Any Music is fundamentally about sound and time. And the element of sound is expressed through the Swara, or the Musical note.
We all have used the proverbial SA RE GA MA as the initiation into music, and know that there are seven swara, generally known as Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha and Ni. However to really understand them fundamentally, and their relations with each other, and how these relations are used to create music, we need to begin at understanding the journey of sound as it progresses to become a swara.
In our urban homes, we are used to live constantly with some sorts of sounds around us, ranging from the traffic noise, the TV blaring at the neighbour’s, a drill machine whining away somewhere, children playing in the garden, and so on. In fact, we have forgotten what real silence is, and if at all we encounter it on one of our travels to remote places, it unnerves us.
All of these sounds together can be summed up simply as noise. The character of noise is its randomness, where the sounds are quite irregular, and unrelated to each other.
To become musically usable, this noise has to lose its randomness, become regular, pleasing to the ear, and acquire defined correlated pitches. The clip below should explain these steps with examples.
It will be worthwhile here to elaborate the Naada and the Swara stages here, as sometimes in the literary world, you may find the term Naada used in both spiritual as well as musical context.
A Naada is the stage of sound just before it attains swarahood. It is pleasing to the ear, and also has a definite pitch, but generally is restricted to one particular pitch. It has the potential to become the swara, if its pitch can be varied, at will, and with a definite purpose of making music. It is this purpose of musical creation, which distinguishes the Swara from the Naada.
When we say that two or more sounds are related to each other, we are generally referring to their pitch. So we now need to know what we mean by the pitch of the sound.
To understand the pitch and the other physical attributes of the Swara, we have to revisit our school physics, and we shall do that in the next post.