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Music: AOS 4 Indian Raga, African Music and Fusions
Indian Classical Music is based on a single melodic line (either sung of played). This is scalic
and is made up of ascending or descending notes in a specific order. This series of notes is
a raga. Ragas suggest moods and emotions and are the inspirational core of the piece. In
instrumental music, the raga is normally played by a sitar, a sarangi or a flute. It is
accompanied by a two toned drone (tambura).
A sitar has seven strings, five of which can be plucked the other two being used for
drones. There are techniques which can be used to improvise and add variation such as:
Sympathetic Strings vibrate underneath the main strings to create a thick and
Meend a technique which involves bending strings to slide between notes.
Tan scale like flourishes.
Hand hit drums known as tabla are used to add organised rhythm. The word for rhythm is
tala and there are nearly 40 different talas. Rhythmic cycles are made some being 12, 14 or
16 beats. The tala player then groups these notes into 3 + 4 + 3 + 4 or likewise. Drums can
be played with different strokes and the strokes can be represented by saying syllables. For
example a drumming sequence could be "ti ra Ka ta ta Ka."
A piece normally begins with a never-ending drone which serves a constant reminder of the
starting point. There is then an alap section where the solo instrument which is in free time
and slowly introduces the raga before a tala and later tabla is introduced.
There are four main elements of Indian music:
Drone two sustained notes that act as a foundation for the whole piece
Melody improvisation based on the raga (which has a specific associated
Rhythm is gradually added as the piece progresses. It is called a tala which can
be separated into basic beats to create complex rhythmic patterns
Improvisation no written music so improvisation is essential and they must
follow a set of rules.
There are four characteristic sections in a piece:
Alap at the beginning, a melody instrument begins a flowing melody over the
drone. Slow tempo and relaxed/tranquil feel as the player explores and
introduces the raga.
Jhor the melody gains a pulse as the tala is introduced gradually. Still slow and
relaxed although the music has become a little faster and has some purpose now.
Jhala - development section which builds up in speed.
Gat climax of the piece. All the musicians are playing (drone, melody, rhythm)
and becomes very fast by the end.
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