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Swara : Physically…..and Musically!

Is there a difference between the two? Well, as for myself, It took me quite some time to realize and accept the difference!

Till a few years ago , I used to revel in the mathematics of Music, different scales, their variances, and lots and lots of ratios and numbers. And then I was introduced to the musical search of the swara ……The ongoing and unending quest has taught me to leave the mathematics behind……

Understanding of the physics behind it is not wasted though, and I think that one has to start with it, to be able to appreciate what lies beyond the physics.

The link below explains the physical attributes of the swara, as simply as possible.

Swara physically

The pitch, of course, is the first readily recognizable attribute of the swara. The pitch is not the same as the frequency, but is rather the perception of the frequency of a swara. And truly, we are dealing more with the feel, when we talk about the swara musically. The pitch, tone (timbre) and the loudness of the swara are not really experienced independent of each other, but should be seen as three dimensions of a swara. These three dimensions together define the swara, making it very dynamic.

For a musician, a major part of his life is spent in mastering the control over these three variables of the swara, so that he is able to use his instrument to create the sound exactly demanded by the moment. While the ability to vary and control the pitch is the most primary aspect of learning music, one also learns to change the tone or the loudness of a swara while keeping the pitch same. A musician also keeps on improving on the fineness of this control, exploring the depths of the swara to infinitesimally minute levels. The musician’s greatest friend and Guru in his quest of the swara is the tanpura (more about this later).

For a musician, the swara is a very dynamic and a living thing, which he uses to create the feel, through continuous modulation of the pitch, tone and the volume, and thence the emotion and the effect he desires.

The musical scale defines the relative positions of the swara which can be used for music making, and these as we commonly know are the seven swara of the saptak.

More about how the saptak evolves, and the variants of these swaras in the next post…….

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