Ragamala

Interactive Music / Week 2 / Score as Code, Code as Score

This is a tentative concept for the visualization of a score and probably the final project that I wish to work towards. However, I’ll need a certain amount of research and testing the capabilities of the available softwares before knowing whether this project is feasible or not within the given timeframe.

Preface

The entire concept of musical notations, scores, composition, pitch, timbre, et cetera were alien to me. They still are, but I have gained some understanding of it over the past couple of weeks. After copious hours of being confused, contemplation and apprehension, I arrived at an idea that’s both personal to me and something that is new and unique.

Objective

I’m thinking about attempting to design a visualization for Indian Classical Music. Despite of having a rich history and being immensely influential to Western Music, I haven’t found any interpretations of classical Indian music on computers or computer generated visualizations for Indian music. At a time when this form is losing popularity and significance in India, I’m considering reinventing it so as to find relevance in the contemporary culture.

Research Involved

Indian music is complex and has many forms. Two broad classifications of this form of music are Carnatic and Hindustani. Plus, there’s an entirely different language for composing it, scoring it and playing it. My area of focus would be Hindustani music. Instruments typically used in Hindustani sangeet (music) are sitar, sarod, surbahar, esraj, veena, tanpura, bansuri, shehnai, sarangi, violin, santoor, pakhavaj and tabla. There’s still a lot of research and learning that I need to undertake before I can claim to have an understanding of this form of music. However, this is a start.

Visualization

The source of inspiration for generating visualizations for the score would be Ragamala. Ragamala is a series of illustrative paintings from medieval India dating back to early 17th century. Ragamala translates to “Garland of Ragas”, depicting various Indian musical modes called Ragas. ( link for further information )

I have been going through a research paper written by Dr. Nameeta Shah on Indian music and it’s visualization strategies for the computer medium ( link ).

Problems and Grey Areas

However before delving into this subject and actually initiating work on this project, I wanted to understand how tone.js works and whether it will be able to emulate the sounds of Indian instruments. If not, will it be able to use pre-recorded sounds and give me the freedom to play with it.

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