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Indian Classical Music Notation System : Swara

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2. Swara: It is equivalent to the western “Solfege” in the Hindustani Classical System. A solfege is a method of practicing singing where the intervals are given more importance to than the actual frequencies (notes or scale). The solfege is sung as “do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do.” These sounds are selected and altered to suit any musical scale desired singing “do” as the root note (e.g. the C note in the C major scale) and taking re, mi, fa, sol, la, and ti as D, E, F, G, A and B. The notes sung in a swara are just that and are referred together as the “Sargam”. The names are Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni and (Sa). These are abbreviations for the full names as follows: Shadja, Rishabh, Gandhar, Madhyam, Pancham, Dhaivat, Nishad and (Shadja) respectively.

In notation these become, S, R, G, M, P, D and N respectively. A dot above the letter indicates that the note is an octave higher that the present octave and a dot below indicates that it is an octave lower. If a swara is not to be sung as a "natural" (Suddha – Re as R), a line below the letter indicates that it is flat (Komal) – e.g. Komal Re is “R”, and an acute accent above the letter will indicates that it is sharp (Tivra) – e.g. Tivra Ma is “Mˆa” or “M'a.”

Short     Full            Western
Name      Name            Equiv. (Hindustani)

Sa    =    Shadja     =    Do
Re    =    Rishabh    =    Re
Ga    =    Gandhar    =    Mi
Ma    =    Madhyam    =    Fa
Pa    =    Pancham    =    So
Dha   =    Dhaivat    =    La
Ni    =    Nishad     =    Ti

In another popular notation of the Hindustani System, using Roman alphabets, the 12 notes (intervals) of the chromatic scale are represented as (vide infra):
Sa, Re1, Re2, Ga1, Ga2, Ma1, Ma2, Pa, Dha1, Dha2, Ni1 and Ni2.

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