Basic ICM Concepts

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nicneufeld
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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby nicneufeld » Thu Mar 28, 2013 3:07 pm

I think I agree (much as my limited understanding and experience will allow) with what jaan is conveying.

As a metaphorical example, the raag is a landscape. An oil painting, a photograph, a pencil sketch, a digital image, or a visual memory are not "parts of a landscape". They are merely mediums by which the landscape can be materialized.

Likewise, all of the various entities that could be components of a raga performance (none of which are always required!!) are not parts of the raag. Components of the raag would include the swara set, the aroha, the avaroha, the unique characteristics and distinct phrasings, etc. Components of the performance would be things like gats, jhalla, alap, taans, etc. The raag is at a higher conceptual level, the performance is the mechanics of converting it from concept to sound.

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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby sitara86 » Thu Mar 28, 2013 6:20 pm

I get it now...structure is different from parts. I think I've been using the word part incorrectly, I meant structure of a raag. I think I get it...let's see

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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby Kirya » Thu Mar 28, 2013 7:25 pm

I think the problem is in trying to pin down what a raga is, just in terms of it's structural elements. All the definitions about the elements are all useful, and give you some sense of a formal concert presentation of a raga, but none of it really touches the living thing.

The only definition for raga that I find satisfying is "Ranjayati iti ragah" = That which colors the mind is raga. रंजयति इति रागः |(जो मन को प्रसन्न कर सकता है वही राग है ) This could be further clarified as that sound which colors the mind, or organized sound that produces a definite emotional and perceptual impact and a sense that there is a living sonic presence which only exists while the sound form is active. IMO Raga is a living and quite possibly sentient being that interacts with humans through sound.

We live in world where we have just discovered that what we know of the universe is only a fraction of what is actually there. Scientists estimate that maybe as much as 75% of the universe is "dark matter". http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21340274 I think in the same way what you can say about a raga is a tiny fraction of what it is and what cannot be put in words.

The problem we have is that we are trying to confine something that is essentially a living mystery into words and concepts that we can agree on. Very hard to do.

IMO All the structural elements help us to understand what helps to make a raga in the same way we know that to build a house we need bricks, doors, roof, windows, plumbing, electricity, bath room, bed room etc.. but it does not help us to really define what a home is. A raga is like a home not just a house.

As an example, here is a wonderful little example of how just a tanpura and a voice can create the sense of invoking a raga and bringing it to life: i.e. Raga Bhupali in this case https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQSiPHL ... L8TnOPbmbw

I for one definitely feel that Raga Bhupali is in the room with this little snippet.
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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby povster » Fri Mar 29, 2013 3:53 am

jaan e kharabat wrote:
Kirya wrote:This site provides a very useful overview of Raga structure for instrumentalists

http://india.tilos.hu/english_ragarend.html many of the elements defined below are explained with sound samples as well.

The raga has two main parts, in which there are further subparts (in bold) and other components (not in bold):


No, the raga doesn't have two parts. A presentation of Hindustani music may have one, two, three, four, or more parts, depending on how you slice and dice things, but the itself raga is a set of rules and ideas about melodic phrasing, it doesn't have 'parts' such that they must be delineated separately or in any sort of order.

I often read this erroneous interpretation from Western sources; they equate the format of the presentation with raga.


Jaan, this is closer to what I was trying to express in the "definitive" thread. That a raga is a complete "entity" unto itself. Defining a raga by its performance "parts" is, I agree, not correct. It would be akin to breaking down a person into arms, legs, ears, nose, eyes, personality, emotion etc. Yes, these are all parts of a human but they do not comprise the entire being.

The raga/ragini concept enhances the individual entity idea. Just as with people, the ragas and raginis "mated" and had offspring. Their offspring usually had characteristics related to their male/female parent. Further, as in people, ragas have emotion: love, mirth, anger, fear etc. While it is certainly valid to discuss aspects of a raga, such as alap, jor, vilambit gat etc, none of these things are the raga. They DO express aspects of the raga, but not its totality.
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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby jaan e kharabat » Fri Mar 29, 2013 5:00 am

povster wrote: While it is certainly valid to discuss aspects of a raga, such as alap, jor, vilambit gat etc, none of these things are the raga. They DO express aspects of the raga, but not its totality.


I don't agree that alap, jor, gat, vilambit, etc. are aspects of the raga. The aspects of the raga, as I see them, are things pertaining to its internal structure, as pointed out by nicneufeld, e.g. chalan, vadi, nyas sthanas, aroh, avroh, treatment of individual swaras, etc. His analogy is a good one also.

If we perform a raga in the style of a western pop song, we wouldn't then say that verse, bridge, chorus, modulation, time signature, are parts or aspects of the raga.
If there are just ''six tones'' in an octave [sic] then why have frets for tones that don't exist?

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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby povster » Fri Mar 29, 2013 6:18 am

jaan e kharabat wrote:
povster wrote: While it is certainly valid to discuss aspects of a raga, such as alap, jor, vilambit gat etc, none of these things are the raga. They DO express aspects of the raga, but not its totality.


I don't agree that alap, jor, gat, vilambit, etc. are aspects of the raga. The aspects of the raga, as I see them, are things pertaining to its internal structure, as pointed out by nicneufeld, e.g. chalan, vadi, nyas sthanas, aroh, avroh, treatment of individual swaras, etc. His analogy is a good one also.

If we perform a raga in the style of a western pop song, we wouldn't then say that verse, bridge, chorus, modulation, time signature, are parts or aspects of the raga.


Alap is certainly an aspect of a raga. Just as an arm or a personality is an aspect of a person. To have a proper alap one must express the vadi, samvadi, phrasing etc. and here the note relationships are established. Chalan? They are the basic melody or melodic phrases of the raga. Also core to an alap.

But you are trying to dry out a raga: make it all technical. And you continue to ignore the overall concept I am trying to present of a raga as an entity, an organic, sentient, individual being. Saying the aspects of a raga are chalan, vadi etc. is fine. That is accurate. But alap is also an aspect of a raga because it is where these other aspects coalesce. What good is a vadi and samvadi on its own My god, SO many ragas have Sa and Pa or Sa and Ma as vadi and samvadi. There is nothing unique there. Just as so many people have two eyes or two arms or two legs. Nothing unique there.

As soon as you leave the entire entity that is a raga, and start breaking it out into core pieces, you know what you do? You lose the raga.

But on a less esoteric level, on a more human level, I do not understand your objection to alap as an aspect of a raga. A proper alap will encompass everything that IS the raga. An alap will incorporate the principals of challan, sargam, vadi, samvadi etc. Played incorrectly, the raga will die. Played correctly, the raga will be represented.

But any of the things you bring up are not the raga itself. Neither is an outstanding or definitive alap the raga itself.

I persist in saying the raga is an independent, sentient entity. And separating anything from it is not the whole. But as we are human and not raga, as we have our own means of expressing concepts based on our human-ness, we seem to persist in this academia of challan, vadi etc.

What is needed is an ear that can discern and HEAR the raga itself within the things we are talking about.
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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby jaan e kharabat » Fri Mar 29, 2013 10:54 am

Pov,

Alap is a style of presenting a raga, it is not an integral component of the raga as a melodic entity. Jor is not an aspect of a raga, it's a style/technique of presenting a raga. Chalan is an aspect of the raga, on the basis of which alap and jor or asthais or antaras or taranas or dhrupad etc can be composed. There's a basic and clear distinction between these areas. Why is it so controversial I just don't understand.

P.s. ragas are not sentient beings but man made melodic ideas.
If there are just ''six tones'' in an octave [sic] then why have frets for tones that don't exist?

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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby nicneufeld » Fri Mar 29, 2013 1:43 pm

povster wrote:But you are trying to dry out a raga: make it all technical.


I don't think that is the intent...I think in some respects, quite the opposite...to say that the raga is not composed of alap and jor and jhalla and all of these variable components of a performance. Those are the technical components, and while they are appropriate means by which to express a raag in performance, they are technical and not the conceptual heart of a raag.

The components of performance (alap jor jhalla, rezakhani masitkhani gats, etc) change and evolve over centuries and vary widely among instrumental and vocal gharanas, and continue changing (Lord knows what a performance of this music will sound like in 100 years...maybe worse, maybe better??). The customs and practices of raga presentation can include or exclude pretty much any particular component. However...with some exceptions, the raag itself, the melodic framework and root of the performance, it does not change nearly as much as these other things. Raags do evolve, admittedly, but very slowly. Malkauns played in the 19th Century is the same raag played today, even though the details and style of presentation are probably very different.

A proper alap will encompass everything that IS the raga. An alap will incorporate the principals of challan, sargam, vadi, samvadi etc. Played incorrectly, the raga will die. Played correctly, the raga will be represented.


Agreed...a well played alap can completely represent and exposit the raag. Just as a deftly painted oil painting can represent the sunset on the Pacific Ocean, to return to my analogy. The sunset is not dependent on the oil painting...the sunset could be represented by a photograph or any other visual representation medium.

May be talking out of my hat here, but it just seems we probably end up agreeing more on things but may just be speaking different dialects! :)

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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby David Russell Watson » Sat Mar 30, 2013 3:40 am

The term rag is sometimes used with the meaning "a complete (by whomever's definition) performance of a rag", and it's in that use of the word that it has the parts mentioned, and in that sense only.

Alap, jor, jhalla, gat, etc. are stages or components, or even ocassionally free-standing forms, in the performance of a rag only, not components of the rag proper. Antra and asthai are slightly different in that they each focus on a different part of the rag's ambitus, and thus are in part defined and limited in what they can be by the actual parts/rules of the rag.

No offense to those who wish to anthropomorphize, deify (?), spiritualize, or mysticize the concept of rag, but rationally or scientifically speaking a rag is a melody formula, a technical term of musicology with a specific meaning, nothing more and nothing less.

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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby OM GUY » Sat Mar 30, 2013 5:59 am

David Russell Watson wrote:The term rag is sometimes used with the meaning "a complete (by whomever's definition) performance of a rag", and it's in that use of the word that it has the parts mentioned, and in that sense only.

Alap, jor, jhalla, gat, etc. are stages or components, or even ocassionally free-standing forms, in the performance of a rag only, not components of the rag proper. Antra and asthai are slightly different in that they each focus on a different part of the rag's ambitus, and thus are in part defined and limited in what they can be by the actual parts/rules of the rag.

No offense to those who wish to anthropomorphize, deify (?), spiritualize, or mysticize the concept of rag, but rationally or scientifically speaking a rag is a melody formula, a technical term of musicology with a specific meaning, nothing more and nothing less.

David


This I can wrap my head around.....thanks! :!:
Let's hope 2016 is less violent and that people discover the soothing influence of ICM. Hari OM!

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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby povster » Sat Mar 30, 2013 7:48 am

David Russell Watson wrote:

No offense to those who wish to anthropomorphize, deify (?), spiritualize, or mysticize the concept of rag, but rationally or scientifically speaking a rag is a melody formula, a technical term of musicology with a specific meaning, nothing more and nothing less.

David


I would say "scientifically speaking" can define aspects of raga. But "rationally"? That is a huge chunk to bite off, trying to define rational. Yours sounds like a circular definition in this context. Scientific equals rational. Rational equals scientific. Because A=B and B=A, does that mean C through Z don't exist?

While I used the raga/ragini as an example for historical perspective, I do not anthropomorphize a raga. I don't perceive it as a human form. Or a deity.

As far as mysticism, the definition that is closest to my own is "belief in or experience of a reality surpassing normal human understanding or experience." I understand such a perception could seem unscientific or irrational. But C through Z need a place as well.
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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby David Russell Watson » Sun Mar 31, 2013 1:23 am

povster wrote:I would say "scientifically speaking" can define aspects of raga.

I have to disagree that it defines "aspects" only. I think that a rag, like everything else in reality is entirely mechanistic, and can be entirely described in mechanistic terms.

povster wrote:But "rationally"? That is a huge chunk to bite off, trying to define rational. Yours sounds like a circular definition in this context. Scientific equals rational. Rational equals scientific.

Well a music forum isn't really the place to argue the nature or authority of science, and so I'm not going to, and which is why too I said "No offense to those...", but I do have to say that if I didn't think science were rational, I'd have no use for it, and I imagine most proponents of science feel the same :)

povster wrote:Because A=B and B=A, does that mean C through Z don't exist?

That's not really a logical formulation though, so I don't know what it means :)

povster wrote:While I used the raga/ragini as an example for historical perspective, I do not anthropomorphize a raga. I don't perceive it as a human form. Or a deity.

No, and I didn't mean to accuse any specific contributor to this thread of that, but had rather a broader conversation about rag in mind when I wrote it :)

povster wrote:As far as mysticism, the definition that is closest to my own is "belief in or experience of a reality surpassing normal human understanding or experience." I understand such a perception could seem unscientific or irrational. But C through Z need a place as well.

Well having said I won't argue for or about science here maybe I shouldn't say anything more, but maybe I don't go too far if I say only that, seeing as we know the human brain and senses sometimes go awry, we have no reason to suppose real those things which fail scientific validation.

David

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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby povster » Sun Mar 31, 2013 3:22 am

Hi David,

When I think of science i also think back to how many then-current "scientific" facts are now debunked. Consider, for a moment, where science will be in, say, a hundred years. Or a thousand years. Or a million years. If things go without a global incident these time frames will be here (eventually). Do you think our current science will stand the test of a hundred, a thousand or a million years?

I spent about a year doing a photographic project at the Harvard Museum of Invertebrate Paleontology. Stephen Jay Gould was there back then. I got to know and spend social time with the grad students and scientists there. What I observed was eye opening. There were marked evolutionist vs creationist factions. The creationists sought to prove their creationist beliefs with science. The evolutionists sought to prove their evolutionary beliefs with science. Often there were contradictions, yet all based in "science". It depended on whose science you adhered to and whose you rejected. Certainly something to ponder.

Science is simply one aspect of exploration. It is not a god, but many people cite science as if it IS a god.

To say "I think that a rag, like everything else in reality is entirely mechanistic, and can be entirely described in mechanistic terms" is a disservice to reality, including raga. How does one express in mechanistic terms such concepts as inspiration, intuition, artistry? Are these things quantifiable? Can you bring them into a lab and measure them? Bring them into a hospital and map them with a scan? Express them in any scientific term?

As I said, yes, a raga can be defined using things like aroha/avaroha, challans, sargams etc etc. But as I also said that is like defining a human by its parts.

The sum of a person is much more than the parts expressed by science or mechanistic terms. It is the same with a raga. A raga is much more than a collection of notations on a piece of paper.
...Michael
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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby ragamala » Sun Mar 31, 2013 10:59 am

Happy Easter!
Good to see the old debating skills used in the forum :lol:
Pity they're a bit rusty. :wink:
And a pity that there's such a confusion in a board for newbies. And sad to see how Swiftly the argument descends into a storm in an eggcup.

What could be more confusing than failing to distinguish between a raga and its performance mode?

Without restating a case that's already been clarified by jaan, nic and David, I would add that the Little Endians have been particularly mistaken in basing their arguments on what have become standardised sitar and other instrumental delivery vehicles. Avoidance of discussion of vocal style,and even of Carnatic raga theory. Perhaps we can draw our own conclusions from that.
But really! When was the last time you heard sitar jhala contributing to the melodic portrayal of the raga? I tell you when my last time was - the last time I heard Nikhil Banerjee play. Since then I have heard nothing in jhala that made any contribution to any appreciation other than that of the artist's dexterity.

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Re: Basic ICM Concepts

Postby jaan e kharabat » Sun Mar 31, 2013 11:49 am

sitara86 wrote:"A raga can be conveyed through different forms of composition, e.g. ghazal, chaiti, khayal, gat, jor, jhala, asthai, antara, tan, etc. but these forms are not part of the raga itself"

I don't understand this sentence. How can a raga be conveyed through a gat, jor, jhala, etc? My confusion is you are saying these are not "parts" of a raag and yet you're are saying they can convey a raag. Are saying they can convey a raag individually or together. Because if its together, then wouldn't that be considered parts of a raag?


Individually and not necessarily.
If there are just ''six tones'' in an octave [sic] then why have frets for tones that don't exist?


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