotes the type of the raga to be sung. Based on this, the ragas are divided into four types: Sandi-prakash ragas or twilight ragas, Midday and Midnight ragas, Ragas for the first quarter of the morning and night and Ragas for the last quarter of the day and night. All the ragas are divided into two broad groups -- Poor Ragas and Uttar Ragas. The Poor Ragas are sung between 12 noon and 12 midnight. The Uttar Ragas are sung between 12 midnight and 12 Noon. The Santa Makananda mentions "one who sings knowing the proper time remains happy. By singing ragas at the wrong time one ill-treats them. Listening to them, one becomes impoverished and sees the length of one's life reduced."

Another division of ragas is the classification of ragas under six principal ragas -- Hindol, Deepak, Megh, Shree and Maulkauns. Other ragas are derived from these six ragas. The first derivatives of the ragas are called raginis, and each of the six ragas has five raginis under them. All the ragas are supposed to have been derived from their thaats. Every raga has a fixed number of komal (soft) or teevra (sharp) notes from which the thaat can be recognized.

Ragas in the Carnatic music fall into two categories, the base or melakarta ragas and the derived or janya ragas. The 16 swaras form the basis for the melakarta scheme. Melakarta ragas have a formal structure and follow a fairly rigid scheme of scientific organization whereas the janya ragas are rooted in usage and are liable to evolve with the music. In fact many janya ragas change their character over time. Janya ragas are derived from the melakarta ragas through various means. The simplest way to generate a janya raga is to leave out one or more of the swaras in the arohanam and/or avarohanam. Contemporary Carnatic music is based on a system of 72 melakarta ragas. These 'creator' ragas are also called janaka ragas and thai (mother) ragas. The current system can be traced to the works of Venkatamakhi (17th century AD) who appears to be the first to use the 72 melakartas. Earlier works generally contain fewer melakartas and most have flaws in their organisation. At that time, many of Venkatamakhi's melakartas were unknown and were not assigned names. Later, all 72 were given names and this system is sometimes referred to as the Kanakaambari - Phenadhyuthi system after the names of the first two melakartas in it. Muthuswamy Dikshithar's compositions are generally based on the raga names and lakshanams (definitions) in this system while Thyagaraja used a later scheme devised by Govindacharya in the late 18th century. There is an important feature to the ragas in Carnatic music, namely the appropriate gamakams (microtones) associated with many ragas. Gamakams are of ten types and their mastery is a must for effective portrayal of certain ragas.

Hindustani Ragas Carnatic Ragas
Adbuth Kalyan       Niroshta
Amir       AmirKalyani
Asavari    Nata Bhairavi
Bhairav     Mayamalavagowla
Bhairavi    Hanuman Todi
Bhairavi  Sindhu Bhairavi
Bhoop Mohanam
Bhoopali   Mohanam
Bhoop Kalyani      Mohana Kalyani
Bilawal      Dheera Sankarabharanam
Champakali  Ketakapriya
Chaya  Begada Sarang
Durga      ShuddaSaveri
Hanskalyani  Hamsadhwani
Hindol   Sunada Vinodini
Jayith Kalyan      Mohanam
Joghiya Malahari
Jogh Bahudari
Kafi     Kharaharapriya
Kalyani     Mecha Kalyani
Kedar  Saranga
Khamaj      Hari Kambhoj
Malkauns   Hindolam
Marwa        Gamanasrama
Pilu  Kapi
Purvi      Kamavardhini
Rageshwari         NattaiKurinji
Sri Kalyani      Saraswati
Todi    Subha Pantuvarali
Vasant     Vasanta
Yaman Kalyan     Yamuna Kalyani


Tala: Tala is the rhythmical groupings of beats. These rhythmic cycles range from 3 to 108 beats. It is the theory of time measure and has the same principle in Hindustani and Carnatic music, though the names and styles differ. The musical time is divided into simple and complicated metres. Tala is independent of the music it accompanies and has its own divisions. It moves in bars, and each beat in it is divided into the smallest fraction. Tala is the most important aspect of classical music, and it can be considered to be the very basis or pulse of music. Different talas are recognised like Dadra, Rupak,  Jhaptal, Ektal, Adha-Chautal and Teen-Tal. There are over a 100 Talas, but only 30 Talas are known and only about 10-12 talas are actually used. The most commonly encountered one is the one with sixteen beats called the teentaal. The Laya is the tempo, which keeps the uniformity of time span. The Matra is the smallest unit of the tala.

Carnatic music has a rigid thala structure. The thalas are defined on the basis of intricate arithmetic calculations. Thalas always occur in cyclic pattern. The thalas are made up of three basic units, namely, laghu, drutam and anu drutam. The time unit of laghu varies according to the "jaati". Depending on the jaati of laghu we get 35 thalas. It is again possible to split each time unit or beat into five "ghatis". This leads to 35x5 = 175 thalas in Carnatic music. The most common thala is the Adi (first, foremost) thala, which consists of a repeating measure of 8 beats. Thalas are also associated with moods just like the ragas. The popular mapping from the thalas (gatis) to the moods is chatusram - devotional and happy times; tisram - festivity; khandam - anger or frustration; misram - romantic and joyous, and sangeernam - confusion.

Alap: Alap is the first movement of the Raga. It is a slow, serene movement acting as an invocation and it gradually develops the Raga.

Jor: Jor begins with the added element of rhythm which, combining with the weaving of innumerable melodic patterns, gradually grains in tempo and brings the raga to the final movement.

Jhala: Jhala is the final movement and climax. It is played with a very fast action of the plectrum that is worn on the right index finger.

Gat: It is the fixed composition. A gat can be in any tala and can be spread over from 2 to 16 of its rhythmic cycles in any tempo, slow, medium or fast. A gat, whether vocal or instrumental, has generally two sections. The first part is called "pallavi" (Carnatic) or "asthayi" (Hindustani) which opens the composition and is generally confined to the lower and middle octaves. The following part of the composition is called the "anupallavi" (or antara) which usually extends from the middle to upper octaves. In Carnatic music further melodic sections called "charana" follows the "anupallavi."


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