Indian music is primarily melodic. Appreciation of it is supposed to be mainly based on the melodic content and rhythm, and not so much on the timbral content. In north Indian classical vocal music (also known as Hindusthani vocal music) raga forms the base bone. The most common style of performance is khayal. The first part in khayal is known as alap, wherein one tries to establish the image and emotional distinctiveness in slow tempo. The present study concentrates on the alap part of professional khayal performances. For each raga there are some distinctive sequences known as chalans and pakads. A raga is said to elicit some specific emotions from 8 categories referred to in Indian treatises as Rasas. The database for the experiments consists of short segments extracted from khayal performances from eleven most emotive ragas selected from the archives of ITCSRA. The first part of the study consists of identifying significant emotions evoked by the aforesaid segments in western listeners as well as native Indian listeners and the cross-cultural differences, if any. This also includes an examination of to what extent the raga–rasa relationship indicated in treatises matches with the observed data. The second part consists of the extraction of the distinctive note-sequences in these segments. The signal processing part performed here includes extraction of pitch contour, and segmentation of it into sequences of notes. The result of the examination of the relation of these sequences with the perceived emotion is also presented. Thirty seconds long music segments were used in our experiments, to check what specific emotion(s) they elicit. The listening tests showed that different segments from the same raga do not generally correspond to the emotions prescribed in Indian treaties. The responses from the two cultural groups are found to be similar. Melodic sequences vaguely relate with emotional response.
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