Basic Concepts

Here are some basic concepts or terms used in Indian Classical or Hindustani Classical Music. These are the prerequisite for learning Hindustani Classical Music.

1. Swar: Swar is nothing but a musical note. 
There are 7 Shudha swar, 4 Komal swar and 1 Tivra swar in Indian Classical Music. Now let us know what are the Shudha, Komal and Tivra swars:
  • Shudha Swar: Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni are Shuddha swars. They are called Shadja, Rishabh, Gandhar, Madhyam, Pancham, Dhaivat and Nishad respectively.
  • Komal Swar: Out of the seven shudha swars Re, Ga, Dha and Ni become Komal when their frequency is descended than their Shudha form. Their place on Harmonium is one note previous than their Shudha note.
  • Tivra Swar: Out of these seven Shudha swars, only one swar 'Ma' becomes Tivra when its frequency is ascended than its Shudha form. Its place on Harmonium is one note above than its Shudha note.
2. Saptak: Saptak is a group of seven prominent notes on Harmonium or Keyboard. There are 3 main Saptaks on harmonium. The Lower (Group of 7 prominent notes in the left most part of the harmonium), the Middle (Group of 7 prominent notes in the middle part of the harmonium) and the Upper Saptak (Group of 7 prominent notes in the right most part of the harmonium) which are called Mandra, Madhya and Taar Saptak respectively.

3. Thaat System: According to the famous musicologist of Indian Classical Music "Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande" (1860-1936), each raag is based on or a variation of 10 basic thaats or frameworks. The ten thaats are Bilawal, Bhairavi, Bhairav, Kalyan, Khamaj, Kafi, Poorvi, Marwa, Asavari and Todi.

There are certain rules for these Thaats:

  • A thaat must have seven notes out of twelve notes (7 Shudha, 4 Komal and 1 Tivra) placed in an ascending order.
  • Thaat only has an Aaroh
  • Thaats are not sung but the raags derived from the Thaats are sung.
  • Thaats are named after the popular raag of that Thaat. for eg. Khamaaj is a popular raag and the Thaat of raag Khamaaj is named after the raag.


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