Rasa

Whatever we have talked about until now hinges on the ultimate creation that a musician strives for, the ability to create through their art form a venue to touch the inner soul. To get to the root of your emotions, to blend completely through this auditory medium his emotions with the audience. This is when the performer and his audience fuse into one. The attainment of such purity is of primary importance in Indian music.

All that you will learn about music, Indian or otherwise, strives for this final destination where musical notes transcend tonal boundaries and touch centers within the inner soul with a communicative power that can be described as pure enlightenment, or as some have put it, "fusion with god", hence the phrase, coined by the sage Yajnavalka, "true musicians don't have to go to heaven, they are already there!" If you have experienced something like this then you have experienced Rasa!

In the Sanskrit language, Rasa has many different meanings. But all these in a broader sense coalesce towards defining the multitude of human emotions. In one word, perhaps nectar would best describe it. Some define it as a state of climax of the subtle fanciful imagination, reflective emotions, and sentiments in a human mind. When aroused, they produce an extraordinary emotional change or alteration called Rasabhava.

Traditionally, there are nine different types of Rasa, although variations on these are also possible.

  1. Shringar - This depicts the sentiment of love, sensuality, and erotic emotions.
  2. Raudra - This covers the realm of anger, rage, and other violent wrathful emotions.
  3. Hasya - Under this Rasa come the joyful, the comic, and happy emotions.
  4. Vibhatsaya - Disgust and ludicrous emotions.
  5. Veera - Bravery, heroism, and manliness are some of the attributes of this Rasa.
  6. Karuna - Sadness, pathos, compassion, sympathy.
  7. Bhayanak - This Rasa caters to the emotions of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty.
  8. Adabhuta- Wonder and curiosity are two of the attributes of this Rasa.
  9. Shanta - Contemplative, meditative and peaceful emotions form this Rasa.
As a rule of thumb, Shadaja and Rishabha (1st and 2nd notes) represent Veera, Raudra and Adabhuta Rasa. Dhaivata (6th) represents Bhayanak and Vibhatsaya Rasa.. Gandhar and Nishadha (3rd and 7th) represent Karuna Rasa. 4. Madhyama and Panchama (4th & 5th) represent Hasya and Shringar Rasa.

The division of Ragas in three sections on the basis of Vikrit (modified) notes was made by the Indian musicologist Pandit.Bhatkhande:

Other Factors Important to Rasa Creation

Apart from note values, the various Rasas can also be created utilizing dynamics - volume levels and changes can create the Veera or Shanta Rasa. For example, as the volume moves from soft and low to a sudden crescendo, a transition from Shanta to Veera Rasa takes place. Time of play effects the Rasa evoking process so also do lyrics - vocal rendition adding the proper emotional ring to the voice while singing for instance. Different moods of anger, pathos, laughter, fear, wonder come alive. Choreography and rhythm also play a very distinct part. The Tandava dance of Shiva for instance creates the Veera and wrathful moods. The Kathak form of dancing produces a variety of Shringar, Hasya, Karuna and Shanta Rasa. Tempos in different rhythm cycles create different Rasa. For instance, Hasya and Shringar Rasa area created by employing medium tempos, Vibhatsaya; Bhayanak, as well as Shanta Rasa are created by utilizing the slow tempos. Veera and Raudra Rasa are created by using fast tempos. Rasa can be created by different timbre. Today, as the role of synthesizers in music increases, it is becoming more and more apparent that music is drawing into a global center. Samplers can now provide instrumental sounds native to any part of this world by digitally remembering and recreating them at the touch of a key.

In the West another element which you are very familiar with adds its Rasa creating power to the above and that is harmony. Harmonies that create resolution, discord, uncertainty all are example of Rasa. And it really doesn't end here. You I am sure have your own ways of creating these Rasa. That is really what makes each individual's music his own.

So as you can see, Rasa is a very serious and necessary part of music as a whole. So plan on using it well!


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