No announcement yet.

Shruthi, the mother of Music

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Shruthi, the mother of Music

    "Shruthi Maatha Layam Pitha" is a well-known adage in the world of music. Indeed that is very true! Sound without shruthi or laya cannot be called music. In this post, we'll get introduced to the mother of music. We have already touched the definition of Shruthi in my previous post: Here we'll look at it in more detail.

    Shruthi (
    தொடரொலி or "Sur"(Hindustani) or "Scale"(Western)) is simply a sound level forming the basement on which the palace called "sangeetham" is built. In any form of singing, a singer starts to sing only after listening to the Shruthi. This gives the reference point of the first note "Sa", based on which the sound levels of other 6 notes/swaras are ascertained by the singer. In Indian music, shruthi is often the continuous sounding of the Prakruthi Swaras "Sa" and "Pa" as they remain constant for any raga.

    There are totally 12 levels of Shruthi or Pitch (
    தமிழில் "கட்டை"), each corresponding to a "swarasthana". Notation: They are numbered from 1 to 7 in steps of 0.5. General pitch levels for male voice are 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4 and for female voice - 4.5, 5, 5.5, 6, 6.5, 7. Note that there is no 3.5 kattai in practice. After 3 the next sound level occurs at 4. I'm not sure why it is numbered so. However, a shruthi level of 3.5 is possible by setting between the sound levels of 3 and 4. Even +/- 0.25 shruthi fine tuning is possible between the existing pitches but the sounds will not be much different compared to the closest shruthi for a discerning listener and it is generally not required.

    Legendary vocalist D.K.Pattammal used to sing in 4 kattai (as a child I used to think it is a male voice until I came to know about the singer). Some of the currently popular artists including the vocalist duo Ranjani-Gayathri have a normal shruthi of 6 kattai. In male singers, the most prevalent range is 1.5 or 2 kattai. Mainstream Musical Instruments like Veena are normally set to 3 kattai.

    It is important that a singer chooses a shruthi that he/she is comfortable traversing at least 3 octaves, as many krithis and ragas are rendered in thri-sthayi. Another important factor is developing the ability to precisely ascertain the sound levels of the sapta-swaras with reference to the shruthi. So to become a good singer, one must be a good listener in the first place. To cultivate this ability, one must always practice singing alongside listening to the shruthi and under the guidance of a master who can correct the mistakes in the swara levels. With practice and t
    hrough lot of listening, we can gauge if one's singing is adhering to shruthi or not, and also identify the pitch from just the singer's voice (without the aid of a shruthi setting instrument).

    Tampura and Shruthi box are the widely used instruments for setting shruthi. The most common type of setting is called "Panchama shruthi" where "Panchama-Sadja" combination is considered as the base. There are 2 more types of advanced settings which are used less frequently and while singing specific ragas and types of songs. More about it as we progress to the advanced stage.

    To experience and experiment with the different levels of shruthi, you can download a free software called Your Tanpura from the url: . There is option for fine tuning upto +/-1 level in this software. Try it out and keep listening to music

    Please let me know if you have any questions on this topic.

  • #2
    Re: Shruthi, the mother of Music

    சங்கீதத்தைப் பொறுத்தவரை அடியேன் "ஜ்ஞானசூன்யம்"
    அடிப்படையே தெரியாது, ஆனால் ஆர்வம் மிக உண்டு.

    திவ்யா அவர்களின் வழிகாட்டுதலைக்கொண்டு ஓரளவு சங்கீதத்தைப்பற்றி
    அறிந்துகொள்ள முயற்சிப்போம். அவர்களின் குறிப்புகளை படித்து மேலும்
    நன்றாகப் புரிந்துகொள்ள உதவியாக இருக்கட்டும் என்று சில வீடியோக்களை
    அடியேன் இங்கே சேர்த்துள்ளேன். ஒருவேளை அவற்றை பார்த்து குழம்பிப்போகவும்
    வாய்ப்புள்ளது, ஆனால் நம் சந்தேஹங்களையும், குழப்பங்களையும் திவ்யா அவர்கள்
    இங்கே ஆசானாக இருப்பதால் அவர்கள் நம் சந்தேஹங்களைத் தீர்த்துவைப்பார்கள்
    என்று நம்புகிறேன்.

    திவ்யா அவர்கள் அருமையாக வழங்கியுள்ள ச்ருதி பற்றிய விளக்கக் குறிப்புகளை
    ச்ருதியைப் பற்றிய விளக்கங்கள் யூட்யூப்பில் கிடைக்குமா என்று தேடினேன்
    தற்செயலாக இந்த வீடியோவைப் பார்த்தேன் அயர்ந்து போனேன்.
    நிச்சயம் நீங்களும் ரசிப்பீர்கள்!!

    Thanks for choosing this forum for asking your vaideeka, Shastra, Sampradaya doubts,
    please visit frequently and share information anything you think that will be useful for this forum members.
    Encourage your friends to become member of this forum.
    Best Wishes and Best Regards,


    • #3
      Re: Shruthi, the mother of Music

      Sri N.V.S Sir,

      Thank you for finding these videos for us. Each one is an excellent demonstration... I think my postings would be more effective if I accompany that with an audio or video. I'll try to produce one from the next post.

      The video, titled: placement of 22 shruthis in a harmonium, excellently explains all the shruthi levels. A common doubt that arises here is that I have mentioned only 12 shruthi levels (corresponding to 12 swara sthanas) whereas the video tells there are 22 shruthis. The 5 vikruthi swaras Ri, Ga, Ma, Dha, Ni, with two variants each, gives rise to 10 swara sthanas. The fine-tuning of the 10 swarasthanas divides each into 2 sound levels, hence 10 becomes 20. This plus 2 prakruthi swara sound levels make a total of 22 shruthis.

      In my post, I have made a note as to +/- 0.25 fine-tuning can be made to the pitches. As you follow the video, you can see there is only a minute difference between say Athi Komal Rishabh (R1 - 1.5 kattai) and Komal rishabh (1.75 kattai). The difference is not so evident unless the listerner's ears are very sharp

      Basic models of electronic Shruthi box and Tampuras give only the 12 shruthis. Advanced models have options to attain all 22 shruthis.

      Hope this is helpful.