Random Borrowing #16: Churches

Once more I have braved the watchful eye of the librarian and randomly chosen a big book of Churches by Judith Dupré.


This book claims in the introduction that it is inclusive and intended for believers and non-believers alike. Although, it seems to assume that the only religion in the world is christianity.


So I picked a random page and we get to see some nice photos of the Kresge Chapel at MIT.


Despite my own lack of belief in any religion, I still have some appreciation of these buildings as impressive in their own way. Similarly, the history of music owes quite a lot to religion. Western classical music, in particular, was often the domain of the church in ye olde times.

A quick browse through the Wikipedia article on religious music outlines the musical aspects of several religions other than christianity. In the spirit of randomness, I shall select on of these religions at random to look at in a bit more depth. Randomly, Sikh music was chosen.

It turns out that Sikh music is in an Indian Classical and Folk style using a system of Ragas. Each raga is a sort of template for music. It can comprise scale, tempo, and even time of day. Wikipedia lists some association between some of the traditional Ragas and moods. This list was marked “citation needed”, so it may be rubbish:

  1. Soohi – joy and separation
  2. Bilaaval – happiness
  3. Gaund – strangeness, surprise, beauty
  4. Sri – satisfaction and balance
  5. Maajh – loss, beautification
  6. Gauri – seriousness
  7. Aasa – making effort
  8. Gujri – satisfaction, softness of heart, sadness
  9. Devgandhari – no specific feeling but the Raag has a softness
  10. Bihaagra – beautification
  11. Sorath – motivation
  12. Dhanasari – inspiration, motivation
  13. Jaitsree – softness, satisfaction, sadness
  14. Todi – this being a flexible Raag it is apt for communicating many feelings
  15. Bhairaagi – sadness, (The Gurus have, however, used it for the message of *Bhakti)
  16. Tilang – this is a favourite Raag of Muslims. It denotes feeling of beautification and yearning.
  17. Raamkali – calmness
  18. Nat Narayan – happiness
  19. Maali Gaura – happiness
  20. Maaru – giving up of cowardice
  21. Tukhari – beautification
  22. Kedara – love and beautification
  23. Bhairav – seriousness, brings stability of mind
  24. Basant – happiness
  25. Sarang – sadness
  26. Malaar – separation
  27. Jaijawanti – viraag
  28. Kalyaan – Bhakti Ras
  29. Vadhans – vairaag, loss (that is why Alahniya is sung in this Raag when someone passes away)
  30. Parbhati – Bhakti and seriousness
  31. Kaanra – Bhakti and seriousness

In a way, Jazz Standards are a similar concept with a defined structure for improvisation.

Picking a random Raag from this list, we get Tukhari. This appears to be a less famous Raag. Here are a couple of pages about it.

“It appears to be a raga for the morning hours to be sung in winter. Its name Tukhari is the popular forth of tushar (Sanskrit for winter frost).”

I found something similar here, but all three sources seem to contradict each other.

The piano encyclopedia website had the scale as: C, D, Eb, F, Ab, C

I put all the 1030 scales on this page for easy reference.

The note names for this musical tradition are given by Swara, which is a bit like Solfege (Do, Re, Mi, etc.):

  1. C – Sa
  2. Db – Komal Re
  3. D – Shuddha Re
  4. Eb – Komal Ga
  5. E – Shuddha Ga
  6. F – Shuddha Ma
  7. F# – Teevra Ma
  8. G – Pa
  9. Ab – Komal Dha
  10. A – Shuddha Dha
  11. Bb – Komal Ni
  12. B – Shuddha Ni (maybe Nee too?)

The scale and notes of the raga are as given in the following form, which I am yet to decipher.

These are confusing since the notes appear to be out of order, which is not what I expect from a scale. Also, the notes and descriptions conflict and include abbreviations that don’t appear in the lists of Indian note names that I’ve found. The actual descriptions from the Indian websites are after the jump.

From http://www.vismaadnaad.org/tukhari.php

Aroh : Nee Sa, Ga Ma Pa, Nee Sa”

Avroh : Sa” Nee Dha Pa, Nee Dha,Pa, Ma Ga, Re Sa

Sur : Both Nishad, Madhyam is Teever, Gandhar is flat, remaining notes are sharp. ‘Re’ and ‘Dha’ are forbidden in ascending scale.
Main sur : Pa Nee Nee Dha Pa, Ma Pa, Ma Ga, Re Sa

Aroh = Ascending scale
Avroh = Descending scale
Sur = ??
Vadi = most popular note
Samvadi = second most popular note

From http://searchgurbani.com/raags/raag_tukhari

Aroh : Ni Sa, Ga Ma Pa, Ni Sa
Avroh : Sa Ni Dha Pa, Ni Dha Pa, M’a Ga. Re Sa
Pakar : Ni N Dha Pa, Ma Pa, NIa Ga, Re
Vadi : Pa
Samvadi Sa

Arohi (ascending scale) – ni sa, ga re sa, ga ma pa ma pa ma pa, pa dha ni dha pa ma pa, sa na sa

Avrohi (descending scale) – sa ni sa ni sa, ni dha pa, pa ma pa ma pa, ma ga re sa, re m sa

The vadi (most popular) note is ‘pa’ and samvadi (second most popular) note is ‘ sa’.