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SWAR

by David Courtney working tools


Swar are nothing more than the seven notes of the Indian musical scale.  Swar is also called "sur".  At a fundamental level they are similar to the solfa of Western music.  These are shown in the table below.  Two of these swar are noteworthy in that they are immutably fixed.  These two notes are shadj (Sa) and pancham (Pa) and are referred to as "achala swar".  These two swar form the tonal foundation for all the Indian classical music.  The other notes have alternate forms and are called "chala swar".

Indian Swar Western Equivalent
Shadj Sa Do
Rishabh Re Re
Gandhara Ga Mi
Madhyam Ma Fa
Pancham Pa So
Dhaivat Dha La
Nishad Ni Ti

Notice that there are two forms of the names of the notes.  There is a full version (i.e. shadaj, rishabh, etc.) and an abbreviated version (i.e., Sa, Re, Ga, etc.).  The abbreviated name is most commonly used.  This is called "sargam".

The swar (notes) are assembled to make the scales.  These scales are called "saptak".

The swar have special relationships with each other.  Although there are only seven notes they repeat in the upper and lower directions.  Therefore, when ascending the scale when one reaches Ni, then the scales starts over with Sa, Re, Ga, etc.  This is the upper register.  By the same token when one is decsending the scale, it does not stop at Sa but continues down as Ni, Dha, etc.; this is the lower register.

 


 

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© 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 David and Chandrakantha Courtney

For comments, corrections, and suggestions, kindly contact David Courtney at david@chandrakantha.com