29. 35 Principles of Northern Indian Music

Northern Indian Music has its own identity. This identity is preserved by its principles which serve as guides and borderlines for this style of music. Here we will go over these 35 principles in a comprehensive order. Actually there are 40 Principles, five have been removed as in my opinon , those offered no additional information. These principles will sum up almost everything that you have read so far.

1. Northern Indian music is based on ‘Bilaval’ (same as standard major scale). The notes of Bilaval Thaat are considered natural notes. Altering the natural state of notes in this Thaat makes all the other Thaats.
2. The melody section of northern Indian music is based on the Raag system. A Raag must contain minimum of ‘five’ to maximum of ‘seven’ (all) notes from an octave.
3. This way we can divide Raags into three categories:

a. Sumpooran (7 notes)
b. Chhadav (6 notes)
c. Audav (5 notes)

4. Nine (9) sub-categories are created by combining the main three categoriesas as described in this post and this post.
5. ‘Sa’ (first note or the keynote) cannot be excluded from any Raag.
6. ‘Ma’ (fourth) and ‘Pa’ (fifth) cannot be excluded from a Raag at the same time. If one is absent the other one must be present.
7. Every Raag must come from a Thaat and must have a ‘Vadi’ (dominant or the king) note, a ‘Sumvadi’ (sub-dominant) note, performing time, ‘Aroh –Avroh’ (ascending-descending) and pleasantness.
Dagar Suptak
8. ‘Vadi’ and ‘Sumvadi’ notes are always on fourth or fifth place from each other. If the Vadi note is in the lower half of an octave (Poorvang), then the Sumvadi note must be in the upper half (Utrang).
9. The ‘Poorvang-Vadi’ (dominant note in the lower half) Raags show their characteristics in their ascending and ‘Utrang-Vadi’ (dominant note in the upper half) Raags show their characteristics in their descending.
10. Poorvang-Vadi or Utrang-Vadi Raags can be created from any Thaat. These Raags are also described as ‘Poorav Raags’ and ‘Utter Raags’ for short.
11. By Swapping the ‘Vadi’ and the ‘Sumvadi’ notes of any Raag, a new Raag can be created. This will also change a Raag’s performing time by 12 hours. That is because the ‘Poorvang-Vadi Raags’ are sung from noon to midnight and ‘Utrang-Vadi Raags’ are sung from midnight to noon.
12. ‘Sa’, ‘Ma’ and ‘Pa’ (first, fourth and fifth) are considered present in both ‘Poorvang’ (lower half) and ‘Utrang’ (upper half) (see this post for more details). If a Raag can be performed at any time, then one of these notes must be its ‘Vadi’ note.
13. Every Raag has a main note (Vadi Svara). Normally it is not the keynote, but it is the most dominant note in the composition and a Raag can be categorized based on its ‘Vadi’ note.
14. Every Raag has a ‘Vivadi suwar’ (the enemy note). It can be used if the use doesn’t break the flow of a Raag.
15. Raags are divided into three categories based on the ‘Time Theory’.

a. Raags with Komal ‘Re’, ‘Dha’ (flat 2nd and 6th): These Raags are also called ‘Sandhi-prakash (twilight) Raags’ and are sung in the dusk and dawn hours. ‘Re’ and ‘Dha’ are always used in the morning ‘Sandhi-prakash Raags’ and ‘Ga’ and ‘Ni’ (3rd and 7th) are always used in the evening ‘Sandhi-prakash Raags’ regardless of their Jati (category) i.e. Sumpooran, Chhadav or Audav (hepta, hexa or hepta-tonic).
b. Raags with Shudh (natural) ‘Re’, and ‘Dha’ (2nd and 6th).
c. Raags with Komal ‘Ga’, ‘Ni’ (3rd and 7th flat).

16. Raags with Komal ‘Re’ and ‘Dha’ (second and sixth flat) are best for peaceful and sadness subject matters. Raags with Natural ‘Re’ and ‘Dha’ are used for eroticism and humorous subject matter and the Raags with Komal ‘Ga’ and ‘Ni’ (flat 3rd and 7th) are used for heroic and fearful subjects.
17. ‘N (lower)SR(komal)G’, this phrase quickly shows that a Raag is from ‘Sandhi-prakash’ (twilight) time category.
18. The fourth note of an octave (Ma), is considered a very important note. It is the only note, which can go sharp (Tivar) in Northern Indian music, and it defines a Raags time by day (Shudh or natural ‘Ma’) and night (Tivar or sharp ‘Ma’).
19. Tivar ‘Ma’ (sharp fourth) stays totally absent from the daytime Raags.
20. The Raags with Komal Ga, and Ni (flat 3rd and 7th) are performed in the noon or the mid-night.
21. After the Sandhi-prakash (twilight) Raags, the Raags with Shudh (natural) ‘Re’, ‘Ma’, ‘Dha’ and ‘Ni’ are performed.
22. ‘Sa’, ‘Ma’ and ‘Pa’ play a very important role in the Raags which are performed between 1-4 a.m. and p.m. These notes start to get stronger in the afternoon and after midnight Raags.
23. Raags Sound the best at their appropriate time (nowadays this rule is often ignored on stages and recordings).
24. A Komal ‘Ni’ (flat 7th) is seldom used in a Raag if the fourth is sharp (Tivar Ma).
25. The Raags, which have both ‘Ms’ (sharp and natural fourth), do sound a little bit similar to each other. Mostly their ascendings are different but the ‘Antras’ (verses) sound very alike. Special attention should be paid to keep these Raags pure.
26. A Svara cannot be used in a row in its both conditions. For example if a Raag uses both ‘Ga’ (Komal and Shudh or 3rd natural and flat), both of these notes cannot be used in a row as ‘R-G(komal)-G-M’ (if ‘Sa’ is on ‘C’ then this means that you cannot go D-bE-E-F).
27. The Raags with both ‘Ma’ (natural and sharp fourth) which are performed between 7-10 p.m., follow this rule: Natural ‘Ma’ is used both ways (ascending and descending) but the sharp ‘Ma’ is only used in the ascending.
28. Another rule for the Raags between 7-10 p.m. is that ‘Ni’ (seventh) is mostly ‘Vakar’ in the ascending and ‘Ga’ is ‘Vakar’ in the descending. The ‘Ni’ (7th) is often a very weak note in these Raags. The word ‘Vakar’ simply means that the note is not used in a row. If you skip a note going up and then come back to it from the next note, that is called being ‘Vakar’ in the Ascending. For example, ‘E’ is ‘Vakar’ in ascending in this example:

And E is ‘Vakar’ in descending in this example:

29. Northern Indian music gives more importance to Raag (melody) rather than Taal (rhythm).
30. Raags with serious nature mostly stay in the lower octave and ‘Sa’, ‘Ma’ and ‘Pa’ play a very big role in these Raags. Usually one of these notes is Vadi in these Raags. That also means that if one of these notes is the Vadi note, that Raag probably is serious in nature.
31. A ‘Parmail-Parveshak Raag’ is performed to change Thaats. ‘Parmail-Parveshak Raags’ belong to more than one category and they make the change from one category to the other a gradual one.
32. The Shudh ‘Ni’ (natural seventh) is often used in the ascending in the Raags with Komal ‘Ni’ (seventh flat).
33. Notes in every Raag are used according to their strength in that Raag. Every note has More, equal or less power than others. The weak notes are not used much or they are used in certain phrases only. A weak note does not necessarily mean that it is Verjit (forbidden) in that Raag.
34. Raags, which are sung around noon, ‘Re’ or ‘Dha’ are not used in their ascending and if they are, they are very weak. But the Raags performed right on noon have very strong ‘Re’ and ‘Dha’ in them.
35. The seven notes used in the northern music are:

a. Chhadaj (shadaj)
b. Rishav
c. Gandhar
d. Madhyam
e. Puncham
f. Dhaivat
g. Nishad
These notes are shortened for singing and writing purposes. When singing or writing, these notes are pronounced (in short) as follows:
a. Chhadaj is pronounced ‘Sa’ and is written as ‘S’
b. Rishav is pronounced ‘Re’ and is written as ‘R’
c. Gandhar is pronounced ‘Ga’ and is written as ‘G’
d. Madhyam is pronounced ‘Ma’ and is written as ‘M’
e. Puncham is pronounced ‘Pa’ and is written as ‘P’
f. Dhaivat is pronounced ‘Dha’ and is written as ‘D’
g. Nishad is pronounced ‘Ni’ and is written as ‘N’

Once again the seven notes are
Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni
And on this site are written as above or as:
‘S, R, G, M, P, D, N.’

So wherever you see a letter representing a note, pronounce it as it is supposed to be rather than saying that letter’s name. This will make your learning process easier and you will get familiar with sounds and look of Indian music. Also, if a note is under lined that means it is Komal (flat) and if ‘M’ (Ma or fourth) has a standing line on it, that means it is Tivar (Sharp). Refer to ‘The Indian Notation System‘ post for more information on this subject.

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28. Properties of a Raag – Part II

In my last post, we talked about the basic properties of a Raag. A new Raag is created by defining a specific flow of notes. That flow of notes should not match (exactly) with any other Raag. When the flow is defined, some notes become more dominant than others and an order of notes is established. This order of notes divides all the notes in a Raag into five categories. We have seen these words in the definitions’ post, but we will go through them again:


1. Vadi Svara
2. Sumvadi Svara
3. Anuvadi Svaras
4. Vivadi Svara &
5. Verjit Svara

1. Vadi Svara: The most dominant note in a Raag is called Vadi Svara. It is used again and again in phrases which make the Raag’s personality statement.
2. Samvadi Svara: It is a helper to the Vadi Svara. It is the second most important note in any Raag. It is mostly on the fourth or fifth place (up or down) from the Vadi Note.
3. Anuvadi Svaras: All the other notes, which are used in a Raag, are called Anuvadi Svaras.
4. Vivadi Svara: This is a Raag breaker note. If you use it, generally speaking the Raag will be broken. The term ‘breaking a Raag’ is used when any or some of the defined rules for a Raag are broken. But never mistake a Vivadi note as a Verjit (forbidden or omitted) note. Sometimes there are more than one Verjit notes in a Raag, but there is only one Vivadi Note. Some really expert singers and player do use the Vivadi note in their performance. In general, it is better to stay away from a Vivadi note.
5. Verjit Svara: These notes are not used in the Raag. They do not exist in the Aroh and the Avroh (ascending-descending) of a Raag. But in rare conditions some Verjit (forbidden) notes can be used as a passing note or a grace note.

The old music scriptures state that the ‘Vadi Svara’ is like a king. The ‘Sumvadi’ note is his Minister and ‘Anuvadi’ notes are the servants to serve the king and the minister. A ‘Vivadi’ note is said to be an enemy and the ‘Verjit’ notes are the foreigners. Keep this formula in your mind, you will never be confused over this matter again.

Further, in the scriptures all Raags are divided into three categories:
1. Shudh (pure): The Raag, which cannot be mistaken for any other Raag, and is created purely from unique notes, is a Shudh Raag. These kinds of Raags don’t break easily even if some of the defined rules of the Raag are broken.
2. Chhyalug: (shadowed): When a Raag is created by mixing two Raags, that is a Chhyalug Raag. Term ‘Chhyalug’ is also used when while performing one Raag, a performer knowingly mixes another Raag’s flow into it. The new Raag comes under the real one’s shadow. The word ‘Salunk’ also means the same thing.
3. Sankeeran (Mixed): When mixing more than two Raags creates a new Raag, that is a Sankeeran Raag. These kinds of Raags are very difficult to keep unbroken, as with a little mistake or oversight, it can become (sound like) one of its parent Raags.

Asharya Raag: (Primary Raag)
This a special category of elite Raags. In northern Indian music, every Thaat is named after a main Raag from that Thaat. And the Raag, which shares its name with its parent Thaat, is called the ‘Asharya Raag’. Every Raag from any one Thaat does show a little bit of shadows of its ‘Asharya Raag’. In popular music, where a Raag is hardly considered when composing or performing, to learn the note structure of a composition, the ‘Asharya Raag’ is normally noted on the top of the composition. That doesn’t mean that the given composition is in that particular Raag, What that means is that composition is in that Thaat and the improvising can be done in that Raag or around it. All Asharya Raags (Total 10, one in every Thaat) are the first Raag in every Thaat. As always there are exceptions. Jhinjhoti is the Asharya Raag of Khamaj Thaat. Although the Khamaj Raag is the most famous Raag from Khamaj Thaat, but it is not a Sampooran/Sampooran raag. So Jhinjhoti take the crown.

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27. Properties of A Raag

The Raag is the most illusive and the most important concept of Northern Indian Music. In essence a Raag is a set of predefined rules to build a melodic composition. In general, the following are the basic rules or characteristics of a Raag. These rules are described in a logical order:

  1. A Raag must belong to one of the 10 Thaats of Northern Indian Music.
  2. A Raag must have an ascending (aroh) and a descending (Avroh).Ustad Abdul Latif Khan
  3. Every Raag’s Aroh and Avroh (ascending and Descending) must not contain less than five or more than 7 notes. This rule defines the Jati of a Raag. Read more about Jaties here.
  4. A Raag’s notes must sound pleasant to the ear. Although this rule may sound very vague, but it is always mentioned in the set of rules. The reason being that theoretically there are so many Raags possible in a Thaat, but all those set of notes do not sound great together.
  5. A Raag must have a Vadi and Samvadi note.
  6. A Raag’s Vikrat notes and the Vivadi note must be defined.
  7. A Raag must have a main phrase (Pakad).
  8. A Raag’s flow must be defined and it should be unique. This rule defines how the notes are used according to a Raag’s Aroh/Avroh and Jati. Two Raags may have the same notes, the same ascending, the same descending and the same jati, if they have different Vadi and Samvadi notes, then the Pakad and flow of notes will change. Thus making them two unique Raags.Once all the above rules are defined the following rules automatically come into effect:
  9. According to the Time Theory of Indian Raags, Every Raag has a Time slot of at least 3 hours.
  10. There are many similar Raags that share some of their properties. When performing a particular Raag, knowing the other related Raags is very important.

These are the basics. Although we are only talking about the ‘basic Theory of Northern Indian music’, but I feel I must write a little more about the Raag concept. This is the heart of Indian music. So I will dedicate even my next post to the properties of a Raag.

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26. More About Time Theory

Parmail-Parveshak Raags:
A ‘Parmail-Parveshak’ Raag contains qualities from more than one category discussed in the last post. If you keep performing the Raags on their given time, you will see that there is no sudden change in notes. The ‘Parmail –Parveshak’ Raags make the gradual change form one time slot to the other. For example, when it is time to go from Shudh ‘Re-Dha’ Raags to Komal ‘Ga-Ni’ Raags, Raag ‘Jai-Jai Vanti (name) fits right in there. It has Shudh ‘Re’ and ‘Dha’ and Komal ‘Ga’ is introduced along with the Shudh ‘Ga’. So gradually, the change is made from the second category to the third.

‘Poorvang-Vadi’ and ‘Utrang-Vadi’ Raags:
Once we are done with the basic theory, we shall discuss Poorvang and Utrang (upper and lower tetrachords) in detail. Here I am only discussing these in their capacity to affect a Raag’s time slot. This theory goes parallel with the above categorization. In this theory an octave is divided into two overlapping (only for determining the time of a Raag?) parts.

(If the keynote is ‘C’):

The first group is called ‘Poorvang’ (lower half)
The second group is called ‘Utrang’ (upper half)

We already know that the ‘Vadi’ note is the king note of any Raag. If a Raag’s Vadi note is from the lower half of the octave, that Raag is called a ‘Poorvang-Vadi’ Raag. If the Vadi Note is from the upper half of the octave, the Raag is called an ‘Utrang-Vadi’ Raag.

The Poorvang-Vadi Raags are performed from noon to midnight. And the Utrang-Vadi Raags are performed from midnight to noon. 026-hari.jpg
Once you know the Vadi note of a Raag, which is very important to know if you want to know a Raag, you already know which half of the day it goes to. It is also true that a Raag’s Vadi and Samvadi suwars reside in the opposite halves of an octave. So switching a Raag’s Vadi and Samvadi notes will in fact, change a Raag’s time by 12 hours. Normally, ‘Poorvang’ and ‘Utrang’ are not overlapped. That is a very widely accepted concept and makes a lot of sense when explaining the advance Thaat system. But here, when a Raag has ‘Pa’ Vadi and is considered a Poorvang-Vadi Raag, we run into problems. There is no other solution but to overlap Poorvang and Utrang. When divided this way, both parts share three notes (S, M, P). And whenever one of these notes is the Vadi note of the Raag in question, do not rely on ‘Poorvang-Utrang’ theory and check it otherwise. There are many Raags, which have a ‘Ma’ Vadi and are performed in the morning and with ‘Pa’ Vadi performed in the evening. So once again ‘Sa, Ma or Pa, if any one of these notes is Vadi, check the Raag for its ‘Komal’ (flats) and ‘Shudh’ (natural) notes, check the flow of the Raag. If Raag seems to stay in the upper half regardless of its Vadi note, then it is an ‘Utrang’ type (upper half) Raag and will fit into midnight to noon time slot or vice versa. The confusion has been created by continuous change in the popular style of Raags.

Wheel of Time:
As I mentioned earlier, the time theory divides a day into 8 pehars, morning and evening Raags overlapping two pehars. Here is an illustration showing how the day is divided. If needed, we will later see how the Raags fit on this wheel.
Wheel of Time

Many new performers do not pay intention to the time theory at all. Their argument is that nowadays Raags are not always performed live. If the performer wants to record an evening Raag, and the only available studio time is in the morning, he has to do it. And who knows at what time a listener is going to hear the recorded material. An evening classical TV or radio show cannot limit itself to Raags only available in that time slot. So slowly, the time theory is fading out. However, it is good idea to learn about a Raag’s time slot because it adds so much to its personality.

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25. Time Theory of Raags

The Time theory of Raags is an ancient theory. Every Raag has a three-hour time slot in the day. One slot is called a “Pehar”. There are 8 Pehars in a 24 hour day. A Raag performed in its time slot has the most effect on the listener and the performer. Through the ages though, many Raags have been modified, and their allotted time slots do not match with their flow of notes. This incompatibility has created a lot of confusion about this theory. However, if a student knows the basics of the Time Theory, the proper alterations can be made.
Pandit Ravi ShankarAt first look, the time theory of Raags alludes many. It seems random, there are formulas however. It is directly connected to the notes used in a Raag. Every Note, when used with certain other notes, has a different effect. That creates certain moods. Based on that, we can divide Raags into three categories:

1. Raags with ‘Komal’ ‘Re’ and ‘Dha’ (second and sixth flat)
2. Raags with ‘Shudh’ ‘Re’ and ‘Dha’ (second and sixth natural)
3. Raags with ‘Komal’ ‘Ga’ and ‘Ni’ (third and seventh flat)

1. Raags with Komal ‘R’ and ‘D’ (second and sixth flat)
These Raags are called ‘Sandhi-prakash’ (dawn/dusk or twilight) Raags. As the name suggests, these Raags are sung in the early morning and early evening. ‘Ma’ (the fourth) note plays a very big role to separate the morning Raags from the evening Raags. In the morning Raags, ‘Ma’ is usually natural and in the evening Raags it is usually sharp. Another thing to remember about these Raags is that the third note (‘Ga’) is always natural. If ‘Ga’ is flat, then the Raags will go in the third category. Importance of Komal ‘Dha’ (sixth) is not as high as Komal ‘Re’. If ‘Re’ is Komal and ‘Dha’ is natural, the Raag will still come under this category. But if it is the other way around, then it will go to the second category.

2. Raags with ‘Shudh’ ‘Re’ and ‘Dha’ (second and sixth natural)
These Raags are sung right after the ‘Sandhi-Prakash (twilight) Raags. So their time slot is around 7-10 a.m. and p.m. Again these Raags must have a Shudh ‘Ga’ (third natural), otherwise they will go under the next category. ‘Ma’ (fourth) plays a big role in these Raags too. The same rule applies here, the ‘a.m.’ Raags have natural ‘Ma’ and the ‘p.m.’ Raags have Tivar ‘Ma’ (fourth sharp).

3. Raags with Komal ‘Ga’ and ‘Ni’ (third and seventh flat)
These Raags have the next time slot in both day and night. In these Raags, the position ‘Re’ or ‘Dha’ does not matter. However, these Raags must have Komal ‘Ga’ (third flat). Importance of komal ‘Ni’ (the seventh) is not as high as the position of the ‘Ga’ (third).

The above categorization is very useful to memorize a Raag’s appropriate time. As I stated earlier, this division is not perfect though. Indian music theory is over 5000 years old. Along the way it has acquired its fair share of exemptions. There are a few other things, which may or may not overrule the above categorization. Raag ‘Yaman’ (name) is an evening Raag. Nevertheless, it is always the first Raag in a performance, regardless of the time of the day. Similarly, no matter it is day or night, Raag ‘Bhairavi’ (name) is the last Raag performed. A few other Raags occupy bigger than a 3-hour time slots and a few are only sung during a special season. Read more about this in the next post.

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24. Overlapping Scales

Now we must ponder two questions:

  1. We now know that 484 unique scales are available in each Thaat, but when we apply this formula to all 10 Thaats and put all 4840 scales in one list, are they all unique?
  2. If one can compile a list of all unique aroh/avrohs, can that list be called a list of Raags?

The answer to both these questions is ‘no.’

When we repeat the formula above, many identical scales are created.


As an example, the difference between Bilaval Thaat and Khamaj Thaat is the position of ‘N’ (the seventh). ‘Nee’ is Tivar in Bilaval and is Komal in Khamaj. Now wherever ‘N’ has been omitted, all those scales will be identical in Bilaval and Khamaj. Check the following iluustrations. First you see both Thaats (Bilaval and Khamaj), when you press ‘next’, both show a Chhadav-Chhadav scale (6-6, ‘N’ or the seventh is missing). Thus the new scale is identical in Bilaval and Khamaj.


To be exact, Bilaval and Khamaj have 32 overlapping scales. There are hundreds others that overlap.

Secondly, A Raag is much more than an ascending and a descending. You cannot make  Raags just with unique scales. There are many Raags that have identical scales and yet are very different from each other. Raags have other characteristics, which give them unique personality. We will discuss properties of a Raag in the next post.

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23. 484 Raags of any Thaat

There are 484 arohs/avrohs (ascendings/descendings) possible in each Thaat, thus there are 484 opportunities to make unique Raags in each Thaat. Here are some of the points that govern this theory and the illustrations below:
1. There are 3 main Jaties. (Sampooran, Chhadav and Audav)
2. There is only one (1) Sampooran scale in each Thaat.
3. There are six (6) Chhadav scales in each Thaat,
4. There are fifteen (15) Audav scales in each Thaat.
5. Raags need an ascending and a descending defined.
6. When used in pairs to make arohs/avrohs (ascendings/descendings), the three categories make Nine (9) subcategories.
7. All the examples shown here are in Bilaval Thaat (natural scale from ‘C’). It can be applied to any of the 10 Thaats mentioned in this post. So theoretically there are 4840 Raags in Northern Indian music.
8. The following illustrations are in Flash format. If you do not see anything, please download free flash player here.

Let’s count the Raags in all nine subcategories.
1. Sampooran-Sampooran (7-7): This category uses all 7 notes in Aroh and Avroh. As no alteration is possible, so every Thaat can have only one unique Sampooran-Sampooran aroh/avroh.
2. Sampooran-Chhadav (7-6): There are six (6) Chhadav scales available in each Thaat. When we pair them with one (1) Sampooran scale, it gives us 1×6=6 unique Raags. Use the next and previous arrows in the flash movie to navigate through the scales.
3. Sampooran- Audav (7-5): There are fifteen (15) Audav scales in each Thaat. When we pair them with one (1) Sampooran scale, it gives us 1×15=15 unique Raags.
4. Chhadav- Sampooran (6-7): In this Jati, the Aroh is Chhadav (6 notes) and the Avroh is Sampooran (7 notes). This gives us 1×6=6 unique Raags. This Jati is the flip side of Sampooran-Chhadav (2nd Jati).
5. Chhadav-Chhadav (6-6): Chhadav Arohs paired with Chhadav Avrohs give us 6 scales on both sides. When we put them together, we get 6×6=36 unique Raags.
6. Chhadav- Audav (6-5): when we pair six (6) types of Chhadav Arohs with 15 types of Audav Avrohs, we get 6×15=90 Raags.
7. Audav- Sampooran (5-7): this is the flip side of Sampooran-Audav (3rd Jati). Pairing 15 Audav Avrohs with 1 Sampooran Avroh give us 15×1=15 Raags.
8. Audav-Chhadav (5-6): When we pair 15 types of Audav (5 notes) Arohs with 6 types of Chhadav (6 notes) Avrohs, we get 15×6=90 Raags.
9. Audav- Adudav (5-5): 15 types of Audav Arohs, paired with 15 types of Audav Avrohs give us 15×15=225 unique Raags.

When we add the Raags created in all nine Jaties, it equals to (1+6+15+6+36+90+15+90+225) 484. Now by making the notes flat and sharp in each Thaat, we can multiply these by 10 (there are 10 Thaats),to create 4840 Raags.

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22. Three Main and Nine Sub Jaties

As I mentioned earlier, There are “three” (3) main Jaties (Categories) of Indian Raags:

  1. Heptatonic or Sampooran or all seven notes
  2. Hexatonic or Chhadav or 6 notes
  3. Pentatonic or Audav or 5 notes

Nine (9) subcategories or Jaties are created by pairing the above three to make ascending and descending (aroh/avroh) pairs.

  1. Sampooran-Sampooran (7-7)
  2. Sampooran-Chhadav (7-6)
  3. Sampooran-Audav (7-5)
  4. Chhadav-Sampooran (6-7)
  5. Chhadav-Chhadav (6-6)
  6. Chhadav-Audav (6-5)
  7. Audav-Sampooran (5-7)
  8. Audav-Chhadav (5-6)
  9. Audav-Audav (5-5)
  10. Let’s explore these Jaties before proceeding any further. Let’s see how many alterations of a scale (Thaat) are possible in each Jati.

1. Sampooran  (7):  A Sampooran (or heptatonic) scale uses all seven notes in Ascending and Descending (Aroh-Avroh). So there is only one type of Sampooran scale in each Thaat. A sampooran scale looks like this:

  1. S,R,G,M,P,D,N

2. Chhadav : Chhadav (or hexatonic) scales are made by omitting one note from the Suptak (septave). A Suptak has seven notes. Sa, or the keynote cannot be omitted. So there are six Chhadav scales in each Thaat.

      1. S,G,M,P,D,N
      2. S,R,M,P,D,N
      3. S,R,G,P,D,N
      4. S,R,G,M,D,N
      5. S,R,G,M,P,N
      6. S,R,G,M,P,D,

3. Audav: An Audav scale uses five out of the seven notes. There are 15 Audav scales in any Thaat. In the following list, the notes (2nd through 7th) are omitted in the following order:
2-3, 2-4, 2-5, 2-6, 2-7, 3-4, 3-5, 3-6, 3-7, 4-5, 4-6, 4-7, 5-6, 5-7, 6-7. Once you understand the pattern, it is very easy to build these 15 scales:

  1. S,M,P,D,N
  2. S,G,P,D,N
  3. S,G,M,D,N
  4. S,G,M,P,N
  5. S,G,M,P,D,
  6. S,R,P,D,N
  7. S,R,M,D,N
  8. S,R,M,P,N
  9. S,R,M,P,D,
  10. S,R,G,D,N
  11. S,R,G,P,N
  12. S,R,G,P,D,
  13. S,R,G,M,N
  14. S,R,G,M,D,
  15. S,R,G,M,P,

Go over these lists until it makes perfect sense. Next we will pair them to create Sub-categories.

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21. Creating Raags

As I mentioned earlier that a Raag must use minimum of ‘five’ to maximum of ‘seven’ notes, and we know, there are only seven notes, so we can divide Raags in three main categories (Jatis):
1. Sumpoorn (heptatonic or seven notes)
2. Chhadav (Hexatonic or six notes)
3. Audav (pentatonic or five notes)

When we play more than one note, we are either going up or down the scale. So every Raag has its own ‘ascending notes’ and ‘descending notes’. This way we can divide Raags into 9 sub categories (Jatis):

Ascending-Descending Note Count
1. Sumpooran-Sumpooran 7-7 or (hepta-hepta)
2. Sumpooran-Chhadav 7-6 or (hepta -hexa)
3. Sumpooran-Audav 7-5 or (hepta -penta)
4. Chhadav-Sumpooran 6-7 or (hexa- hepta)
5. Chhadav-Chhadav 6-6 or (hexa-hexa)
6. Chhadav-Audav 6-5 or (hexa- penta)
7. Audav-Sumpooran 5-7 or (penta- hepta)
8. Audav-Chhadav 5-6 or (penta -hexa)
9. Audav-Audav 5-5 or (penta-penta)

Now it is just matter of putting them together and you will get 484 Raags. Every Raag must have a keynote, in Indian music, ‘Sa’ is always the keynote, no matter where you establish it. Now we will go through all 9 Jatis and see how the Raggs in each Jati add up.

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20. Ten Thaats of Northern Indian Music

Here are the ten Thaats and their notes. Only Vikrat (sharp and flat) notes are shown here. That means all other notes are natural.

Thaat Name Vikrat or Moved Notes (flats and Sharps)
1. Bilaval None     (all natural)
2. Khamaj Nee Komal or seventh flat
3. Kafi Ga, Nee Komal or third and seventh flat
4. Asavari Ga, Dha, Nee Komal or third, sixth and seventh flat
5. Bhairavi Re, Ga, Dha, Nee, Komal or second, third, sixth and seventh flat
6. Kaliaan Ma Tivar or fourth sharp
7. Marva Re Komal Ma Tivar or second flat and fourth sharp
8. Pooravi Re, Dha Komal, Ma Tivar or second and sixth flat, fourth sharp
9. Todi Re, Ga, Dha Komal, Ma Tivar or second, third and sixth flat, fourth sharp
10. Bhairav Re and Dha Komal or second and sixth flat

As you see, that except the 10th (Bhairav) Thaat, all other nine Thaat can be divided into two groups.

  • First five Thaats start from ‘none’ flat or sharp and then every Thaat has ‘one extra’ flat.
  • Thaat No. 6-9 have fourth sharp (Ma Tivar). There is one extra flat in every next Thaat after the 6th Thaat, which has no flats (Komal).
  • The Tenth Thaat is a very popular Thaat but it doesn’t fit into ‘adding one vikrat’ categorizing.

Here is an interactive infographic of these thaats.  In Indian music  a transposed scale still be called the same scale as long as the relation between notes stays the same. As in Jazz a Lydian is Lydian regardless of the key. In case the interactive animation doesnt load, there is a list view below as well. All following scales are from C:

The following list assumes that your keynote (Sa) is ‘C’:

1. Bilaval: C,D,E,F,G,A,B > 1,2,3,4,5,6,7
2. Khamaj: C,D,E,F,G,A,Bb > 1,2,3,4,5,6,7b
3. Kafi: C,D,Eb,F,G,A,Bb > 1,2,3b,4,5,6,7b
4. Asavari: C,D,Eb,F,G,Ab,Bb > 1,2,3b,4,5,6b,7b
5.  Bhairvi: C,Db,Eb,F,G,Ab,Bb > 1,2b,3b,4,5,6b,7b
6. Kalian: C,D,E,F#,G,A,B > 1,2,3,4#,5,6,7
7. Marva: C,Db,E,F#,G,A,B > 1,2b,3,4#,5,6,7
8. Pooravi: C,Db,E,F#,G,Ab,B > 1,2b,3,4#,5,6b,7
9. Todi: C,Db,Eb,F#,G,Ab,B > 1,2b,3b,4#,5,6b,7
10. Bhairav: C,Db,E,F,G,Ab,B > 1,2b,3,4,5,6b,7

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