Welcome to another week of Rhythm Through Diversity on Metronome Online. This time we will be exploring raga, a musical form present in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Rhythm and time in music are closely related to the development of culture, history and background of people in different communities and raga has had a significant cultural impact on not only the music of the area, but also on the daily routines of those who practice ragas. Let’s take a look!
Raga means color or passion as described from Sanskrit, and it’s a part of the classical music of the mentioned area. A raga is typically a melody, that serves as a basis for composition (and improvisation). Set of notes are given, an order set, and motives ascertained, as a basis for any raga. These characteristics and rules of performance influence the way a raga is played and that correlates often with the type of atmosphere the performer is trying to craft. As there are many moods, so there are many ragas. It is said that there could be thousands present historically, while a few hundred are typically played.
Ragas are oftentimes associated with mystical powers, connected to times in a day, different seasons in a year, affecting natural phenomenons such as rain, fire and wind.
Ragas are oftentimes associated with mystical powers, connected to times in a day, different seasons in a year, affecting natural phenomenons such as rain, fire, wind and more. This means that traditionally certain ragas are only to be played in the morning time, others only in the evening time, which is nowadays a bit overseen by musicians performing ragas as part of a concert setting, which typically always happens in the evening. Nonetheless, the historical norms are closely associated with each performance, and are respected by those performing and those listening.
One of the big maestros of ragas is the one and only Ravi Shankar, who heavily popularized the form. Let’s take a listen at his Raga Mala, performed by the 91 year old musician.