The sensation of enjoyment or discomfort in relation to musical tones

The sensation of enjoyment or discomfort in relation to musical tones

Bharateeya Sangeeta singers have a distinctive approach to pitch selection for their performances. They typically opt for a pitch that they can sing effortlessly, which is often the same as their speaking voice. The first note of the Middle Scale, also referred to as the ‘Madhya Swara Sapthaka’, is regarded as the starting point of the musical rendition. This note requires minimal muscular effort for singers to produce, resulting in the relaxation of facial muscles and partial closing of the eyes, creating a meditative atmosphere. To maintain this pitch throughout the performance, the Tampura or Sruthee box produces a continuous drone. This fosters a conducive environment for both the singer and the audience to turn their focus inward, resulting in a state of deep sleep or self-absorption.

The sensation caused by singing the notes one by one in the Middle Octave can increase consciousness in both the singer and the listener. According to the principles of psychology, sensation is directly proportional to the stimulus. As each note is sung, the consciousness of the singer and the listener increases proportionally to the stimulus. The Middle Scale consists of the following notes: S R1 R2 G1 G2 M1 M2 P D1 D2 N1 N2 S. Singing these notes creates a unique experience that can lead to a meditative state and a heightened level of consciousness. This is because the Oriental style of singing emphasizes the use of the natural voice, which creates a harmonious resonance that can have a positive impact on the mind and body.

Oriental Western
S-Sadja Middle C
R1-Suddha Rishab D Flat
R2-Chatusrati Rishab D Natural
G1-Komal Gandhara E Flat
G2-Anthara Gandhara E Natural
M1-Suddha Madhyama F Natural
M2-Prathi Madhyama F Sharp
P-Panchama G
D1-Suddha Dhaivatha A Flat
D2-Chathusrati Dhaivatha A Natural
N1-Kaisaki Nishada B Flat
N2-Kakali Nishada B Natural
S-Uchcha Sadja Octave C

When the note Shudda Rishaba (R1) is sung in Indian classical music, it can create a sense of disruption compared to the original peaceful state of the mind. This is because in Indian classical music, the difference in sensation is more noticeable compared to Western music. This is due to the ears becoming accustomed to the basic pitch (Shadja/S) of the drone of the Tampura and then noticing the notes sung in relation to the basic note (Shadja/S). Each new note sung can create a new sensation, which can be either pleasurable or painful depending on the previous note. If Shudda Rishaba (R1) was heard without Shadja/S for a period of time, it would have created a sensation of deep sleep. However, since R1 is heard in relation to Shadja/S, which is the basic pitch, it creates a sense of disturbance or unease.

In Indian classical music, the relationship between notes and the basic pitch is crucial in creating different sensations in the mind and body. The difference in sensation between notes is more apparent due to the use of the natural voice and the emphasis on maintaining the basic pitch (Shadja/S) throughout the performance. This creates a unique experience for both the singer and the listener, leading to a heightened level of consciousness and a greater appreciation for the nuances of Indian classical music.

The sensation of discomfort caused by the note R1 can be perceived as a mild form of pain, which diverts the attention away from the inward focus experienced at the basic pitch (Shadja/S) or the state of deep sleep. This feeling of uneasiness disrupts the concentration and can draw the attention outward.

The physiology of pain suggests that discomfort arises from the irregular vibration of nerve fiber molecules. When we hear a sound that is not harmonious, the nerve fiber molecules vibrate irregularly, causing a mild discomfort or pain sensation. This discomfort increases proportionally with the extent of irregularity or disharmony in the sound.

In the context of Indian classical music, the note R1 may cause mild discomfort because it is not in perfect harmony with the basic pitch of Shadja/S, which is akin to the state of deep sleep. However, when the singer returns to the basic pitch of Shadja/S, the discomfort subsides because the note is now in harmony with the fundamental pitch.

When the singer moves on to the note R2, which is farther from the basic pitch than R1, the discomfort is less intense than in the case of R1. This phenomenon can also be explained by differences in the frequency of the notes, the beats, and the positions of the Shruthi occupied by the different notes. Each note in Indian classical music has a specific frequency and occupies a particular Shruti position, and the position and frequency of each note contribute to the overall harmony of the music.

Therefore, the selection of the right pitch and the correct sequence of notes is crucial in creating a harmonious and enjoyable musical experience for the listener, and also for minimizing discomfort or pain sensations that may arise from disharmony.

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