#16-The importance of Sruthi or Drone-The Concept of Sruthi

Sruti is like the soul of the Indian Music. It is said “Shruthirmaatha”- Sruthi is the divine mother of  music. The sruthi is the basis of the music-the base of all notes. Sruthi is the divine source from where  the music is born and flows melodiously. Sruthi is just like the mother who gives birth to her offspring and guides him/her throughout the life without going off the track.  Sruthi guides the singer throughout the concert  without losing track..

Sruthi is the musical pitch. All the musical notes are born here and defined with respect to the chosen Sa or the Aadhara Shadjam. The Shadja is also the state of rest, which if not properly aligned could lead to a state of unrest, unease, or disturbing. In fact, the first exercise given to a student is to sing repeatedly the notes S , P , S , – in order to establish the shruti. The most commonly used drone, is a stringed instrument called the tambura or tanpura. Now a days electronic Tampura  is also available for ease of carrying and convenience.

The recognition of pitch is an inborn trait in humans and gift of god. This inborn potential can be sharpened by training in music. Choosing the correct sruti suitable for each voice is very important.Your Guru can guide you in this aspect.

Getting ready to Sing

Listen to the tambura or sruti box, for quite some time- say for 3 to 5 minutes. While listening do your breathing exercises or pranayama. This will help you to elevate your mental harmony and will set you in a  musical mood and also will help to calm your otherwise turbulent mind.

  • Slowly and in a very steady pace sing S , P , S ,.. .
  • Sustain on each note as long as possible without shiver or quiver. With practice you’ll be able to hold your breath longer.
  • Sruthi alignment is itself a major exercise to be practised everyday to achieve a rich and rounded tone to your voice.

Sustaining on a particular note should be like the flow of oil through a funnel..very steady- without any spurts.Yoga can play  a  good role  for improving the quality of voice and attaining  richness of voice in addition to regular practice using Tambura or shruti box.

The inborn talent of singing in alignment with the sruthi is God’s gift. Generally sruthi gets established at the age of 5 or 6. Blessed are those kids who can always hear the sruthi at home (someone in the home has taken up singing or is interested in music and listens to lots of great music !). But there is hope for others also who have this GOD given singing talent.  They can attain perfect pitch alignment with rigourous practice. The saying goes “PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT”. This inborn potential can be sharpened by proper training in music. Perfect rendition of music in alignment with sruthi leaves a soul stirring, mesmerising impact on the listener.

The important point is that when you sing anything, you have to keenly LISTEN TO YOURSELF singing. Your mind has to do both the balancing act of singing and listening to the sound you produce. This feedback is very important. By doing this you can identify your mistakes in sruthi alignment-whether your Shadjam is perfect  Sa or a frequency lower or higher. If its higher or lower, then you are out of pitch. If there is no real shruti in the music and singing, the songs just won’t appeal. . Before being qualified as a musician who can  perform on stage you have to equip yourself by consistently singing in perfect Sruti.

Keen listening to the singing by great Masters gives a good lesson on how perfect Sruti sounds.How they maintain the sruthi in different situations for instance when they sustain on a steady note-say Sa or Pa, a note with a glide or gamaka etc.

The legendary M.S.Subbalakshmi, whose music is brilliant and sublime serves as a living demonstration of perfection in Sruti.

Attain Salvation / Spiritual Enlightenment through Nada Yoga !  🙂

10 thoughts on “#16-The importance of Sruthi or Drone-The Concept of Sruthi

    • yes, i want to learn music. but am not a rich person. i cnt pay high amount of fee, plz mam help me to learn music. nenu manchi stayi loki vachhaka tappaka fees pay chestanu. I LOVE MUSIC mam. madi madya taragathi kutumbam mam plz naku sangeetam nerchu kune adrustanni kaliginchdi mam plz..

      • Hello chaitanya

        Please contact a teacher near you if you are totally a newbie in carnatic music . Secondly download the beginner’s lessons posted in this blog. You do not have to pay anything for this. Please note that I do not know telugu. So cannot understand what you have written.

  1. Thank you very much, At my age of 44 I stated leaning music as a working woman too, After 3 years studying your writing about the sruti, learnt to how to be practiced.

  2. Mam..I’m 20 yrs male and I sing in G# which is very comfortable for me ..is this okay.im not able to sing in C or C# like other male vocalists

    • Generally male singers sing in C or C sharp. G# is a female pitch. Some students learn with female teachers and the teacher teaches them in their Sruthi which may be G or G#. But after learning, the student has to practice in his own Sruthi either C or C # which is best suited for him. Male voice is thicker and bolder than female voice and he sounds the best in the male pitch. So you can attempt to switch over to male pitch while practicing. But you cannot change the Sruthi back and forth to male and female pitch without any consistency. That’s why it is recommended, after voice change in boys around 14 years, they are put under a male Guru for vocal lessons.

      Best wishes

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