KRISHNASWAMY ON THE TWELVE BASIC INTERVALS IN SOUTH INDIAN CLASSICAL MUSICmay also ﬁnd a variation between various groups of human subjects like trained musicians, average lis-teners and musical novices. Such studies have beendone many times in the past, and the only reason wemention them here is to highlight the fact that thenext steps have to be taken in the investigation of Indian music. Just to be sure, we are not pointingout any ﬂaw in any of these past analyses of Indianmusic. In fact, they have saved us the trouble of looking for “22 sruthis” today and let us focus onthe 12 basic intervals in South Indian classical mu-sic.In this paper, we do not present any empirical data.Rather, we discuss several theoretical issues thatmay aﬀect the intonation of notes in Carnatic music.Results in psychoacoustics suggest that pitch per-ception is categorical in nature and also that intona-tion or tunings of intervals are
rather thanbased on some psychophysical cues like beats .The so-called “natural” intervals in the just intona-tion (JI) tuning system may not necessarily be pre-ferred by someone who has been trained with someother system of tuning, and there seems to be no un-derlying reason, based on the human auditory sys-tem, as to why the natural intervals should be uni-versally more pleasant or acceptable to all humans,though they may have had a role to play originally inthe evolution of musical intervals and scales . Fur-thermore, simple integer ratios and the phenomenonof beating may have nothing to do with the sensa-tions of consonance or dissonance either, as manypeople seem to believe; there are other, better ac-cepted theories today [9, 10].Nevertheless, we still discuss historical tuning sys-tems and integer ratios in this paper just for ar-gument’s sake and mainly because a lot of Indianauthors have written about them. We will presentsome very complicated interval ratios, but that doesnot mean that we endorse them or suggest that theyare all relevant to Carnatic music.We start by introducing the names of the notes usedin Carnatic music and then proceed to review pop-ular tunings of 12-interval systems. We then discussvarious factors that need to be considered in the tun-ing or intonation of Carnatic music notes. As before[1, 2], our work is focused on present-day Carnaticmusic, though some of our statements may general-ize to North Indian music also. We do not howeveroﬀer any insight into music systems of the past.
THE TWELVE SWARASTHANAMS
In most Carnatic music sessions today, there is adrone instrument, the tambura, constantly soundedin the background, which provides the pitch refer-ence (the tonic) to the performing musicians. Car-natic music is also melodic in nature, and harmoniesand chords, if they occur at all, are usually uninten-tional.Thus, whenever we refer to “musical intervals” inCarnatic music, we are talking about the relativepitch of each note with respect to the tonic or notepositions (swarasthanams) in an octave, rather thanthe distance between adjacent notes which may notbe very important today.The names and symbols for the notes in Carnaticmusic are given in Table 1. For convenience, we willonly be using the note names and symbols given inthe left columns of this table. Our goal in this paperis to discuss possible numerical interval values forthese twelve notes.
In this section, we consider some popular tuningsystems, list some interval values and comment onthem.
In Pythagorean tuning, any interval can be ex-pressed as a rational number using only powers of 2 and 3:
. Such ratios can be generatedsimply by engaging in cycles of fourths and ﬁfthsas shown in Table 2. Usually the maximum valueof
, the exponent of the factor 3 in a Pythagoreanratio is 6, but some people have included higher pow-ers of 3 as well in their list of ratios . It is wellknown that such cycles of fourths and ﬁfths neverreturn to their starting point (since no power of 2equals a power of 3 for non-zero exponents), andthis “discrepancy” shows up usually as two possiblevalues for the augmented fourth . Table 2 con-tains some “intimidating” numbers indeed, and onehas to wonder about their usefulness or relevance toCarnatic music.
Just Intonation and 5-Limit
In , we used a loose deﬁnition of “Just Intona-tion”(JI) where we took this term to mean any ra-AES 115
CONVENTION, NEW YORK, NY, USA, 2003 OCTOBER 10–133