Edexcel GCSE Music- Rag Desh

Notes on rag desh pieces 

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  • Created on: 19-06-11 17:11
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Rag Desh
Style and period Indian music, this is divided in to 2 main musical traditions:
Northern Indian music (Hinduist tradition)
Southern India(Carnatic tradition)
It is passed on by the oral tradition. Families have a master-teaching system known as gharana.
As the generations go along, each family member passes along the skills of their ancestors and
adds their own new techniques causing an evolution of playing skills.
Key elements:
Melody-made up (improvised) from the notes of the rag. Sung or played by instrument
such as the sitar/sarod.
Drone- the `supporting' drone is usually one or two notes and is provided by the
Rhythm ­ repetitive cyclic rhythmic pattern played by the tabla. Organised in to
rhythmic cycles (tala), the independent rhythm parts going against the main beat are
Features of north Indian classical Music:
Often devoted to gods
Highly ornamented
Use of rag
Improvisation sections
Pitch bending(mind)
Virtuosic performers
Songs: highly melismatic with slides between notes (mind)
Scale flourishes (tan)
Rags use tones smaller than semitones, these are called microtones.
Mind- sliding between notes
Tan- rapid scale flourishes.
Tala- repeated rhythms( rhythmic cycles)
Sam- first beat of cycle
Bols-independent rhythm parts going against the main beat to create syncopations.
Version Melody:
1:Anoushka Alap- decoration of notes in the melody line
Shankar(sitar) Gat 1 - sitar uses flourishes and ornaments with complex scalic passages and dialoguing with
2001 able in melodic and rhythmic improvisations.
A tihai is heard indicating the end of the improvisation; it is played three times across the beat
and finishes on the sam.
Improvisations with 4 notes per beat, the sitar and tabla alternate. Tihai marks the end of the
solo section.
Gat 2
Alap- unmetred
Gat 1- medium speed(madhyalaya)
Gat 2- faster

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Alap- Rhythms are fluid and free and sound improvisatory due to lack of pulse.
Gat1- sitar improvises in triplets(chand)
Gat 2: tintal (16 beats)(4+4+4+4)
Sections divided by tihai
Alap- Played only by sitar
Gat1- Tihai heard at the end of first improvisation section between sitar and tabla.
Tihai hear at end of sitar virtuosic part.
Gat2- piece concludes with a tihai.
In Gat 2, the sitar uses a strumming technique called jhalla to provide a striking effect.…read more

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Alap- Bansuri then Esraj
Gat1- when tabla enter, Rupak tal (7 beats) is played.…read more

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Improvised flourishes on prepared melodic
These are the main elements of a raga performance, however, some of these elements can be
emitted. E.g. you can have a performance with just an Alap.
Harmony No sense of harmony in Indian raga music.
The tambura, the drone, often plays an open fifth(tonic and dominant)
The harmonies are a result of the interplay between the melodies and the drone.…read more


Samuel Richardson

All three variations of the Rag Desh are covered in detail in this set of notes, as is a good deal of background information and context. The notes are presented nicely in table, so try covering some boxes to test your memory. 

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