Know Your Raga - Your complete guide to Indian Classical Music
Know Your Raga - Your complete guide to Indian Classical Music

Practicing Scales or Alankaars

The literal meaning of the word Alankaar in hindi is 'ornament'. These are exercises based on scales and rhythm. Most Indian musicians spends many hours practicing alankaars everyday. Alankaars are also called paltas.

Alankaars can have varied levels of difficulty. In this lesson we will practice some simple alankaars. This will help us in getting a better hold of our instrument.

These scales require a lot of patience and practice and can sometimes take many days or even weeks to master. If you find you cannot play an alankaar, do not go to the next one till you are confident of the previous one. If you find the tempo of the recorded clips to be too fast you can start by playing slower and build up speed gradually.

The audio clips accompanying the instructions have been played with a G-medium bansuri. It is advisable for you to get a bansuri of the same scale if possible.

We will start by playing the sargam but this time we will play each note twice.

Aaroh(ascent): SaSa, ReRe, GaGa, MaMa, PaPa, DhaDha, NiNi, Sa'Sa'.
Avroh(descent): Sa'Sa', NiNi, DhaDha, PaPa, MaMa, GaGa, ReRe, SaSa.
Listen

Similarly you can play each note four times.

Aaroh: SaSaSaSa, ReReReRe, GaGaGaGa, MaMaMaMa, PaPaPaPa, DhaDhaDhaDha, NiNiNiNi, Sa'Sa'Sa'Sa'.
Avroh: Sa'Sa'Sa'Sa', NiNiNiNi, DhaDhaDhaDha, PaPaPaPa, MaMaMaMa, GaGaGaGa, ReReReRe, SaSaSaSa.
Listen

Please note that being able to play all the notes in succession is not enough, it is important to maintain a rhythm while playing. Listen to the audio clips carefully and notice that there is a fixed rhythm on which the pattern is played. If you can't keep up pace with the recording you can play at a slower pace.

Now we are ready to begin with our first real alankaar. In this we will play three notes starting from a particular note (say Sa). Then we will play three notes starting from the next note(Re) and so on.

Aaroh: SaReGa, ReGaMa, GaMaPa, MaPaDha, PaDhaNi, DhaNiSa'.
Avroh: Sa'NiDha, NiDhaPa, DhaPaMa, PaMaGa, MaGaRe, GaReSa.
Normal pace
Faster pace

Your target should be to be able to play this as in the faster pace audio clip. It is absolutely normal for you to take a lot of time on this. It can take many days for one to be able to play this comfortably. Just go at your own pace.

In the next palta that we will practice, we will play alternate notes. We will start with Sa and then play Ga(instead of Re), then start with Re and play Ma and so on.

Aaroh: SaGa, ReMa, GaPa, MaDha, PaNi, DhaSa'.
Avroh: Sa'Dha, NiPa, DhaMa, PaGa, MaRe, GaSa.
Listen

Once you are able to play these paltas you should start feeling confident about the instrument. And it generally becomes a lot easier learning more advanced stuff after you overcome this initial hurdle.

I will be posting more alankaars in the next lesson. Till then, Happy flute playing! And all the best :)

Posted by Manu Mahajan on 27th May '07.

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