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Bansuri Flute and The Indian Classical Music

(Sameer Jahagirdhar)
Saptak:
Saptak means "gamut" or "the series of seven notes". It denotes the set of swaras, Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa,
Dha, Ni which comprise a musical scale in Indian classical music. In Sanskrit, saptak literally means
"containing seven" and is derived from the Sanskrit word sapta which means "seven".
The basic saptak is called the Madhya Saptak. For notes with lower frequencies, the artist may use the
Mandra Saptak, which is a lower octave than the Madhya Saptak. For notes with higher frequencies, the
upper octave or the Taar Saptak is used.
The usual scale of Indian music spans from Sa in the Madhya Saptak to Sa in the higher, Taar Saptak.
This makes eight notes instead of the seven in each Saptak. Sas frequency at the end of the scale is
exactly double that of the first Sa at the beginning of the scale. (When the frequency of any note is exactly
doubled or halved, the same tone is heard, except that this sounds higher or lower respectively. The
interval between the original note and the higher/lower note is called Octave. )
Generally, a raga involves notes from three saptaks. The notes in the lower octave are denoted by an
apostrophe before the note representation (or a dot below the note representation) and the notes in the
upper octave are denoted by an apostrophe after the note representation (or a dot above the note
representation).
For example:

Mandra Saptak : or 'S

Madhya Saptak : S

Taar Saptak : or S'

1. Mandra Saptak: The one below the Madhya saptak is called mandra saptak (lower octave).
Notes of this octave are sung or played in a low deep tone. This comprises of the saptak that is
below the lower Sa of the madhya saptak. Notes of this saptak are indicated by a sign of
apostrophe on the left side ( S, r, R, g, G, m, M, P, d, D, n, N, S). (In bansuri flute we
get these notes by blowing gently!)
2. Madhya Saptak: The normal tone of human voice, which is neither high nor low. It is called
madhya saptak (middle octave). This has got no symbol in the notation (S, r, R, g, G, m, M, P, d,
D, n, N, S). (In bansuri flute we get these notes by blowing moderately!)
3. Taar Saptak: The one higher than Madhya Saptak is Taar Saptak (high). The notes are high and
sharp. The frequency of the second Sa is twice the frequency of the first Sa. The second Sa

belongs to taar saptak and in this way the saptak gets repeated. (S,
r,R,g,G,m,M,P,d,D,n,N,S). (In bansuri flute we get these notes by blowing strongly!)

NOTE:
1. In each note, except Sa and Pa, has more than one position or variety. Sa and Pa are constant and
are sometimes referred to as Prakriti swaras. There is more than one type of Re, Ga, Ma, Dha
and Ni. (Note, some musicians dispute that Sa and Pa are fixed, as their fixing is a later
development. For the most part, however, one deals with varieties of the other notes.)
2. The basic mode of reference is that which is equivalent to the Western Ionian mode or major scale
(called Bilawal thaat in Hindustani music, Dheerasankarabharanam in Carnatic). All relationships
between pitches follow from this. In any seven-tone mode (starting with S), R, G, D, and N can
be natural (shuddha, lit. 'pure') or flat (komal, 'soft') but never sharp, and the M can be natural or
sharp (tivra) but never flat, making twelve notes (S, r, R, g, G, m, M, P, d, D, n, N) as in the
Western chromatic scale. If a swara is not natural (shuddha), a line below a letter indicates that it
is flat (komal) and an acute accent above indicates that it is sharp (tivra). Sa and Pa are
immovable (once Sa is selected), forming a just perfect fifth.
3. Komal means notes with lower voice and Tivra means notes with higher voice. Shuddh notes are
also called Natural notes.
4. Shuddh or Natural notes are noted as S, R, G, m, P, D, N
5. All upper case letters except Sa and Pa are referred to as Tivra Swaras. Example R G D N
6. All lower case letters are refered to as Komal Swaras. Example r g d n
7. For Ma, m refers to Shuddh/Natural Ma, while M refers to the Tivra or Kori Ma.
8. (Ascent) Arohana, Arohanam or Aroha, in the context of Indian classical music, is the ascending
scale of notes in a raga.[1] The pitch increases as we go up from Shadja (Sa) to the Taar Shadja
(Sa), possibly in a crooked (vakra) manner.
9. (Descent) An Avarohana, Avarohanam or Avaroha, in the context of Indian classical music, is the
descending scale of any raga.[1] The notes descend in pitch from the upper tonic (taar shadja or Sa)
down to the lower tonic, possibly in a crooked (vakra) manner.
10. In Bansuri Flute All Open to All Close scale goes : m, G, R, S, N, D, P (with moderate blowing)
11. All Close to All Open scale goes: P, D, N, S, R, G, m (with moderate blowing)

Lesson 1
1. In a Single Breadth play:
Aroha
: S, R, G, M, P, D, N, S
& then in the next breadh play:
Avarohana
: S, N, D, P, M, G, R, S
2. In a Single Breadth play both:
Aroha
: S, R, G, M, P, D, N, S
Avarohana
: S, N, D, P, M, G, R, S
3. In a single breadth try to play as many Arohas & Avrohanas as possible: Aim is to reach
3 times.
Lesson 2
Aroha:
S

Avarohana:
S

Lesson 3
Aroha:
S

Avarohana:
S

Lesson 4

Aroha:
S
S

Avarohana:
S

Lesson 5
Aroha: S, R, G, M, P, D, N, S
Avroha: S, N, D, P, M, G, R, S

Aroha: (3 Continuous & Return to Start)


S

Avarohana: (Start, 2 Backward & Return to Start)


D

Lesson 6

Aroha: (2 Continuous 1 Skip & 1Back to skipped)


S

Avarohana: (Start, 1 Back & 2 Forward)


S

Lesson 7
Aroha: S, R, G, M, P, D, N, S
Avroha: S, N, D, P, M, G, R, S

Aroha: (Start, 1 Skip, 2 Back to return along with skipped)


S

Avarohana: (Start, 2 Backward & Continuous Return)

Lesson 8

Aroha:
G

Avarohana:
D

Lesson 9 (he repeated this along with lesson 10)


Aroha: S, R, G, M, P, D, N, S
Avroha: S, N, D, P, M, G, R, S

Aroha: (1 Skip & Backward)


N

Avarohana: (1 Backward & 1Forward)


S

Lesson 10
Aroha: S, R, G, M, P, D, N, S
Avroha: S, N, D, P, M, G, R, S

Aroha: (Start, 1Skip & Retun to the Skipped)


G

Avarohana: (2 Continuous & back)

Lesson 10.1

for 10 times

for 10 times

Lesson 11
A.

Aroha: (1 Skip)
S
M

G
D

R
P

M
N
Avarohana: (1 Skip)

S
P

D
G

N
M

B.

P
R

G
D

P
S

D
G

M
S

Aroha: (2 Skip)
S
M

M
N

R
P

P
S
Avarohana: (2 Skip)

S
P

P
R

N
M

C.

M
S
Aroha: (3 Skip)

S
M

P
S

D
Avarohana: (3 Skip)

S
P

M
S

D.

Aroha: (4 Skip)
S

N
Avarohana:

Lesson 12

Aroha:
S

Avarohana:
S

Lesson 13
N

D P M P M G M G\ R S N S G M P ..
N N D P M D P M \ P P M G M G R S
SN D P M G R S \ N S G M P N S ..

Theme 1: Hero Tune


R

NDND
mmG
N

DDN
D

Remember there are no gaps between notes and notes are clustered like NDND, this means that
particular piece is played little faster.
-

OR -

'D G MGMG S 'D S 'N 'D


'D G MGMG S 'D S 'N 'D
'DSSS'N ggGGM MMDDP P M G g S 'N
'D G MGMG S 'D S 'N 'D
Theme 2: Kisna Theme Tune
S' N D P D S G---------- G m P D P 'N'N-------S' N D P D S G----G m P D N D S'----------- (notice how meend is used to make the music flow)
S' N S' G'G'-------- R' G'-------S' N S' m'm'--------- G' m'-------m'm' R'-----R'R 'S'N------- P DD N D P G------Notice also that the song uses "Shuddha ma - pure ma" (produced by opening half of the Ga hole). This is
represented with a small "m" to distinguish it from "Ma tivra" which is usually written with a capital M.
Theme3:KalHoNaHo
HarGhadiBadalRaheHeinDhoopZindagi
SnSnSnSGRSndndn
ChaavHaiKabhiKabhiHaiDhoopZindagi
SnSnSnSGRSndndn
HarPalYahaJeeBharJiyo
pdSddpmmpdp
JoHaiSamaKalHoNaHo
pdSddpmmn2dp

77

Theme4:TitanicTheme

S R G-- mG R S R P---S R G-- mG R S R P----

G R S 'D S 'P
GPDPR

S S S S 'N S
S 'N S R G R
S S S S 'N S S 'P-S S S S 'N S
S 'N S R G R
S S S S 'N S S 'P-S--------R-------- 'P P m G R
G m G-- R S 'N S 'N 'D----'P
S--------R---------'P P m G R
G m G-- R S 'N S 'N '..S R G R S----

Fingering Chart

High & Middle Register

Lower Register

X X X O O O

X X

X X O O O O

X 2

X OO O O O

1
2

O O O

1
2

O O O O

O O O O

O O O O O O

X X X X X Xx

O X X X X X

X X X X X X

X X

1
2

O O X

& X X X X X

1
2 (same for lower

register)
D

X X O O O X

X X X X

X X X X O O(same for lower register)

1
2

& X X X X X O(samer for lower register)


O(same for lower register)

Top Register only

X O X O O O

O O X O O O

O X X X X O

O Open Hole,

X Closed Hole,

1
2

- Half Hole (about 65% closed)

Comparison of Indian and Western Notation


Basis: Key of that Flute
S
r
R
g
G
m
M
P
d
D
n
N

C
C#
D
D#
E
F
F#
G
G#
E
A#
A

Raag Bhopali
Aroh: S R G P D S
Avroh: S D P G R S
Thaat: Kalyan

Tal: Tintal

Chalan 1:
S, R D D S, S S-R-S, S, S R G,
G R P>G, G R, D D S, S-S > R S
Chalan 2:
S, S R G, G R P>G, G P D, D D P G,
G R G>P>D>P-G, G R, D D S
The Bandish a short poem set to the raag. It has two couplets, the first is called Sthayi and the second is
called Antra.
Sthayi
ja
P

Jaa
GPGR

jaa
GPDP

jaa
GR

re
SR

jayo
GRSS

sunao
SDSR

mora
GGR

sandeshva
GRS

Mana
GG

Aku
PP

-la
D

-ye
PD

Antra
Jiya
SS

Jaye

base

ho

tum

para

re
GR

Ghabaraye
SSRDS
-desua

pathikva
GRS

SS

RD

SS

PD

PGRS

Raag Hamsadhwani
Raga Hamsadhwani is a raga which came from the Carnatic or South Indian system of music. Its
flow is that of a simple pentatonic raga. Some will try to place it in the Bilavala Tht while it has
many properties and flows of the Kalyan Tht.
Nonetheless, it is a raga many musicians use in Hindustani music using Hindustani methods of
rendering a raga.
Raga Name: Hamsadhwani
That Name: Bilavala
Aroha: S R G P N S
Avaroha: S N P G R S
Vadi: R
Samvadi: P
Time: 6 PM to 9 PM

A composition in raga Hamsadhwani which is composed in Teen taal (16 beats ) is given here.
The composition and detailed Alaap and the Taans are given. Each are accompanied with the
Flute audio.
In Indian classical music The composition is divided in two parts: Sthayi and Anthara.
While improvising the Raaga in the lower and middle octave we have to play Sthayi.
While improvising the Raaga in the higher octave we have to play Anthara.
In the following order this composition is to be played:
Hamsadhwani (Composition )
Alaap in Sthayi
Alaap in Anthara
Taan in Sthayi
Taan in Anthar

Raga HAMSADHWANI ALAAP

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Same phrase is repeated 3 times in {phrase} and in the end


merges in the Sthayi it is called as Tihay

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