INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Sitar Forum: a raga i used to love


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a raga i used to love Apr 04, 2003 05:56 p.m.


users from the yahoo sitar group suggested i might ask a question of users on this board. (he/she said you were very knowlegable over here!)

in high school one winter i used to listen to a raga that i never knew the name of, and which i loved. i dont even know who the recording was by. for the past ten years, a single strand of the main sitar melody has haunted me. i remember it clearly, but it's composed of only four notes. i figured maybe someone out there could recognize it if i recorded myself playing it on my keyboard. it seems very unique and recognizable to me. so i took my keyboard and set it to the 'india patch' and recorded myself playing it over and over a few times. if anyone would care to try to help me identify this piece, i'd be very grateful. you can find it at raga.mp3

thank you!

Re:a raga i used to love Apr 04, 2003 08:14 p.m.

Was unable to get to that site.....Peace
Re:a raga i used to love Apr 06, 2003 03:46 a.m.

Welcome to the place to hang out! There are not enough notes to determine which Raga it is. It must have at least 5 notes ascending and descending plus many other things. It could be based on a number of Ragas like Purvi, Marwa, Bhairavi maybe? For those who couldn't find it, here are the notes:
SA, komal RE,SA,PA,GA,komal RE,SA,PA,GA


Re:a raga i used to love Apr 06, 2003 05:12 p.m.

i don't understand...'there aren't enough notes to determine'... that's exactly what they said over at the yahoo group. can't you tell just by listening what song or raga it is? although it is a very small sample, the character of this particular passage and the arrangement of notes are faithful to the original recording. the way i see it its like any song you might hear on the radio. if someone played the opening progression of any beatles tune or some song by another well-known band, i could identify it in seconds. isn't this the same sort of thing? ive listened to quite a few pieces of indian music (though not nearly as much as you all...and i don't play the sitar so i never learned the internal mechanics of a raga, or the various notes in indian musical scales) and i must say that i've never heard this particular sequence of notes in any of the ragas that i've listened to.

from what i've heard about there not being enough notes in my recording to identify the raga, i am getting the impression that a raga is possibly formally defined by the various notes it is composed of, as well as the way that they ascend and descend, and that there might possibly be different interpretations of any one raga. am i right to make this assumption?

for anyone who couldn't get the link to work, you must copy and paste the link into your browser...i was foolish and created the filename with a space in it. this might work too: raga.mp3

thank you guys for giving it a shot. i hope some other people on the board will give it a try...your only hope is to have heard a recording of this song or raga in the past.

Re:a raga i used to love Apr 06, 2003 07:20 p.m.

Hi again......a raga is not like a fixed song, it will never be played the same way twice. 90 % of it is improvised....Certain phrases and intonations will be repeated, 'catch' phrases and the like. Along with the ascent/descent patterns that's how you tell which Raga it is. Also, yes it must have at least 5 notes....Some Raga(s) are very similar and you could think you are hearing one type and then after a few minutes realize that it's another. Go and buy a CD with Bharavi from 2 different artists and then compare, they will be quite different.
Your phrase may perhaps be part of a raga but I don't know which one, perhaps someone else would recognize it....hope this helps.....


Re:a raga i used to love Apr 06, 2003 08:41 p.m.

yes, ok...i figured that would be the case. however, i am fairly certain that the passage i posted is the 'hook' of the raga or song, given the number of times it was repeated in the original recording. it was the central musical theme.
Re:a raga i used to love Apr 07, 2003 02:06 a.m.

Well, the best person on this forum who would know is Amitava so hopefully he'll see this, he has a vast knowledge of ICM.......
Re:a raga i used to love Apr 07, 2003 08:04 p.m.

Dear Fortymile,

I had heard the audio a while ago...but did not get a change to respond earlier. Lars places too much of a burden on me. He is absolutely correct about the rules that make up a raag - although there is supposedly a three note raag. I was unable to deduce the raag from just those notes that yhou played. Not all raags have "distinguishing phrases"...and sometimes many raags share the same phrase.

Also a musician can use a legal phrase that is not comment, and make it a central theme in a performance. So just because you hear a phrase repeat in a performance does not make it a characteristic phrase of a raag.

Are you sure that this was not from a "light" classical piece. Breaking of rules are permitted and could make the identification more difficult.


Re:a raga i used to love Apr 08, 2003 04:00 p.m.

ah thank you amitava.

yes, i am not sure. it could indeed be a light classical piece...i wouldn't know, because i am not skilled in identifying either type of piece. the only other additional piece of information i have is that i believe it was a recording from circa 1990/91.

one final question: if i were to do a keyword search for classical sitar pieces, is there a particular keyword that i should know? in other words, where would i begin researching this genre of music--is there a good site where i could learn?

thank you all

Re:a raga i used to love Apr 09, 2003 07:24 a.m.

South Asia Woman's Forum > Music
Many good articles on various ragas, good photos and sound files.
Re:a raga i used to love Apr 09, 2003 01:15 p.m.

fortymile -- Don't know your level of musical experince, but I suppose that given your attraction to this bit of melody, you might, just for the fun of it, see if you can write a short composition based on it.
Re:a raga i used to love Apr 09, 2003 03:04 p.m.

South Asia Women's Forum (SAWF) is a good source, but I have to say it can difficult if your background isn't sufficient. Sometimes I just get lost and can't follow Dr. Parrikan's explainations. Perhaps cite another source at a more basic level?
Re:a raga i used to love Apr 09, 2003 07:39 p.m.

thanks..ill do some research. and thats a good idea to try to incorporate that little phrase. i do write lots of music but i dont play the sitar and i've never tried writing anything in this kind of style. it will require much attention!

thanks agai. if anyone stumbles across a 'match' for this snippet, my email is

and ill check back here now and then i'm sure.

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