Upholding “Freedom of religion or belief, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of association” (22 August) – United Nations

We must understand India today in the light of its rich, long argumentative tradition [while] appreciating not only the richness of India’s diversity but its need for toleration. – Nobel Awardee Amartya Sen >>

Freedom of religion or belief, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of association are interdependent, interrelated and mutually reinforcing. They are enshrined in articles 18, 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Upholding these rights plays an important role in the fight against all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief.

The open, constructive and respectful debate of ideas, as well as interreligious, interfaith and intercultural dialogue, at the local, national, regional and international levels, can play a positive role in combating religious hatred, incitement and violence.

Furthermore, the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and full respect for the freedom to seek, receive and impart information can play a positive role in strengthening democracy and combating religious intolerance.

Source: “International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief”
URL: https://www.un.org/en/observances/religious-based-violence-victims-day
Date Visited: 15 August 2023

Even the brilliant Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, who was himself deeply religious, clarified that bhakti is essential for a Carnatic music, but this bhakti is for music, not for any personal deity.

Lakshmi Sreeram in “Carnatic Music Ruminating the Landscape”, Indian Horizons published by The Indian Council for Cultural Relations

Reviews – Raga Dhana: An Alpha-Numerical Directory of Ragas

ragadhana_2ndedby Ludwig Pesch

“An easy to use reference book for concert, music class and and home” [about the first edition] – Indian Express, Chennai, 29 August 1986

“A neat compilation … ragas mainly used on concert platforms … highly useful as a reference book for listeners in concerts and to students for use in the classroom. …” [about the first edition] – The Hindu, Chennai, 23 December 1986

Students of music, as well as music lovers in general, will find this a very useful reference book. Neatly printed and attractively produced.” – Sruti Magazine, The Indian Classical Music and Dance Magazine, Chennai, January 1994

Unique Directory of Ragas … For 15 years he [Ludwig Pesch] studied with the late Ramachandra Sastri (1906-1992) … Pesch not only became a performing artiste on the Karnatic flute but had access to his mentor’s research material. He received many scholarships and put them to good use for enlarging the horizon of Karnatic music by research, documentation and publications …
His [is an] ingenious and logically consistent scheme for identifying ragas by an alpha-numerical method … almost encyclopedic in its scope … contains 500 north and south Indian ragas … the Hindustani svaras and their Western equivalents have been given and the scales shown in staff notation … The glossary, with all terms and names cross-referred, is an illuminating compilation … which every lover of music should welcome with gratitude.” – T.S. Parthasarathy, Journal of the Music Academy Madras, Vol. LXV, 1994

No library of books on Indian music would be complete without Ludwig Pesch’s Raga Dhana (published by Natana Kairali) and Illustrated Companion to South Indian Music (Oxford University Press). They are among the most widely consulted books on Indian music in English. Pesch’s writing is highly regarded for its accurate scholarship. At the same time he takes pains to write in a style that does not intimidate the lay reader.” – S.R. Ramakrishna, themusicmagazine.com, Bangalore, July 2003

Ragadhana is indeed a phenomenal work both in terms of its author and his unique treatment of the priceless dhana (‘wealth’) of ragas that highlights his ingenuity. His scientific and systematic listing of the janaka (‘generic’) ragas and the innumerable janya (‘generated’) ragas reveals the author’s inventive genius. […] It is my proud pleasure to commend this book to those music lovers around the world who evince more than a superficial interest in lndian Music.” – Music critic Prof. George S. Paul (Thrissur), Preface to the 2nd. rev. ed. Ragadhana

Preface to Ragadhana

Prof. George S. Paul (Thrissur) in Ragadhana (1993 ed.) | Find a library copy on Worldcat.org >>

Needless to mention that the stress of each raga is on a particular emotion – its mood seizes the listener’s mind and holds it enchanted throughout.

The psychic appeal of lndian music is an intrinsic quality since like all other branches of knowledge of lndian origin, music has also been a form of meditation.

Over the centuries, there have been attempts to classify these myriad scales, to reduce to law and order the indigenous airs that appeared on people’s lips. But a comprehensive method evolved only through Venkatamakhi’s treatise Chaturdandi Prakasika (17th century), considered to be the bedrock of South lndian music even today.

The 72 melakarta ragas described in it represent all the possible combinations of notes which a refined ear can appreciate and easily distinguish. The pivotal role of madhyama (‘f’) in dividing the into purva melas (i.e scales using suddha madhyama or ‘f-natural’) and uttara melas (i.e. scales using prati madhyama or ‘f-sharp’) has been explained by Venkatamakhi himself:

Even as a drop of butter-milk converts the entire milk in a vessel into curd, the substitution of prati madhyama in the place of suddha madhyama in the uttara melas does effect such a radical change and gives rise to an entirely new set of mela ragas.

That the scheme embraces all the modes used in ancient as well as modern systems of music prevalent in different parts of the world, speaks for the universality of the scheme.

Ragadhana is indeed a phenomenal work both in terms of its author and his unique treatment of the priceless dhana (‘wealth’) of ragas that highlights his ingenuity.

His scientific and systematic listing of the janaka (‘generic’) ragas and the innumerable janya (‘generated’) ragas reveals the author’s inventive genius. Perhaps, it surpasses the dexterously coined katapayadi sutra (‘formula’) applicable to only melakarta (or janaka) ragas in that the scheme provides easy access to a treasure of information about the janya ragas as well. The method developed is logically consistent and, if pursued with a little bit of effort, serves the purpose of a ready reckoner of lndian ragas.

The section ‘Pans in Tamil Music’ beckons especially to critics like me who have been vociferously underscoring the need for analysing music on the basis of ethnomusicology, a branch that is yet to form part of the lndian music curriculum. lt reminds us to what immense extent refined classical music has drawn from folk music which is being looked down upon by many so-called classical musicians today.

Similarity of melas to modes in the European tradition and the variegated scales of Western music is sure to entice those who practice these branches both in lndia and abroad.

It was a pleasant surprise for me personally (when I interviewed Mr. Ludwig Pesch for All lndia Radio, Thrissur in 1990) to hear from a European musician of his calibre, conditioned to the notes of equal temperament of the West from early childhood, that he was attracted by the profound philosphical dimensions of Carnatic music.

Nowadays when commercialism has made deep inroads into the realm of music, I wonder how many lndian practicioners of music have realized this truth. This observation epitomises the author’s involvement in this particular stream of lndian music; and echoes the rigorous discipline he underwent in Kalakshetra (Madras) under the flute-virtuoso H. Ramachandra Shastry.

It is my proud pleasure to commend this book to those music lovers around the world who evince more than a superficial interest in lndian Music.

Find a library copy on Worldcat.org >>

Flow | Combine exercises & vocal ranges

  • 7 notes: Any sampurna (melakarta) raga
  • 6 notes: ragas Sriranjani & Hamsanandi
  • 5 notes: raga Hamsadhvani
  • 5 notes: raga Mohana
  • 5 notes: raga Valaji
  • 5/\7 notes: ragas Bilahari & Mohana Kalyani
  • 5/\6 notes: Vasanta
  • 6 notes: raga Kuntalavarali

<< swipe >> to try another exercise
Flow | Exercises, related resources & tips >>

Tambura and sruti petti: “Sa” = G# without Pa
Tambura and sruti petti: “Sa” = G#
Tambura and sruti petti: “Sa” = G
Tambura: “Sa” = F without Pa
Tambura and sruti petti: “Sa” = F
Tambura and sruti petti: “Sa” = D
Tambura and sruti petti: “Sa” = D without Pa
Sruti petti: “Sa” = C-sharp
Sruti petti: “Sa” = C without Pa
Tambura and sruti petti: “Sa” = C
Tambura and sruti petti: “Sa” = A# (lower octave)

Credit: eSWAR / FS-3C Sruthi petti + Tanjore Tambura

Flow | Practice within a shared vocal range of one octave

Vocal range varies greatly among individuals and over the lifetime of an individual. The ability to vocalize and have a sense of pitch on multiple instruments has proven useful in many cases.
Source © Wikimedia – view or download this illustration in full size here:
Choral Vocal Ranges – Piano – Guitar Staff and Fret-board >>

By choosing an octave based on G# or A for basic “Sa”, all types of voice will be able to join in comfortably.

This is demonstrated by a noted singer and vocal guru, Dr. Nookala Chinnasatyanarana: for this audio lesson1 he chose G# as basic “sa” to enable male and female voices to practice together; and this without unnecessary strain even when repeating a given exercise many times:

Matching sruti for practice
(2 min. recorded from Eswar digital tanpura)

Repetition with scope for expressive variation is, of course, the very idea behind getting into the flow: “Pursuing flow through learning is more humane, natural, and very likely more effective way to marshal emotions in the service of education. […] Whether it be in controlling impulse and putting off gratification, regulating our moods, so they facilitate rather than impede thinking, motivating ourselves to persist and try, try again in the face of setbacks, or finding ways to enter flow, and so perform more effectively–all bespeak the power of emotion to guide effective effort”.2

A simple way of testing such insights is to practice raga Sankarabharanam (with G# as basic “sa” as heard above):

Read like a text: left-to-right, top-to-bottom
Note: this pattern may be applied to
any melakarta raga (Hindustani that) | Learn more >>
  1. A series of similar audio and video lessons is freely accessible on YouTube. []
  2. Daniel Goleman in Emotional Intelligence (New York: Bantam Books, 1995), pp. 106-8 []

Gamaka determines the character of each raga in vocal and instrumental music

By N S Ramachandran (University of Madras, 1938) | Compositions >>

Gamaka has been defined by Sarngadeva and others as the ornamentation of a note by shaking it. But evidence from their works can be cited to show that the idea of gamaka is more extensive than the connotation of this definition; it has been used to convey the idea of beautifying a note not only by the shake but by any other means which seem to be efficient or adequate. For instance by the adjustment and control of the volume of a single note it can be made to assume different shades of colour, and these effects can be, and have been legitimately classed under the category of gamakas. […]

This complexity in the nature of gamakas, as used in vocal and instrumental music, has been noticed and exhaustively treated in Sanskrit treatises on music. They offer an abundance of material on this subject as well as on others. […]

Sreevidhya Chandramouli
Srīgananātha (Gītam) – Malahari rāga – Rūpaka tāla
contributed by Sreevidhya Chandramouli >>
Lyrics, notation and translations >>
Practice Rupaka tala here >>

Though the employment of gamaka in music is plain enough it is a long time before we come across the term gamaka in Sangita literature. Bharata does not use the word gamaka in his Natya Sastra. […]

Among authors who came after Bharata, Narada in his Sangita Makaranda and Matanga in his Brhaddesi mention gamakas though they do not enumerate any list of them or seek to define them. Along with the idea of gamaka, the expression ‘gamaka’ was perhaps being slowly evolved. Narada in dealing with alankaras says that he will describe 19 gamakas but their definitions are missing in the existing recension of his treatise. Matanga freely uses the term gamakas in the definition of ragas and gitis. As in so many other respects, he is the writer who gives the most important information on this subject between the time of Bharata and Sarngadeva. […]

The gamaka has come to occupy a vital place in our system of music. It is not simply a device to make melodic music tolerable, and it is not its function merely to beautify music. It determines the character of each raga1, and it is essential to note that the same variety of gamaka appears with different intensity in different ragas. The function of the same gamaka in different ragas varies subtly and establishes all the fine distinctions between kindred melodies by an insistence, which is delicate but withal emphatic, on the individuality of their constituent notes. The gamaka makes possible the employment of all the niceties in variation of the pitch of the notes used and is therefore of fundamental importance to our music. If the personality of any raga is to be understood it cannot be without appraising the values of the gamakas which constitute it.

Source: Ragas of Carnatic music by N S Ramachandran, University of Madras, 1938, CHAPTER V. Gamakas and the Embellishment of Song, pp. 112-158
URL: https://archive.org/details/RagasOfCarnaticMusicByNSRamachandran
Date Visited: 18 March 2022

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

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  1. The most concise definition of a raga may be that by Joep Bor: a tonal framework for composition and improvisation. []