Raags are beautiful when played right and each raag has its own deep feel to it , so in order to understand the concept of raags we have to deeply understand how classical music is structured in the Indian vedic paradigm.
Raag is not just a scale, it has more colors and dimensions.
Indian classical music is thousands of years old and these Raags like Raag yaman , Bhairavi are thousand and thousand of years old and you will find a lot of eastern and western scales that aligns completely with these fundamental and the oldest Raags because the language of music is universal, it is everywhere and since antiquity people were way more aware and way more connected to mother earth hence those vital and deep routed nature and Vedic connections have gradually framed hundreds and hundreds of Raags in Indian classical music.Indian classical music scene is divided into majorly two types , the Hindustani style which is majorly played in the north side of India , and then we have carnatic style of playing which belongs to the 4 States of the South India.
If you listen to any composition from each of these domains, then you can easily observe the difference between the tonality, the texture , the rhythmic structure , the vocal elements and the arrangements , as a matter of fact these two sub divisions of a super genre are quite different in nature but at the same time they both have originated and propagated during the same phase.
Raag can be said to be a melody which is used to express a feeling, so basically a set of notes which are set in ascending and descending order , so in this case the ascending order is called Aaroh and the descending order is called Avroha, and usually they have minimum of 5 notes.
As a musician it totally depends on you which style connects more with you, if you like Hindustani classical music and want to learn it go for it and vice versa , but always remember no matter which style you learn after the basic practice you have to master a Raag or a group of Raags, so that you can freely communicate with the instrument you are playing and jam with other musicians.
Moving further the number of notes in the Raag is calked JAATI , so if we look at the smallest numbers for the sake of simplicity then Raag Bhoop has 5 notes in ascending and 5 notes in descending hence it is a balanced cycle and called Audav Audav Jatti Raag.
On the other hand if there are six notes in both ascending and descending order it is termed as Shaadav – Shaadav Jaati Raag, and if there are seven notes both in ascending or descending order then it is termed as Sampoorn -Sampoorn Jatti Raag.
Now the cool thing is , if you have 6 notes ascending and 7 notes descending and vice versa then you can term it as Audav Sampoorn Jaati raag or in the later case Sampoorn Audav Jatti Raag ,
As we can see now, it is a very flexible and efficient way of nomenclature of the tonal sets and sub sets, and if you look at the tonal structure of each of these Raags, it is clearly defined that they all are very deep scales with each note having different accentuation schemes and hence it makes it way more deeper than a western classical scale, as a Raag has both horizontal and vertical pitch perspective and that adds more color and deepness to it.
A scale is a combination of ascending and descending notes which have the same tonal and harmonic color. Scale and modes together can be equated to a Raag but it somehow not the same thing, let’s say Raags are a little more deeper then a normal idea of scale but at the same time it appear very flexible and expressive just like a scale.
For me learning a western scale was easier then learning a Raag, very less rules as compared to a Raag, but what i reckoned after 1000s of hour of practice that it is totally learnable.
The Raag has a distinct flow attached to it and it called CHALAN it refer to the way the notes are supposed to be flown. Along with this there are many key phrases associated with each Raag that adds the beautiful color and deep texture to each Raag.So many Raags which have the same tonal and note structure are made to sounds really distinct with the help of CHALAN as their CHALANS are different hence each raga carries its own feel and vibe.
The ornamentation is also a very important factor while singing or playing a Raag , the ornamentation adds beauty & deep aesthetics to a Raag, without ornamentation the Raag will sound very plain, but while integrating the KEY NOTES and the CHALAN you always have to envelop them with a nice juicy layer of ORNAMENTATION to make it sound real good.
Raag is a very wide domain and hence can’t be explained with mere few words , I recommend the readers to watch some really beautiful Raag based jam sessions, once you tune in to any classical performance you can see the meta data as well ie Jatti, Thaat, Taal etc. ,In conclusion all i have to say is that Raag is very subjective in nature and it is as deep as an ocean, and it can be felt very deeply only through auditory experience and high level of practice.