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sitarkatz

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Reply with quote  #1 
Just color me curious.........

Can ragas be learned by ear?

I play other instruments and can learn by notation or traditionally by ear.
I am speaking of Irish folk music here.

I was wondering if it is at all possible to learn a raga using this method.

My main confusion, I think, is that I have heard the same raga played in totally different settings, so much so that they didn't even sound similar even though they were called by the same name.

They may have had the same scale, but that was where the similarity ended.

I have been learning ragas by mimicking my guru, videotaping my lesson to practice at home with, and having him write down the notes as Sa Ra Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni.....

Any enlightenment would be appreciated.

Richard
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Lars

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Reply with quote  #2 
Traditionally that's the way a Raga is taught Richard. Videotaping is a good thing so you remember what was taught. ICM is not as exact as Irish traditional where the tune is basically the same with minor regional variations and embellishments. The ascending and descending notes of a Raga should be the same but could be as little as just a few notes or phrases out of many that are played. Try getting recordings of the same Raga by different artists and see if you can pick out similar movements, it can be difficult. Your teacher ideally will have been teaching you these movements, key notes, etc. which you would be able to identify by listening closely although it takes some getting used to but that's what makes this music special (and fun to play!)....
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musicslug

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Reply with quote  #3 
just to agree with and perhaps add to what Lars said:

the scales (ascending, descending) are only one piece of what makes a raga. your guru should (ideally) be teaching the other parts to you as well.

if I understand your question, the short answer might be: learning by ear is part of how to go about it, but not the whole picture. if nobody is explaining why a particular phrase, even if it uses the 'correct' scale, isn't actually 'in raga', you're missing essential information. ICM has traditionally been taught orally, one-on-one (guru-shishya parampara), and that's how all the nuances and subtleties have been passed down. and notation in ICM is very limited, which makes learning from a book pretty much impossible. ICM notation is more like notes, helping to remind you of something you already know.

perhaps, if you want to push 'learning by ear' to the max, the way to do it would be to try to mimic the introductions (asthayis) of recordings of a raga you're drawn to. and I mean really copy them, down to the tiniest shades of intonation, timing, timbre, etc. - and then keep at it until they're practically part of your DNA. raga theory might predict that, if you were able to really do this, it would open a window into the rasa (spirit, 'feel', vibe, essence, archetype...) of the raga - and you'd then be able to play 'new' phrases (non-mimicked) that would be 'in raga'. (this presupposes some technical competence - you need to be able to instantly turn your ideas into music - but that's the theory anyway.)

that's where it's different from western music: the notion that the musician 're-creates' a kind of pre-existing (out there, in the ether...) idea, which can take an almost infinite number of forms, as opposed to (in western music) performing a piece whose parameters are almost entirely predetermined.

perhaps an analogy would be that, if one had played, say, Beethoven's sonatas for decades, at a very accomplished level, one could perhaps then 'channel' Beethoven and invent impromptu music which sounded like his sonatas - old yet new at the same time.

sorry to ramble there...

daniel
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sitarkatz

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Reply with quote  #4 
Thanks for the insightful comments.

What I really meant to say was this....

I am learning by ear from my guru and there is a basic framework to ragas that I can recognize.

What confuses me is that I can listen to the same raga performed by different musicians and I have a very difficult time recognizing them as the same raga because they are so totally different sounding.

I cannot even find any similar phrasings.

In Western music you can always recognize a melody line even if the tune is played as different settings by many different musicians.

As an example...one of my favorite ragas is raag Charukeshi. Ravi Shankar plays an incredible rendition of this raga.
This raga played by him has many memorable phrases that I can even memorize and sing along with.

I listened to the same raga by several other musicians and they didn't even sound recognizable.

Maybe an "Idiot's Guide to Ragas" is needed here for me?

Anyway, sorry to ramble. I just want to really have a better understanding of ICM.

Thanks to all on this forum for your continuing advice.

Cheers!

Richard
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jaan e kharabat

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Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "sitarkatz"
As an example...one of my favorite ragas is raag Charukeshi. Ravi Shankar plays an incredible rendition of this raga.
This raga played by him has many memorable phrases that I can even memorize and sing along with.

I listened to the same raga by several other musicians and they didn't even sound recognizable.
Charukeshi is a relatively recent entry into the Hindustani repertoire of raags so it doesn't have a highly established 'character' and well worn phraseology. Each musician tends to emphasise a particular element relating to more established raags that can be found in Charukeshi - e.g. Bhairavi, Bhairav, Darbari, Nat etc, and thus there results interpretations that sound very dissimilar despite the sameness of the scale.

Dr. Rajan P. Parrikar has written an article on the raag that addresses these issues - http://www.parrikar.org/raga-central/charukeshi

Try listening to more traditional raags such as Yaman, Todi, Bageshri, for example, and see if what you have been experiencing still occurs.

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why

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I think Charu Keshi is recognizable instantly NOW ~ First question have you been playing and listening for over lets say 4 years actively? To ONE RAGA ~ ANY ONE ~ this is where the one Raga idea is SO TRUE ~
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jaan e kharabat

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Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "why"
I think Charu Keshi is recognizable instantly NOW
To you perhaps, but then not everyone is a NadYogi like you. Richard is obviously having trouble recognising common Charukeshi phrases across different performances, hence this thread and his questions.

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If there are just ''six tones'' in an octave [sic] then why have frets for tones that don't exist?
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SitarMac

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Reply with quote  #8 
The answers is no....You can't learn a Raga by ear. You can learn to recognize, but you must learn composition and lay a base for the Raga's frame work in a way that is first composed. Once you have a grasp of numerous variations in composition, then you can begin to feel the flow of the Raga as you begin to explore deeper. Again, you have to have a base, and thats the work. I have a short composition in Cherukeshi that was composed by Ravi Shankar when he guest instructed at the AACM. I can email it to you if you send me your email address. Begin there.
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why

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Reply with quote  #9 
Thats why i said Now. For someone so picky you dont really read things i write ~ and yes not everyone is ~ though all can be...
SitarMac (Josh Brown) is an "Obi Wan Kenobi" when it comes to THE ACTUAL foundation and creation of Structured Learning environments for this music. Meaning he can tell immediately how, when, where, in which manner one should learn ICM. He can listen and tell you accurately and honestly here you stand in this music and how far you have left to go, he will even tell you if its waste of your time to try (though only if he is angry with you but I think all great teachers say that ~ mine have...

So yes I said now... As in after TEN YEARS of Riyazz it is recognizable. Jaan I am not everyone ~ are you the last person to get this? I am doing my best to give advice using my failures an successes as guide posts for anyone else.

And i am really curious what in his first two sentences implied he was "having difficulty" as opposed to asking a simple question and the same time?

Just color me curious.........

Can ragas be learned by ear?
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jaan e kharabat

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Reply with quote  #10 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "why"
And i am really curious what in his first two sentences implied he was "having difficulty" as opposed to asking a simple question and the same time?
Perhaps you need to read beyond the first two sentences and then you might stumble upon this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by "sitarkatz"
What confuses me is that I can listen to the same raga performed by different musicians and I have a very difficult time recognizing them as the same raga because they are so totally different sounding.
Quote:
Originally Posted by "why"
Just color me curious.........

Can ragas be learned by ear?
As to the these two sentences: the answer, IMO, is yes, absolutely. This is how ragas have been learned and taught throughout time, primarily by ear, by listening... repeatedly to them.

I could recognise ragas before I could tell the exact notes in a phrase in a raga, and this is still largely the case. Over time I have gotten better at both but the recognition part is still much more proficient than the analytical part and I'm afraid will always be until such time as one becomes a master and can instantly reproduce any taan upon hearing it (as if that is going to happen anyway).

And I agree it is a matter of exposure. Once I was told that Bhairavi was the name of this raag, I could pretty much instantly name a tune as "Bhairavi based" upon hearing it because I had heard this raag thousands of times before I knew its name ...the recognisable sonic landscape was there, it just lacked a label.

Now learning to PLAY ragas is pretty much more the same process except more focussed and more in-depth.

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If there are just ''six tones'' in an octave [sic] then why have frets for tones that don't exist?
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panchamkauns

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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "sitarkatz"
As an example...one of my favorite ragas is raag Charukeshi. Ravi Shankar plays an incredible rendition of this raga. This raga played by him has many memorable phrases that I can even memorize and sing along with.

I listened to the same raga by several other musicians and they didn't even sound recognizable.
I’m sure this is because you’re still in pretty early learning stages. You will learn to recognize stuff. You don’t need an ”idiot’s guide”, as you put it, you simply need to learn more. Give it time; it will come.
Quote:
In Western music you can always recognize a melody line even if the tune is played as different settings by many different musicians.
It’s exactly the same in any music. A raga is simply not ”a melody line”.

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sitariya

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
In Western music you can always recognize a melody line even if the tune is played as different settings by many different musicians.


It’s exactly the same in any music. A raga is simply not ”a melody line”.
Exactly. IMO even a raga may be identified by just listening. But learning a raga to perform is completely different ball game.
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CarnaticConnection

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Reply with quote  #13 
I have been "playing" sitar on my own for about two years now, and I would like to put in my two cents.

As many have said, it is increasingly easier to "recognize" a raga after a while, but it's a different ballgame than learning it. I think that one can get a good idea of the raga, it's structure, some key phrases and sounds, and even more (such as bandishes, etc...) by listening and paying strict attention to common themes throughout various performances. While sometimes the performer changes the structure so much that the chosen raga doesn't even sound like it should to a listener, there are still similar elements buried in there. Otherwise it wouldn't be the same raga.

I feel as though I have a good grasp on analyzing and even playing parts of a couple of ragas just by careful analysis and hours upon hours of cautious listening and copying. But at the same time, I don't believe that anybody will have a full understanding just by listening, in fact VERY far from it. For that they need a teacher. But I think that listening can get you some of the way there.
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panchamkauns

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Reply with quote  #14 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "sitariya"
IMO even a raga may be identified by just listening.
Yes, naturally. A couple of years from now, Sitarkatz will also do this.

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