GCSE Edexcel Music World Music

GCSE Edexcel Music World Music

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GCSE Music Revision Area of Study 4: World music
Indian Raga: Rag Desh
Indian Music
Indian music has a long history which goes back more than 2000 years. Many Hindu Gods are often
worshiped through performances of raga, both vocal and instrumental. Indian music can be divided
into two great musical traditions:
The music of Northern India (the Hindustani tradition)
The music of the South (the Carnatic tradition)
Indian music is taught through listening and playing by ear (oral tradition). Indian families have a
system of masterpupil teaching known as a gharana. Playing styles inevitably change as new
techniques are added by subsequent generations and so the process is a duel one of consolidation
and evolution of playing skills.
The three most common elements or strands in Indian classical raga music are:
The melody ­ made up (improvised) from notes of a particular rag. Sung by a voice or
played by an instrument such as the sitar or sarod
The drone ­ a supporting `drone' of usually one or two notes provided by the tambura
The rhythm ­ a repetitive, cyclic rhythm pattern played by the tabla drums.
Like a scale, a rag ascends and descends, but the pitches often differ in each direction, and the
number of notes in a rag will vary considerably. Some rags have just five notes, rather like the
pentatonic scale. Other rags commonly have seven or eight notes.
There is no sense of harmony in Indian raga music ­ the emphasis is placed purely on the melody
and is therefore linear in concept. However, from the very first notes of a piece, a supportive drone
played by the tambura will be heard. This usually sounds the tonic and dominant notes of the chosen
rag. It is to keep a sense of tuning or intonation as a reference point for the melodic part, such as the
The rhythm provided by the small tabla drums is organized into repeating rhythmic cycles called tala.
The most common tala is the teental (or tintal), a 16beat pattern (each beat called a matras)
organized in four bars as 4+4+4+4. There are many other talas with different numbers of beats per
cycle, including 6, 7, 8,10,12,14 and 16. In a tala, bols are the independent rhythm parts that go
against the main beat of the cycle creating exciting syncopations. These rhythms must start and end
together precisely on the first beat of the cycle, called sam.
A raga performance usually has a structure based on defined sections called the alap, jhor, jhalla and
gat (this is called a bandish if the piece is vocal)
Some sections can be omitted, for example a raga might jhust have an alap and a gat.
Raga performances can vary vastly in time

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GCSE Music Revision Area of Study 4: World music
Section Tempo Metre/rhythm Musical features
Alap Slow and No sense of metre Soloist `explores' the notes of the rag, setting the
meditative (free time) mood, accompanied by the tambura drone.
Music is improvised.
Jhor Steady/ A real sense of a Improvised music becomes more rhythmic.
medium regular pulse is Music becomes more elaborate and the tempo
established increases.
Jhalla Fast/lively Fast pulse with High point in piece.
exciting and Virtuoso display using advanced playing techniques.…read more

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GCSE Music Revision Area of Study 4: World music
Fretless and has a metal fingerboard so that the player can slide up and down the strings to
obtain different notes
The tambura
Simple instrument with only four strings and a resonator.…read more


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