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Watch the What is a Raga? online guitar lesson by Fareed Haque from Gaga for Raga

It is an honor and a pleasure to be presenting this course with master musician and my good friend Indrajit Banerjee.

Over the years I've performed with many Hindustani musicians and I've learned that, as with all musicians and all artists, each individual is unique – there are many mere technicians, there are plenty of truly fine musicians and then finally there are few great artists.

Maestro Banerjee is in this last category of true artists.

Indrajit is unique in the melody, soul, beauty and blues which naturally come through his music. His technical command is phenomenal, his phrasing impeccable, and his musical ideas are truly inspiring!

Make sure to check out http://indrajitbanerjee.com/

I first fell in love with the music of India and Pakistan through the recordings my parents played around the house when I was a little boy.

I never really studied Hindustani music formally, but growing up around it and having a dad from Pakistan - visiting Islamabad, Rawalpindi and many other cities and villages to see family definitely seems to have had its effect.

It was at the encouragement of the great master Ustad Zakir Hussain, the world’s preeminent tabla virtuoso, that I faced my trepidation and tried my hand at this music.

Primarily I am a jazz and classical musician, so throughout this course I will demonstrate some of the ways that I've incorporated Hindustani and Carnatic - Indian - elements in my own music.

My examples will serve as a model, but these are only my simple ways of incorporating South Asian elements into my music. There are many, many ways that raga can be incorporated in western music and I hope this course will open the door for you to find your own path.

What is a raga? There are hundreds of books written on the subject, but I can say that the Indian music system is essentially the same as our ‘western’ musical systems. A Lotta folks talk to me about quarter tones in Indian music and while there is some use of that, the real use of quarter-tone pitches comes mostly from Arabic music not Indian music.

In South Asian music typically we are still we dealing with a seven-note scale. However instead of labeling these 7 notes “Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti-Do, South-Asian musicians use the syllables Sa-Re-Ga-Ma-Pa-Da-Ni-Sa.

So what makes Indian music sound "Indian"? It’s not just the notes, since they are pretty much the same as our Western system of notes, but the ornaments, the bends and the phrasing.

While there are hundreds of different ragas, in this course we will show you five essential ragas and some of the sounds that are very useful in western music applications. First we will demonstrate the sound of each raga through a simple melody that typifies that raga, composed by Maestro Banerjee. Then we will show you how to ornament that melody with a few typical bends, glides and shakes. Last we will play the melody with ornaments, over a groove, and JAM!!

I hope you have as much fun learning about these ragas as we did!!!