Swar-O-Metre in Indian Classical Music


While practicing Indian Classical ragas, my mind often innovates a device which gives an accurate measurement of Swaras. Whenever I perceive the uncertainty or some inaccuracies in the rendition of  swaras while practicing swaras, I often wonder that there should be an instrument ‘swar-O-metre’ which can scan our voice while we sing and accordingly judge the notes with the help of the markings made on it.

Let’s start with the features of my innovation. The device ‘swar-O-metre’ should consist of the voice-track of all 22 shrutis (from where the Indian  classical notes are filtered).  It should have all the markings from 1-22 shrutis,  like we have in a watch or any measurement device, a speaker (or a recording device), a scale system which examines different preferred chords (like we have in digital Ragini tanpura). According to the Indian Classical Music, there are maximum twelve notes which are essentially needed to materialize the classicality of  music. 12 swaras (seven shudhha and 5 vikrit) are so placed on the 22 shruti-table format , that the exact, authentic location and the distance form on note to another is clearly exhibited.

Based on the modern establishment of notes on 22 shrutis as stated in the most authentic epic ‘Sangeet-ratnakar’, the notes in the table should be located in such a manner that it exhibits the proper intervals between two minute notes for example, the series is: sa-re(komal)-re(S)-ga(K)-ga-ma-ma(teevr)-pa-dha(K)-dha-ni(K)-ni-sa. According to the modern classification of swars on shrutis, the interval between the seven shuddha swars-sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni, sa is said to be 4-3-2-4-4-3-2, i.e., the gap between sa contains 4 shrutis, re contains 3 shrutis, ga has 2 shrutis and so on. Modern classification says that the shuddha swar is located on the first shruti of that particular note or swar. Hence the series would be placed like : Sa’s exact place is 1 (as it is located on first shruti,) Re-5, Ga-8, Ma-10, Pa-14, Dha-18, Ni-21 respectively.

The device should have this establishment (as it is followed by all the musicians) on it along with its vocal track in different scales.  The other five sharp and flat notes (R-G-Dh-Ni Komal and madhyam teevr) should be added in the device along with these seven notes according to their ideal locations. To exemplify, Komal Re should be placed somewhere before shuddha Re, Teevr madhyam might be placed between the swaras shuddha M and Pa. This is how swar-marking with different scales can be placed on the voice grabbing device.

How to use

A music beginner can easily test the accuracy of swaras by switching it on while singing. The device will enhance the particular swar or note produced by the singer and show  it on the marking with the help of a spike ; suppose the singer is rendering  the note SA correctly, the spike in the marking would automatically reach Sa’s exact place;  but if the spike is somewhere near Sa but not on the exact mark, it means that ‘Sa’ has not being sung accurately or it is besura and the singer has to make it a little high or low to sing correctly. This is how  the singer will make out his shortcomings and would easily rectify it while doing basic  practice of swaras. The device might not be regarded helpful for the higher levels of practices such as ati-drut taan, kan-khatka-murki, as it might not grab the fast rendition by the singer. Moreover, it might not see to the aesthetical aspects of gayaki but it might undoubtedly be functional for strengthening the foundation of a singer by  making him aware of vocalizing accurate swaras, which is the base of music.  If our notes are not accurate, we land nowhere. Almost no use of aspiring for higher standards.

The device might prove useful for the various music beginners who practice on their own, or who do not get opportunity to take talim from any knowledgeable exponent of Classical Music.  The invention of such devices might be useful for subsiding the dependency   of music students  on  renowned Gurus, which is often seen in Indian Music world. Generally, it happens that a good musician is either a student  ‘Shagird’ of a renowned musician or belong to any gharana or musical background. But there are lot more students who are anxious to learn music, but neither they belong to a musical family nor they are affordable enough to achieve talim from any renowned musician. In  such circumstances,  a cheap simple device might be a great help for them to practice on their own without being misguided by anyone. Later on after initial swar-riyaz , he can approach some expert personality for higher level training like gayaki, rag-vistar, rag improvisation etc.

In the 21st century, when the whole world is revolving around the aura of science and technology, and music has also reached the place where it is today  through technology, one has pretty better prospects to achieve one’s goal independently, freely,  in one’s own manner. Being dependent on someone else in order to achieve better music training seems a little  quixotic in present era where we have products like digital taanpura-tabla, electric guitar, I-tanpura, I-tabla, microphone, mikes etc to set and systemize our own status. Technology has  adequately  been kind to pacify all our insecurities and dependencies. Similarly this technologized apparatus, which is just in my imagination, might be fruitful for the music lovers, after coming into existence.


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