Friday, 7 February 2020

Musical Scales: Thāṭ and Rāga - II

Musical Scales: Thāṭ  and Rāga - II

[This continues part I of the article, starting with the pentatonic scales of Indian music].

II.C. PENTATONIC Scales of Indian Classical Music:

Pentatonic scales are more widespread than hexatonic scales. The musical systems of the Far East, for example, typically mainly have pentatonic scales.

1. Intervals: 222 33 (2 interval patterns, 6 scales):
22   332
22   323   
23   232  
SgM   dnŚ
32   322
23   223
SgM   PnŚ
32   232  

2. Intervals: 11 2 44 (3 interval patterns, 9 scales):
41   214
Srg   PdŚ
12   414
24   141
41   412
41   241  
SRg   PdŚ
21   414  
41   421
SrM   PdŚ
14   214
42   141

3. Intervals: 1 22 3 4 (9 interval patterns, 22 scales):
Srg   MdŚ
12   234
22   341
23   412  
41   223
Srg   mdŚ
12   324
SgM   DnŚ
32   412
24   123           
42   123
23   421
SRg   MdŚ
21   234
43   212
21   243
32   241
32   421
SGm   PnŚ
42   132
SrM   PnŚ
14   232
21   423
23   214
42   321
SgM   PdŚ
32   214
43   221
22   314


4. Intervals: 1 2 333 (3 interval patterns, 5 scales):
Sgm   DnŚ
33   312
Sgm   PnŚ
33   132
Candrakauns (new)          
SgM   dNŚ 
32   331
SrG   mDŚ
13   233
13   323

5. Intervals: 11 33 4 (1 interval pattern, 2 scales):
SrG   PdŚ
13   314
41   331

6. Intervals: 1 222 5 (3 interval patterns, 5 scales):
22   521
SMP   dnŚ
52   122
22   251
52   212
22   125

7. Intervals: 11 2 3 5 (1 interval pattern, 1 scale):
52   131

8. Intervals: 111 3 6 (2 interval patterns, 2 scales):
13   161
SrP   dNŚ
16   131

II.D. Other Scales of Indian Classical Music:

Before going further, it must be noted that there are many rāgas which do not fit into the list of heptatonic (7-note), hexatonic (6-note) and pentatonic (5-note) thāṭs or scales given by us above even from the point of view of notes. This is because the full scale of  a great many rāgas contains both forms of one or more notes so that there can be more notes than 7 (our above list does not include such scales except the Lalat-type heptatonic Mm scales, and the mainly heptatonic Carnatic scales of the rR, gG, dD and nN types).
As we will see, some of the Arabic maqams have 8, 9 or 10 notes. In our classification of the scales of Indian music, we have taken only heptatonic (7-note), hexatonic (6-note) and pentatonic (5-note) scales. However, many rāgas can have a set of more than 7 notes, having both forms of one or more notes, these extra notes being ignored in the official thāṭ classification.

Many rāgas have 8 notes with both forms of one note. Some examples:
SrRgM PdnŚ:  KomalDesī.
SRGM PDnNŚ:  AlhaiyāBilāval, Soraṭh, Des.
SRgGM PDNŚ:  DevGandhār.
SRGMm PDNŚ:  Bihāg, Kedār, Basant, GauḍSāraṅg.

Many rāgas have 9 notes with both forms of two notes. Some examples:
SRgGM PDnNŚ:  Jaijaivantī, Nīlāmbarī, RāmdāsīMalhār.
SrRgGM PdnŚ:  LakṣmīToḍī.

Many rāgas have 10 notes with both forms of two notes. One example:  
SRgGM PdDnNŚ:  Janglā.

Another version of a rāga named above has 11 notes with both forms of three notes:
SrRgGM PdDnNŚ:  LakṣmīToḍī.

While this brings into focus a great many rāgas with more than 7 notes, it may be noted that there are also many rāgas which would be classified as 5-note or 6-note rāgas, which would not fit into our earlier list of scales, because they likewise have both forms of a note. Some examples of such "pentatonic" scales with 6 notes:
SGM PnNŚ:  Tilaṅg.
SgGM PnŚ:  Jog.
SRM PnNŚ:  BrindāvanīSāraṅg.    
Or the following "hexatonic" scales with 7 notes:
SRMm PDNŚ:  ŚuddhaSāraṅg.
SRGM DnNŚ:  Rāgeśrī.

All these are scales with different notes. We will not classify these scales here as we have classified the 7-note, 6-note and 5-note scales (with notes and intervals) because then we enter the rich and unparalleled world of thousands of rāgas, found only in our Indian music. It may just be noted here that Indian scales, unique in world music, go beyond the lists given earlier (which lists also could be suitably enlarged with more research even without including these scales).   


We saw the primary scales in Indian Classical music, north and south. We will now just take a brief and passing look at the musical scales in some other major music systems of the world.

1. WESTERN CLASSICAL MUSIC is completely different from Indian Classical music, since it is based on the principle of simultaneous Harmony between different sounds, and the consequent use of chords (multiple notes in harmony with each other being played or sung simultaneously) rather than on linear Melody - although of course Melody ultimately has to be one of the two pillars of any form of music (the other pillar being Rhythm). We will not go into the intricacies of the western Harmony system here, we will only note the main musical scales of Western Classical music, on the basis of intervals:

Heptatonic Scales:
221   2221
Bilāval - Dhīraśaṅkarābharaṇam
Natural Minor
212   2122
Āsāvarī - Nāṭabhairavī
Harmonic Minor
212   2131
Melodic Minor Asc
212   2221
221   2212
Paṭdīp - Gaurīmanoharī
Āsāvarī - Nāṭabhairavī
222   1221
Kalyāṇ - Mecakalyāṇī
Lydian Augmented
222   2121

Western scales can start from any key, and the melody is named after the Scale and the key: the white keys (see the picture of the keyboard of the harmonium) are called C, D, E, F, G, A and B. Thus the most common, C Major is a Major scale starting on the first white key, and D Major is a Major scale starting on the second white key and then taking the same interval pattern 221 2221. [All the scales below are C scales].

Hexatonic Scales:
Major Hexatonic
221   223
Minor Hexatonic
SRGm   PnŚ
222   132
Whole-tone Hexatonic
SRGm   dnŚ
222   222
Major Blues
211   323
Minor Blues
SgMm   PnŚ
321   132
Tritone Scale
SrGm   PnŚ
132   132
Two-semi-tone Tritone
SrRm   PdŚ
114   114
Augmented Scale
SgGP   dDŚ
313   112

Pentatonic Scales:
Major Pentatonic
22   323
Minor Pentatonic Scale
SgM   PnŚ
32   232
Semi-tonal Pentatonic
SRg   PdŚ
21   414
Neutral Pentatonic
23   232

There are a few other scales found in the folk music of some parts of Europe, and composers have often experimented with other scales, but they are not part of the official repertoire of Western Classical Music - actually even some of the above scales are not commonly used. It will be noticed that the number and range of scales in western music is extremely limited in comparison with Indian Classical music, although we have not given a completely exhaustive list of Indian scales - there are many more rarely used, or present in old lists - and the above list of western scales itself includes many not used in Classical music but new innovations in modern forms of music like jazz. And remember, we are still discussing thāṭ scales, not rāga scales!

But we must also keep in mind that a large number of scales is not the only criterion for judging richness and variety in any musical system, and that, apart from the fact that Western Classical music develops its richness on the basis of Harmony rather than Melody, there are usually unofficial and individualistic aspects of musical performance in any musical system which lend richness, variety and depth to the music. Nevertheless the enormous variety of scales in Indian music testifies to its unique richness.

2. JAPANESE CLASSICAL MUSIC, in the East, is based on 10 scales in 4 pentatonic variants:
22   323
Ritsu  (Gagaku)
23   223
Ritsu  (Minyo)
SgM   PnŚ
32   232
23   232
SRg   PdŚ
21   414
SrM   PdŚ
14   214
SrM   mnŚ
14   142
SRg   PDŚ 
21   423
23   214
SrM   PnŚ
14   232

There are also a handful of hexatonic scales more rarely used:
122 142
142    122
Srg    MmnŚ
122    142
122 322
232    212
Srg    mdnŚ
122    322
SRg    MPnŚ
212    232

3. CHINESE CLASSICAL MUSIC has three primary pentatonic scales, the first of which, with the addition of certain notes, can produce some hexatonic and heptatonic scales. The two primary pentatonic scales are the tonal pentatonic and the semi-tonal pentatonic:
Tonal pentatonic: SRGPDŚ (intervals 22323).
Semitonal pentatonic: RmdDrR (intervals 42141).
Neutral Pentatonic: PDSRMP (intervals 23232).

The Tonal pentatonic (also called Mongolian) scale can start on each of the five notes, and uses the same five notes, so that the interval pattern is the same. So we get the five following scales (or rather modes):

Pentatonic Scales: Intervals: 222 33 (1 interval pattern, 5 scales):
2 2 3 2 3
S R G    P D S
2  2  3  2  3 
R G P    D S R
2  3  2  3  2
G P D    S R G
3  2  3  2  2
P D S    R G P
2  3  2  2  3
D S R    G P D
3  2  2  3  2

From this 20 hexatonic scales are produced by adding either M, m, n, or N (these additions are respectively called Qing Jue, Bian Zi, Run and Bian Gong):

Hexatonic Scales: Intervals: 1 2222 3 (3 interval patterns, 20 scales):
3 2 1 2 2 2
Run Gong
S R G    P D n S
2 2 3    2 1 2
Run Shang
R G P    D n S R
2 3 2    1 2 2
Run Jue
G P D    n S R G
3 2 1    2 2 2
Run Zi
P D n    S R G P
2 1 2    2 2 3
Run Yu
D n S    R G P D
1 2 2    2 3 2
3 2 2 1 2 2
Qing Jue Gong
S R G    M P D S
2 2 1    2 2 3
Bian Gong Zi
P D N    S R G P
2 2 1    2 2 3
Qing Jue Shang
R G M    P D S R
2 1 2    2 3 2
Bian Gong Yu
D N S    R G P D
2 1 2    2 3 2
Qing Jue Zi
P D S    R G M P
2 3 2    2 1 2  
Bian Gong Shang
R G P    D N S R
2 3 2    2 1 2
Qing Jue Yu
D S R    G M P D
3 2 2    1 2 2
Bian Gong Jue
G P D    N S R G
3 2 2    1 2 2
Qing Jue Jue
G M P    D S R G
1 2 2    3 2 2
Bian Gong Gong
S R G    P D N S
2 2 3    2 2 1
3 2 2 2 1 2
Bian Zi Gong
S R G    m P D S
2 2 2    1 2 3
Bian Zi Shang
R G m    P D S R
2 2 1    2 3 2
Bian Zi Jue
G m P    D S R G
2 1 2    3 2 2
Bian Zi Zi
P D S    R G m P
2 3 2    2 2 1
Bian Zi Yu
D S R    G m P D
3 2 2    2 1 2

From the Mongolian or Tonal Pentatonic, we also get 15 heptatonic scales, by adding MN, mN, or Mn: (these additions are respectively called Qing Yue, Ya Yue and Yan Yue:

Heptatonic Scales: Intervals: 11 22222 (1 interval pattern, 15 scales):
2 2 1 2 2 2 1
Qing Yue Gong
S R G M    P D N S
2 2 1    2 2 2 1
Ya Yue Zi
P D N S    R G m P
2 2 1    2 2 2 1
Qing Yue Shang
R G M P    D N S R
2 1 2    2 2 1 2
Ya Yue Yu
D N S R    G m P D
2 1 2    2 2 1 2
Yan Yue Zi
P D n S    R G M P
2 1 2    2 2 1 2
Qing Yue Jue
G M P D    N S R G
1 2 2    2 1 2 2
Yan Yue Yu
D n S R    G M P D
1 2 2    2 1 2 2
Qing Yue Zi
P D N S    R G M P
2 2 1    2 2 1 2
Ya Yue Shang
R G m P    D N S R
2 2 1    2 2 1 2
Yan Yue Gong
S R G M    P D n S  
2 2 1   2 2 1 2
Qing Yue Yu
D N S R    G M P D
2 1 2    2 1 2 2
Ya Yue Jue
G m P D    N S R G
2 1 2    2 1 2 2
Yan Yue Shang
R G M P    D n S R
2 1 2    2 1 2 2
Ya Yue Gong
S R G m    P D N S
2 2 2    1 2 2 1
Yan Yue Jue
G M P D    n S R G
1 2 2    1 2 2 2

Very few of the scales are actually in use, and the practice of continuously shifting from scale to scale within a piece of music makes the actual notations of the scales a bit superfluous. Many of these scales are more prominent in different kinds of folk music in different parts of China. The scales can add different extra notes for effect in the musical compositions, and add some kinds of chords as well for effect.

4. ARABIC (OR WEST ASIAN) CLASSICAL MUSIC is closer to Indian classical music in the sense that its scales are melodies as in Indian music. They are called maqams, and are equivalent to rāgas: the thāṭs/meḷas we have already shown are also basically rāgas, except that in our above list we have only counted those rāgas as thāṭs which have a distinct set of notes and intervals. When it comes to the actual rāgas as melodies, we get an extremely larger number of rāga-scales, since there can be different and distinct rāgas having the same notes but completely different melodies for which there are different characteristics.
In that sense, the Arabic maqams are much more limited in number and can be enumerated as maqams (scales/melodies) rather than separately as thāṭs (scales) and rāgas (melodies).
As we will see later, the classical music of West Asia is probably derived in its historical origins from Indian classical music, although it has a completely different sound and style. It retains features such as associating maqams with specific emotions (the rasa of Indian classical music) and its greatest feature is that it still retains a system of quarter-tones or microtones (which is still used in practice in Indian classical music but has become obsolete in theory). The quarter-tones are of course, not exactly quarter tones, but pitches between two semi-tones, and are expressed below in the form of fractions approximately as half semitones. In the last two or three maqams, the pitches are even more complicated and have to be expressed in even more minute approximate fractions:

1. Intervals: 11 22222 (1 Interval Pattern, 7 scales):
221   2221
nSRg   MPDn
221   2221
Farahfaza - I
212   2122
122   2122
RgMP   dnŚR
122   1222
Nahawand - I
SRgM   PdnŚ
212   2122
SRgM   PDnŚ 
212   2212

2. Intervals: 111 222 3 (3 Interval Pattern, 10 scales):

RgMP   DnrR
122   2131
SRgM   mDnŚ
212   1312
131   2212
Saba-Zamzam - I
RgMm   DnSR
121   3122
221   2131
Farahfaza - II
PDnS   RgmP
212   2131
RgmP   DnSR
131   2122
Nahawand - II
212   2131
SRgm   PDnŚ
213   1212
212   2131

3. Intervals: 1111 2 33 (2 Interval Patterns, 6 scales):
Srgm   PdNŚ
123   1131
131   2131
SRgm   PdNŚ
213   1131
RgmP   DnrR
131   2131
PdNS   RgmP
131   2131
DnrR   GMdD
131   2131

4. Intervals: 1111 22 3 (1 Interval Pattern, 1 scale):
RGMm   DnSr
211   3121

As pointed out earlier, an important feature of Arabic scales and music is the use of quarter-tones: notes somewhere between two semi-tones. Thus we get g+ which is between g and G, or n+ which is between n and N. The interval must then be calculated in terms of half of a semitone, written below as 1/2.

4. Intervals: 1 2222  11/2  11/2 (2 Interval Patterns, 4 scales):
11/2  11/2  2  2  2  1  2
S R g+ M    P D N Ś
2 11/2  11/2    2  2  2  1
11/2  11/2  2  2  1  2  2
Bayati I
R g+ M P    D n S R   
11/2  11/2  2    2  1  2  2
R G M P    D n+ S R
2  1  2    2  11/2  11/2  2
S R g+ M    P D n S
2  11/2  11/2    2  2  1  2

5. Intervals: 11 22 3  11/2  11/2 (1 Interval Pattern, 5 scales):
11/2  11/2  2  1  3  1  2
R g+ M P    d N S R
11/2  11/2  2    1  3  1  2
R g m P    D n+ S R
1  3  1    2  11/2  11/2  2
g+ M P d    N S R g+
11/2  2  1    3  1  2  11/2
n+ S R g    m P D n+
11/2  2  1    3  1  2  11/2
S R g+ M    P d N Ś
2  11/2  11/2    2  1  3  1

6. Intervals: 222  11/2  11/2  11/2  11/2 (1 Interval Pattern, 8 scales):
11/2  11/2  2  11/2  11/2  2  2
R g+ M P    D n+ S R 
11/2  11/2  2    2  11/2  11/2  2
R g+ M P    D n+ S R 
11/2  11/2  2    2  11/2  11/2  2
n+ S R g+    M P D n+
11/2  2  11/2    11/2  2  2  11/2
S R g+ M    P D n+ S
2  11/2  11/2    2  2  11/2  11/2   
S R g+ M    P d+ n Ś
2  11/2  11/2    2  11/2  11/2  2
S R g+ M    P D n+ S
2  11/2  11/2    2  2  11/2  11/2
P D n+ S    R g+ M P
2  11/2  11/2    2  11/2  11/2  2
g+ M P D    n+ S R g+
11/2  2  2    11/2  11/2  2  11/2   

7. Intervals: 11 222  11/2  21/2 (1 Interval Pattern, 1 scale):
21/2  1  2  1  2  2  11/2
g+ m P D    n S R g+
21/2  1  2    1  2  2  11/2 

8. Intervals: 11 2 33  1/2  11/2 (1 Interval Pattern, 1 scale):
11/2  2  1  3  1  3  1/2
n+ S R g    m P n n+
11/2  2  1    3  1  3  1/2 

There are some scales (maqams) which have more than 7 notes; and, except for the first one below, the rest go above the octave and use slightly differing notes as they step into the next octave:

9. Intervals: 1111 2 3  11/2  11/2 (1 Interval Pattern, 1 scale) - 8 notes:
Saba - I
R g+ M m    D n S r R
11/2  11/2  1    3  1  2  1  1   

10. Intervals: 1111 22 3  11/2  11/2 (1 Interval Pattern, 1 scale) - 9 notes:
Saba - II
R g+ M m    D n S r R G
11/2  11/2  1    3  1  2  1  1  2   

11. Intervals: 11111 2222 3 (1 Interval Pattern, 1 scale) - 9 notes:
S r g M    P d n N S r G
1  2  2    2  1  2  1  1  1  3

12. Intervals: 1111 22 33 (1 Interval Pattern, 1 scale) - 9 notes:
Saba-Zamzam - II
R g M m    D n S r G
1  2  1    3  1  2  1  3 

13. Intervals: 1 222 3 11/2  11/2 11/2 11/2 (1 Interval Pattern, 1 scale) - 9 notes:
S R g+ M    P D n+ S r G
2  11/2  11/2   2  2  11/2  11/2  1 3       

14. Intervals: 111 22 33 11/2  11/2 11/2 (1 Interval Pattern, 1 scale) - 10 notes:
n+ S R g+    M m D n S r G
11/2  2  11/2    11/2  1 3 1 2 1 3       

Finally there are three maqams which contain notes slightly raised or lowered, which cannot be satisfactorily explained in numerals, not even with the fractions used above (though it is true that these fractions are also approximate ones). They range from the relatively simpler Sazkar to the more complicated Jiharkah and the extremely complicated Sikah-Baladi (the last of which is so complicated in the exact pitch of its notes that it is only rarely sung or played and only by musicians out to show their exceptional skill and virtuosity). This slight raised or lowered note will be indicated below with arrows and nominal or extremely approximate values in fractions of semitones:

15. Intervals: 222   1/4  11/4  11/2  11/2  11/2 (1 Interval Pattern, 1 scale) - 8 notes:
S R R↑ g+    M P D n S
2   1/4  11/4   11/2  2  2  11/2  11/2        

16. Intervals: 1 22  13/4  21/4  11/2  11/2 (1 Interval Pattern, 1 scale) - 7 notes:
g+ M P D↓    n↓ S R g+
11/2  2  13/4    1  21/4  2  11/2        

17. Intervals: 1  11/8  13/8  13/8  17/8  11/4  13/4  21/4 (1 Interval Pattern, 1 scale) - 8 notes:
P  d+↓  n+↑   
S↓ r  R  g+↓  M↑ P
13/8  21/4  11/4    
11/8  1  13/8  13/4  17/8        

As we can see, the number of scales (52) and interval patterns (22) is limited as compared to Indian music. As in the case of Indian rāgas, some maqams have not only the same interval-patterns but also the same notes (unlike the distinctly different Indian thāṭs/meḷas listed earlier): e.g. Kirdan and Rast, or Nahawand-II and Sultani-Yakah, or Bayati and Husayni. Others have the same notes, but start on different notes: e.g. 'Ajam-Ushayran, Farahfaza-I, Kurd and Nahawand-Kabir, or Farahfaza-II, Hijaz and Nikriz.

The maqam system of Arabic music is relatively closer to Indian classical music in its emphasis on melody, though the maqam musical style of West Asia (varieties of which are found right up to Afghanistan, and also found influencing Kashmiri music) is very distinctly different from Indian Classical music in most respects. Incidentally, as all other forms of world music have contributed their bits to Indian film music, Arabic-Persian-Turkish music has also often been used to give a West Asian coloring to songs in Hindi films: the most glaring example (though it would not be immediately obvious to Indian film-song lovers, since the accompanying musical instruments in the song are all Indian ones, or ones regularly used in Indian film music) is the maqam bayati as used in the film song "ghar aaya mera pardesi" in the film Awara.
But except for its more open preservation of microtones, West Asian music is not as rich as Indian music. The total number of scales (52) that we have seen, and it is possible there are a few more not included in the list above, are actually equivalent to the melodies themselves: in Indian music, however, the scales (thāṭs) are just the basis for countless melodies (rāgas), and there are literally thousands of rāgas.

III. The Rāgas of Indian Music

We have seen the scales or thāṭs/meḷas of Indian classical music. However, the thāṭs are not themselves rāgas, although in almost all cases the above thāṭs are named after certain particular rāgas which have those same notes. A rāga is a melody containing the following characteristics, and as mentioned above, there are literally thousands of rāgas in Indian music. In this article, we can only touch upon the basic aspects of the rāga system itself, and with reference to only a few of the thousands of rāgas (i.e. in explaining any point, we will only consider one or two of scores or hundreds of examples):

The first characteristic of a rāga is its scale or the full set of notes used in it. We have already given a listing of heptatonic (7-note), hexatonic (6-note) and pentatonic (5-note) thāṭs or scales.
In all of the cases, a thāṭ is also a rāga.
In many cases, it is the only rāga in the thāṭ and therefore both rāga and thāṭ are identical.  Thus, what we have called the pentatonic thāṭ Śivarañjanī is also a rāga Śivarañjanī, with the notes SRg PDS., the only rāga in the thāt.

But this is not always the case. Usually, there are many distinctly different rāgas which use the same scale or set of notes: Thus the heptatonic scale of Bhairavī thāṭ (SrgM PdnŚ) is found in the distinctly different rāgas Bhairavī, Bilāskhānī Toḍī and Komal Āsāvarī.
If we take the pentatonic thāṭ Bhūp (SRG PDS) listed earlier, we again have a rāga Bhūp (or Bhūpālī) as well as another rāga Deskār  with exactly the same identical five notes and belonging to the same pentatonic thāṭ.
Thus, a rāga is actually something beyond the basic scale notes, and a thāṭ can have many rāgas with the same set of notes, but with different other characteristics, thus constituting totally different melodies. The thāṭ is basically a full set of the notes.
As we saw above, many of the Arabic maqams have the same basic set of notes, e.g. Kirdan and Rast, or Nahawand-II and Sultani-Yakah, or Bayati and Husayni. Others have the same set of notes, but start on different notes: e.g. 'Ajam-Ushayran, Farahfaza-I, Kurd and Nahawand-Kabir, or Farahfaza-II, Hijaz and Nikriz. The maqams are therefore rāgas and not thāṭs.
So then what distinguishes one rāga from another one with the same notes?
There are many factors, but first we will examine the factors involving the notes in the rāga:

a) A rāga has an ascending scale (āroh) and a descending scale (avaroh). The difference between two rāgas with the same set of notes can be because of a difference in the notes in āroh and avaroh. The two rāgas may have different ascending and descending patterns. [In western classical music, the melodic minor scale (see earlier) is notable for having different notes in the ascent and descent. Some of the Arabic maqams also use notes differently in the ascent and descent].
Thus the rāga Bhairav has the ascending scale SrGM PdNŚ, and the descending scale ŚNdP MGrS. The rāga, like so many others, has the same identical notes (in this case the 7 notes of the Bhairav thāṭ) in both ascent and descent.
But the rāga Sāverī, which also belongs to the Bhairav thāṭ, has only 5 notes in the ascending scale: SrM PdŚ (G and N are not used in the ascending part of this rāga), while the descending scale has the full 7 notes: ŚNdP MGrS.
Likewise, the rāga KomalDesī , an 8-note scale with the notes SrRgM PdnŚ, has 5 notes in āroh: SRM PnŚ, and 7 notes in avroh: ŚndP MgrS.

In the three "pentatonic" rāgas named earlier (Tilaṅg, Jog, BrindāvanīSāraṅg), which have two forms of one note each, thereby actually having 6-note scales, one form is used in the āroh and the other in the avroh:
Tilaṅg:  SGM PNŚ - ŚnP MGS.
Jog:  SGM PnŚ - ŚnP MgS.
BrindāvanīSāraṅg:  SRM PNŚ - ŚnP MRS.

Officially, a scale with 5 notes is called auḍav, with 6 notes is called ṣāḍav, and 7 notes is called sampūrṇa (full or complete). Thus a rāga can be classified in nine ways, as auḍav-auḍav (with 5 notes each in āroh and avaroh), auḍav-ṣāḍav (5 notes in āroh and 6 notes in avaroh), etc.
Actually, as we saw, there can be more categories when there are more than 7 notes in any direction.

A rāga may have both forms of a note, e.g. both n and N, in the same direction (in āroh and/or in avaroh). Thus the rāga Alhaiyā Bilāwal has the following notes in āroh: SRGP DNŚ (M is missing) and avroh: ŚNnD PMGRS (all 7 notes, with both n and N): thus the rāga has a scale of 8 notes (as in the avroh). 
Likewise, the rāga Bihāg has āroh: SGM PNŚ (R and D missing) and avroh: ŚNDP mMGRS
(all 7 notes, with both M and m): again a rāga with a scale of 8 notes (as in the avroh).
[The rāga Gauḍ Sāraṅg has both M and m in both āroh and avroh, and therefore has a full 8-note scale both ways: SRGMm PDNŚ].

Needless to say, the missing (varjya) notes in either the ascent or descent of any rāga give a completely different color to the melody, and there can be many distinct rāgas formed from a single scale (set of notes) with different notes missing in the ascent or the descent, where the difference in one or more notes in the aroh and avaroh results in different ascending and descending scales for the rāga.

b) Further, rāgas, being natural melodies and not analytically created scales, are different in their degree of adherence to rigid rules. Most rāgas generally use only the notes proper to them, especially the more gambhīr or serious rāgas, but the more light, popular, and emotionally evocative rāgas are less rigid (especially but not exclusively in non-classical contexts like films, etc.), and often skillfully use certain extra notes to give depth and beauty to the melody. The very popular rāga Śivarañjanī, for example, has the 5 notes SRg PDŚ: but regularly uses extra notes to add beauty and emotional depth to the melody, mainly the note G, which is used sparingly but extremely skilfully to give depth to the melody. Check the beautiful use, in different ways, of the extra note G in different film songs like Jane Kahan Gaye Wo Din (from the film Mera Naam Joker), or O Mere Sanam (from the film Sangam), or Tere Mere Beech Men (from the film Ek Dooje Ke Liye).
The use of extra notes for beauty and effect does not change the thāṭ or scale classification of a rāga: e.g. Śivarañjanī  will still be classified as a pentatonic thāṭ/rāga with the notes SRg PDŚ.

In the Bhairavī thāṭ, for example, the rāga Bhairavī is known for its very liberal use of other notes, while the rāgas which almost strictly adhere to the notes of the Bhairavī thāṭ (i.e. SrgM PdnŚ) are the rāgas known as Bilāskhānī Toḍi and Komal Ṛṣabh Āsāvarī. (with different notes in āroh and avroh). Pahāḍī is another rāga known for liberal use of extra notes for beauty.
The rāga Dhanī, likewise, a pentatonic rāga with SgM PnŚ uses an extra note R in avaroh for effect, to such an extent that it seems to have become a regular phenomenon.

c) Finally, we have the very important distinction of śruti: as we saw, Indian music earlier had 22 different micro-tones (wrongly also called quarter-tones), and, except for the two acal (अचल) sounds S and P, all the other ten semitones have two forms each: a slightly lower form and a slightly higher form. Although these finer distinctions are not maintained in general music (since the use of the harmonium and the tempered western scale have resulted in a blurring of the śruti distinctions in popular recognition), they are still observed to some extent in classical music, although not specified in notation. We can note these śrutis with + signs as in the Arabic maqams. Thus:
In rāga Mārvā, as well as rāga Toḍī, the r is slightly lower than normal: it could be understood as S+ (a note between S and r, although closer to r).
In rāga Darbārī Kānaḍā, the g is slightly lower than normal: it could be understood as R+ (a note between R and g, although closer to g).
In rāga Miyā Malhār, the g is higher than normal: it could be understood as g+ (a note between g and G, although closer to g).
As per the writings of Paluskar and Asarekar, for example, the notes r and d are slightly lower in rāga Bhairav than in rāga Bhairavī, the R and D are slightly lower in rāga Bibhās than in rāga Yaman Kalyāṇ, the n in Gauḍ Malhār is slightly lower than in rāga Bhairavī, the g in rāga Toḍī is slightly lower than in rāga Bhairavī, the G in rāga Mālkauns is slightly lower than in rāga Yaman Kalyāṇ, and so on.
Thus the actual notes in the scales of rāgas have a greater richness and variety than is immediately discernible from a consideration of the bare notes, since the notation does not take note of the distinction between higher and lower śrutis, though these śrutis are automatically distinguished in the actual music by the expert performer and the discerning listener without consciously realizing it.

The rich variety of scales in Indian music is thus hidden by the convention of force-fitting rāgas into the 10-heptatonic-thāṭs paradigm.

Quite apart from the set of notes in a rāga, there are many other factors distinguishing different rāgas from each other even when they have the same notes. We will merely list them, from the least tangible to the most tangible:

1. Firstly, the rāgas are classified according to time, season and emotion (rasa):   

a) According to the time of day, the rāgas are usually classified into three-hour divisions of the day known as prahar. Often, the division is even more minute, dividing the rāgas into two-hour divisions. Here we will just divide the day roughly into its most distinct four parts and note just a few of the typical or prominent rāgas which fall into them:
Morning: Lalat, Jogiyā, Bhairav, Bibhās, AhirBhairav, Toḍī, GujarīToḍī.  
Afternoon: GauḍSāraṅg, BrindāvanīSāraṅg, ŚuddhaSāraṅg, Bhīmpalās.    
Evening: Mārvā, Pūriyā, Pūrvī, Pīlū, Hamīr, YamanKalyāṇ, Hamsadhvanī. 
Night: Chandrakauns, Mālkauns, Sohanī, Abhogī, Darbārī, Aḍāṇā, Bāgeśrī.
Actually, the same rāga in different lists may be found attributed to different neighboring periods, and it is noteworthy that the rāga most associated in popular perception with dawn, Bhūp, is actually classified as a night rāga.

b) Again, the rāgas are divided according to the six seasons. One exemplary rāga and Hindi film song from each group is given:
Vasant (Spring): Basant. "Basant Hai Aya" (film: Anchal):

Grīṣma (Summer): Dīpak. "Jagamaga Jagamaga Diya Jalao" (film: Tansen):

Varṣā (Monsoon): GauḍMalhār: "Garjat Barsat Sawan Ayo Re" (film: Barsaat ki Raat):

Śarad (Autumn): Bhairav: "Mohe Bhool Gaye Sanwariya" (film: Baiju Bawra):

Hemant (pre-Winter): Hemant: "Sudh Bisar Gayi Aaj" (film: Sangeet Samrat Tansen):

Śiśir (Winter): Mālkauns: "Adha Hai Chandrama" (film: Navrang):

This classification seems particularly apt in respect of spring and monsoon songs.

c) Rāgas are also supposed to either evoke or express (or both) certain moods. This is known as rasa (emotion) and as per the well-known division into nine rasas: śṛṅgāra (love, beauty), hāsya (laughter), raudra (anger), karuṇa (pathos), bibhatsa (disgust), vīra (valour), bhayānaka (fear), adbhuta (wonder) and śānta (peace). However, there is no definitive list of rāgas which evoke or express these moods.
In my opinion, generally, more than the rāgas themselves, it is the expertise of the singer or performer which can express or evoke moods through any rāga.
However, there can be no doubt that karuṇa (pathos), or at least a soft, mellow mood, does seem to be inherent in some rāgas like Śivrañjanī, GujarīToḍī, AhirBhairav, Charukeśī, etc.

2. Secondly, the rāgas are characterized by special features based on the notes which are most prominent in the melody:
At the more general level, there are two distinctions:
Firstly, there are pūrvāṅga-pradhān rāgas (where S,r,R,g,G,M,m are more prominent), e.g. Pūrvī, Bihāg, GorakhKalyāṇ, Yaman, Khamāj, and uttarāṅga-pradhān rāgas (where P,d,D,n,N,Ś  are more prominent), e.g. Sohanī , Bhairavī, Lalat, Candrakauns, Kedār, Basant.
Secondly, rāgas generally move within certain octaves. There are five octaves: the normal middle madhya saptak, the lower mandra saptak, the even lower ati-mandra saptak, the higher tār saptak, and the even higher ati-tār saptak. The two "ati" octaves are more rarely used. Certain rāgas generally move more in the lower or mandra-madhya saptak space, e.g. DarbārīKānaḍā, Toḍī, Bhūp, Jhinjhoṭī , Pilū; and certain others move more in the higher or madhya-tār saptak space, e.g. Adāṇā, GujarīToḍī , Sohanī, GauḍMalhār, Kāliṅgḍā. Some ṛagas freely span all the three main mandra-madhya-tār octaves: Bhairav, Mālkauns, Durgā, Śivarañjanī.   

More specifically, there are many other characteristics which give any rāga its identity. We will examine many of these characteristic features of just one exemplary rāga, Kedār.
Full scale: SR(G)Mm PDnNŚ.
Āroh scale: S(G)Mm PDŚ.
Avroh Scale: SNnD PmMRS.
Āroh-Avroh: SM(G)P PD PP Ś - Ś N D P M P D n D P MPDP M R Ś.
Vādī svar (dominant or most frequently used note): M.
Saṁvādī svar (next dominant or second most frequently used note): S.
Nyās svar (resting note): P.
Pakaḍ: SM(G)P D P M R S. [There is a prominent characteristic glide in SM(G)P, and the G is said to be "hidden" by M]
Ālāp or Calan (general movement):

Only a person trained or training in classical music will understand the above, and will in fact even go much farther beyond that in elaborating on the rāga.
But here are a few prominent Hindi film songs (arranged alphabetically film-wise) based on kedār (always keeping in mind that film songs and light songs are usually more flexible in following the rāga rules than strictly classical renditions):
1. Amrapali- Jao Re Jogi Tum
2. Andaz- Uthaye Ja Unke Sitam
3. Ashiyana- Main Pagal Mera Manwa Pagal
4. Benazir- Mil Ja Re Janejana
5. Bhakt Surdas- Panchhi Bawra Chand Se Preet Laga Le
6. Ek Musafir Ek Hasina- Aap Yunhi Agar Hamse Milte Rahe
7. Ek Musafir Ek Hasina- Bahut Shukriya Badi Meherbani
8. Ek Musafir Ek Hasina- Hamko Tumhare Ishq Ne Kya Kya Bana Diya
9. Ek Musafir Ek Hasina- Phir Tere Sheher Mein Lutne Ko
10. Ghar- Aapki Ankhon Mein Kuchh
11. Guddi- Hamko Man Ki Shakti Dena
12. Jahan Ara- Kisi Ki Yaad Mein Duniya Ko Hai Bhulaye Hue
13. Jangli- Ehsan Tera Hoga Mujh Par
14. Leader- Aaj Hai Pyar Ka Faisla Ai Sanam
15. Mughal-e-Azam- Bekas Pe Karam Kijiye
16. Munimji- Sajan Bin Neend Na Aye
17. Narsi Bhagat- Darshan Do Ghanshyam Nath
18. Palki- Kal Raat Zindagi Se Mulaqat Ho Gayi
19. Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon- Anchal Mein Saja Lena Kaliyan
20. Rajkumar- Is Rang Badalti Duniya Mein
21. Son of India- Chal Diye Deke Gham
22. Tel Malish Boot Polish- Kanha Ja Teri Murli Ki Dhun Sun
23. The Burning Train- Pal Do Pal Ka Saath Hamara
And the following Marathi film songs or natyageet in kedār:
1. Avghachi Saunsar- Aaz Mi Alavite Kedar
2. Baikocha Bhau- Kokila Ga Re
3. Gulacha Ganpati- Hi Kuni Chhedili Taar
4. Kanyadan- Tu Astaa Tar
5. Zhala Gela Visrun Za- Tu Nazarene Ho Mhatle
6. Nat. Katyar Kalzat Ghusli- Surat Piya Ki Na Chhin Bisraye

The following are videos of two of the above songs  (the 8th and 17th in the Hindi list):

What is the speciality of Indian classical music? There are doubtless thousands of wonderful books and articles - and of course documentary films and videos - giving minute details on all aspects of Indian music: the countless old and current classical and folk musical instruments, the rāgas and tāls, lists of (film-etc.) songs and of recorded classical and semi-classical performances in different rāgas and tāls, the different types of Vedic chanting, the countless distinct classical, folk and tribal forms of music and dance, etc. In my article on "Hindutva or Hindu Nationalism", I pointed out the need for a massive all-India campaign to collect and bring together in one place all these great aspects of our music before they become a mere memory - or remain not even that - of the past.

But here I will show a small part of a popular video on youtube which shows a very special aspects of Indian (especially Hindustani Classical) music: the following video is by the eminent violin maestra Kala Ramnath, in which she demonstrates in a nutshell a fundamental difference between the western style of music (actually perhaps all other styles of music in the world) and Hindustani classical music. As this video is now missing on youtube, I am uploading it on my youtube channel, and giving the URL of that post:

Indian music is characterized by a very wide variety of ornamentation, and also by harmonization with a drone (usually played by some instrument like the tanpura or the shruti-pipe). The details of all this very, very complicated musical science will best be explained by musical experts. Here I will only give the URL of one youtube video (I am sure there are many more, and more detailed, other videos available on the subject) which illustrates some of these points to a lay audience:

IV. India's Unparalleled Musical Wealth and Contribution to World Music

Indian music is absolutely the richest in the world, and its original and fundamental contributions to world music are unparalleled.

In mathematical science, ancient India conceived and analysed the mathematical concepts of zero and infinity, achieved a fundamental revolution by devising a numeral system which can represent any and every conceivable number with only ten symbols, and coined names for numbers of incredibly high denominations (a Buddhist work, Lalitavistara, gives the names for base-numbers up to 10421, ie. one followed by 421 zeroes)! And, at the same time, we have the Andamanese Onge language, which to this day has not developed the concept of numbers beyond three: they have names only for “one”, “two”, and "three", and a word "many" which is used for all numbers above three! This represents the absolutely most pristine stage in any language in the world. This is the case in almost every field of culture: on the one hand, India has the richest traditional cuisine in the world, one of the most highly developed traditions of architecture in all its aspects, and an incredibly wide range of costumes and ornaments, all of hoary antiquity, and, on the other hand, we have tribes who are hunter-gatherers and subsist only on wild berries, who live in caves, or who live almost in the nude.
In every aspect of culture, India has the full range, from the simplest and most pristine to the richest and most developed and complicated.

Likewise, in music, our Indian classical music has, since thousands of years, developed a detailed theory of music, and used the richest range of notes (twenty-two microtones as compared to the twelve notes of western classical music), scales (every possible combination of the basic notes, and umpteen varieties of rāgas within each combination), modes  and rhythms.

We have the most unimaginably wide range of rhythms (which will not be elaborated in this article which is mainly about thāṭs and rāgas),  from the very simplest to the most complicated and intricate, with,  for example, rhythms having even 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, etc. beats per cycle, (almost unimaginable in most of the rest of the world, except in West Asia and the adjacent Balkans - probably, as we will see, ultimately derived from Indian music) and the most intricate rhythmic techniques in the world, including complicated cross-rhythms (again, almost unimaginable in most of the rest of the world, except in parts of Africa).

And, at the same time, the absolutely most pristine form of music in the world is found among the Veddas of Sri Lanka: they possess the most primitive form of singing in the world, and, along with certain remote Patagonian tribes, are the only people in the world who “not only do not possess any musical instrument, but do not even clap their hands or stamp the ground”(SACHS:1940:26).

The range of Indian music is beyond belief:
Curt Sachs writes: “The roots of music are more exposed in India than anywhere else. The Vedda in Ceylon possess the earliest stage of singing that we know, and the subsequent strata of primitive music are represented by the numberless tribes that in valleys and jungles took shelter from the raids of northern invaders. So far as this primitive music is concerned, the records are complete or at least could easily be completed if special attention were paid to the music of the ‘tribes’…[There are] hundreds of tribal styles…” (SACHS:1943:157).  A study of the richness and incredible variety in all the forms of tribal music in India would be truly mind-boggling.
Then there is the folk music, the range and variety of which is equally mind-boggling: every single part of India is rich in its own individual wide range of styles of folk music, and the folk music of even any one state of India (say Maharashtra, Rajasthan or Karnataka, or the north-east, for example, or even Sind, Baluchistan, Sri Lanka or Bhutan for that matter) would merit a lifetime of study.
And, right on top, we have the great tradition of Indian Classical Music, which we have already referred to. Although the oldest living form of classical music in the world, and although it has evolved and developed over the centuries, losing and gaining in the process, Sachs points out that “there is no reason to believe that India’s ancient music differed essentially from her modern music” (SACHS:1943:157). [Even Muslim rulers, including most of the Mughals, did a great deal in preserving and perpetuating many aspects of Indian culture, for which they often received the flak of Islamic theologians. In many cases, in fact, they developed such a deep respect and attachment for some aspects, that they even tried to appropriate credit for them: in respect of Indian music, for example, Alain Danielou  points out that “Amir Khusrau (AD 1253-1319)wrote that Indian music was so difficult and so refined that no foreigner could totally master it even after twenty years of practice”; and the Muslim attachment to Indian music grew to such an extent that it led to the invention of stories about “how the various styles of Northern Indian music were developed by musicians of the Mohammedan periodUnder Moslem rule, age-old stories were retold as if they had happened at the court of AkbarSuch transfer of legends is frequent everywhere. Wefind ancient musical forms and musical instruments being given Persian-sounding names and starting a new career as the innovations of the Moghul court” (DANIELOU:1949:34). The sum of it is that many Muslim rulers also contributed in the preservation and perpetuation, and even the enriching, of many aspects of native Indian classical culture].
Many western musicologists (Alain Danielou, M.E. Cousins, Donald Lentz, etc.) have spoken about the superiority of Indian classical music over western classical music, but without going into that it is at least certain that Indian Classical music is one of the most highly developed classical forms in the world.
Apart from the classical music, we have that other great and ancient tradition, of Vedic chanting and singing in its many varieties, best preserved in South India, and different varieties of Sanskrit songs, preserved in temples and maṭhs all over India.
And in all the varieties of music (classical, folk, popular and tribal), we have the most unparalleled range of musical instruments in the world, unique in their range from the most primitive and simple to the most sophisticated and complicated in respect of techniques of making, artistic appearance, techniques of playing, and qualities of sound, in every type: idiophonic, membranophonic, aerophonic and chordophonic; monophonic, pressurephonic, polyphonic and multiphonic.
All this music and all these musical instruments were preserved down the ages by temple traditions, courts, courtesans, great masters and professional castes, musical institutions, and tribal, caste and community traditions.
The twentieth century saw a consolidation of all this rich musical wealth due, on the one hand, to the invention of recording devices, and, on the other, to the enthusiasm natural in a modern India in the atmosphere of an independence movement. New generations of musicians and scholars, and government bodies like Films Division, Akashwani and Doordarshan, did a herculean job in studying, recording and popularising all forms of Indian music.
New trends in classical music (eg. the gharana system, new semi-classical forms, including Marathi natya sangeet, etc.), new innovations (eg. the “Vadyavrind” orchestration of Indian melodic music, etc.), and new genres of popular music (eg. new forms of devotional music - bhajans, artis, etc., of popular music like the bhavgeet genre in Marathi music, and Film Music) in every part of India added to India’s incomparable musical wealth.

India also contributed to world music in some fundamental ways:

India's Contribution to World Music:
India's contribution to World Music has been greater than any other area, country or civilization. To begin with, A.C.Scott  at the very start of his "The Theatre in Asia", tells us: "It will be seen that stage practice in Asia owes a great deal to India as an ancestral source. Indian influence on dance and theatre which are one and the same thing in Asia was like some great subterranean river following a spreading course and forming new streams on the way" (SCOTT:1972:1).

A much greater and in-depth study of all the musical data throughout Asia is extremely necessary, but for starters, the following quotations from Curt Sachs' seminal work, "The Rise of Music in the Ancient World - East and West", will give some faint idea of the fundamental nature of India's contribution to music in almost the whole of Asia:

"In the retinue of Buddhism, it had a decisive part in forming the musical style of the East, of China, Korea and Japan, and with Hindu settlers it penetrated what today is called Indo-China and the Malay Archipelago. There was a westbound exportation too. The fact, of little importance in itself, that an Indian was credited with having beaten the drum in Mohammed's military expeditions might at least be taken for a symbol of Indian influence on Islamic music. Although complete ignorance of ancient Iranian music forces us into conservation we are allowed to say that the system of melodic and rhythmic patterns characteristic of the Persian, Turkish and Arabian world, had existed in India as the rāgas and tālas more than a thousand years before it appeared in the sources of the Mohammedan Orient" (SACHS:1943:193).

It must be noted that West Asian music was the direct source of much of the classical music of Europe at least in the matter of musical instruments. As the Wikipedia entry on Arabic music tells us:
"The majority of musical instruments used in European medieval and classical music have roots in Arabic musical instruments that were adopted from the medieval Islamic world.[17][18] They include the lute, derived from the oud; rebec (an ancestor of the violin) from rebab, guitar from qitara, naker from naqareh, adufe from al-duff, alboka from al-buq, anafil from al-nafir, exabeba (a type of flute) from al-shabbaba, atabal (a type of bass drum) from al-tabl, atambal from al-tinbal,[18] the balaban, castanet from kasatan, and sonajas de azófar from sunuj al-sufr.[19]
The Arabic rabāb, also known as the spiked fiddle, is the earliest known bowed string instrument and the ancestor of all European bowed instruments, including the rebec, the Byzantine lyra, and the violin.[20][21] The Arabic oud in Islamic music was the direct ancestor of the European lute.[22] The oud is also cited as a precursor to the modern guitar. The guitar has roots in the four-string oud, brought to Iberia by the Moors in the 8th century.[23] A direct ancestor of the modern guitar is the guitarra morisca (Moorish guitar), which was in use in Spain by the 12th century. By the 14th century, it was simply referred to as a guitar.[24]
A number of medieval conical bore instruments were likely introduced or popularized by Arab musicians,[25] including the xelami (from zulami).[26]"
[We will refer shortly to some of these musical instruments and their ultimate Indian origin].

"China also passed on to Japan the ceremonial dances of India with their music, which were Japanized as the solemn and colorful Bugaku" (SACHS:1943:105).

"the oldest preserved style, the classical Sino-Japanese Bugaku dances […are…] of Indian origin, and Chinese and Japanese music on the whole were under Indian influence in the second half of the first millennium A.D. And yet the most typical trait of Indian music, its sophisticated rhythmical patterns or tālas, had no chance in the East. In 860 A.D., someone wrote a treatise on drumming in China, with over one hundred ‘symphonies’ which doubtless were Indian tālas; but nothing came of this, and not one of the Far Eastern styles has preserved the slightest trace of such patterns. The three rhythms used in Tibetan orchestras, and kept up in percussion even when the other parts are silent, are obviously not Far Eastern, but deteriorated Indian patterns. The elaborate polyrhythm of Balinese cymbal players that Mr. Colin MePhee has recently described is not Far Eastern either" (SACHS:1943:139).

"So vital in East Asiatic music is the delicate vacillation that dissolves the rigidity of pentatonic scales that all possible artifices have carefully been classified, named, and, by the syllabic symbols of their names, embodied in notation: ka (to quote the terms of Japanese koto players); that is, sharpening a note by pressing down the string beyond the bridge; niju oshi, sharpening by a whole tone; é, the subsequent sharpening of a note already plucked and heard; ké,  sharpening it for just a moment and releasing the string into its initial vibration; yū, the same, but making the relapse very short before the following note is played; kaki, plucking two adjoining strings in rapid succession with the same finger; uchi, striking the strings beyond the bridges during long pauses; nagashi, a slide with the forefinger over the strings; and many others [….] Recent investigation has made clear that this tablature is a Chinese transcription of Sanskrit symbols used in India. Indeed, the graces of long zithers, unparalleled in East Asiatic music, are nothing else than the gamakas of India, imported with the sway of Buddhism during the Han Dynasty and given to the technique of Chinese zithers, which became the favorite instruments of meditative Buddhist priests and monks" (SACHS:1943:143-44).

"The strange, never-ceasing drones used in the choral singing of Tibet belong in the Indian, not the Chinese sphere of Tibetan civilization" (SACHS:1943:145).

In Siamese (Thai) music, "the comparatively large share of drums, however, indicates the neighborhood of India" (SACHS:1943:152).

In Burmese music, "These penetrant oboes, which lead the melody instead of the tinkling gongs of Java and Bali, are definitely Indian. But still more Indian is the unparalleled drum chime of, normally, twenty-four carefully tuned drums, suspended inside the walls of a circular pen, which the player, squatting in the center, strikes with his bare hands in swift, toccata like melodies with stupendous technique and delicacy" (SACHS:1943:153).

In respect of the Slendro or "male" scale in Indonesian music, "It seems that the modes or, better, the melodies ascribed to the modes, matter today only from the standpoint of choosing the adequate time for performance: pieces in nem are to be played between seven and midnight; sanga is the right mode for the early morning between midnight and three and for the afternoon between noon and seven; manjura belongs to the hours between 3:00 A.M. and noon. This time table is unmistakably Indian. The name salendro points also to India. It probably stemmed from the Sumatran Salendra Dynasty, which ruled Java almost to the end of the first thousand years A.D. and had come from the Coromandel Coast in South India. Thus it might be wiser to connect slendro with ragas like madhyamāvati, mohana, or hamsadhvanī  than with the Chinese scale"  (SACHS:1943:132).

Alain Danielou tells us (in his “Introduction to the Study of Musical scales”) that the Indian “theory of musical modesseems to have been the source from which all systems of modal music originated” (DANIELOU:1943:99), and goes so far as to suggest that “Greek music, like Egyptian music, most probably had its roots in Hindu music” (DANIELOU:1943:159-160).

An extremely significant contribution by India is the "classification of musical instruments". Wikipedia very brazenly tells us: "Hornbostel-Sachs or Sachs-Hornbostel is a system of musical instrument classification devised by Erich Moritz von Hornbostel and Curt Sachs, and first published in the Zeitschrift für Ethnolgie in 1914. An English translation was published in the Galpin Society Journal in 1961. It is the most widely used system for classifying musical instruments by ethnomusicologists and organologists (people who study musical instruments). The system was updated in 2011 as part of the work of the Musical Instrument Museums Online (MIMO) Project.[2]
Hornbostel and Sachs based their ideas on a system devised in the late 19th century by Victor-Charles Mahillon, the curator of musical instruments at Brussels Conservatory. Mahillon divided instruments into four broad categories according to the nature of the sound-producing material: an air column; string; membrane; and body of the instrument. From this basis, Hornbostel and Sachs expanded Mahillon's system to make it possible to classify any instrument from any culture". The four-fold classification by them, which is the official classification everywhere now, divides musical instruments into idiophonic, membranophonic, chordophonic and aerophonic. We will not count a fifth and modern category, electrophonic.
The claim that this classification was done by Mahillon, Sachs, or Hornbostel is an extremely fraudulent claim (a glaring example of the western "digestion" of Indian sciences and presentation of Indian ideas as western discoveries or inventions, so consistently highlighted by Rajiv Malhotra), and they very clearly simply lifted the ancient Indian system of classification of musical instruments from the time of Bharata's Natya Shastra (pre-500 BCE) into four categories:
1. Ghaṇa vādya: idiophonic instruments.
2. Avanaddha vādya: membranophonic instruments.
3. Tata vādya, chordophonic instruments.
4. Suṣira vādya: aerophonic instruments.

Further, long before anywhere else in the world, Bharata in his Natya Shastra (older than 500 BCE) also classifies the octave into seven notes (even the very names are as at present: ṣaḍja, ṛṣabha, gāndhāra, madhyama, pañcama, dhaivata and niṣāda), twelve semi-tones and twenty-two śrutis (quarter-tones or micro-tones). This annotation of the tones and semitones has been adopted into western classical system only in medieval times.

At this point, a campaign to attribute the origin of major aspects of Indian music to Islamic sources - sometimes even to particular individuals like Amir Khusro - is the norm. Everything, from tablas and lutes (sitar, sarod, etc.) to the khayal gayaki or style of Hindustani music are attributed to the Muslim invaders or to the scholars of the Mughal and other Muslim courts of medieval India. This is based only on two things: myths manufactured during the Mughal rule, and the West Asian names given to originally Indian musical instruments and forms of music.

In respect of Hindustani music in general, it must be noted that there is no reason to suppose that it is any different from what it was thousands of years ago, except that it continued to evolve and develop over the ages. As Curt Sachs points out, "when we read in Bharata's classical book of the twenty-two microtones in ancient Indian octaves, of innumerable scales and modes, and of seventeen melodic patterns and their pentatonic and hexatonic alterations, we realize that music at, or even before, the beginning of the first century AD was by no means archaic. Indeed, there is no reason to believe that India's ancient music differed substantially from her modern music" (SACHS 1943:157).

More specifically, as Danielou puts it: "Northern Indian classical music […] though it lent itself easily to temporary fashions […] seems to have remained the same in spite of temporary changes. It still conforms with the definitions in some of the most ancient books. The stories that relate how the various styles of northern Indian music were developed by musicians of the Mohammedan period seem usually unfounded. Under Muslim rule, age-old stories were retold as if they had happened at the court of Akbar, so as to make them acceptable to new rulers and win the practice and honors bestowed on the creative artistes of the day. Such transfer of legends is frequent everywhere. We should therefore not be surprised to find ancient musical forms and musical instruments being given Persian-sounding names and starting a new career as the innovations of the Mughal courts" (DANIELOU:1949:34).

Thus many things whose current names are of Persian or Arabic origin (a large number of purely local sweets in India are referred to, for example, by the West Asian generic name "halwa") but which are actually of purely Indian origin. The khayāl gayaki, despite its name, does not bear even the faintest resemblance in its musical style to anything in West Asia: in fact, it stands distinct from all other musical styles in the world in its mīṇḍ base. And the Muslim musicians in India were too busy actually learning from the ocean of Indian music to spend any time, much less to have the ability, to make fundamental changes in it. According to Danielou above, Amir Khusro (1253-1319), usually credited (many centuries later) with all kinds of fundamental innovations in Hindustani music, "wrote that Indian music was so difficult and so refined that no foreigner could totally master it even after twenty years of practice".

Similarly presently used names like the tabla, sitar, sarod, shehnai and tanpura are used to argue that the lute (to which class all the three stringed instruments above belong) was introduced into India from West Asia by Muslims or other Persians before them, although these three lutes above also have no parallels in sound, construction or playing-technique anywhere outside India. But more on the lute shortly.
The tabla, for example, now known with its Arabic-given name, has absolutely no parallels outside India in any respect, but it has been consistently portrayed as an invention of Amir Khusro. This myth was busted by the eminent tabla maestra Aban Mistry (a Parsi artiste) who proved that the instrument already existed in ancient India and is depicted in a sculpture in the Bhaja caves near Lonavala in Maharashtra, dated to the second century BCE!
About the shehnai, it is found in simpler forms as a folk-instrument through most parts of India, and its southern counterpart, the nādaswaram, at least as per the Wikipedia, is described in the ancient Tamil text, Silappadikāram (composed at least around 500 BCE) by the name vangiyam. At any rate, the instrument clearly evolved from more rudimentary instruments of the same type found in the interior and southern parts of India.

Strangely, Curt Sachs, who so clearly recognizes the antiquity, richness and variety of Indian music from the most primary to the most complex forms, and India's fundamental contributions to world music to both east and west, is extremely niggardly in recognizing or accepting India's wealth of musical instruments. In his book on "The History of Musical Instruments" (1940), he ends his section on Indian musical instruments with the incredible statement "In ancient India, as in Egypt, there is no instrument for which we can trace a native origin. All of them seem to have come from the west or the north. Strangely enough we will have to wait for the middle ages to find a native stock in Indian music" (SACHS:1940:161)!
The extremely ludicrous extent to which he goes in order to produce such a picture is worth seeing. Taking the oldest text, the Rigveda, which is not in any case a musical treatise nor a text covering more than a restricted area from westernmost U.P. and Haryana outwards to southern and eastern Afghanistan, he tells us that it mentions only "four instruments, the āghāṭi, bakura, gargara and vāṇa" (SACHS:1940:152):

1. He admits that the identity of the first, the āghāṭi, is unknown, and therefore dismisses it from consideration.

2. About the second, the bakura, he in a most incredible fashion identifies it as a conch shell by tracing the word and instrument, of all places, to "modern Madagascar; in the northern district of this large island, bakora is the name of the shell-trumpet" (SACHS:1940:152)! How and by what means the insular Rigvedic people, in the third millennium BCE, could have acquired a musical instrument, one of their allegedly only four instruments, from Madagascar (Malagasy) is not explained.

3. The gargara, according to Sachs, is "a stringed instrument, therefore it probably was the horizontal arched harp, the only instrument depicted on Indian reliefs before the Christian era" (SACHS:1940:152). A little later, about the word karkarī in the Atharvaveda, he again tells us "the word karkarī […] may be a more recent form of gargara" (SACHS:1940:153)!
However, not only does the name gargara (or, for that matter, karkarī) not sound like the name of a stringed instrument (it is clearly an onomatopoeic name for a rousing drum, and the actual meaning of the word is "whirlpool"), but Wilson and Geldner actually translate the term as "drum" (and Jamison and Monier-Williams as simply a kind of "instrument").
All this jugglery is also a part of the lute story, which we will see presently.

4. Sachs ignores another musical instrument godhā which is named along with the gargara in the Rigveda VIII.69.9. The word actually means a sinew or chord (i.e. clearly the string of a stringed instrument) and also the leathern-guard tied to the quiver of a bow to protect the hand from injury. Wilson and Geldner translate it as the latter, but the context (in VIII.69.9, which refers to the gargara, godhā and piṅgā, the third being a bowstring, sounding out simultaneously as the singer sings the praise of Indra) makes it clear it is a musical instrument, and Monier-Williams translates it as a chord, and also points out that the Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra specifies that godhā is a stringed instrument, while Griffith translates it as a "lute" and Jamison as a "vīṇā". Clearly, godhā refers to a stringed instrument being played along with a percussion (gargara).

5. About vāṇa, Sachs tells us that "the instrument vāṇa was probably a flute, since it was played by the Maruts, who were spirits of storm. A simple vertical flute, veṇu, or 'cane', is still used by aboriginal tribes of India" (SACHS:1940:153).Three presumptions: that spirits of storm play flutes, that vāṇa became veṇu, and that the "aboriginal tribes" of India borrowed a non-native instrument from the Rigvedic people (since Sachs has already told us that in "ancient India […] there is no instrument for which we can trace a native origin")!
However, the word in the Rigveda is generally translated as "music" or "voice", but the word, as per Monier-Williams, clearly means a harp with a hundred strings in the Yajurveda, Brāhmaṇas and Śrautasūtras.
[Note: it must be remembered that the oldest Indian texts, the Rigveda and the other Vediic Samhitas, basically represented only a small part of the geographical area of northwestern India, and these texts, moreover, were not manuals of musical practice].    

6. Later, referring to the vīṇā, which is named in the Yajurveda (Vājasaneyi Samhitā 30), he decides that this name "has supplanted gargara" (SACHS:1940:153) - which, as we saw, he wrongly identified with a stringed instrument (harp) in the Rigveda.
In fact, in line with the Madagascar attribution above, he attributes the word vīṇā to Egypt: "the most striking evidence of an Egyptian origin is the word vīṇā. As this term according to its spelling ( without a preceding r) must be a foreign word, there is little doubt of its identity with the Egyptian name of the harp" (SACHS:1940:153). Again, we are left mystified as to how and by what means the name of an ancient Egyptian instrument (so obscure that you will not find the word listed in any list of important Egyptian musical instruments, nor find its trail anywhere between Egypt and India) could have mysteriously entered the Yajurveda and replaced an earlier Rigvedic name (gargara), then again got replaced by another form (karkarī) of the earlier name (gargara) in the later Atharvaveda, and finally come back into form as a generic term for all Indian stringed instruments in later history. And Sachs himself, as we saw above, tells us that Egypt has no native instrument!
Incidentally, if Sachs can suggest that the word veṇu (flute) is a development from vāṇa, then it could be more logical to suggest that the word vīṇā is a development from vāṇa, since both these words definitely refer to stringed instruments. It could alternately be a word borrowed from the inner languages of India (e.g. Dravidian).

But the main point behind all this is the claim, by Sachs among others, that lutes did not exist in ancient India and there were only harps: lutes came from the west through Persia. This is based on the alleged absence of lutes in Indian cave paintings and carvings in the years BCE, the idea that vīṇā only referred to harps, and the West Asian-origin names of some of the most prominent lutes and lute-zithers (tānpura, sitār, sarod, etc.).
But as already pointed out by Alain Danielou, quoted earlier: "Under Muslim rule, age-old stories were retold as if they had happened at the court of Akbar, so as to make them acceptable to new rulers and win the practice and honors bestowed on the creative artistes of the day. Such transfer of legends is frequent everywhere. We should therefore not be surprised to find ancient musical forms and musical instruments being given Persian-sounding names and starting a new career as the innovations of the Mughal courts".
The absence of cave paintings and carvings of the lutes or lute-zithers in very early times is not a point, since there are no cave-paintings and carvings before the Buddhist era anyway, and we do find lutes depicted after the Buddhist era both in the north as well as in the Ajanta caves in Maharashtra (dated 2nd century BCE to 4th century CE).
In any case, we have the testimony of Sachs himself with regard to, for example, bells, that they existed in India long before they are recorded in stone: "The first iconographic record of the hand bell or ghaṇṭā is not conclusive. As late as the seventh century it is depicted in one of the caves at Aurangabad; yet five hundred years earlier, the greco-Syrian philosopher, Bardesanes, had related that while the Hindu priest prayed, he sounded the bell. It was small and tulip-shaped, with a thick clapper. As it was exclusively used by priests in the worship of Hindu divinities, the handle was finely decorated with religious symbols, such as Siva's trident, Vishnu's eagle or Hanuman, the king of the apes" (SACHS 1940:222). Obviously the bell was not invented on the day the Greco-Syrian philosopher saw it (itself 500 years before its first depiction in stone carvings or paintings), but was an old and traditional instrument. So also lutes were not played in India from the first day they were depicted in carvings and paintings.
Further, while sitar and sarod were names given during the period of Islamic rule to earlier Indian instruments popularized and adapted or modified in the Mughal court, the name tanpura was given to a fretless drone lute which has no parallels outside India. Further, while the earliest mention of the word tunbur in West Asia is in Middle Persian and Sassanid records (after 200 CE), the word tambura (still used for folk instruments, but replaced by the Persianized tanpura for the classical instrument) has a much greater antiquity in India. It is supposed to be the instrument placed by a celestial musician called Tumburu or Tumbaru named in the Mahabharata (BCE) and whose name is derived from the Sanskrit word tumba for the gourd (used in making the resonator of the lutes).
But the two strongest pieces of evidence against the foreign origin of Indian lutes are:
1. Far from having adopted the lute from sophisticated western models, many of the western lutes are in fact held by most musicologists to have been descended from ancient and primitive forms of lutes actually found as folk instruments deep inside India. The ravanahatha of the south (including Sri Lanka), and common in Rajasthan and Gujarat, is believed to be the ultimate ancestor of the violin (of the violin family and also of all bowed string instruments) through the West Asian rebab. This has been explained in detail by musicologists since more than a hundred years. The seminal piece of work "Violin Making: As it Was and Is" by Edward Heron-Allen (1885) traces this historical development, and is still cited to this day. India today has the widest range and variety of lutes (short-necked and long-necked, fretted and non-fretted, and plucked and bowed).
2. Sachs disputes the above, and tries to trace the origin of lutes (and lute-zithers) to Persia. Unfortunately, his analysis of Indian music (as opposed to his analysis of Indian musical instruments), proves exactly the opposite: according to him, ancient India only had harps (which are almost extinct in India today) and no lutes. The basic musical difference between harps and (particularly the present day Indian) lutes is that harps are open-string instruments while lutes are stopped-string instruments.
And here is what Sachs has to say about Bharata's ancient text the Natya-Shastra, which he agrees could be as early as the 4th century BCE and about which he tells us that it "testifies to a well-established system of music in ancient India, with an elaborate theory of intervals, consonances, modes, melodic and rhythmic patterns" (SACHS 1943:164). Further, after some discussion later, he tells us about the text itself that "Bharata's text was probably rehandled as early as antiquity, and it may confirm the idea that Bharata himself wrote his treatise much earlier" (SACHS 1943:168).
He also tells us that this text establishes that it represents a stage where the "slow transition from folk-song to art-song, from hundreds of tribal styles to one all-embracing music of India […] had long ago come to an end" (SACHS 1943:157). In short, the musical tradition mirrored in the text must be much older than the date of the text (itself as early as the 4th century BCE, and written much earlier).         
And here is what Sachs has to say about the 7-tone-22-shruti system of notes described in Bharata's text: "We know that two basic principles have shaped scales all over the world: the cyclic principle with its equal whole tones of 204 and semitones of 90 Cents, and the divisive
principle with major whole tones of 204, minor whole tones of 182, and large semitones of 112 Cents. Bharata’s system derives from the divisive principle, and this, in turn, stems from stopped strings. But the earlier part of Indian antiquity had no stringed instrument except the open-stringed harp; no lute, no zither provided a fingerboard. India must have had the up-and-down principle, and it cannot but be hiding somewhere." (SACHS:1943:169)           
In short: the system described in Bharata's text is a musical system going back far into the pre-Buddhist past and representing a scale system which, at least as per Sachs' own admission, could only have been derived from experiments with stopped strings. This has been sought to be explained by some musicologists in various unconvincing ways, but the only logical explanation is that ancient India, long before Bharata's Natya-Shastra, long before the Buddha, had a fully developed system of octaves based on an analysis of notes which were based on musical instruments with stopped strings, so obviously very-ancient India (in the early 1st millennium BCE and much earlier) had indigenous musical instruments with stopped strings (lutes, lute-zithers, stick-zithers).

Incidentally, for what it is worth, it may be noted that as per the “Guinness Book of Facts and Feats”, bagpipes (so characteristic of Scottish music), and hourglass drums (the talking drums or message drums of Africa), originated in India.

This is not to claim that everything originated in India. To take just the two most important non-Indian (and specifically European) musical instruments which have found an extremely important place in Indian music, we have the violin and the harmonium. To some extent also the organ (in Marathi natya sangeet), the clarinet (in Carnatic music), and a very large range of other instruments in film music (not necessarily only Hindi), as well as tunes and compositions, and many other major or minor instruments introduced into India by immigrating groups - I will not name any here because it is a subject for more detailed study and analysis. But one must use one's powers of logical discrimination (viveka-buddhi) to evaluate claims and counter-claims.
In any case, no culture is an island in itself, and aspects derived from other cultures do not in any way impinge on the supreme greatness of Indian music.

There is, however, a difference between Indian music and western music. Today, the vast ocean of Indian music is under lethal attack from largescale commercialism, cultural apathy, and westernization. Apart from literally thousands of musical instruments and styles going extinct, and records of musical theory and performance neglected and left to rot and be destroyed forever, there is the trend of overwhelmingly large sections of Indian youth being drawn towards what can only be described (and I offer no apologies) as bastardized forms of "Indian" music which are Indian only in language.

To illustrate on a simple level, see the following video explaining in popular language a fundamental difference between Hindustani and western music (see from 1.39 to 3.47 minutes):

The grotesque Dr.-Jekyll-to-Mr.-Hyde transformation of Indian music (i.e. music in an Indian language) to a westernized caricature - often a hundred times worse than the one seen in this example - is a familiar feature in present-day "Indian" music being successfully propagated in every Indian language. Is this monstrous process reversible? Can we save Indian music, in all its multifarious varieties, from total extinction of the major part and utter corruption of the remaining minor part? Only time will tell.


DANIELOU 1943: An  Introduction to the Study of Musical Scales. Danielou, Alain. The India Society, London, 1943.

DANIELOU 1949: Northern Indian Music, Vol. 1. Danielou, Alain. Christopher Johnson, London, 1949.

DANIELOU 1954: Northern Indian Music, Vol. 2. Danielou, Alain. Christopher Johnson, London, 1954.

HERON-ALLEN 1885: Violin Making: As it Was and Is. Heron-Allen, Edward. Ward, Lock and Co. Ltd., London, 1885.

SACHS 1940: The History of Musical Instruments. Sachs, Curt. W.W.Norton & Company, New York, 1940.

SACHS 1943: The Rise of Music in the Ancient World, East and West. Sachs, Curt. W.W.Norton & Company, New York, 1943.

SCOTT 1972: The Theatre in Asia (The History of the Theatre). Scott, A.C. Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London, 1972.



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