Definition of raga in English:


(also rag)

Pronunciation: /ˈrɑːɡɑː//ˈrɑːɡə/


  • 1(in Indian classical music) each of the six basic musical modes which express different moods in certain characteristic progressions, with more emphasis placed on some notes than others.

    • ‘His resonant use of the bass string to render the notes of a raga in the lower octave has lent gravity and depth to his recitals.’
    • ‘The singer has composed songs in some rare ragas such as Vandhanadhaarini, Sumanesaranjini, Bagesri and Madhukauns.’
    • ‘The Quartet improvised the notes of the raga Revagupti, each instrument showing its tonal texture.’
    • ‘A 1948 review by a famous critic states categorically that a good voice is not essential for delineating ragas in the Carnatic mode.’
    • ‘In their early ages, they have learnt the grammar of the ragas, the basics of laya, tala and technique together with a few patterns of tana.’
    • ‘He wondered if anyone knew why Mayamalavagowla was used as the raga to learn the basic music lessons from.’
    • ‘The one he popularised, basing it on the ancient system of ‘moorchanas,’ between male and female vocalists, each of them singing their respective scales and different ragas at the same time.’
    • ‘For performing this, Madhu had to create a whole new ‘attaprakaram’, a visual sub-text, using various ragas to connote different meanings and ponder over the costume.’
    • ‘The point was well driven home by the children who sang the song set to nine ragas with effortless ease.’
    • ‘Some singers astonished the judges with their amazing control over their voice as they got tested in the nuances of musical notes in various ragas.’
    1. 1.1A piece using a particular raga.
      • ‘When the Forum honoured him, he pointed out that classical musicians were not being innovative and were parroting the same ragas and songs.’
      • ‘I found my feet dancing to the lilting ragas of Carnatic classical music.’
      • ‘Firefly was one of the first Indian groups to experiment with original scores combining Indian ragas with hip rhythms of Western music.’
      • ‘I started learning to sing at age 3, singing parts of ragas and short songs for maybe ten minutes each morning.’
      • ‘His combination of blues with classical Indian ragas has produced four award-winning albums in three years.’
      • ‘Once again Manx mixes up acoustic blues with Indian ragas to produce a seamless sound that you never want to stop.’
      • ‘Their repertoire consists of anything you might have heard during the glory days of Afghan Radio: songs in Persian and Pashto, romantic gazals, sufi songs and ragas.’
      • ‘They blend Caribbean music forms like calypso and reggae with Indian ragas and melodies - played on conventional instruments as well as pan, sitar and tabla - to create their unique sound.’
      • ‘The piano concerto Towards Asavari honours the eponymous Indian goddess through the inspiration of Indian classical ragas, poems and paintings.’
      • ‘I enjoy chill-out music but others may prefer classical, Indian ragas, Gregorian chants, or even hip-hop to get in the mood.’


Late 18th century: from Sanskrit, literally colour, musical tone.