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Approach Towards Instrumental Music : "Samvadini" An Overview of the concept with technical analysis :  -Discussion paper - by Jitendra Gore

This paper is dedicated to the great Thinkers, Researchers and Musicians of the world and my Guruji Pandit Manohar Chimote.


·         WHAT IS "Samvadini"?


·         Gandhar Tuning (also known as Aantar-Gandhar)

·         WHY NATURAL SCALE? (Gandhar Tuning)



·         Difference between Harmonium and Samvadini

·         Technical aspects of “Gandhar Tuning” (Natural Scale/Just Scale)

·         Ratios observed in Just scale/Natural scale/"Gandhar" Tuning

·         Ratios of scale in just intonation


·         Why is it natural ? (technical aspect)  Harmonic series and cycles – observed in all natural phenomena

·         Equitempered scale

·         Pythagorean Approach -TUNING WITH 5TH NOTE PROPORTION/ (“Pancham-bhava”)

·         Comparisons of Just Scale (Gandhar Tuning) and Equitempered Scale and 12 notes positions in an Octave

·         How to arrive at the actual frequency measurements of 12 notes in a just scale ? steps

·         Why isn't just intonation used much in accompaniment instruments?

·         Shrutis - looked from a practical perspective

·         Can the “22 shrutis” concept be really implemented and observed in practice and reality while performing the music with voice or instruments?!!

·         How many Shrutis?!

·         What should be the approach towards playing or handling the musical instrument, particularly in the context of Indian Classical Music?



·         we can not rest upon Shrutis

·         We can not avoid using Shrutis

·         We can not overuse Shrutis

·         Concept of Raga or Musical Composition

·         Relations or roles play among musical notes or "swaras"

·         Tonal Quality of  Musical Instrument in the context of expressions of "Rasa-bhav"

·         Tone in the context of Samvadini

WHAT IS "Samvadini"?

The word “Samvad “ in Indian Classical Music represents relations between two or more musical notes or pitches and can be understood as “harmony”, the similar concept in western music. The harmonium is the origin of Europe and was widely used by western musicians for harmony. The main purpose of this was for accompaniment rather than solo instrument. 

When it was used in Indian Classical music with the same tuning system of west, it was known by the same English name “harmonium”. 

But Indian musicians mainly used the harmonic patterns based on “Natural Scale” of tuning system. Hence it was necessary that the harmonium to be used in Indian Classical music should be tuned in natural scale. This concept was originally thought of by late Pt. Bhishmadev Vedi but actually implemented in reality by Pt. Manohar Chimote. Now this natural tuning system rendered the accurate “Samvad” (harmony) suitable for Indian Classical music and hence it is known as “Samvadini”…!

This nomenclature is first used by Pt. Manohar Chimote and now others follow it.


Performing a solo concert in Indian Classical Music with harmonium (with western tuning system) is using a wrong key to unlock the door, as this tuning system is not compatible in the context of Indian Music. Hence matured artists and keen listeners did not accept it in the past. 

However, “Natural” or just scale tuning system was the most appropriate solution to perform a solo concert with harmonium in Indian music. Hence this instrument was rarely seen in the past as a solo concert instrument as no one ever tried natural scale with harmonium.

However with the introduction of “Samvadini” we can see Samvadini solo concerts in India recently. And needless to say it is based on “NATURAL SCALE”.

Gandhar Tuning (also known as Aantar-Gandhar)

WHY NATURAL SCALE? (Gandhar Tuning)

Natural scale is the gift of Mother Nature (GOD GIFT) to the mankind. In this scale the harmony is not based on any mathematical derivations. But the harmony is on its own preexisting in Nature and can be perceived by human ear as is evident in tuning Tanpura (where “Gandhar/Pancham/Rishabha” can be heard while tuning the Sadja-Pancham strings..!) In tempered tuning or standard tuning the constant ratio of fundamental frequency is considered to interpolate and get the other related pitches in the octave (Panchambhava or Madhyambhava).  

(Technical aspects of tuning are elaborated in subsequent pages).

 However, Nature renders the octave in natural tuning! Hence it is pure and most enjoyable, soothing and pacifying when perceived by human ear. This is the reason why Church Musicians as music therapy used Natural or Just Scale even in the West in 18th Century to heel the patients. Even today there exists a SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING AND PRESERVING JUST SCALE IN THE WEST..!

In present word also we are quite sure by now whatever we accept in pure form as natural is so important in enhancing the quality, strength and happiness of human life as is seen in Naturopathy, Aurved, Herbs etc.

 Natural Scale pleases the human ear the most than any other scale system. Happiness and Peace are the ultimate destination of Indian Music. Natural Scale is pure and divine. In Indian Classical Music Natural tuning is also known as “Gandhar Tuning” and “Samvadini” is based on this tuning hence it is very pleasing to the ear.


 The great thinkers and musicians have contributed a lot to Indian Music by introducing different instruments as is seen by the following examples.

Ø      From traditional Veena string instrument Sitar is derived;

Ø      Violin origin of West is seen prominently in Carnatic form of music as well as in North as solo instrument with certain modifications in tonal quality;

Ø      Flute as symbolic instrument of Lord Krishna was introduced in Indian Music by Late Pannalal Ghosh and later was popularized by Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia by great research;("Bassuri", also known as "Sanika")

Ø      Pt. Shivkumar Sharma modified "Santoor" the folk music instrument of valleys of Himalaya and now it is international instrument.

Ø      Even Guitar the western instrument was improvised and modified to be called as "Mohanveena" by Pt. Vishwamohan Bhatt. 


Ø      Samvadini  is the contribution to Indian Classical Music by Pt. Manohar Chimote with his continuous efforts for last 50 years ..!!! Panditji is now of 75 years old.

Ø      Music circles are inviting Pt. Chimote and his disciples for concerts, interviews, workshops and lectures demonstrations

Ø      Samvadini solo Cassettes of Panditji and his senior disciples are released in the markets and available in music shops.

Ø      Newspapers and other publicity medias are rendering wide scope for coverage of this concept of Samvadini.

Ø     On Internet Samvadini is prominently seen on many sites. To mention a few:-  (Site of Pt. Manohar Chimote with audio clips)  (Site of  Jitendra Gore – Panditji’s senior disciple and solo concert player in India and abroad -with audio clips) (audio clips of Samvadini are available) (Panditji’s recordings are available)

Ø      Samvadini is recognized as trade name for special types of musical instruments with the embossed mark “Samvadini” on it with strings and Gandhar tuning.

 Ø      “Samvadini Foundation” and “Swarashree Arts” are the registered trust for promotion of Samvadini Culture.

Ø      “Samvadini Sangeetalaya” is the school in Mumbai where Samvadini solo techniques are taught to music         lovers and musicians.

 Ø      Samvadini- Flute, Samvadini- Violin, Samvadini-Sitar  duets (jugalbandi) are important landmark events in  Indian Classical Instrumental Music.

  Difference between Harmonium and Samvadini..!!

Sometimes the accompanying Harmonium is also termed as Samvadini with the Popularity of Samvadini as Solo instrument..!! hence we should understand the exact  difference..!!

Difference between Samvadini and Harmonium..!!






Used For


Types of Reeds












Natural Scale of tuning


Indian solo concert instrument in Indian Classical Music

 Special reeds extra thick and wide to generate the fixed tone as it is solo concert instrument


Keyboard pressure and design is maintained and suitable to create continuity in two notes.


Strings are attached to generate the resonance effect


  Samvadini also indicates special style of presenting and playing .

Popularly known as “Samvadini-style” of Pt.Chimote.


General scale, standard or tempered scale (western)

 Used as accompaniment instrument and solo in western music

 Tone is vibrating as is used mainly accompaniment


Continuity is not observed as the tone vibrates


 No resonance is observed as the tone vibrates hence no strings are attached


Does not indicate any style as such.


Technical aspects of “Gandhar Tuning” (Natural Scale/Just Scale)

Ratios observed in Just scale/Natural scale/Gandhar Tuning

Ratios of scale in just intonation

The important and prominent notes of a given scale are tuned in such a manner so that the ratios of their frequencies are comprised of relatively small integers. For example, in the key of C major, the ratio of the frequencies of the notes C to G is 2 to 3, while that of C to F is 3 to 4.


All ratios that involve the prime numbers of 2, 3 and 5 can be built out of the following 3 (three) basic intervals.

from which we get

It gives rise to scale of key C.  à C D E F G A B C  ( T t s T t T s)

with ratios w.r.t. C of :- D 9/8, E 5/4, F 4/3, G 3/2  A 5/3, B 15/8 and C 2/1




If we consider the overtones or harmonics from the fundamental frequency, we get series of overtones. The series is observed to keep the harmonic series patterns.

These series of harmonics can be used to decide the scale. If we derive the scale from these harmonics it is JUST SCALE/NATURAL SCALE/”GANDHAR TUNING”


For example, given a fundamental of C', the first 16 harmonics (overtones) shall be as follows:-

1st C'           2nd C             3rd G                 4th c               5th e      6th g   

      7th b-flat (not in tune)*             8th c'    9th d'    10th e' 11th between f' and f-sharp *

12th g' 13th a' but out of tune          14th b'-flat (-ish)  15th b' natural  16th c''

*   à (In comparison with equal temperament scale)


The lowest of these frequencies is called the fundamental or first harmonic. The second harmonic (or first overtone) is twice the frequency of the fundamental, which makes it an octave higher. The third harmonic (or second overtone), at three times the frequency of the fundamental, is a fifth above the second harmonic. Similarly, the fourth harmonic is four times the frequency of the fundamental; it is a fourth above the third harmonic (two octaves above the fundamental). Some harmonics correspond exactly to named pitches; others, for example the 7th harmonic, lie between the semitones. (if compared with equitempered scale).


The Scale derived from such harmonics or overtones is exact in just intonation. (as is seen in Samvadini).


In modern equal temperament they are approximate, so that music can be played in any key without retuning. (as in case of Harmonium). Hence, in equitempered scale the harmonic series ratios are adjusted to keep the uniformity of scale to suit the accompaniment from any key.  


Why is it natural ? (technical aspect)  Harmonic series and cycles – observed in all natural phenomena


Cycles have been observed in everything. Not all of these observations are real. Some are just due to noise happening to make patterns for a while. However when much data from different fields of study are brought together it is clear that there are certain cycle periods which are real and which occur quite commonly. In addition these periods are related to each other harmonically in exactly the same way that musical notes are.

Starting from a single low frequency, non-linear systems can generate harmonics which are multiples of that frequency. In a complex system, which the universe and world certainly are, under certain conditions it seems that the harmonics generated may take on a life of their own and proceed to generate further harmonics of their own frequency. Once this happens some frequencies will be produced in many more ways than others. These frequencies are the ones that are harmonics of the original where the harmonic number has many ways to be factorised such as 12 and 24 and the just intonation scale of 48, 54, 60, 64, 72, 80, 90, 96.

Reference: paper by Ray Tomes on Relativistic Sunspot Mechanism


The pattern of cycles found in every field of study on earth, in astronomy and also in music are all explained by a simple rule that says that a single initial frequency will generate harmonics AND EACH OF THESE WILL DO THE SAME. Please excuse the caps, but that is the important bit.

It is worth mentioning that these cycles have been found in every aspect affecting life on earth. Wars, economic fluctuations, births and deaths, climate, geophysics, animal populations, social variables, stock and commodity prices. We literally live inside a giant musical instrument which is playing notes, chords and scales in such slow motion that only the Gods could hear it.


The universe is a musical instrument and everything in it is vibrating in tune with the larger things that contain it. I believe that there are no other laws in the universe than this. All the other laws of physics appear to be the result of the wave structure that leads to the Harmonic law.

 Reference: paper by Ray Tomes on Relativistic Sunspot Mechanism 

For more details reference may be made to mathematical knowledge to understand the harmonic series and how harmonic numbers are generated. However, an illustrative chart of numbers can be seen as an annexure to this paper. (See Annexure - 1).

Equitempered scale

Bach popularised a system called "equitempered" which is used almost exclusively today as it is convenient in accompaniment aspects of musical instruments.

The equitempered scale is based on an octave having 12 semi-tones of exactly equal ratios. The ratio used is therefore the 12th root of 2, or 1.0594631. This leads to the notes of the chromatic scale (12 notes) having the following relative frequencies:-

C    C#   D    D#   E     F    F#   G    G#   A    A#   B     C
1.000     1.122     1.260 1.335     1.498     1.682     1.888 2.000
     1.059     1.189           1.414     1.587     1.782

The upper line contains the notes of the key, while the lower line has the notes not belonging to the key (i.e the black notes when in C). 

JUST/ NATURAL/GANDHAR  compared to equitempered scale
just int.     1.000  1.125  1.250  1.333  1.500  1.667  1.875  2.000

 Pythagorean Approach -TUNING WITH 5TH NOTE PROPORTION/ (“Pancham-bhava”)
After researching what notes sounded pleasant together (pleasing "Samvad") Pythagoras worked out the frequency ratios (or string length ratios with equal tension) and found that they had a particular mathematical relationship.

The octave was found to be a 1:2 ratio and what we today call a fifth to be a 2:3 ratio.(means 1:3/2 or 1:1.5) Pythagoras concluded that all the notes could be produced by these two ratios as (3/2)*(3/2)*(1/2) gave 9/8 which is a second and so on. (Pancham of  Pancham and so on.)

The problem was that after applying these ratios repeatedly he was able to move through the whole scale and end up back where he started... except that it missed by a bit, called the Pythagorean comma. After twelve movements by a fifth (“Pancham-Bhav”)-(and adjusting down an octave as required) he got back to the same note but it had a frequency of 3^12 / 2^19 [Note ^ means to the power of] which is 1.36% higher in frequency than it should be.


Although Pythagoras did a wonderful job he did get it slightly wrong. The correct solution was worked out by Galilei (the father of the famous Galileo Galilei) who concluded that the best frequencies were in the proportions

  do    re    mi    fa    so    la    ti    do
  Sa   Re      Ga    Ma     Pa   Dha   Ni     Sa
  1    9/8   5/4   4/3   3/2   5/3   15/8   2

Which may be represented as whole number proportions as

  24    27    30    32    36    40    45    48

These proportions are called the Just Intonation music scale and are the most pleasing proportions for note frequencies for any one key. The differences from Pythagoras are small, so that mi is 5/4 (=1.250) rather than 81/64 (=1.266). – (“Aantar-Gandhar”).


Gandhar Tuning from “Shadja-Grama”(Sa), “Pancham-Grama”(Pa), “Madhyam-Grama”(Ma) – Aantar Gandhar is observed throughout.

It is interesting to look at the ratios between the notes. do-mi-so (Sa-Ga-Pa) are 24-30-36 which can cancel to 4:5:6. This same proportion links the notes fa-la-do (Ma-Dha-Sa) which are 32-40-48 canceling to 4:5:6. Again, so-ti-re (Pa-Ni-Re)-(re from the next octave) gives 36-45-54 which cancels to 4:5:6 again. So every note is linked to "do"(Sa) by three major chords which have ratios of 4:5:6. Note that “Aantar-Gandhar” is maintained throughout the scale..! Hence a “Gandhar Tuning” concept.



Comparisons of Just Scale(Gandhar Tuning) and Equitempered Scale and 12 notes positions in an Octave


Name Monochord - interval map

      r   R  g  G   m M  P dh Dh  n  N

Equal temperament:

(Harmonium tuned)

Just Intonation

(Samvadini tuned)


Just Intonation


See the 12 notes positions in Just scales (Samvadini) and Equal tempered scale (Harmonium). G, Dha and N; and also r and dh indicate prominent difference.


How to arrive at the actual frequency measurements of 12 notes in a just scale ? steps

The Natural scale / just scale /Gandhar Tuning can be derived as follows:-


Step 1

To decide the immediate audible harmonics (frequencies) from Taanpura. From Sa (Shadja) we get Pa and Ga (Aantar-Gandhar). We have to measure the frequencies of  Pa and Ga from frequency meter. When we measure these frequencies we get the figures as Pa=360 and Ga = 300.Sa – Let us say 240 Hz  we get Pa as 1.5 times or 3/2 ratio. 

Pa = 360    and Ga =300

Ga – We get Aanter-gandhar frequency as 300. From this we get 5/4 ratio or 1.25 times of  Sa.(240).  Now we get the ratios from Sa,  Ga and Pa as 240:300:360 (4:5:6).

Step 2

We shall apply this ratios to Pa. When Pa =360 we get Ni (Nishad) -as Aantergandhar of Pancham, at 5/4 times at 450. and Re (Rishabh ) at 3/2 times at  540 in upper octave, means 540/2 =270 at middle octave. Now we got Sa, Re, Ga, Pa, Ni after step2. It is interesting to observe that in a well tuned Pancham Taanpura all these notes can be heard clearly..!

Step 3

When we see Sa from Pa we get the Madhyambhav. Means assume Pa as Sa and we can feel the “Sa” as “ma”. We know that Sa=240 and Pa=360. If we assume Sa as 360 then we feel “ma” at 240.(lower octave means 480 at upper octave) from this we get the ratio of  “Sa” “ma” as 360:480 or 3:4 . When our original Sa is 240 we get “ma” at 4/3 ratio at 320. From “ma” we can consider ratios of 4:5:6 to get the Dh (Dhaivat – Aantergandhar of Madhyam) at 400. (5/4 times 320). After step 3 we get Sa, Re, Ga, ma, Pa, Dha. Ni , all 7 “shuddha” notes. 

Step 4

Let us see the ratio of Ga : Pa: Ni (note that this is monir chord we get naturally. Pa as komal gandhar of Ga. And Ni as Pancham of Ga.We already know the ratios as Ga:Pa:Ni as 300:360:450. From 300:360 we get 5:6 ratio.If we apply this komal gandhar ratio to our Sa at 240 we get 240 x 6/5 means 288. from ga as 288 we get komal nishad “ni” at 3/2 times 288 i.e. 432.(Panchambhav of komal ga).Thus we get 2 komal notes, ga and ni after step 4.

 Step 5

If we consider the “ma” as Aanter-Gandhar we can apply the ratio to get the Major chord of  Komal Rishabh (re) : ma : Komal Dhaivat (dh) in the ratio 4:5:6 to get the “Aantergandhar- bhav” in “ma” also. We get  - re :ma:dh as 256:320:384. thus we get re and dh.

Step 6

From Ni we derived in step 2. From this Shuddha Nishad we get tivra madhyam (Ma) as panchambhav of Ni. 3/2 times 450. we get it at 675 at upper octave means 675/2=337.5 at middle octave.  

Thus we get all these frequencies as follows:- Sa,  re, Re, ga. Ga, ma. Ma, Pa, dh, Dha, ni, Ni, Sa"

240(Sa), 256, 270, 288, 300, 320, 337.5, 360, 384, 400, 432, 450, (480 as upper Sa'). (All 12 notes). This is Just Scale/Natural Scale or Gandhar Tuning.

In equal tempered scale we get the frequencies as 240, 254.16, 269.28, 285.36, 302.4, 320.4, 339.36, 359.52, 380.88, 403.68, 427.68, 453.12, 480.

Why isn't just intonation used much in accompaniment instruments?

Most of the musical instruments in western countries were used for accompaniment or in group music. However, In Indian Music musical instruments are used mostly for solo concerts.


It's because for many instruments, you can't change the key of your scale without re-tuning your instrument. Also the above scale allows a minor tone to occur next to a semitone that becomes a problem in accompaniment when we change the key. This produces the awkward ratio 32/27 for F/D, so one needs to avoid such a combination of notes in case of accompaniment instruments. Such an interval is called a wolf interval.


If the value of the major and minor tones are adjusted so that they are both equal, one gets a mean tone temperament.  If in addition the semitone is altered so that an interval of two semitones is equal to one tone, you get the 12 notes used in modern Western music.  (equal temperament). HOWEVER, IN INDIAN MUSIC TO ACCOMPANY WITH SUCH EQUAL TEMPERED TUNING IS CONSIDERED AS COMPROMISE BY GREAT VOCALISTS IN INDIAN CLASSICAL MUSIC.! AND THEY ARE RIGHT TO THINK SO.!!


In harmonium that is used mainly for accompaniment just scale is not observed.

SAMVADINI  used  in concerts as solo instrument can observe the JUST SCALE or NATURAL SCALE as it is played in one scale only as a solo instrument.

Shrutis - looked from a practical perspective

Can the “22 shrutis” concept be really implemented and observed in practice and reality while performing the music with voice or instruments?!!

The concept of shrutis is only theoretical and may be mathematically significant. However, in practice the continuous pitch from Sa to Sa’(octave range) can be perceived in different ways. Again, even if the number of different pitches within an octave which the ear can make out may be more than 22, they may not be 'musically' different. The difference in any sensation (feel of a pitch level) that can be perceived depends on the sensation (pitch) already present in a person when he hears the earlier pitch. It is common experience that a cup of tea is insipid after we eat a few sweets.  Similarly, even a bright light does not have an appreciable effect on the eye in sun light. However it shall have great effect when perceived in dark.! Similarly, if we consider a musical phrase where we rest at a pitch, say komal "ga" while using the lower end noted "RE" and "Sa" and later we rest at the same note "ga" with a phrase with high end notes like "ni" and "Sa'(upper)", we shall feel the level of "ga" different in both phrases..! (evenif we accurately keep the same "ga"..!! with fixed reed instrument..!!).

This dependence of differential perception on the prior condition of an organism is expressed in Weber's law which  states  that "in any given kind of perception, equal relative (but not absolute) differences are equally perceptible." It has, however, been found  that this law is only approximately correct. Mathematically, this is put as k=df/f and known as Weber-Fechner law).

 Shruti indicates a position in the octave. Thus we have the important idea that sruti does not correctly measure a tonal interval. Shrutis are not equal throughout the octave.

For instance, when some one asks, "How far is the Police station from here ?," we may say " it is just pass by five lamp-posts and you will reach it." We definitely do not mean that the lamp-posts are at equal distances from one another. The lamp-post is only a numeral indicative.

 The sruti then may be considered an ordinal number. It shows the position of a sound on a scale of 22.  We still have to develop a calculus of continuous pitch movements and also that the sruti phenomenon is an infinite series suffering approximations for adjustments of octave relations. Thus 22 SHRUTIS are some of the theoretical points in the continuous octave intervals and NOT MEASURES to count the distances between the Musical Notes in the octave. Thus we see that all the sounds we use in music are srutis, and it is obvious that we do use really uncountable number of pitches in music. It is practically impossible to measure all the pitch variations of steady tones, gamaka-s, glides, etc.

 How many Shrutis?!

The basic question is 'how many Shrutis are there in an octave?' The answer varies from 'expert' to 'expert'. Numbers such as 22, 24, 44, 49, 66, infinity have been offered as answers to this question. However, if we carefully try the experiment on a  svaramandal (psaltery) we can get many more than 22 srutis in an octave. In our preliminary experiments we could get nearly 40 tones between Sa and Ga….!!. Perhaps we may get different numbers in next experiments, may be more or may be less depending upon the environmental conditions and our perceptions.

 In SAMVADINI also we can feel the continuity of 2 musical notes to some extent.

In samvadini solo concerts this continuity can be easily perceived by audiences. In different musical instruments (Sitar, Flute, Sarangi etc) we observe the different level of continuity, highest in Shahnai and least in Santoor. Each instrument has its own potentiality and some strengths over another instrument. The main objective is to explore the maximum of the available potential and strengths in that instrument. Some patterns emerging out of Samvadini may not be available in other instruments, and reverse is also true. Hence, we can not really apply gradation among the categories of instruments. It is the "artist" behind any instrument who decides the "best" out of that instrument.

What should be the approach towards playing or handling the musical instrument, particularly in the context of Indian Classical Music?



The musical notes are basically the fixed points or pinpointed pitch levels where we rest to indicate the presence of any musical note. When these are the only 12 fixed points of musical 12 notes, then we should see the exact role of pitches in between these 2 fixed musical notes. The in between pitch levels are co-coordinating or supporting pitch levels to establish the main fixed notes. 

we can not rest upon Shrutis...! If we rest for more than a second also at these in between pitches, we are felt to be out of tune ("Besura) in music. Hence these in between pitch levels ("Shritis") are called variable pitch levels. And musical expression means to use these variable pitch levels to establish the fixed pitch levels in a raga or composition in a more meaningful and expressive way. In this way these 12 fixed notes or established identities are related and linked to each other by these variable pitch levels. (“Shritis”)

We can not avoid using Shrutis..!! The musical expression shall be missing in a tune if we use only 12 fixed notes or pitches. Further the tune shall not be felt melodious unless the rests are at the fixed notes or pitches as any rest upon the variable pitch levels shall result in a feeling of “out of tune” (“Besura"). Hence any musical tune adds expression to it only with the help of these in between variable pitch levels. Now it is very clear that these variable pitch levels can be called “Shritis” and can not be called “Swaras” in the given musical scale or “raga.”

We can not overuse Shrutis..!!  Now these in between variable pitches (“Shritis”) or microtones should be used sparingly only where we really need to use it to suit the colour of expression to express the particular mood or “Bhava” of the “Raga.” If we unnecessarily use the microtones then it becomes a crying and not singing. This is evident when we see the overuse of the concept of “Meend” in singing or even in string instruments in slow tempo of rhythm. Some instrumentalists or even vocalists often fall pray to the same common mistake to overuse the “Meend” or sometimes resting upon microtones (“Shritis”) instead of on fixed pitch level or note ("Swara"). This is the result of misconception that if we do not use “meend” and “Shritis” every now and then our musical expression shall be accepted as Traditional music or "Gayaki". However, this is not at all the intention of our past “Rishis” or “Gurus” of Indian Classical Tradition.  With due respect to University form of education in music where these subtle concepts of “Guru-Shishya –Parampara” are seen lacking these days, it is respectfully submitted that the present form of education needs reconsideration.

 Undoubtedly, the use of microtones or “Shritis” is a necessary in expressing the musical melody but the ultimate colour or mood of the notes or expression should be sensed minutely by the artist before expressing any musical note ("Swara").  Hence there should be a “Concept” and Purpose “behind every musical expression that is manifested by the artist, otherwise it is just like recalling the nursery rhymes and reproducing the stuff which is remembered without understanding its expressive value.

Concept of Raga or Musical Composition:-

Relations or roles play among musical notes or "swaras"

Every musical composition or Raga is the result of some emotional sensation or deep feeling in the mind of artists. In our emotional world we associate varying emotions with the objects, events and persons in the world around us. As the layers of joy, happiness, and sorrows immerge out of our minds when we experience the world around us then we behave in different ways at different times in different situations. Human beings are characterized by different roles they play in different situations with different persons.

Suppose, for example, while we interact with our father or mother our role and behavior is different and the same we are different, our behavior is different when we interact with our fiancée or wife or girlfriend. Our behavior is entirely different when we interact with our friend and different when we interact with our own sister.

The 12 fixed pitches or “Swaras” are 12 different entities in the world of music. The behavior of a particular “Swara” is different when associated with another “Swara”.

The combined effect of these two notes or “Swaras” may be a different musical expression or meaning than the combined effect of the same “swara” with another “swara” out if 12 fixed notes as the behavior of any note changes as it interact with another note. The changed behavior of any note or “Swara” is expressed clearly in a musical expression by variations in tonal quality, loudness, softness and use of “Shritis” or microtones in between the adjust scent notes. This can be achieved with the help of voice or using any musical instrument as after all the musical instrument is the medium of expression for the artists’ concept of expression of Raga.

 Tonal Quality of  Musical Instrument in the context of expressions of "Rasa-bhav"

But to comprehend these “Bhava” or mood of any “Raga” or musical melody the artist must learn with subtle understanding and keen insight to realize these moods or “Bhavas” or behavior pattern of different musical notes in combination. These can be achieved with keen understanding of “Swaras” its “Naadas” (inherent rhythm in “Swara”) and the tonal quality. Tonal quality is wisely using the timbre of the musical note, its softness, loudness and use of microtones not necessarily the “meend” It is not correct to say that when we use “meend” we use microtones! If our understanding is like that we should immediately change our viewpoint. The example of a stain gun may not be suitable in the context of music but it can make the point too clear. To use the excessive and long “meend” patterns indicate the presence of microtones means using a stain gun to kill the enemy in a crowd where enemy is killed but with several other innocent people. This we do when we are not too sure to pinpoint the microtones to be used. If we are too sure we use the correct microtones and not the long and excessive “meend” patterns. If our ability is to slice this pitch spectrum so minutely we are the perfect skilled shooters and not the blind suicide bombers.

Needless to say it requires continuous understanding of the musical note or “swara”, its length, breadth, volume, area and all other intricacies and characteristics. It requires efforts to make the invisible elements into visible patterns and to get introduced to the personality of “Swara”.

 Hence, next time you can easily discriminate between a bomber and a skilled shooter when you hear someone using excessive and boring patterns of “Meend”...!

Tone in the context of Samvadini 

To press the keys of harmonium does not result in producing any musical expression or tone. After all, we all intend to create a tonal and musical expression. If our musical instrument is not capable of producing it then we should not compromise with our concept at all and we should try to explore the possibility to make basic changes in the structure of the musical instrument and cultivate the tone until we get the exact musical expression and tone out of it.

 If pressing the keys of harmonium to play the notes in Ragas could have created music then every accompanist would have become a soloist! But it is not possible at all. To play a solo concert one needs individual self-involvement in understanding of “Swaras” and “Naadas” in isolation until we find that “Naad”in ourselves. This we can not achieve and can never get outside even though we accompany hundreds of expert vocalists and masters in music. After all the researcher finds the purpose behind every action and result in the natural phenomenon, and scholars  are declared based on the research papers of such researcher..! and needless to say researchers are thinkers who go to the fundamental of any concept. 

Otherwise order of notes in Raga (Aroha- avroha) if one understands would have become a soloist. But now we can realize that only order of notes (Aroha-avroha) is not the Raga.

Thus, Expressions and tonal quality are the fundamental ingredients in Bhava and Raga. Thus in Samvadini the tonal quality and expression are seen as the vital elements to generate the true music of Nature out of it.

We should not and need not copy the set patterns of great vocalists and instrumentalists. We should understand the purpose behind any musical phrase expressed  by such eminent artists. When we see how they think, see and visualize the, we can understand the world of “Bhavas” (Bhav-wishva) in musical expression and phrase. Then we automatically understand the concept and use of tone in vocal and instrumental music.

That point is self realization point and then we always improve upon the tonal quality of our instrument or culture of voice. When we realize this we never limit ourselves in the bookish, mathematical, theoretical and historical aspects of music. Then we lead ourselves upward towards real concept of expression and purpose of music. Then we try to introspect and keep ourselves apart and away from the debates of “Gharanas” and instances in history of music. We always search and search for the tone and expression to achieve that subtle emotional element in music.


Contact: - Jitendra Gore

46, Shrikrishna Nagar, 3rd Road,

Borivli (East), Mumbai 400 066. India

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