Nine-Note Scales: The Murchanas
Starting from the note A, Indian theorists employ a nine-note scale from which they create ragas of 9, 8, 7, 6, or 5 notes to the octave. There are 14 different murchanas or nine-note scales. In the ancient tradition, the ragas which choose the seven principal or most commonly used notes are called the suddha or pure muchanas. Here are the murchanas and ragas as explained by Alain Danielou in Music and the Power of Sound. First, let’s look at Danielou’s 22-note-to-the-octave sruti (and the tetrachords Danielou believed Indian musicians employed to build ragas or scales/modes), the template for his murchanas:
And next in this chapter are the murchanas themselves, as defined by Danielou. Generally, two of the nine notes are “substitute notes”; the scale may use B on the ascent and Bb on the descent….
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