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Swaras in Carnatic Music

The carnatic music system has seven basic notes (referred to as ‘Swaras’) namely – sa, ri, ga, ma, pa, dha and ni. The swaras r1, ga, ma, dha and ni have two variations of frequency values – namely ri1, ri2, ga2, ga3, ma1, ma2, dha1, dha2, ni2 and ni3. The notes sa and pa are called achala swaras as they do not exhibit a variation in the frequencies. The 10 variations along with sa and pa form 12 independent notes or swaras which form the 12 tone swara system in carnatic music.  The top Sa of any sruthi is double the frequency of the lower sa and is called the first harmonic. The pa is the average of the low sa and the top Sa.

The frequency difference between the adjacent notes in the 12 swaras is ‘equally tempered’ or in other words the frequency difference between adjacent notes is a constant. The value of this constant is 1.095446 which is the twelfth root of 2. 




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