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Hindustani raga cannot be summed up in just a few words Raga touches all areas of music Theatre dance song devotional services story-telling poetry and any and all combinations of the aforementioned areas are also examples of raga In defining the function of raga we must first question what is a raga In the broadest sense the word refers to the colors and more specifically the emotion or mood produced by a particular combination or sequence of pitches In a technical sense raga can be described as lying on the continuum between a scale and a mode encompassing both straight emotionally neutral lines of ascent and descent and a fixed song or melody full of meaning Alison Arnold pg64 The timing and performance of raga was also crucial a raga performance may be a huge structure permitting large-scale expansions in time and melodic variation or it may be quite small and confining with no more than a short exposition of its delicate miniturism Alison Arnold pg64 Despite the intense emotion and feeling of raga along with its many moods there are great restrictions The art of this Indian music has been called guided improvisation meaning that at all times the musician must be guided simultaneously by the raga and the tala MalmWilliam P 122 The actual study of raga with its guided improvisation is attained through years of association with a master teacher with the student practicing hundreds of compositions in order to develop the discernment and understanding of how ragas differ from one another as well as the ability to realize all the possibilities with a single one Alison Arnold pg65 When we hear of the term raga several images come to mind A sitar player and a tabla player sitting on an oriental rug a miniature painting in the Persian style a solitary vocalist accompanying himself on a stringed drone instrument humbly going about his daily meditative music pracatice
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