In Western Music, we find that A4 has a particular frequency that is 440Hz. So it has only one sound. All the modes and scales are defined in terms of intervals. However, we find in Hindustani Music that all the raagas and thaats are defined in terms of interval. However, it seems that there is no convention. For example, Sa maybe C or C# or D or whatever of the 12 notes. That's why instruments are said to be tuned to B or C. Thus the Indian Instruments depends on Western for tuning, and giving a particular sound a particular name. But back in the old days, when the world was not seeing a globalized picture, this should not have been the case. Then what is the system of Hindustani Music where we give a name to a particular Swara? After all 'Sa', 'Re', 'Komal Re' etc. are all intervals.

NOTE: By saying "Thus the Indian Instruments depends on Western for tuning" I do not mean to disrespect Hindustani Music as I am Indian too.

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!

  • 1
    Interesting, but I did not see any question...
    – Tom
    Feb 12 at 7:05
  • 2
    @Tom Sorry I typed a '.' instead of a'?' and also to make things more interesting I made the question bold Feb 12 at 7:26
  • As I understand it, the question is "What's the history of the pitch standardization in Hindustani music, especially at times before it was defined in reference to Western standards." An intriguing question and I don't know the answer, but I imagine it's been researched before. Have you tried any initial research? Feb 12 at 13:19
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    Also, note: Western music wasn't always standardized to A = 440! Before about the 19th century, it might be higher or lower in different times and places. See this book. I imagine the same is true in Indian history; earlier than a certain point I imagine "Sa" might have been a different frequency in one place than in another, if only slightly different. By the way, I don't know enough about current tuning practices! Could you please explain a bit more about how pitch is currently standardized? Feb 12 at 13:26
  • It's not a scholarly source, but this page by an importer of harmoniums confirms that notion, or suggests that reference pitch has been non-standardized even much more recently. I guess it's always true that everyone tunes to the instrument that's the hardest to tune! Even today in Western music, if a small ensemble plays with a piano that is accidentally at 438, they'll tune down to match it. Beware of the assertion that Western pitch became standardized to allow large orchestras to play together. ... Feb 12 at 13:44


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