Music Theory/Indian/Madhyama

Madhyama/Madhyam is the 4th svara from the 7 svaras of Hindustani music and Carnatic music. Madhyama is the long form of the syllable म. For simplicity in pronouncing while singing the syllable, Madhyama is pronounced as Ma (notation - M). It is also called as मध्यम.

More information and importance of Madhyama edit

The following is the information about Madhyama and its importance in Indian classical music:

  • Madhyama is the fourth svara in an octave or Saptak.
  • Ma is the immediate next svara of Gāndhāra (Ga).
  • The svara of Madhyama is Tivra and Shuddha. In fact Madhyama is the only Tivra svara in the Saptak.
  • It is said that Sadja is the basic svara from which all the other 6 svaras are produced. When we break the word Sadja then we get, Shad And Ja. It means that Shad is 6 and ja is 'giving birth' in Marathi. So basically the translation is :
 षड् - 6, ज -जन्म . Therefore, it collectively means giving birth to the other 6 notes of the music.

So the svara Ma is formed from Sadja.

  • The frequency of Madhyama is 320 Hz. The frequencies of the 7 svaras are also given below: Sa 240 Hz, Re 270 Hz, Ga 300 Hz, Ma 320 Hz, Pa 360 Hz, Dha 400 Hz, and Ni 450 Hz, Sa 480 Hz (Taar Saptak) ........ (and so on).

Consequently, the Ma after the Ga of 600 Hz (Taar Saptak) has a frequency of 640 Hz i.e. the double of the Lower octave Ma.

  • There are 4 Shruti's of Madhyama. Previously the main Shruti not only for Ma but for all the other svaras was on the last Shruti but now it is considered to be on the 1st Shurti.

For example if these are the 4 Shruti's of Ma then,

                      Previously this was the position of the main Shruti of Ma.
             1   2  3  4
             But now this position has become the main Shruti of Ma.
  • All the other svaras except Sadja(Sa) and Pancham (Pa) can be Komal or Tivra svaras but Sa and Pa are always Shuddha svaras. And hence svaras Sa and Pa are called Achal Svaras , since these svaras don't move from their original position. Svaras Ra, Ga, Ma, Dha, Ni are called Chal Svaras, since these svaras move from their original position.
    Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni - Shuddha Svaras
    Re, Ga, Dha, Ni - Komal Svaras 
    Ma - Tivra Svaras

Ma is a Shuddha Svara as well as a Tivra Svara. But Ma is the only Tivra Svara. This is denoted as म॓ .

  • Ragas from Kalyan Thaat, Poorvi Thaat, Marwa Thaat, Todi Thaat have Tivra Madhyama, rest of the thaats have Shuddha Madhyama.
  • Ragas where Ma is the Vadi svara - Raga Kedar, etc. Ragas where Ma is the Samvadi svara - Raga Malkauns.
  • Hypothetically speaking, Ma is said to be the Mahipal - Lord Indra, Mahipal as in, the three main gods, Bhrama, Vishnu and Shiva were first created i.e. Sakar Bhrama (Sa) and then these three gods created Rishimuni i.e. Re and then Gandharvas were created for singing and then lord Indra or Raja Indra i.e. Mahipal was created. Ma is made the acronym of Mahipal for showing the importance of the syllable Ma.
  • Madhyama is said to be sourced from call of the heron.
  • Madhyama is associated with the planet Moon.
  • Madhyama is associated with White colour.