Dasanjali Lesson 5
Practice what you learn in class every week at home, preferably for 15 to 30 minutes every day.
Quickly review what you learnt in lessons 1 thru 4. Then, proceed with this lesson.
We start this lesson with an introduction to the harmonium, the Hindusthani equivalent of the western keyboard or piano. It is a wind instrument operated by manual bellows and a set of keys. Many professional singers play the harmonium themselves when they sing. Even if they cannot play the instrument, many still use it (in lieu of a Taanpura) to set their pitch by permanently creating a background drone from the foundational notes, S, P and S' (for Pancham Raags) or S and M (for Madhyam Raags).
Practice the 2 alankaars we learnt in lesson 4 now.
To continue the lively tradition we started in lesson 4, we will quiz ourselves as follows:
There are hundreds of Raags in Hindusthani music (and Carnatic music). To keep them manageable, ALL Raags are categorized or grouped under 10 families of Raags, known as Taats.
- Why are octaves so called?
Because they have 8 notes - the 8th note sounds the same as the 1st, except at a higher pitch.
Do Re Me Fa So La Ti Do'.
- What are octaves known as in Hindusthani music?
Saptaks, i.e. a set of 7 notes - S R G M P D N (the higher S' starts the next higher Saptak).
- How many saptaks can a human voice sing in and what are they called?
Typically 3. They are as follows:
- Madra Saptak (or) Low Octave, with dots under the notes - I use a comma (,) on the computer
- Madhya Saptak (or) Normal Octave - what we sing most of the time
- Taar Saptak (or) High Octave, with dots on top of the notes - I use an apostrophe (') on the computer
- Ask someone to play a random regular note in any of the 3 octaves we sing in (N, S ... upto S' R') and guess the note. It is harder than you can imagine initially but with regular practice, your ears will get attuned to the tones and you will ace this in a few weeks.
- What are the 2 essential elements of any music?
Tune and Beat.
- What is a tune known as in Hindusthani music?
The first Raag we will learn is Bhoopaali and it is in the Bhilaaval Taat. This Taat consists of the 7 regular notes that we have been learning since Lesson 1. Let us practice it once before we proceed with Raag Bhoopaali.
(Aaroha) S R G M P D N S'
(Avaroha) Sí N D P M G R S
Again, Bhoopaali has only 5 notes (not counting the upper S' as a separate note) in its Aaroha (SRGPDS') and Avaroha (S'DPGRS). Hence it is known as an Audav /Audav raag, since it has 5 notes going up and 5 notes coming down.
When we learn a new Raag, we typically start with an Aalaap. This is where we practice singing all its notes slowly, without any accompanying beat, to explore all possible and allowed combinations of singing the Raag's notes. Here is a small sample Aalaap of Bhoopaali - listen and practice it a few times, so you get the general mood of the Raag.