The Raga on Guitar App shows you the scale positions to play Indian Ragas on the guitar fretboard.

How to start finding raga note positions on the guitar

You choose :

  1. the root ('Root' to the right of 'preset patterns')
  2. the string where the root should be played on ('Start @' below 'intelli patterns')
  3. and the raga from the list of ragas. (part of the app below the fretboard display)

The fretboard display shows you one possible way the scale notes of the chosen raga can be played from the chosen pitch (root) starting from your string of choice.

The root note is shown in a color different from the others.

The intelli patterns

The intelli patterns option is used to give you two more ways the same scale notes can be arranged on the fretboard. The pattern forming algorithm has been optimized to imitate a human guitar player's thinking.

Walk down, walk up : You have options to go towards the right of the fretboard as you go up the scale notes, or you can choose to play a pattern where the notes tend to the left of the fretboard as you advance with the scale notes. The 'box' option gives you a formation of scale notes that lies somewhere in between.

The preset patterns to play Indian ragas on the Guitar fretboard

Each option in preset patterns box has 6 numbers in it.

The first number tells us how many notes of the raga is played on the 6th string (strings are counted from the bottom most string on the guitar to the top, 6th being the top most and thicket string.)

The second number shows the number of notes played on the 5th string (2nd string from top). The number of notes played on the 4th string is shown by the 3rd digit in the preset pattern option. And so on…

So, option in the preset patterns box gives us a comma separated list of how many notes of the scale are played on each of the strings of the guitar, starting from 6th string to the 1st string.

For eg, 0,2,3,4,3,3 would mean skip the 6th string, play the first two notes of the raga on the 5th string, the next three notes on the 4th string and so on.

This kind of categorization and choice is something that human guitar players do. Choose from among the options to see how one can play the Raaga starting from the 6th or 5th strings with different number of notes in each of the strings.

The raga lists and raga explore options

The raga list

As of now, the guitar raga app shows fretboard positions for

  1. the complete list of melakarta ragas
  2. a list of popular ragas.

You can alternate between the two using the tabs on the left hand side of the Raga list section in the second half of the app.

Explore ragas

The explore ragas section allows us to find out ragas and its fretboard positions by choosing the notes in the raga which we have in mind.

We may not know the raga by name, but we may know some of the notes in the raga. In that case, enter the notes (all the notes or some of them) and we get all the possible options from the melakarta list.

The notes can be entered as swaras or as western intervals.

The simplest use of this part of the app could be to find out the name of a raga if we know the notes. If you know the Carnatic swara naming convention, you can use the Swara interface to enter the notes, else use the western interval naming which is more direct when using a western instrument.

An advanced use of the app could be as a thesaurus of indian ragas for improvization.

Using the Raga app while improvising in a western context

For example: all ragas with a minor 2nd or R1 along with a M2 or sharp 4th can be found by choosing those two notes or swaras from the note options part. A list of all ragas with the specified constraints are shown immediately as a list for you to choose from. Each of the suggested raga link can be clicked to see the corresponding fretboard patterns.

This particular example scale or raga can be used with flat 9th, sharp 4th (flat five)chords. So if you can identify the intervals of a chord you are interested in, enter it into the app to find all the possible ragas and fretboard positions that you could use to improvise over the given chord.

Try the app and let us know how you like it, what features you would like added. More useful features are there in the list, which we will bring out in time. Help buttons (question marks) are found near each of the sections, for a basic introduction into what that section does.

The Guitar Raga App is built by Prasanth (Prasanth's facebook page)an IITian who plays and likes the guitar. He does coding for Amazon and I these days.