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hemitonic pentatonic scales



I posted the question on rec.music.indian.classical, and got the following
replies.

Suresh


From: "James Pokorny" <j.pokorny@worldnet.att.net>
Newsgroups: rec.music.indian.classical
Subject: Re: pentatonic scales with semitone intervals

It's true, in western classical music there don't seem to be many
"hemitonic" (using semitones or "half steps") pentatonic scales.
"Anhemitonic" pentatonic scales (like the scales of Malkauns, Bhupali,
Durga, Megh, etc.) are used more frequently.  Some hemitonic pentatonic
Indian scales that come to mind are:

Bhupal Todi (semitone between Sa and Re, as well as between Pa and Dha)

the recently-discussed Bhinna Shadja (aka Kaushik Dhwani) which has a
semitone between Ga and Ma

Bairagi-Bhairav (semitone between Sa and Re)

Jog (semitone between Ga [shuddh form] and Ma).

Of course, Jog begs the definition of "pentatonic" since it uses both shuddh
and komal forms of Ga, just as Brindavani Sarang is ostensibly pentatonic,
but incorporates both Ni degrees.

B. Suresh Krishna wrote in message ...
>hi, there is currently a discussion on a mailing list that i am a part of,
>on the non-existence of pentatonic scales with semitone intervals. most of
>the discussion focused on western classical music, but i "sort of felt
>pretty sure" that in indian classical music, there must be quite a few
>scales that fall in this category. however, i dont know enough to justify
>this vague intuition with examples...
>
>could someone help me with some examples ? or perhaps there is a web site
>where the base notes (rough correspondence with western scales, with all
>the higher-order gamakams etc. ignored as a horrendous approximation) of
>each indian scale are listed ?


From: Richard Harrington <rchrdhrngton@earthlink.net>
Newsgroups: rec.music.indian.classical
Subject: Re: pentatonic scales with semitone intervals
Date: Thu, 03 May 2001 07:47:58 GMT

Hereís a list of scales, re-purposed for this thread, followed by a few
notes:

------------------------------------------------
ourav, anhemitonic

SRGPDS:bhupali
SRmPDS:durga
SRmPnS:megh/sarang
SgmPnS:dhani(1)
SgmdnS:malkosh
------------------------------------
ourav, hemitonic , 1 half step

SrgPnS:bairagi todi
SrGPDS:vibhas/jait/deshkar
SrmPnS:bairagi
SrmPDS:komal durga
SRgmDS:abhoghi
SRgmnS:?(2)
SRgPDS:shivaranjani
SRgPnS:kohal kanada
SRGPNS:hansadhwani
SRGDNS:adbhut kalyan
SRmPNS:samant sarang(3)
SRmDnS:gorakh kalyan(3)
SRmDNS:ras-ranjani
SgmDnS:chandrakosh(3)
SgmdNS:chandrakosh
SgMPnS:madhukosh
SgPDnS:ranjani
SGmdnS:nandakosh(3)
SGmDnS:shobhavati
SGMPNS:malesri/amrit varshini
SGMDnS:shobhavati
SGPDnS:kalawati(3)
SmPdnS:devranjani
------------------------------

ourav, hemitonic, two half steps

SrgPdS:bhupal todi
SrGmNS:mungal bhairo/meghranjani
SrGPdS:vibhas/rewa
SrGPNS:narayanasri
SrmPdS:gunkali
SRMPNS: nur sarang
SGmPdS:?(2)
SGmDNS: koshik dhani/hindoli/bhinna shadja
-------------------------------------------

ourav w/ alternative notes:

SRmPNS SnPmRS:(madhumat/brindabani) sarang
SRMPNS SnPmRS:shuddh sarang (3)
SGmPNS SnPmGS:tilang
SGmNS SnmGRS:mangalikala
SRMPNS SNnPMmRS:manomani sarang
----------------------------------------

ourav w/ vakra:

SRgPDS SDPdPGPGRgRS:misra shivaranjani(3)
SGMDNDS SNDMGS:hindol
SGmPnS SnPmGmgS:jog(3)
SmPDS SDPmSRS:jaldhar kedar
-----------------------------------------------

(1) why isn't dhani more popular? outside India it is one of the main
pentatonics.

(2) I know I've heard this one somewhere, but I don't know the name.

(3) I know this is an unusual version, most versions use more notes, a
different ascending-descending, a different name, a different something,
but I still think putting them in is better than omitting them.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

a few more of the possible pentatonic scales, some anhemitonic, most not:

SgMdnS
SgmPDS
SgMDnS
SRGMDS
SRGMdS
SRMPDS
SRmPdS
SRGPdS
SgMPNS
SGPdnS
SGPDNS
SRGPnS
SrMPNS
SrMPdS

Okay, these maybe arenít really ragas, like with names and all, but I
canít help but wonder why not- some of these seem like good candidates
for the big time. They have pretty much the same characteristics as many
of the better known rags, and Iím sure someone, some time, has tried
them and maybe even named and performed them. Any factual information
would be appreciated.

Obviously, these are not *all* the possible pentatonic scales- the
number is limited largely by what rules of construction you permit-

If you consider

SrRgGS or SdDnNS

to be legitimate scales, then the number of *possible* pentatonic scales
 is huge.

If you take a more reasonable approach, say, that there can be only one
of any note-name used consecutively, and that there cannot be two
consecutive notes omitted (OK, there are some exceptions to these rules
in use already) then you get about ....

uhh....

uhh....

maybe someone with a college degree can calculate this, but I imagine
itís under about 200.

So why are a few of these scales universal, and at least a few known and
loved all over India, but some, not much different, completely unused?

Both Helmholtz and Jairazbhoy spend some time and thought on this
question. Both observe that scales that are used widely have more notes
that have both their perfect fourth and fifth, and have a high degree of
tetrachordal symmetry- that is, the shape of their SRGM is mirrored in
their PDNS (or sometimes their MPDN).

Helmholtz spends a whole chapter Ďprovingí, rather unconvincingly, using
calculus and statistics, that the major scale is the ultimate musical
entity, while Jairazbhoy has almost too many good ideas, sharp
observations and convoluted theories, including one that all pentatonic
scales are Ďsolutionsí to the imbalances inherent in septatonic scales.

I donít agree with everything he says, but I absolutely recommend his book:

The Rags of North Indian Music: Their Structure and Evolution, Rev. ed.
Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1995.

He has his own distribution company, Apsara Media, but I donít have a
URL; this will have to do:

http://www.netstoreusa.com/mubooks/817/8171543952.shtml

I should warn you, he assumes a *very* high level of understanding of
the raga system and its history, staff notation, music theory and
nomenclature as well as the ability to follow some intricate arguments.
On the good side, though, he completely avoids the
ĎOnly-my-gurus-ragas-are-the-correct-ragasí sort of thing that causes
most Ďdiscussionsí about music to either become lectures or to
degenerate into squabbles over names and who has the authority to bestow them.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From: "imppio" <imppio@yahoo.com>
Newsgroups: rec.music.indian.classical
Subject: Re: pentatonic scales with semitone intervals

What about Malkauns, Chandrakauns, Madhukauns?

imppio

From: warvij@aol.comqwerty (Warren Senders)
Newsgroups: rec.music.indian.classical
Subject: Re: pentatonic scales with semitone intervals

>What about Malkauns, Chandrakauns, Madhukauns?

There is no semitone interval in Malkauns, which
was the thrust of the question.

WS

From: Rajan P. Parrikar <parrikar@yahoo.com>
Newsgroups: rec.music.indian.classical
Subject: Re: pentatonic scales with semitone intervals
Date: 3 May 2001 08:36:47 -0700

Richard Harrington <rchrdhrngton@earthlink.net> writes:

>(1) why isnít dhani more popular?

Dhani is an extremely popular and much-loved rAga
although on the classical circuit you might see it
performed less, probably due to the overwhelming
preference for Bhimpalasi.  Although they are very different
rAgas, artistes prefer a tone colour change and would
be reluctant to consider Dhani after a rendering of B.

However, Dhani is so pervasive in India that its
dhAtu is to be found in innumerable popular/devotional
music in some form or the other.  In Karnataka music
the scale of Dhani is employed in rAgas that are hugely
popular.


>The Rags of North Indian Music: Their Structure and Evolution, Rev. ed.
>Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1995.
>
>He has his own distribution company, Apsara Media, but I donít have a
>URL; this will have to do:
>
>http://www.netstoreusa.com/mubooks/817/8171543952.shtml
>
>I should warn you, he assumes a *very* high level of understanding of
>the raga system and its history, staff notation, music theory and
>nomenclature as well as the ability to follow some intricate arguments.

On the other hand, if one wants to truly understand rAga, its
aesthetic, how Indian musicians and vAggeyekAras think about it and
create in it, Jairazbhoy is useless.  He seems to have no clue.  He
specializes in the low-level 'interval talk' that many Westerners
have a preference for and mistake to be a high level understanding
of rAga.  His book has value, but far less, in my opinion, than is
supposed by this poster.

Warm regards,


r