Music is to all life the language of emotion. Whether it is played on the harp or lyre or  the Indian veena or sitar it becomes soulful by emotional overtones. Categorising music region wise is not exactly a democratic exercise as people respond to cadences irrespective of culture. Yet there is to region a certain tenor of mellifluousness which is culturally shared. There are tonal preferences for certain cultures. Indians go for plaintive music or strains with religious echoes. This is in keeping with the devout Indian mindset. Most Indian compositions are set to ragas, a term which defies one word equivalents. A raga is not just a tune. Nor is it a mere progression. It is a traversing of chosen notes of the octave in a particular scheme in the upward and downward modes. It retains a structural discipline and can be identified by the aspect of the traversing called “lakshana” or tendency in South Indian classical music. The notes traverse only in the mode laid down by the scheme of the raga. The upward progression is called arohan or ascending and the downward declension is called avarohan. If there is an unlicensed variation the raga falls out. The Indian ragas have very picturesque names reflecting the generic qualities of the raga. They are so named based on the emotions they rouse and the hour of the day they are most suitably sung. The nomenclature is however by no means limited to this. The raga Saveri gets its name from the first two octaves sa and ri being very close on the note scale that they have close frets on the veena. The musical trinity of south India, namely, Muthuswamy Dikshithar, Saint Thyagaraja, and Shyama Sastri, composed devotional pieces in the various ragas of Carnatic music as South Indian music was called. The north Indian counterpart is Hindustan music. There are abundant similarities between these two and the nomenclature too is sometimes common. The nature of ragas and their descent makes highly interesting study and many books have been written on this subject.


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