What the hell is Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni?

There are only two types of people in this world. Those who learned music systematically from a teacher and those who didn’t. Unfortunately I fall under the second category. It is a scientifically proven fact that, learning music will improve the memory power. For some mysterious reason neither of my parents or their close relatives never showed any talent in singing. But as a young kid, I did not know much about DNA or genetics. I had my first bitter pill, when the school teacher advised me not to sing along with other children, as I have a horrible voice.

She told me straight on face that it is nearly impossible to train me to sing. That day, I still remember, I went home disheartened, with tears in my eyes. That was the first time I heard the words, ‘DNA’ and ‘GENETICS’ from my father. He too told straight on my face to focus on my strengths rather than feel disappointed on my weaknesses. In fact, with a huge scissor, he was cutting the last thread, that connected me and Music forever.

I apologise for being so naive, it took another 35 years for me to sit on my hanging chair, and wonder, what the hell is this ‘ Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa’. Why they selected those particular alphabets. Could it have been Pi Ti La Na So Ra Si Ka. I did my research and found out. Probably you all know it already. But somewhere I read, there will be 9 people in this world, who looks, talks and walks the same. I dedicate this information to the other 8 people who looks, talks , walks and have no clue what is Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa.

What is Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni ?

In traditional western music theory pitch classes are represented by the first seven letters of the Latin alphabet A, B, C, D, E, F and G. The eighth note or octave is given the same name as the first, but has double its frequency. The name octave is also used to indicate the span of notes having a frequency ratio of two.

The seven basic notes of the scale (swaras), in Indian music are named shadja, rishabh, gandhar, madhyam, pancham, dhaivat and nishad, and are shortened to Sa, Ri (Carnatic) or Re (Hindustani), Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, and Ni and written S, R, G, M, P, D, N. Collectively these notes are known as the sargam (the word is an acronym of the consonants of the first four swaras). Sargam is the Indian equivalent to solfege, a technique for the teaching of sight-singing. Sargam is practiced against a drone. The tone Sa is not associated with any particular pitch. As in Western moveable-Do solfège, Sa refers to the tonic of a piece or scale rather than to any particular pitch.

The swaras Shadjam and Panchamam are fixed and they have no variety . They are called Prakrti Swaras . Remaining five swaras have two varieties each , one komal ( lower note ) and Tirvra ( Long note ) . They are Vikrthi swaras . They are 10 altogether . The total number of swaras are twelve and they are:

  1. Shadjam
  2. Suddha rishabham
  3. Chathusruti Rishabham
  4. Sadharana Gandharam
  5. Antara Gandharam
  6. Suddha Madhyamam
  7. Prati Madhyamam
  8. Panchamam
  9. Suddha Dhaivatam
  10. Chatu sruti Dhaivatam
  11. Kaisiki Nishadam
  12. Kakali Nishadam

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