10 Parent Scales or Thaats and Their Parallels in Western Music

We are pretty familiar with the seven basic modes or scales in western music theory, considered useful in composing music. These seven modes are: Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and Locrian. This post indicates the resemblance of these modes with Indian Ragas. But Before that, I would like to exhibit a chromatic an octave table in both (Indian & Western) disciplines.

Western NotesCC#/Db D#/EbEFF#/GbGG#/AbAA#/BbBC
Indian NotesSrRgGMM’PdhDHniNIS

In the Indian Classical discipline, flat notes are represented in lower case, the sharp note is with apostrophe and natural notes are in upper case. Therefore, there are four flattened notes i.e. komal swaras r,g,dh,ni and one sharp (also termed “teevra“) swara M

‘W’ means whole step and ‘H’ means moving on to half step. All my explanations are in the key of C as it is more approachable and understandable.

1.  Ionian Mode (W-W-H-W-W-W-H)

W  W  H  W   W  W   H
(All natural notes are found in Ionian mode)
C- D- E- F- G- A- B  
Similar to Bilawal Thaat(scale)


This mode is exactly similar to  Bilawal which also consist of all the natural or pure notes : S-R-G-M-P-Dh-Ni

2. Dorian (W-H-W-W-W-H-W)

Western – Similar to  KAFI Thaat
C- D- D#- F- G- A- A#
KafiS- R- g- M- P- Dh- ni

Thaat Kafi consist of all natural seven notes except g and ni. Notes ‘ni’ and ‘g” are flat in this Thaat.

3. Phrygian (H-W-W-W-H-W-W)

Western – Similar to BHAIRAVI ThaatC- C#- D#- F- G- G#- A#
Bhairavi
In Bhairavi, notes re, ga, dha ni, are komal or flat.
S- r- g- M- P- dh- ni

4. Lydian (W-W-W-H-W-W)

Western – Similar to  KalyanC- D- E- F#- G- A- B
Kalyan S R G M’ P DHA NI

5. Mixo-lydian (W-W-H-W-W-H-W)

Western : Similar to Thaat KHAMAJC- D- E- F- G- A- A#
KHAMAJS- R- G- M- P- Dh- ni

6. Aeolian (W-H-W-W-H-W-W)

Western – ASAWARI Thaat
C- D- D#- F- G- G#- A#
Asawari
(as ga,dha, ni swaras are komal (flat))
S- R- g- M- P- dh- ni- SA

7. Locrian (H-W-W-H-W-W-W)

Western – TODI Thaat
C- C#- D#- F- F#- G#- A#
TodiS- r- g- M- m- P- dh- ni


Almost all the notes are used in Locrian and Thaat Todi too.

In this way, these various modes resemble the 10 basic scales or Thaats. These thaats are also considered as parent scales of Ragas and play a vital role in the classification of all the numerous ragas according to day, time, nature, persona in Raag Dhyaan.

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