• Pa (Pancham) •


The fifth step of the sapta swara. While roughly equivalent to the Western perfect 5th interval (=700 cents), the Hindustani Pa tends to be nudged very slightly higher, to the ‘pure’ 5th of 702 cents – plus, swaras are more than just ‘notes’ (e.g. Pa is linked by some to the calls of cuckoos and nightingales). Derived from the Sanskrit for ‘five’ (also used in the names of other musical phenomena, such as Thyagaraja’s Pancharatna Kriti: a folio of five legendary Carnatic compositions).

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

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• Pa Categories •
Pa: present
Pa: varjit
Pa: imperfect
Pa: detached
‘Komal Pa’ (mM & no Pa)
Mirror: P–r | MP-Sr | Pd–rR

Quirks: cannot be ‘detached‘ (as all ragas must contain their own Sa) • achal‘ (immovable: n.b. see ‘komal Pa‘)

Tanpura tuning: Pa-Sa-Sa-Sa



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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]

Megalist (365+ ragas)
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Tags: Classifying the ragascape •
Glossary: Raga jargon demystified
Murchanas: Swara-set rotations •
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Ragatable: Analytical connections •
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Sa | Re | Ga | Ma | Pa | Dha | Ni
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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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