Aaroh and Avroh – an essential guide

Last updated on June 24, 2020.

In this post we will understand what are Aaroh and Avroh in Hindustani Classical Music and how to practice it. Towards the end we would get a brief understanding of Alankar in classical music

What is Aaroh and Avroh?

In Hindi language Aaroh means ascending from a lower position to a higher position and Avroh means descending from a higher position to a lower position.

Aaroh (or Aarohan) is the ascending order of musical notes starting from the Middle Octave Sa to Higher Octave Sa.

In the same way Avroh (or Avrohan) is the descending order of notes from Higher Octave Sa to Middle Octave Sa.

Aaroh/Avroh for Bhoop Raag – An Example

Let us use the famous Bhoop raag to understand the concept of Aaroh and Avroh

Aaroh of Bhoop raag : Sa Re Ga Pa Dh SA – 5 notes used are Sa Re Ga Pa Dh

Avroh of Bhoop raag : SA Dh Pa Ga Re Sa – 5 notes used are SA Dh Pa Ga Re

As you can see in the case of Bhoop Raag (and in most of the raags) the Avroh is just the reverse of Aaroh.

Note that higher and middle octave Sa denoted by SA and Sa respectively are considered as one and not two notes as they are essentially same note in just different octaves.

Desh (Des) Raag – Mixed Jaati Aaroh and Avroh Example

Some raags and associated aaroh and avroh can be a mix of Jati (category) as well.

Let us take the example of Raag Desh (Des). Raag Desh or Des is a well known raag of audav-sampoorna type. And so, the Aaroh for Raag Desh (Des) has 5 swaras (notes) like those of Audav Jati and Avroh has 7 notes like those of Sampoorna Jati.

Aaroh for Des Raag: Sa Re Ma Pa Ni SA : 5 Notes used – Sa, Re, Ma, Pa and Ni

Avroh for Des Raag: SA ni Dha Pa Ma Ga Re Sa : All 7 notes used – Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha ni

Why is it essential to learn Aaroh and Avroh?

Reason 1 – Mastering Sur (Swaras) and Scale (Pitch)

All songs are sequence of notes (“swara” in hindi) at a particular pitch.

The most critical thing for singing well is how well you can sing the right notes (in hindi we say “sur mein gana”).

Therefore it is important to perfect the ability to sing the right notes as they are meant to be. 

If you want to improve your singing notes (swaras), riyaz (practice) of Aaroh and Avroh is mandatory.

Aaroh-Avroh sung in different combinations are very helpful in the daily Riyaz(practice) of singing Hindustani classical music. It gives us melodious voice and depth in Swaaras.

Reason 2 – Mastering Raagas

Every Raag also has a well defined Aaroh and Avroh sequence which demonstrates the swaras being used in the raag. Check out this post of mine to know more about Swaras or Sur in Indian classical music.

As a singer presenting any raag, you would start with the Aaroh and Avroh of the raag as a sort of introduction. This would convey to the audience what are the swaras used in the raag and they would be able to understand the raag better. Advanced singer ofcourse take creative liberties and present aaroh and avroh in a different way called chalan. We will cover this in another youtube video on our channel and a blog post.

As per rules of raagas, raagas can have minimum of 5 and maximum of 7 swaras (their are exceptions though). See this link for the rules on raagas and other details of raagas.

Raagas can be divided in 3 jaatis (categories) based on the no. of notes (swaras or sur) in the raagas.

  • Raagas with 5 notes (swaras) belong to Audav Jaati.
  • Those with 6 notes (swaras) belong to Shadav Jati.
  • Finally Sampoorna Jaati consists of Raagas comprising of 7 notes

The term Jati means category.

Thus Aaroh and Avroh for a raag of Audav Jaati will have 5 swaras (notes) and one belonging to Sampoorna Jati will have 7 swaras (notes) in it.

How to practice (riyaz) Aaroh and Avroh?

In the video below, from my youtube channel MusicWithAditi – a hindustani classical music related channel, I talk about Aaroh and Avroh and demonstrate how to practice (riyaz) it. 

Watch the video to get a clear idea of this topic.

Video: Aditi Jha demonstrating how to improve singing of Aaroh and Avroh

As you saw in the video, there are many combinations for riyaz of Aaroh and Avroh. Below I mention again some the combinations for riyaz. 

Practice Sets for Aroh and Avroh to perfect sur (swaras) in general

Aaroh and avroh are practiced in a pair. Also they are usually in reverse order of each other. Below are two pairs for your practice (also demonstrated in the video above):

Practice Set 1 : Aroh riyaz (practice) :

Sa

Sa Re Sa

Sa Re Ga Re Sa

Sa Re Ga Ma Ga Re Sa

Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Ma Ga Re Sa

Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dh Pa Ma Ga Re Sa

Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dh Ni Dh Pa Ma Ga Re Sa

Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dh Ni SA Ni Dh Pa Ma Ga Re Sa

Practice Set 1 : Avroh riyaz (practice) :

SA

SA Ni SA

SA Ni Dh Ni SA

SA Ni Dh Pa Dh Ni SA

SA Ni Dh Pa Ma Pa Dh Ni SA

SA Ni Dh Pa Ma Ga Ma Pa Dh Ni SA

SA Ni Dh Pa Ma Ga Re Ga Ma Pa Dh Ni SA

SA Ni Dh Pa Ma Ga Re Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dh Ni SA

Practice Set 2 : Aroh riyaz (practice) :

Sa Re Ga

Re Ga Ma

Ga Ma Pa

Ma Pa Dh

Pa Dh Ni

Dh Ni SA

Practice set 2 : Avroh riyaz (practice) :

SA Ni Dh

Ni Dh Pa

Dh Pa Ma

Pa Ma Ga

Ma Ga Re

Ga Re Sa

These type of combinations of surs (notes) are also known as Alankar in Hindustani classical music. Please click here to know more about Alankar.

Riyaz (practice) of Aaroh / Avroh to perfect a particular Raaga

Raagas , in their simplest forms, are a combination of swaras set in a particular order.

To perfect a particular raaga, practice of aaroh and avroh of the raaga help in improving the transition from one swara to another while singing the raaga.

We will post a video on this soon.

You can make your own Alankars using swaras in Aaroh and Avroh of a Raag.

Alankar practice set for Bhoop Raag:

Let us go back to the example of Raag Bhoop.

Aaroh of Bhoop raag : Sa Re Ga Pa Dh SA – 5 notes used are Sa Re Ga Pa Dh

Avroh of Bhoop raag : SA Dh Pa Ga Re Sa – 5 notes used are SA Dh Pa Ga Re

We can create our own alankar using 3 consecutive notes of Aaroh and Avroh as given below:

Aaroh:

Sa Re Ga

Re Ga Pa

Ga Pa Dh

Pa Dh SA

Avroh:

SA Dh Pa

Dh Pa Ga

Pa Ga Re

Ga Re Sa

Above is a simple illustration of how you can make Alankars and use the Aaroh and Avroh to practice Raaga and get command over swaras.

There are many more ways that you can practice the same.

If you have any questions or comments on this article then please comment. I will surely get back to you.

Get in touch for skype coaching

I also give skype sessions to help aspiring singers and students improve the classical/ semiclassical / bollywood singing. To know about the teaching methodology and other details please email at musicwithaditi[at]gmail[dot]com

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