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Sargam Article: Music and Rasa

Sargam is the monthly bulletin of Swara Sampada. The President writes a column there called 'The President Speaks His Mind'
This is from the Sept 2005 issue.

Rasa and Music

Rasa means juice or extract. It is the essence of a fruit. We take apple juice or mango juice (aam ka rasa). Similarly, in the performing arts there are certain feeling
states or rasas conveyed. In music too, which is one of the prominent performing arts, we think of rasa, the essence of the feeling or emotion conveyed by a song or a composition. That is the rasa or predominant emotive tone of the song. But for that we must know which are the nine recognized Rasas. They are:

Sringara Erotic, Romantic
Roudra Anger
Hasya Comic
Bibhatsa Ludicrous, Grotesque
Vira Heroic
Karuna Pathos, Compassion
Jugupsa Disgust
Vismaya Wonder
Shanta Peace

Some later authorities have also added Bhakti rasa (devotion) to these Nava-rasas of Bharata’s Natyashastra, and probably to good reason, although it often goes along with Shanta rasa.
Many Hindi film songs have these rasas as their predominant effect, and it is a good topic of personal research for you to categorise the songs you sing, like, or hear into those conveying the rasas mentioned above.
For example, let us take a few of them here:

1.Aapke haseen rukh pe aaj naya noor hai obviously conveys Sringara rasa.
2.Qasmein wade pyar wafa sab baten hain baton ka kya conveys Karuna and Jugupsa rasas.
3.Yeh desh hai veer jawanon ka,albelon ka, mastanon ka conveys Veer rasa.
4. Ye kaun chitrakar hai, ye kaun chitrakar conveys Vismaya, Shanta and Bhakti rasas.
5. Yeh mahalon yeh takhton yeh tajon ki duniya conveys Karuna, Jugupsa and Roudra rasas ( Raudra, especially in the jala do ise phoonk dalo yeh duniya).
6. Ek chatur naar kar ke singar conveys Hasya and Sringar rasas.
7. Ai malik tere bande hum conveys Shanta and Bhakti rasas.
8. Aurat nein janam diya mardon ka, mardon nein unhe bazaar diya conveys Bibhatsa, Jugupsa and Karuna rasas.

I have analysed a few of the well-known songs for you so you can embark on your own self-study and analysis. Amongst other things, it will also help you concentrate on the meaning of a song, and help you emote the song better. Both qualities essential in anyone aspiring to be a good singer, which I am sure you intend to be.
All the very best.

Dr Ajai R. Singh

*(Sargam, Sept 2005)

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