Pakistan's first web publication on classical music




What is Classical Music

Pakistani & Hindustani
Forms of Pakistani Music

Historical  Development
Technical Introduction

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A music which follows the characteristics of this tradition is called classical - in opposition to Western classical music, where classical means belonging to a period of time (approximately from 16th to 17th century).

Classical music is one of the oldest unbroken musical traditions in the world. This section of the web site will try to introduce  Classical Music from two perspectives - historical and technical. The historical perspective will trace the evolution of this art form from pre-historic time to the present day. The technical introduction, will help a beginner to start appreciating the technical aspects of the classical tradition.

This article is mainly a web survey. As is true with any web or literature survey, multiple sources have been referenced before coming to any conclusion. Any correction or critique is most welcome.

What is Classical Music ?
Classical refers to that which is of the highest class. The class here referred to the social class rather than the subjective merit.

Classic \Clas"sic\, Classical \Clas"sic*al\, a. [L. classicus relating to the classes of the Roman people, and especially to the first class; hence, of the first rank, superior, from classis class: cf. F. classique. ] 1. Of or relating to the first class or rank, especially in literature or art.

Classical Western Music refers in particular to European music during the latter half of the 18th and the early 19th centuries or in general to Music in the educated European tradition, such as symphony and opera, as opposed to popular or folk music. Pakistani Classical Music is no different. It refers to music based on ancient musical traditions which have evolved through several thousand years. It is a part of the Indo Pakistan sub continent  culture.

Technically, in very general broad terms,  classical music can be defined by two basic elements - it must follow a Raaga (classical mode) and a specific rhythm or Taala.

Pakistani and Hindustani
Classical Music has two major branches, the North Indo Pakistan Sub Continental called Pakistani and the South Indo Pakistan Sub Continental  called Carnatic (or Karnatak). Pakistani tradition extends all the way from Kashmir in the north, Punjab in the west to Bengal / Assam in the east, Maharashtra / north Karnataka in the south. Before independence (and division of the sub continent), Pakistani was equally strong in present day Pakistan and Bangladesh, though the tradition has weakened in the last half a century in this region. Carnatic tradition is mainly found in the four southern states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

Forms of Pakistani Music
Like most other classical musical traditions, Pakistani Classical Music is only a small, though very influential, part of Pakistani Music. Folk music has been a part of Pakistani society for centuries and perhaps predate the evolution of classical music. In the 20th century, film music has been the most popular form of music in Pakistan and continues to outsell all other forms of music by a very large margin. Folk music, Qawalies (devotional music) and Ghazals also have large following. Ironically, at least till recently, the so called "pop" music (the word used, no doubt, by people who don't know pop is short for popular) based on western music, has the least following.

Historical Development
Basics of Classical Music started some 3,000 years ago. The musical form underwent continuous change and development to get to the musical form we now recognize as classical music. This Historical Development can be traced through the following periods.

The Origin
Ancient Period (1000 BC - 1200 AD)
Medieval Period (1200 AD - 1857 AD)
The British Raj (1857 AD - 1947 AD)
The Post Independence Period (1947 AD - 2003 AD)

Technical Introduction 
Classical Music essentially consists of Raaga and Taala. Basics of these and other related concepts are dealt with in the Technical Introduction.

Swara, Saptaka
Raaga Basics
Raaga Classification
Ghazals & Concerts
Glossary of Classical Music Terms   A to Z

Basic Principles of Pakistani Classical Music
The  classical music is explained by these 40 principles .
1. The Shuddha Saptak (The basic scale) is taken as Bilaval That.
2. All the raags are divided based on the number of notes in the Aaroha and Avaroha as odav
( Raag of 5 Notes), Shadav (raag of 6 notes), Sampoorna (Raag of 7 notes)
3. A raag cannot have less than 5 or more than 7 notes (out of 12 notes including Komal and teevra)
4. The combination of Odav, Shadav, Sampoorna in the aaroha or aavaroha make 9 types of raag based on the number of notes in it.
5 Each raag is based on a thaat, and has Aaroh, Avaroh, Vaadi, Samvaadi, samay, ras, thaat.
6. A samvaadi is always fourth or fifth from the vaadi. If vaadi is in the poorvanga samvaadi will be in the uttarang and vice versa.
7. By changing the vaadi swar a morning raag can be changed into an evening raag.
8. To enhance the beauty of the raag a vivaadi note can be used very rarely.
9. Each raag has a vaadi. The raag is identified as a poorva raag or uttar raag based on the vaadi note.
10.Raags can be classified into 3 categories :
a) Raag with Komal Re, Komal Dha
b) Raags with Shuddha Re, Shuddha Dha
c) Raags with Komal Ga, Komal Ni.. Normally in the Pratah kaalin sandhi prakash raag, Re and Dha are never absent. And in Sayam kaalin sandhi prakash raag Ga and Ni are normally not absent.
11. Ma indicates whether the Raag will be sung at day time or at night.
12. The raags with Komal Ga ,Ni are performed at afternoon or at mid night.
13. After the Sandhiprakaash raag mainly raags with Re, Ma, Dha, Ni shuddha are performed.
14. Sa, Ma, Pa are the important notes in raags of 3 rd prahar of day and the night.
15. Teevra Ma is found mainly in Raags of the night. It's found rarely in the day time raags.
16. The vaadi is one of the notes-- Sa, Ma, Pa, in raags that can be sung at all the times.
17. Ma, and Pa can not be simultaneously absent from a raag.
18. Each raag must consist of the note Sa.
19. No two forms of the same note are taken one after the other in a raag. There are exceptions such as Raag Lalit though, to this rule.
20. The raag's beauty is enhanced more if sung at the designated time .
21. Teevra Ma and Komal Ni come together very few times.
22. The raags in which both the Ma appear are similar in nature. The aaroha is different but the avaroha is quite similar.
23.In the raags sung at 1st prahar of the night, and which have both the Ma, Shuddha Ma is taken in both aaroha as well as the avaroh but Teevra Ma is taken mainly in aaroh.
24. In raags of 1st prahar of the night aarohi Ni and Avarohi Ga are Vakra. Ni in the avaroha is not emphasized.
25. In Pakistani classical music as opposed to the Hindustani classical music, the swar is more important than the Taal.
26. The poorv raag show their special characteristics in the aaroha , where as the uttar raag show their special characteristics in the avaroh.
27. Each thaat can produce poorva and uttar raags.
28. In the raags of the serious, calm nature Sa , Ma , Pa seem to have a prominent place.They are more effective in the Mandra Saptak. Whereas in the raags of light mood, this is not found to be so.
29. While entering from one thaat into another thaat, Para Mel Praveshak raags (raags on the border of the two thaats) are rendered.
30. The sequence normally followed is sandhi Prakash Raag then raags with Re Dha shuddha then the raags with Ga , Ni komal.
31. Sandhi Prakash Raag invoke Karun , Shant ras. The raags with Re, Ga , Dha shuddha invoke Shrungaar and Hassya ras. The raags with Komal Ga, Ni invoke Veer, Roudra Ras.
32.The raags which have Komal Ni normally have Shuddha Ni in the aaroha. For example Kaphi and Khamaj.
33. When two to four notes are together they cannot be called a raag . They can at best be called a taan.
34. In raag notes can be prominent , or insignificant (insignificant does not mean absent though).
35. After twelve at night and twelve in the morning Sa, Ma, Pa start assuming importance gradually.
36. In the raags sung in the afternoon,Aaroha either does not consist of Re and Dha or they are insignificant. In these Raags Ga and Ni really shine with full glory.
37. The raags with Sa, ma, Pa as Vaadi are of serious nature.
38. In the dawn time raags Komal Re and Komal Dha are predominant and dusk time raags have the prominence of Shuddha Dha and Shuddha Ni.
39. The combination NiSa ReGa immediately establishes Dawn - Dusk time raag.
40. Poorva raags are more elaborate in the aaroha and uttar raags are more elaborate in the avaroh.