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  • Writer's pictureNaman's Music

What is Swar?

On a fundamental level, 'swar' is a sound, specifically a musical sound, extensively used in making music and melodies. While there are numerous sounds that can be employed in music, we deem seven frequencies as crucial, referred to as 'sudh swar,' 'sapt swar,' or 'ashtak.' These swars are S, R, G, M, P, D, N. However, these are abbreviations; their full Sanskrit names are as follows:

- 'SA' signifies 'shadaj.'

- 'RE' represents 'rishabh.'

- 'GA' denotes 'gandhar.'

- 'MA' stands for 'madhyam.'

- 'PA' corresponds to 'Pancham.'

- 'DHA' signifies 'dhaivat.'

- 'NI' is called 'nishad.'

'Shadaj' signifies the note that gives birth to the other six notes. To commence your music practice, it is crucial to understand and establish 'sa' first.

However, the concept of swar doesn't end here. We also have five additional notes known as 'vikrit swar.' 'Vikrit swar' are swars easily identifiable by the ear but are not 'suddh swar'; rather, they represent different forms of swar categorized in Hindustani music as 'komal swar' (lower in frequency compared to 'suddh swar'). We have four 'komal swar,' i.e., R, G, D, N, which means we have two forms of each, one in 'suddh swar' and the other in 'komal swar.'

Another type of 'vikrit swar' is 'tivra swar,' consisting of only one note, 'ma.' 'Tivr swar' are swars higher in frequency than 'suddh swar,' indicating we have two 'ma' notes - 'suddh ma' and 'tivra ma.'

Now, 'vikrit swar' are also considered movable notes that can transition from 'suddh' to 'komal' to 'tivra.' Such notes are also referred to in Hindustani music as 'chal swar.'

'Sa' and 'pa' are the only notes considered non-movable or 'achal swar.'

three important swar category in Hindustani classical music.
Suddh, komal and tivra swar, their names and places


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