Ustad Imrat Khan

Indian Classical Music

Introduction

Indian philosophy believes that all matter is formed from vibrations. Some of these vibrations may be harmonious whilst others, discordant. Music, an arrangement of vibrations has remained closest to the supreme infinite, the world, life and nature. A musician’s ultimate goal therefore is to produce vibrations which are in complete harmony in order to unify with nature. In order to achieve this unity, the development of Indian Classical music over centuries has focused on the spirituality and emotion of these vibrations. The three essential elements of Indian Classical music are Sur; perfection of tones, pitch and tune, The Rag; perfection of notes and the discipline of the scales, and Taal; the binding pulse of rhythmic cycles based on intricate calculations.

The Rag

The Rag is the backbone and essence of Indian Classical music. Indian Classical music and Western Classical music use the same scales, notes and divisions of the scale. No other form of music, for example Chinese or Arabic, is as closely related. That however, is as far as the similarities go. There are twelve major scales in Indian classical music. The combinations of notes and their strict groupings in ascending and descending scales are described as Rags. There are hundreds of Rags, some which have existed for centuries. Each Rag produces an individual, powerful emotion based on the groupings of notes. Seasons and times of the day are powerful influences creating differences in nature, light, emotion and mood. The light, feeling and mood of a summer evening, a monsoon evening and a spring evening will be completely different. The same goes for the different feelings inspired by dawn, dusk, day and night. Musicians have strived whole lifetimes in order to capture this mood and emotion. Each Rag combines groups of notes that reflect the quality and atmosphere of each season and time. Only when nature and music come together do the vibrations reach their optimal frequency to create the perfect spiritual and emotional balance.