The word rāga literally means ‘to colour’, and from that also ‘to induce emotion’ or ‘to arouse passion’. The musical term rāga refers to a performance, within the melodic and structural conventions of Indian classical music, that evokes a particular emotion. Rāga Jogiya Kalingra “Aroma of Saffron” evokes a mood of wonder:
It is night-time. Strong breezes blow through purple fields of the beautiful saffron flower, its red stigma the source of the world’s most expensive spice, releasing wafts of powerful fragrance.
This through-composed Rāga Jogiya Kalingra “Aroma of Saffron” is a solo performance piece for piano lasting around 16 minutes. It is a fully fleshed-out version of the musical material from the 12th rāga/raag in the book How to Play Indian Sitar Raags on a Piano (2016) by British composer John Pitts, and is suitable for advanced pianists.
Indian rāgas 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.
With improvisation being such an important element in the performance of Indian rāgas, sheet music of a through-composed and fully-notated rāga may seem like a contradiction in terms. However, this piece, with its notated sections of ‘improvisation’, is designed to serve two purposes: 1) as a model example of how to follow the ample instructions in rāga improvisation for owners of copies of How to Play Indian Sitar Raags on a Piano; and 2) simply as a performance piece in its own right for classical pianists who are used to playing entirely from written music.