Concept of Swara

Swara” is the basic entity of music. It is the sound, which is pleasant to ears. There are seven “swaras” in Indian Classical Music. They are called as “sapta (Seven) Swaras” . They are – “Shadja – Sa”, “Rishabha – Ri”, “Gaandhara -Ga”, “Madhyama – Ma”, “Panchama – Pa”, “Daivata Da”, “Nishada – Ni”.

There are two categories of “swaras” – “Prakruti” and “Vikruti”.

Prakruti swara

Prakruti swara” is one, which is used in the music, in its original form without any variations. Those are – “Sa” and “Pa”.

Vikruti swara

A “Vikruti Swara” is one which can have some variations – “Ri” , “Ga”, “Ma”, “Da”, “Ni”. To learn about the “Vikruti swara Prabheda” ( types ) see below –

“Vikruthi swara Prabhedha

As mentioned earlier , “Vikruti swaras are – “Ri” , “Ga”, “Ma”, “Da” and “Ni”.

There are three types of “Ri” .

1. “Shudda Ri” – Ri1

2. “Chatushruti Ri” – Ri2

3. “Shatshruti Ri” – Ri3

There are three types of “Ga”.

1. “Shudda Ga” – Ga1

2 .”Sadharana Ga” – Ga2

3. “Antara Ga” – Ga3

There are two types of “Ma”.

1. “Shudda Ma” – Ma1

2. “Prati Ma” – Ma2

There are three types of “Da”

1. “Shudda Da – Da1

2. “Chatushruti Da – Da2

3. “Shatshruti Da – Da3

There are three types of “Ni”.

1. “Shudda Ni” – Ni1

2. “Kaishiki Ni” – Ni2

3. “Kakali Ni” – Ni3

So totally we have 14 “Vikruti swaras” at a certain pitch level. This makes total of 16 “swaras” including the “Prakruti swaras” – “Sa” and “Pa”.

Refer illustration below for the 16 “swaras” –

Prakruti and Vikruti Swaras

Practically this is not possible. As at a certain pitch there can be only 12 distinct “swaras”. Please note the below. At the same pitch ,

“Chatushruti Ri” = “Shudda Ga”

“Shatshruti Ri” = “Sadharana Ga”

“Chatushruti Da” = “Shudda Ni”

“Shatshruti Da” = “Kaishiki Ni”

Refer illustration below for the 12 “swaras” –

12 Swaras and their positions

The conversion from 12 notes to 16 notes has been done to arrive at the 72 “Janaka Raagas”. In a ” Raaga” there cannot be two swaras sounding exactly the same.