Can anyone tell me the equivalency between Indian Classical Saptak, i.e. Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa and Western Notes, C D E F G A B

It is Sa ~ C, Re ~ D, Ga ~ E, etc, or is it something else.

Please let me know

Reason I'm asking is, I'd love to be able to play https://noobnotes.net/do-re-mi-sound-of-music/ on Bansuri

Already this video sounds quite similar to Do a Deer A Female Deer


2 Answers 2


I didn't know about it but I've recently seen this syllables when I was looking up Kodaly.

I think Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa is not corresponding to the C D E F G but to the moveale Do Re Mi.

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yes it is:

These seven swaras are shortened to Sa, Ri (Carnatic) or Re (Hindustani), Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, and Ni. Collectively these notes are known as the sargam (the word is an acronym of the consonants of the first four swaras).

Sargam is the Indian equivalent to solfege, a technique for the teaching of sight-singin. The tone Sa is, as in Western moveable-Do solfège, the tonic of a piece or scale.

(may be you'll have to look up "movable do" or "moveable do re mi" here in this SE, you'll find a lot explanations.)


  • Hello @albrecht-hügli. Thank you for your explanation. Picture is worth thousand words. It helped me also understand the Komal notes. Will research movable.
    – Marium
    Commented Apr 13, 2019 at 22:36
  • 2
    @Marium Don't know if you're aware, but "movable" itself won't return anything useful, since "movable" just means "able to be moved". "Movable Do" is the operative phrase.
    – user45266
    Commented May 21, 2019 at 4:31

So the short answer to your question is no, its not a one to one correspondence in the general case.

The long answer

So there is a fundamental differences in how pitches are defined in both western and Indian contemporary systems. In the western system there is a set of "standards" for defining pitches. One such example is the concert tuning : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concert_pitch.

The most commonly defined standard defines a pitch (lets say A4 = 440Hz) and uses the equal temperament tuning to define the other pitches. The formula is f(n) / f(n - 1) = 2 ^ (1/12). So for instance A#4 = 440 * 2^(1/12) Hz.

This defines an entire set of notes along with its defined frequencies. Some standards differ (some folks like defining A4 as 432 Hz) but the central argument of absolute pitches does not change.

The Indian classical traditions does not have such an absolute frame of reference. A "Sa" can be any real number frequency. Lets say that frequency is f. Then the "Pa" is 1.5 times "Sa" so 1.5f. Each of the notes in the Sargam is some fraction of "Sa" based on just intonation.

So while its possible to define your Sa as C and draw a correspondence (well almost, equal temperament is not a perfect mapping to just intonation), you can also defined your Sa as C4 - 10hz, which does not map to any of the concert pitches. (A notable example would be contemporary sitar players tuning their Sa in between C# and D as their Sa).

  • What you are describing is the "movable do" concept mentioned in the accepted answer. Also, Western music doesn't exclusively use 12TET. Older music may be played using just intonation or a variation thereof. Commented Jun 30, 2019 at 5:44
  • You are correct. Older music may be played using many different intonations (including just intonation). My answer however precisely pins down contemporary practice (for instance good luck finding practitioners still playing the well tempered clavier in non modern instruments). The west has pretty much phased out everything other than 12TET.
    – Khalian
    Commented Jun 30, 2019 at 7:28
  • Besides just making a statement that you can float your tonic arbitrarily does not do justice to the statement "but why is that the case".
    – Khalian
    Commented Jun 30, 2019 at 7:36

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