Indian Rāgas for Piano Made Easy (2020 Edition)

IRfPME Ed2 front cover 11jan2020c-1

Second Edition Published January 2020 (First edition 34pp, Publ.9Jan2018), Intensely Pleasant Music

IRfPME Ed2 front cover 11jan2020c-1 Indian Rāgas for Piano Made Easy (2020 Edition)
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Take your first steps in Indian Classical Music with 8 Indian Rāgas reimagined for Easy Piano [2020 Edition – now with two new rāgas]

Contents: Rāgas Latangi, Madhuvanti & Todi (each in 3 versions), Rāgas Vachaspati, Patdeep, Desh, Malhar* & Chayanat*  (*New to this edition).

This book is a collection of eight Indian rāgas (5 Hindustani and 3 Carnatic), re-imagined for piano, and simplified for fledgling pianists (both children and adults). The purpose is to provide an introductory experience of classical Indian music-making in an easy, hands-on way at a piano, offering a very accessible first encounter with improvisation.

It is designed for near-beginners through to early intermediate players, and can be used as a stepping stone to the 262-page book for more advanced pianists: How to Play Indian Sitar Rāgas on a Piano ( Intensely Pleasant Music, 2016/2020).

Recordings of each piece in this book are available free (below), where you’ll also find recordings of the left hand parts of the first three rāgas – to allow you to practise just the melody with a recorded backing. Indian rāgas (or raags) have an extraordinary musical heritage dating back several centuries (from the area that is now India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh) – a truly unique musical genre of fascinating melodic beauty and rhythmic intricacy – freely combining elaborate composed melodies with carefully rehearsed improvisation.

Accompanying videos and mp3s (free download) below.

The first edition Indian Raags for Piano Made Easy was published in 2018. This second edition (2020) differs from the first edition in four main ways: 1) spellings of some musical terms from Indian classical music have been updated to conform to more widely recognised academic usage: most notably, raag is now rendered rāga. 2) Two additional rāgas have been added to the six in the first edition. 3) Some entirely optional suggested fingerings have been added. 4) There is some additional guidance on how to approach the free tempo ālāpa section of each rāga – with fully-notated ‘free’ rhythms which some teachers may find helpful.

Structure of each rāga

Ālāp (the introduction):

Tonic notes of the key played low and high (or in the case of younger students, they can play every note of that letter on the piano).  NB: the sustain pedal is held down through the whole performance, so these tonic notes should set the piano resonating.

Slow, pulseless drone in left hand.

Descending cascade in right hand, outlining the scale of the rāga.

Improvised melody with no regular pulse, gradually unveiling the main melodic phrases of the particular rāga.

Gat section (the main body of the rāga):

Gat – the composed melody in 4/4 time – 16 bars long (plus some optional repeats).  NB: Tempo markings are only a guide, but however fast you take it, there must be a regular pulse.

Some improvisation using the notes of the ālāp,  but this time over an easy left hand pattern in crotchets.  My advice to start this is to work your way through the ālāp phrases again, repeating or re-ordering them at will, but giving them a rhythm over the strict crotchet patterns in the left hand.

The gat can then be repeated (in the “quite-/slightly less- easy” rāgas).

Ending gestures:

A short phrase played three times (known as a tihāī)

Descending cascade.

Complete Playlist of all 14 Easy Rāgas

Videos and downloadable mp3s of complete performances of each Easy Rāga

Click here to download a free zip file containing all the mp3s.  Or, click on individual titles below to download.  Of course, your own performances will sound slightly different in the improvised sections!

Left Hand only – 1a Really Easy Rāga Latangi (page 6)

Left Hand only – 2a Really Easy Rāga Madhuvanti (page 12)

Left Hand only – 3a Really Easy Rāga Todi (page 18)

1a Really Easy Rāga Latangi (page 6) 

1b. Easy Rāga Latangi (page 8) 

1c. Quite Easy Rāga Latangi (page 10) 

2a. Really Easy Rāga Madhuvanti (page 12) 

2b. Easy Rāga Madhuvanti (page 14) 

2c. Quite Easy Rāga Madhuvanti (page 16) 

3a. Really Easy Rāga Todi (page 18) 

3b. Easy Rāga Todi (page 20) 

3c. Not So Easy Rāga Todi (page 22) 

4. Easy Rāga Vachaspati (page 24) 

5. Quite Easy Rāga Patdeep (page 26) 

6. Slightly Less Easy Rāga Desh (page 28) 

7. Quite Easy Rāga Malhar (page 30)

8. Quite Easy Rāga Chayanat (page 32)