Raagas—the treasure chest of Indian Music

10 Jan

The purpose of this post is not to analyze the raaga concept technically (though it is fun to do so, as the concept is very scientific) but to see how it enriches our music. Raagas are the epitome of the astounding variety in music that we see today. Just imagine, with just 7 swaras/notes, we are able to have so many zillions of tunes! There are about 300 or more known raagas though it is believed that there were about 800 of them originally but many have been lost. The credit for preserving, propagating raagas should go to the classical music stalwarts of India, especially the trinity. The utility of the raaga concept is manifold:

  1. It serves as a starting point for composing. It is NOT necessary that a tune must be in the same raaga throughout, so we have raagamaalikas (compositions comprising of many raagas). But a tune in a raaga has a unique charm as it showcases the essence of that raaga fully.
  2. It is a guide to compose in many situations, for e.g. if its a sad situation, raagas like Shubhapantuvarali could be used. If its an auspicious moment, then Anandabhairavi could be used. This is why we find in marriages, the compositions played would consist of these raagas. Raagas personify the situation and create a grandeur in that situation. Imagine a marriage without any live music!
  3. Each raaga is a world by itself, a world of melody. As discussed here before, raagas do have medicinal benefits and they heal us, if we have faith. Hence we say music HEALS. They are being extensively used in promoting well-being and as a curative for many diseases.

I will be taking up individual raagas and their usage in film music in the ensuing posts. Whatever I know is purely because of my interest/passion in this concept. I am learning to even appreciate the technical nuances so as to have a holistic view. Its going to be a wonderful journey to examine specific raagas, because for me they are pure bliss! This is what makes Indian music special!

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