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Raagas Introduction


Raagas are the fundamental building block of Indian Classical Music.

So, what are they?

Definition: Raagas are musical frameworks that emphasize certain note relationships

Think of a raaga as a series of roadways. Without it, one is free to wander to and from any segment of the world as they wish. However, it's much harder to drive through a forest than a highway. A raaga emphasizes pathways to and from notes to emphasize those particular musical routes, thus creating musical highways.

Whoo, that sounds complicated! Let's visualize it!

Consider the following illustration where we represent three of our notes as circles.

One note (Re) is given a pathway from the note (Ma).

In our new arbitrarily created very simple structure, we have just one dedicated pathway for how notes may correlate to each other. When many of these dedicated pathways are built and layered on one another, a raaga is made!

How do these musical highway systems vary by raaga?

The specifics of these inter-note pathways are unique to each raaga. Raagas may share certain pathways, but no two raaga will ever have the exact set of pathways.

Do you have to stick to the routes a raaga provides?

Raagas also allow a musician to occasionally deviate from the raaga's intended musical pathways, but that is more of an exception than the norm.

You are now well on your way to understanding Hindustani Classical Music Terminology!

On the next blog in this series, we'll explore how we can expand the definition of raagas.

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