Chris Mendez in Sitar

Sitar: Learning Indian Solfege (sargam)

Western music uses a technique called solfege for sight-seeing and ear training. I'm sure at some point in time, you've heard people sing out Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do.

Indian music uses a solfege-like system called sargam. Similar to Solfege, sargam uses 7 notes (called swaras) to make a scale and you can modify the words to match different pitch intervals. For example, in Solfege a major scale is Do Re Mi and minor scale will contain Do Re Me.

These changes in pitch allow you to sing different scale modes called that. Phew! I haven't figured out all of the thats but I will in the upcoming months.

As a side note, the word sargam is an acronym made up of the first four notes in the scale. META....


Western Solfege

Western solfege was derived from an old Latin script that used words like Ut, Resonare, Mira, Famuli, Solve, Labii.

So these sounds:

Do  Re  Mi  Fa  Sol  La  Ti  Do  

Were derived from this text:

Ut queant laxis  
resonare fibris,  
Mira gestorum  
famuli tuorum,  
Solve polluti  
labii reatum,  
Sancte Iohannes  

Source


Indian Solfege

Sargam shares a similar type of evolution.

These sounds:

Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni, Ṡa  

Were born out of these words: shadja, rishabh, gandhar, madhyam, pancham, dhaivat and nishad.

Sometimes, you'll also see sargam written like this:

S, R, G, M, P, D, N  

Resources