Introduction - Pitch and Musical Note

These web pages present some topics described in my Rasika software which may be downloaded free HERE or HERE . As the software works only in Windows these web pages have been written making use of the audio facilities of HTML5, so that these can be used in any system with recent web browsers . Essentially they provide a description of the Carnatic Music system (as practised now) with audio-visuals. For the present the Introductory and Melam modules of the Rasika software are included with some rewriting and additions. Audio will work only with browsers supporting WebAudioAPI(Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge and other browsers). Use Chrome for clearer audio.

Why should anyone be interested in knowing the 'theory' of Carntic Music. If you enjoy the music just as it is, there is no need. Click here to know of some advantages of studying the theory.

Moving the cursor over words in red color will provide a pop up with explanation for the word from the glossary (of Carnatic Music terms). Words in blue are links to audio or audio-visuals or to other web pages. If there is no 'Stop' button, click on the text area to stop the music. If sometimes the audio does not start refresh the page using the round arrow button on top.

To understand any musical system some basic understanding of the terms like pitch, note etc. is required. Pitch is a musical term and is related physically to the sound's frequency and sounds can be ordered from lower to higher pitch. Listen to notes in ascending and descending pitches of some steady notes. A musical note ('Swaram' in Carnatic Music) is a sound having a recognizable pitch (steady or controlled varying of frequency). Sounds of the same pitch (or pitch class) may be produced by different instruments with different 'quality' or 'timbre'. Listen to notes of the same pitch class on Veena, Flute and Violin. Notes of the same pitch may be sounded with different 'loudness' as in notes with low or high intensity.

Though pitch is related to the frequency of the sound, it is basically a sensation. Musical systems refer to pitches of notes with symbols. In Western music there has been a standardisation of symbols like 'C,C#,D....' with reference to the frequencies, which enables easy tuning of instruments for orchestration. In Carnatic music the symbols 'sa,ri,ga,ma...' used to refer to pitches are not associated with any particular frequencies but their mutual relationships are defined.

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