• Ni (Nishad) •


The seventh and final step of the sapta swara, offering both komal (lowered) and shuddha (natural) options. While these are somewhat equivalent to the Western b7 and ♮7 (=1000 and 1100 cents), the Hindustani Ni may also take nearby microtones (plus, swaras are much more than just ‘notes’). The swara’s name is thought to derive from the Nishadas, a fabled kingdom of hill-dwelling tribes mentioned in the Mahabharata and other ancient texts. Also see ‘sakari Ni‘: the practice of intoning the swara somewhere between the komal and shuddha shades, sometimes used in ragas of the Darbari family (e.g. Agra vocalist Faiyyaz Khan & Imdadkhani sitarist Budhaditya Mukherjee).

Sa | Re | Ga | Ma | Pa | Dha | Ni

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• Ni Categories •
Komal ni: present
Komal ni: only
Komal ni: varjit
Komal ni: imperfect
Komal ni: detached
Shuddha Ni: present
Shuddha Ni: only
Shuddha Ni: varjit
Shuddha Ni: imperfect
Shuddha Ni: detached
Generic Ni: present
Generic Ni: varjit
Double Ni: present
Mirror: n–G | nN–Gm | N–m

Quirks: by far the most popular double-swara (nN) • may be tuned to a ‘mid-sruti’ position, between komal and shuddha (see ‘sakari Ni‘)



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Hindustani Raga Index

An open-ended project seeking to bring North Indian raga closer to all who approach with open ears. Combines direct input from dozens of leading Hindustani artists with in-depth insights from music history, global theory, performance practice, cognitive science, and much more! [out 2023-24]

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George Howlett is a London-based musician, writer, and teacher (guitars, sitar, tabla, & santoor). Above all I seek to enthuse fellow sonic searchers, interconnecting fresh vibrations with the voices, cultures, and passions behind them. See Homepage for more, and hit me up for Lessons!

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