AofS 4: Indian raga, African music and Fusions

Revision notes on Area of Study 4: Indian raga, African music and Fusions

Indian Raga
Indian Fusions
African Music
African Fusions

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Frankey
  • Created on: 17-06-10 08:53

Indian Raga

  • a set of notes - 5 to 8 - which create a mood
  • improvised - never written down - word of mouth
  • intervals vary
  • gharana is a school of players with their own traditions
  • spirituality is important - Southern India - Karnatic kriti - raga set to words of praise for a Hindu deity
  • instruments:
    • Sitar - 4 to 7 strings - on 7, 5 for melody, 2 for drone - glissando is called mind
    • Tambura - 4 strings - backing instrument
    • Tabla - pair of drums - smaller right-hand is called tabla - larger lower is called baya
    • Sarod - mini sitar
    • Bansuri - bowed string instrument
    • Shenhai - double reeded instrument
    • Harmonium - air powered keyboard
    • Singers
1 of 10

Indian Raga

  • A raga had 4 phases with no gaps
    • The Alap - sitar improvises - no beat - only accompaniment is tambura drone
    • The Jhor - speeds up - sitar takes on steady beat
    • The Jhala - very fast - more exciting feel
    • The Gat/Bandish - tabla player comes in - pre-composed - players add improvisation - call and response - gat if only instruments - bandish if song
  • sitar player chooses a raga and makes the melody from notes from this
    • there are hundreds of ragas - each represent a time of day or season and represents this is the mood it creates
    • raga is made of ascending and descending notes
    • some note have rules on how to be played: quickly - decorated - tivra (slightly sharp) - komal (slightly flat)
    • notes are called sa, ri, ga, ma, pa, dah, ni - ragas don't have to have a complete scale
  • sometimes melody is taken by a singer instead
2 of 10

Indian Raga

  • the main rhythm is played on the tabla
  • it is called the tala and has a set number of beats called matras
  • the first beat of a tala is called the sam
  • all performers play together on each sam and the whole piece ends on a sam
  • each tala is split into groups called vibhags (similar to a bar)
  • a contrasting vibhag is called the vibhag khali and is played on a smaller tabla drum
  • tabla players also improvise more complicated rhythms over the top and can speak the beat (with syllables like din or ta) as they play
  • audience also claps at the beginning of each vibhag and clap a wave in the vibhag khali (tap back of right hand into left)
  • tabura creates the harmony or drone from just two notes
  • sitar works improvisations around tambura part to give harmony
3 of 10

Indian Fusions

  • Fusion in UK:
    • Beatles: Norwegian Wood (The Bird Has Flown)/Rolling Stones
    • Kula Shaker/Cornershop/Timbaland/Black Eyed Peas
    • Look out for: Indian instruments (sitar), raga scales, talas
  • Traditional elements in modern Indian music:
    • lyrics and melodies keep classic Indian sound
    • singing
    • multilingual to appeal to an international audience
  • Bollywood:
    • Hindi language films
    • almost always musicals
    • songs pre-recorded by professionals
    • soundtracks released before the film
    • melodramatic lyrics - love
    • mixes traditional Indian with modern western beats
4 of 10

Indian Fusions

  • Bhangra:
    • Originally:
      • type of harvest folk music from Punjab
      • dhol - key instrument - double-headed, barrel-shaped drum
      • two traditional rhythms: chaal (8-note,swung), Bhangra rhythm
      • based around minor third intervals - repeated notes
    • Modern:
      • developed in UK in 1970s and 1980s
      • fused with hip-hop, disco, drum'n'bass, rap and reggae
      • uses instruments like bass guitar, electric and synthesisers
      • Alaap: Bhabiye Ni Bhabiye (1980s), Malkit Singh, Sahotas, Sageeta, Panjabi MC
      • music technology: remixes - layers; sampling - bass lines, drum parts, words, other sounds; drum machines instead of the dhol; scratching, other DJ techniques
5 of 10

blank :)

6 of 10

African Music

    • drums are the most widely played instrument
    • they have a lot of respect
    • accompany singing, dancing or working
    • used to call people together for events (weddings/funerals) - different beats, different events
    • passed on through oral tradition
  • Types of drum:
    • djembe - single head - goblet shaped - hand played - smaller drum, higher pitch - Guinea, Mali
    • dundun - cylindrical drums - played with sticks - skin at each end - played horizontally - three types: - kenkeni (high pitched - pulse) - sangban (mid-pitched) - doundoun (large low pitched) - Guinea, Mali
    • dono - hourglass/ talking drum - struck with stick - strings round edge can be squeezed to change pitch - Ghana
    • kagan (small barrel drum) - kidi (medium barrel drum) - Ghana
7 of 10

African Music

    • skilled drummers can make drums talk by changing pitch to reflect speech and send messages
  • Playing techniques:
    • hitting with a stick
    • play using hands
      • slap (hit edge with fingers splayed open)
      • tone (hit edge with fingers together)
      • bass (hit centre with flat hand)
    • dampening - rest one hand or stick on drum whilst playing other
    • changing pitch - on some drums the skin can be tightened whilst playing
    • strike the wood for contrast
    • master drummer plays a rhythmic signal to set tempo and rhythm
    • other drummers join in and respond to this call
    • master drummer controls tension, dynamics, tempo, pitch and rhythm - because general beat is repetitive changes keep audience hooked
8 of 10

African Music

  • Other instruments:
    • Balophone - wooden xylophone - dried gourds - warm, mellow sound
    • Kora - 21 strings - plucked like harp
    • Mbira - thumb-piano - liquid, twangy sound
  • Rhythms:
    • rhythmic cycles of varying lengths
    • accent on particular beats
    • polyrhythm - different cycles with accents in different places played together
    • cross-rhythm - two or more rhythms played together that don't fit easily creating tension
    • syncopation - emphasis on notes that don't fall on a strong beat
    • individual player introduce minor variations to develop a piece
  • Performance:
    • long - can last several hours
    • audience shout, cheer and repeat certain phrases - call and response
9 of 10

African Fusions

  • Fusions mix styles from different cultures:
  • Highlife:
    • came from Ghana in 1920s - fuses African dance beats with western sound - African percussion / European accordion, harmonica, horn, guita - in 1990s new kinds emerged - hiplife: African beats / European hiphop
  • Osibisa:
    • group of African and Caribbean musicians - dance music with percussion and African chant - influence by lots of styles: African, Caribbean, Latin, jazz and rock
  • Youssou N'Dour:
    • Senegalese afro rock musician
  • Salif Keita:
    • afro pop musicia - mixes Mali instruments (balafon, djembe, kora) with modern sounds
  • In Western music:
    • complex cross rhythms, unison backing vocals, call and response; David Fanshawe: African Sanctus, Steve Reich: Drumming
10 of 10


Catriona Paton

This is really helpful, thanks :)

Casey Hindon

Really helpful! thanks, i hate this piece!!!! Too complicated...

Similar Music resources:

See all Music resources »See all Indian and African Music resources »