SOAS University of London

Department of Music, School of Arts

Raga: concept and practice (PG)

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2018/2019
Year of study:
Taught in:
Term 2

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

The objective of the course is to gain understanding of the concept and practice of raga in Indian music, with reference to contemporary performance, traditional and modern theory, and the cultural environment of 20th-century India.

At the end of the course, a student should be able to analyse the structure of selected ragas and the processes of performance in particular renditions, and discuss the concept of raga in relation to contemporary and historical contexts.

This course aims to contribute to the development of the following skills:

(a)  analytical skills (QAA Benchmark for Music, 4.1.1):

  • the ability to recognise and identify by ear essential components of a musical language
  • the ability to recognise and describe musical organisation, style, genre or tradition


(b) knowledge-based skills (4.1.4):

  • the ability to understand theoretical and aesthetic systems and relate theory and practice to each other;
  • the ability to assimilate relevant scholarly literature and relate its insights to the practice and experience of music;
  • the ability to assess concepts and hypotheses critically in the light of evidence, and to apply insights and discoveries in one area of study to another;
  • the ability to relate processes of change in music to historical, social and other factors;
  • the ability to confront, explore and assimilate unfamiliar musical sounds, concepts, repertoires and practices.


(c) intellectual skills (4.2.1)

  • the ability to assimilate and synthesise complex information;
  • the ability to comprehend and apply the parameters of context;
  • the ability to conceptualise and to apply


  • One hour Lecture, one hour Seminar

Scope and syllabus

Students will listen critically to, analyse and compare key performances of selected ragas. In addition some or all of the following topics will be discussed:

  • Raga before the 20th century
  • Raga as an aesthetic/symbolic system
  • Raga as a melodic system
  • Raga and notation
  • Raga and improvisation
  • Raga as a cognitive system
  • Raga and meaning
  • Raga outside classical music (eg folk/religious music, film/popular music)

Method of assessment

  • One 1 000 words essay (30%)
  • One 2 000 words essay (70%)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules