Mikhal Caldwell

Putting Some Raga In Your Shred

Here we go again. This time I think I'll take us in a VERY different direction, like East. DEEP EAST, no not New Jersey ha ha. Lets examine the music of India. We first should take a brief look at the elements that make up this beautiful music. I have often asked myself "what is it about this music that appeals to me so much? First and foremost it is its tremendous vitality of rhythm. In Indian classical music, the diversity of pattern in the improvisations of both sitar and tabla seems endless, and the tendency toward syncopation and subtle cross-rhythm is something we can appreciate through our experience of jazz. Although the results sometimes sound surprisingly familiar, the background of the two types of music is in actuality quite different, and the vocabulary of Indian rhythm, developed through centuries of evolution, is handled with an intellectual skill that is certain to astonish anyone who makes a detailed study of rhythm in the world. The strong element of improvisation is another facet of Indian music which catches our imagination at first contact, and even in a recording we are able to feel the surge of inspiration and hear the musical dialogue and repartee the musicians. By counting the 8 or 16 beats of a raga known as "talas" one can learn to locate and feel the "sum" or all-important first beat, which is the terminating point of all improvisatory excursions, be they long or short. The little composed melody, or "gat" (there may be two,or even three in the performance of a single raga, but the first is always marked by the entrance of the drum) is the nucleus upon which the whole improvisation is based, and the soloist always returns to it at the end of an improvised section, just before reaching "sum". This profundity of expression seems to mirror all the philosophy of one of the oldest continuous civilizations, and its deep understanding of life, love, and the spiritual aspirations of man. It can be felt most strongly, perhaps, in the "alap", (an improvised introductory section without set rhythm), and in the treatment of the gats in slower tempi. The most classical style of North Indian vocal music is known as "Dhrupad", but because of its great difficulty and somewhat austere character, it is seldom performed today. I would love to hear Geoff Tate and Dio do this kinda stuff, it would be killer, Michael Jackson well, maybe not ha ha!!!!!!!!! The vocal version of a raga would be known as "Khyal". The lighter side of vocal and instrumental music is known as "Thumri". Lets get to how this applies to us as guitarists. First let's understand the rhythms we'll be using:

1. Kaharrwa= 8 beats

2. Tintal = 16 beats (fast)

Next we will explore the MADHUVANTI raga is associated with the sultriness of the Indian afternoon. Its basic scale is as follows: B C Eb F# G B C ascending and C B A G F# Eb D C descending, with C as the root or tonic. This is very similar to the idea of Polytonal Pivoting which make one wonder if perhaps all the music in the world are related? OF COURSE THEY ARE!!!!!!! By these having the same interval count as the western music system we have many options that avail themselves. You could use the 1 3 5 and build upon that idea, or even use the modal approach that would be the idea of starting these scales from different degrees or intervals of these scales. Be creative and don't fear the unknown. As always do this in every key. I'll be back with more stuff next time. Till then peel the paint off the walls..................

Mikhal........................The Electric Warrior ....