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The Importance Of Time In Singing Ragas

Discipline of Time In Ragas – Why ragas are strictly sung at the time periods specified for them? We found out!

Raga in Sanskrit means colour or mood which is why ragas are used to express feelings, also called rasas. Ragas have their direct effect on the moods of a person. Since our mood depends on the various physical changes inside us and the environmental changes outside the body, ragas also change according to these changes. These changes keep occurring throughout the day and are affected by the changing seasons as well. Thus, different ragas, depicting different changes within and outside of us, are sung at different times.

The importance of the timings of ragas can be inferred from the fact that during ancient times, musicologists had studied the effects of musical notes on the moods which then led to the creation of the different timings for performing and listening to various ragas.

It is said that the melodic beauty of a particular raga is at its highest when it is performed at the specific time period assigned to it (within the 24 hours of the day or during a particular season). Owing to these timings of the ragas, the various theories of raga time were developed. Let’s take a peek into these theories in brief.

Theories of Raga Time

There are a number of theories available regarding raga and time and in order to understand these theories, we need to, at first, get an understanding of the basics of raga times.

 

In Hindustani Classical music, the 24 hours of a day are divided into two parts, i.e. from 12pm to 12am called Poorvang and from 12am to 12pm called Uttrang. Similarly, the saptak or the octave is also divided into these two timings. ‘Sa’ to ‘Ma’ belongs to Poorvang while ‘Pa’ to ‘Sa’ belongs to Uttrang. Identically, ragas can also be sung during the particular seasons assigned to them. For example, Raag Megh is sung during the monsoon season.

Here are the various Time Theories of Ragas

1. Adhvdarshaq Swara

Adhvdarshaq swara, in Hindustani Classical Music, refers to the Madhyam or ‘Ma’ swara. If the adhvdarshaq swara or ‘ma’ in a raga is tivra, then the raga is sung in the poorvang i.e. between 12pm to 12am. If, on the other hand, ‘ma’ is shudh in a raga, then the raga is sung in the uttrang or between 12am to 12pm. Ragas containing both tivra ‘ma’ and shudh ‘ma’ are sung at transitional times, like sunrise and sunset, and are called transitional ragas.

2. Vadi Samvadi Swara

Vadi swara is the 1st most important swara in a raga and samvadi is the 2nd most important swara in a raga. The Vadi Samvadi Swara theory is said to be the most accurate of all the theories of raga time. In case a raga has its vadi swara in uttrang , its samvadi will be in the poorvang and vice versa. When a vadi swara lies in the uttrang (‘pa’ to ‘sa’), the raga pertaining to it is sung in the uttrang and when a vadi swara belongs to poorvang (‘sa’ to ‘ma’), then the raga containing it is also sung in the poorvang. Vadi and Samvadi swara are most effective when performed at their right time.

3. Characteristics of Re, Dha, Ga, Ni

Certain ragas have a peculiar nature, such that they can be sung during transitional times and sometimes may overlap their timings twice in the same day. To identify the correct time of performing these ragas, here is another time theory as per various swaras and their characteristics.

Re and Dha Komal

Ragas which have both ‘re’ and ‘dha’ komal are *Sandhiprakash Ragas and are sung during the transitional time in the morning i.e. from 4am to 7am.

Re and Dha Shudh

Those ragas which have ‘re’ and ‘dha’ shidh are sung after the above category of ragas i.e. from 7am to 10am

Ga and Ni Komal

Ragas having ‘ga and ‘ni’ komal are sung at the end when the above categories of ragas have been sung. This means that they are sung between 10am to 4pm.

*Sandhiprakash ragas are ones which are sung during the transitional times of the day i.e. the time when night turns into day and day turns into night.

Ayurveda and Raga Time

Yes, ayurveda is everywhere and just so you know, it plays a very important role in determining the time of performing ragas. Here’s how:

As per ayurveda, there are three doshas in our body called vata, pitta and kapha. These doshas keep rising and falling in the 24 hours of the day in 2 cycles. The timings of these doshas during these 2 cycles are mentioned below:

First cycle:

  • 6 am to 10 am – Kapha
  • 10 am to 2 pm. – Pitta
  • 2 pm to 6 pm – Vata

Second cycle:

  • 6 pm to 10 pm – Kapha
  • 10 pm. to pm – Pitta
  • 2 pm to 6 pm – Vata

 

In Hindustani Classical Music, time periods assigned for ragas are called ‘Prahars’. These are 8 prahars of 3 hours each in the 24 hours of a day. Thus, each dosha falls in some or the other prahar. The ragas assigned to a particular prahar then affects the dosha that falls under it. This is how ragas have their effects on our mental as well as physical health throughout the day (and during various seasons).

Music has a lot more to it that we can perceive. From soothing our mind to the tap of our feet and even our physical health, music, in the form of ragas can prove to be of great importance, but only if sung at the right time. Time matters!

 

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