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Watch the Fareed's Raga-ize Tip #1 online guitar lesson by Fareed Haque from Gaga for Raga

Fareed’s Raga-ized Tip #1 Part 1:

Practice each raga in sequences - groups of threes, groups of fours and fives. Play it in alternating notes for example [raag Jog] D to G, F # to A and C to D. Any melodic sequence you can do with a scale you can do with a raag.

The rhythmic conceptions of Indian music are as essential to the sound as the melodic ones.

The most basic approach to Indian rhythm is the Carnatic or South Indian system of rhythmic singing called Konnakol. Check this out, It will knock your booties off:

Simply put, we assign syllables to basic rhythmic groupings:

‘Ta’ for 1; ‘Ta-Ka’ for 2; ‘Ta-Ki-Ta’ for 3; ‘Ta-Ka-Di-Mi’ or ‘Ta-Ka-Ju-Nah’ for 4’

‘Ta-Di-Ghe-Na-Ko’ or ‘Ta-Di-Ghe-Na-Thum’ for 5

You can put together any rhythms from different combinations of these syllables. For Ex. Groups of ‘Sevens’ can be constructed using simple arithmetic. …and its funky!

7 = 3+4 ta-ki-ta / ta-ka-di-mi

7 = 4+3 ta-ka-di-mi / ta-ki-ta

7 = 2+5 ta-ka / ta-di-ghe-na-thum

7 = 5+2. ta-di-ghe-na-thum / ta-ka

7 = 2+2+3 ta-ka / ta-ka / ta-ki-ta

7 = 2+3+2 ta-ka / ta-ki-ta / ta-ka

The key is always to try to always end up on beat one!

4/4 in 16th notes : Ta-ka-di-mi / ta-ki-ta / Ta-ka-di-mi / ta-ki-ta / ta-ka - TA!!!!

(that’s 4+3 + 4+3 + 2 +1 = 17-16th notes ending on beat 1 of the next bar!!)

A simple way to practice this is just to jam in 4 while walking around doing your daily errands. Start with groups of four's and just create variations using the syllables above. Here's a few examples to get started:

4/4/4/4 = 16 : ta-ka-di-mi / ta-ka-di-mi / ta-ka-di-mi / ta-ka-di-mi - TA!

4/3/3/3/3 = 16 : ta-ka-di-mi / ta-ki-ta / ta-ki-ta / ta-ki-ta / ta-ki-ta - TA!

4/5/3/4 = 16 : ta-ka-di-mi / ta-di-ghe-na-thum / ta-ki-ta / ta-ka-di-mi - TA!

Next use these same rhythms with your raga Jog notes for an Indian feel to your phrasing.

Once you get the hang of it it'll start happening all by itself just jam, jam, jam!!


In Western music, composition involves chords and chord changes. A single melody can be changed dramatically through the use of chord changes. In the Indian raga system, there are at least 200 - each of which sounds very different, without the use of any chords. Therefore, when chords are incorporated into the raga system, the possibilities of composition and improvisation for jamming are endless.