by David Courtney working tools

Saptak has two meanings.  It may mean the gamut of seven notes, or it may mean the octave being performed (register).  Here we will discuss the last meaning because the former has been discussed elsewhere.

Unlike Western music, which has an absolute frame of reference, the North Indian system changes from instrument to instrument.  The middle register, referred to as madhya saptak, is whatever is most comfortable for that person or instrument; everything else is reckoned from here.  Therefore, one register above this is referred to as tar saptak; and the lower register is referred to as mandra saptak.  Additionally, two octaves above the middle is called ati-tar saptak; three octaves is called ati-ati-tar saptak, etc.  In a similar manner two octaves below is called ati-mandra saptak; three octaves below is called ati-ati-mandra saptak, etc.

The register is indicated in traditional notation by the presence or absence of dots.  If there is no dot, then the middle register (madhya saptak) is presumed.  The dot over a swar indicates that it is tar saptak.  Two dots over the swar indicate that it is ati-tar saptak.  Conversely, a dot below indicates that it is mandra saptak.  Two dots below indicate that the swar is ati-mandra saptak.



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