Indian Sargam Vs Western Notes

Following chart may come handy while translating western notes of any tune or song into Indian Sargam, and vice-versa.

ScaleCDEFGAB
IndianSaReGaMaPaDhaNi
WesternDoReMiFaSoLaTi

The letters in all the above rows (column wise) generally follow a sequence.  For example, if we start the scale at F, then the sequence would be FGABCDE, or when at B, it would be BCDEFGA, and so on.

Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni and Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti remain constant.

Every musical instrument can be tuned to a certain scale.  With the above example, we would be playing Sa at C scale.

Following table can be used as a key to play Sargam on Western Instruments and vice versa:

indian vs western notations

With the above table, one can find out the correlation between Indian Sa Re Ga Ma and Western C D E F…  For example, if you are reading a Sargam notation that starts with, say, Shuddh Ni (Col.#12) and you have a “Kali 3 Flute” or any other instrument tuned at F#, then your first note in Western form would be F major (Row #6).  Thus, by referring this chart, you can improvise and play any Indian sargam on your western instrument.

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There is only one Tivra swar

Many people, especially those who have just picked up learning flute, have a doubt that blowing harder on flute might produce Tivra sound for any note. This is not correct. Blowing harder produces sound of that note on its Higher pitch.

For example, if you play “kora kagaz tha“, which is a duet song, you can produce the female voice (high pitch) by blowing your flute harder on the same notes.

In Indian classical music there is only one Tivra swar and that is Ma. Ma can be shuddh but cannot be komal.

Sa and Pa are stationary, means only shuddh, these cannot be played as komal.

Rest of the notes viz., Re Ga Dha and Ni can be played as both shudhh and komal Notes.  Following chart will help you understand this:

ShuddhSRGMPDN
komalrgdn
TivraM#
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How to read Indian notations

The SARGAM (Indian notations) posted in this website are arranged in the following manner.  Readers can take a clue from it and decipher the notations.  The following is how generally the Indian notations are written, but it is not the thumbrule.  You may find notations written in other style at other places.  But for this website, we will be adhering to the following rules.

  • CAPITAL LETTERS = Shuddh Swars (Flat Notes)
  • small letters = Komal Swars (Low Notes)
  • A Note with # [hash] = Tivra Swar (High Note)
  • Letter/Alphabet ONLY = Medium Pitch/Normal blow on flute
  • Letter/Alphabet PRECEDED BY a ” . ” [full stop] or  a ” , ” [comma] = Low Pitch/Softer blow on flute
  • Letter/Alphabet FOLLOWED BY a ‘ [single quote] = High Pitch/harder blow on flute
  • Notes in { } = “murki” have to be played very fast without any pause
  • A Note in ( ) = “kaan swar” has to be just touched before moving on to the next note
  • A “~” between two Notes = “meend”. That is, you have to glide from one note to another slowly to produce that wavy effect.
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