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Dspeck

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Reply with quote  #16 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "OM
In western music, if someone is learning for example, "House of the Rising Sun", one can pretty much grab a few CD's from any number of artists and be reasonably assured that they will be very close in style, if not note for note.
Yes, but "House of the rising Sun" is not a Rag, it is a song, a composition in a wider sense. Ragas are not compositions, they are concepts for the creation of music in specific ways.
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OM GUY

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Reply with quote  #17 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Dspeck"
Quote:
Originally Posted by "OM
In western music, if someone is learning for example, "House of the Rising Sun", one can pretty much grab a few CD's from any number of artists and be reasonably assured that they will be very close in style, if not note for note.
"Yes, but "House of the rising Sun" is not a Rag, it is a song, a composition in a wider sense. Ragas are not compositions, they are concepts for the creation of music in specific ways.
"

I have to differ with you in the sense that I believe indeed that raags "are compositions." Anything that is interpreted by an artist can be considered as a "concept" and therefore he or she is free to create music in "specific ways". My point here is, how far can you go without losing the "main theme", if you will, to the point of deterioration or satuation, that then evolves into something else, far from the original? I believe that's where I was originaly headed when I made my first statement.

I only used "H of the Rising Sun" because it is very well known by a majority of people, whereas IMHO, Raag Yaman may not be so well known on an equal footing. To me, Raag Yaman is a "composition used in a wider sense" than H of the R Sun.' "Rising Sun" is very limited as to how much a western musician can get away with, without total destruction. Western ears may shriek and vocalize displeasure with Jimi Hendrixs' or Rosie O'Donald's versions of "The Star Spangled Banner", but still, a wide majority can still discern what the music is.

If a westerner goes to a ball-game here in the USA, when the "Star Spangled Banner" is being played, even young children will rise and remain virtually silent, proving to me that they too can recognize what is being played. I wonder, then, If Raag Yaman were a state anthem in India, would the reaction be similar? Would children recognize it? My example might sound silly, but I hope you can relate the question back to my original question at the onset of the thread.

Songs, raags, compositions, they still fall upon the listeners ear, none the less. No one that I know of wonders the difference between the categories that you and I have listed, but they do react to what is recognizable or not.

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jaan e kharabat

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Reply with quote  #18 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "OM
I have to differ with you in the sense that I believe indeed that raags "are compositions." Anything that is interpreted by an artist can be considered as a "concept" and therefore he or she is free to create music in "specific ways"
Ragas are not really compositions, they are more melodic frameworks within which a musician may create bandishes (compositions), upajs (improvisations), etc, in various rhythms and of various hues. It is much more imprecise a concept than a composition, e.g. if you change the rhythm of a composition you essentially create a new composition that is no longer the old one.
Quote:
Originally Posted by "OM
My point here is, how far can you go without losing the "main theme", if you will, to the point of deterioration or satuation, that then evolves into something else, far from the original? I believe that's where I was originaly headed when I made my first statement.

I only used "H of the Rising Sun" because it is very well known by a majority of people, whereas IMHO, Raag Yaman may not be so well known on an equal footing. To me, Raag Yaman is a "composition used in a wider sense" than H of the R Sun.' "Rising Sun" is very limited as to how much a western musician can get away with, without total destruction. Western ears may shriek and vocalize displeasure with Jimi Hendrixs' or Rosie O'Donald's versions of "The Star Spangled Banner", but still, a wide majority can still discern what the music is.
And it is for this reason that it best not to think of ragas as 'compositions' as they have much more leeway for interpretation, on the whole, than fixed compositions which the tunes that you mention, i.e. House of the Rising Sun and Star Spangled Banner, are. They are also organic and changing all the time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by "OM
If a westerner goes to a ball-game here in the USA, when the "Star Spangled Banner" is being played, even young children will rise and remain virtually silent, proving to me that they too can recognize what is being played. I wonder, then, If Raag Yaman were a state anthem in India, would the reaction be similar? Would children recognize it? My example might sound silly, but I hope you can relate the question back to my original question at the onset of the thread.
But a raga cannot be the national anthem at it isn't a tune like the "SSB" is. Many Indians might be very familiar with the sonic ambience of raga Yaman without actually being able to name it upon hearing a song or piece of music that is based on it. You have to be 'into' raga sangeet and have some training in its theory and nomenclature to be able to recognise and name ragas at will. I'll give you a practical example from my own experience to illustrate both points. I have heard raga Bhairavi for all my life before I even knew what a raga was. There are so many songs and compositions in Afghan and Sub-continental music in it that you hear it almost on a daily basis from the time you are born. Now when somebody eventually told me that some particular song is in Bhairavi I immediately could run off a score of names of different songs in it, and upon hearing even novel tunes in it, I could say, "yes, this is in Bhairavi".

In this ragas take some experience to be able to recognise them, much more so than specific tunes and songs. Some ragas, even to the initiated, are difficult to recognise, be it due to their rarity and structure, others are ubiquitous and easy in that sense, despite their structre.

Yaman is a very expansive Raga, probably THE MOST expansive of all ragas. Even though it has a distinct character, musicians have much leeway to emphasise various aspects of it, and hence their interpretations may sound widely varied. E.g. some emphaise Ma, others may do lots of jumps from M to N , and G to N, others may not do any of those things, and yet they'd all be well with the formal bounds of Yaman.

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ragamala

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Reply with quote  #19 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "OM
I have to differ with you in the sense that I believe indeed that raags "are compositions.
Heresy

It's open to all of us to use terms and interpret them as we please, but if we are to have a secure ground for productive discussion we have to have a common interpretation of musical terms.

By insisting on calling raga a composition the result may be provoking argument rather than inviting a meaningful reply, if that is what you are seeking, to your enquiry.

jaan e kharabat has provided a good response to your recent points which need not be elaborated on. So I'll go back to your original post. Excuse any patronising, but it really is a case of getting back to basics if you are as at sea as your post suggested.
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ragamala

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Reply with quote  #20 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "OM
I think I'll always be a newbie, so that's why I posed this question here. Not that I've dove in depth to all of the most popular raags on sitar to see all of the notation, but it seems to me that for any given raag, Raag Yaman, for example, seems to be different for each artist. Plus, the written swara is not always the same and that throws me off.
To try to approach a raga through notated examples is likely to lead to a wrong way of thinking about it, because firstly ICM does not rely on written notation, it is always a simplification, and any you come across is most likely to be of a specific gat or bandish. It is rare that you have a musical notation which goes very deep into trying to interpret the way that a raga is actually played in a single performance. But you won't learn too much from notation, unless you are trying to learn some simple gats as a performer.

If it's reading you want to help in your ICM music appreciation, there are some suggestions that could be made, but these would be most helpful in increasing general understanding rather than pinning down precisely what individual ragas are.

It would be far better to tackle the raga question just by listening. Firstly to appreciate the performance mode basics, eg alap/jor/jhala, gats, and to recognise that the precomposed part of the gats (the only part we can call a composition) occupies a very small part of the performance without embellishment. And to recognise that sitar players (you mention sitar so I assume we should keep within that context) come from different backgrounds and playing styles, of performance mode, style and technique.

With some brief guide to the raga's scale and basic melodic shape to set you off, listening to a number of performances of the same raga will lead you to recognise not the differences between performances, but the similarities. It is these similarities which will give an understanding of the raga.

Quote:
Originally Posted by "OM
I know there are different keys to start out any piece. However, for the life of me, I fail to see or hear the differences discretely.
I don't know at all what you mean by "different keys"? Unless you mean that performance sa varies between performers, which is part of the basic facts of ICM and not at all relevant to the identity of a raga, neither here nor there.
Quote:
Originally Posted by "OM
Another example is Raviji's "Pather Panchali (sp.). On his main recording and on several live versions, the embellishments and the improv can be distinquished, but I can hear the differences as well as the similarity. With 10 versions of Yaman by 10 artistes, I can't. Is it me? :roll: ops:
Pather Panchali is not a good example for comparison, being loose "improvisations" on a composed theme loosely based on Bengali songs, not a raga. More comparable to western "theme and variations", and of course you can identify the composed portion. Just as you would, to be fair, listening to the same composed gat if played in different performances on the sitar. But normally you would expect to hear a wide variety of gats in performances of a raga, even by the same artist, so there aren't the same cues. But, as has been stressed, one composition does not make a raga. You have to find more subtle pointers to the raga identity.

If you really have trouble identifying the similarities in various versions of Yaman and getting a hold of its individuality, try an incremental approach. Pick something entirely different, eg Bhairav. Listen to various recordings of that. Having done that, you should surely be able to tell the difference between Yaman and Bhairav. A start.

Then try Khamaj and recognise it is far away from Bhairav scale, closer related to Yaman, but different. Then listen to Desh which is even closer to Khamaj in its scale, but not in its melodic movement.........

That's the way many of us built what knowledge we have of ragas. As things progress we can learn the niceties and learn more about what separates closely-related ragas. This in depth knowledge is essential to performers to "correctly" play a raga, ie not stray into another cloely related.

There are no short cuts, performers should expect to learn dozens of compositions in a particular raga before knowing it well. As listeners we don't have to do that, fortunately.
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OM GUY

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Reply with quote  #21 
ragamala and jaan, I appreciate your dialogue as well as your insight, no doubt I will refer to both of your explanations over and over to further cement my understanding on this as well as other topics. Thanks!
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Dspeck

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Reply with quote  #22 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "OM
My point here is, how far can you go without losing the "main theme"
One interesting aspect of playing a specific rag is that you actually never ever leave the main theme, you always adhere completely to the original. Recognising a rag is a bit like recognising the playing style of a mature musician, except that the details that lead to the decision are totally different. And a playing style of a musician is about how he sees "things" while a rag is rather a "thing" in the same sense, some people actually see ragas as individual beings - so I am sorry that I had to use "thing" in this context.
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talasiga

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Reply with quote  #23 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "jaan
.........
But a raga cannot be the national anthem at it isn't a tune like the "SSB" is. Many Indians might be very familiar with the sonic ambience of raga Yaman without actually being able to name it upon hearing a song or piece of music that is based on it. You have to be 'into' raga sangeet and have some training in its theory and nomenclature to be able to recognise and name ragas at will. I'll give you a practical example from my own experience to illustrate both points. I have heard raga Bhairavi for all my life before I even knew what a raga was. There are so many songs and compositions in Afghan and Sub-continental music in it that you hear it almost on a daily basis from the time you are born. Now when somebody eventually told me that some particular song is in Bhairavi I immediately could run off a score of names of different songs in it, and upon hearing even novel tunes in it, I could say, "yes, this is in Bhairavi".

........

yes, very nicely said and I again personally identify with what you said too.

When I hear "House of the Rising Sun" and "Bonnie Light Horseman" (most Irish versions) I hear them as the same raaga. The way I play them they are both in the scale (the scale not necessarily the raag!) of Dhani S g m P n S and have a similar feeling (its not just the scale - there are other western pieces in this scale but I wouldn't put them in one "raaga" just because of the scale).

Anyway, if I am jamming with jazz friends around the first song, I may improvise riffs with those intervals and then surprise them by moving into a languid articualtion of the 2nd song as a part B.

I may, sometime when time and energy permit, analyse what are the elements in these two melodies that, to my aesthetic, bring them under the one ethos. Then I will have a format to sift hundreds of songs with the same scale and identify those that have a similar ethos and test whether I could rightfully express that format as a "raaga' meaning that if you follow these elements you will uncover your own compositions evoking a similar ethos or feeling.

For instance the abstraction for this melodic field may be:
ascent:- S, g P, m P n, P S
descent:- S n S, P g, m g, S
melodic crux: - P S, g P, m g S, n S
TO BE TESTED.

What I am trying to illustrate here (albeit simplisticly) is not that modern mainstream western music has express concepts of raaga but, rather, that all melodic musics, as a phenemenon per se, can be conceived in terms of broad thematic (mood) fields, as jaan says, a bit more specific than scales and modes but not as precise as a particular composition. Whether a partyicular culture is cognisant of them at any point in time is another point.

Those traditions that emphasise or promote a raag-ic perspective in their music - whether it be the middle eastern "maqam", the Byzantine and Greek "echo-e" or whatever - tend to be cultures that expect musicians not to be just performers but part composers as well.

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Dspeck

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Reply with quote  #24 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "talasiga"
What I am trying to illustrate here (albeit simplisticly) is not that modern mainstream western music has express concepts of raaga but, rather, that all melodic musics, as a phenemenon per se, can be conceived in terms of broad thematic (mood) fields, as jaan says, a bit more specific than scales and modes but not as precise as a particular composition. Whether a partyicular culture is cognisant of them at any point in time is another point
That's nicely put. I was tempted to call "blues in A" the "most famous western rag", but you gave a much better explanation
Quote:
Originally Posted by "talasiga"
Those traditions that emphasise or promote a raag-ic perspective in their music - whether it be the middle eastern "maqam", the Byzantine and Greek "echo-e" or whatever - tend to be cultures that expect musicians not to be just performers but part composers as well.
And that is another valuable quote.
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talasiga

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Reply with quote  #25 
Thank you Dspeck for your kind encouragement

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Quote:
Originally Posted by "ragamala"
......
If you really have trouble identifying the similarities in various versions of Yaman and getting a hold of its individuality, try an incremental approach. Pick something entirely different, eg Bhairav. Listen to various recordings of that. Having done that, you should surely be able to tell the difference between Yaman and Bhairav. A start.


......
In tandem with this great suggestion is to listen to two raags in the same mode by the same artiste.

For instance Yaman is a Lydian Mode raag because the intervals are all major except for the 4th which is augmented . So is Shudh Kalyaan.

Then introduce Raag Bihaag which has all major notes but takes augmented 4th as well as natural 4th. Ditto for Yaman Kalyaan.

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panchamkauns

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Reply with quote  #26 
On the contrary to some opinions expressed here, I think it’s very easy to give a Westerner a working idea of what a raga is.

First you say that a raga is a set of rules for melody. Obviously, with these rules you can create many different melodies, but since they follow the same rules, they will all sound similar in many ways.

Then you explain that these rules can be on any level: scale, intonation, phrases, ornaments for individual notes, and also aesthetic rules, like what kind of mood you are aiming for.

With this, anyone should be able to get some idea about raga. Now, to the original poster, you will learn to recognize various ragas. It won’t come quick, but it will come, and you will love it.

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OM GUY

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Reply with quote  #27 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "panchamkauns"
On the contrary to some opinions expressed here, I think it’s very easy to give a Westerner a working idea of what a raga is.

First you say that a raga is a set of rules for melody. Obviously, with these rules you can create many different melodies, but since they follow the same rules, they will all sound similar in many ways.

Then you explain that these rules can be on any level: scale, intonation, phrases, ornaments for individual notes, and also aesthetic rules, like what kind of mood you are aiming for.

With this, anyone should be able to get some idea about raga. Now, to the original poster, you will learn to recognize various ragas. It won’t come quick, but it will come, and you will love it.

Thanks! I appreciate your words as well as your encouragement.

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s1owpoke

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Reply with quote  #28 
Hi

Great thread on this board. It is a bit comforting to know that I am not the only one who can't distinguish between raags at this point in my life. I am from the US and grew up listening to mostly rock, trance and some other more western genres. I have been listening to ICM for about 4 years or so now. Learning tabla for about 2 1/2 years and am just started vocals about 5 months ago. I never attempted to distinguish the raags in the past mostly because I did not have an understanding nor tried to so this is new to me.

I understand that raags are based on rules but the true RASA of a raag can not be explained but EXPERIENCED. This can only come from experience which will take time. I do get discouraged sometimes because I love this music so much but can't even recognize a raag but I am sure this will come in time.

Just thinking maybe raag is like watching your child play. They may do different things but the essence of your child is there and the love for them is as well....... ( I am watching my son on the floor right now acting silly.....hehe )

Hope I made sense as that is how I feel right now. Anyone please tell me if I am not understanding

Peace!!!!! :wink:

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"Real music is not for wealth, not for honours or even the joys of the mind... but as a path for realization and salvation."
Ustad Ali Akbar Khan
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