Writings About Music

Interviews With Indian Masters

What Is A Raga?

Raga, "that which colors the mind," is the musical form of Indian classical music used as a basis for improvisation and composition.

Ragas are timeless, individual melodic jewels possessing spiritual resonance and unlimited developmental potential.

Ragas have developed over thousands of years, originating in chants for myriad deities and manifestations of the five elements: water, fire, air, earth and ether. They have proved impervious to the passing of time, remaining a vital and evolving form of creative musical experssion.

Ragas embody the organic laws that create interaction between the elements. They offer a vision of immortality, and union with the perfection of nature.

I have gradually found ragas to be a perfect, limitless pathway for the musical distillation of spiritual and intellectual energies.

Ragas lend themselves to new manifestations in terms of both content and instrumentation. This allows me to compose original music using a meruvina, which consists of a computer, software, and sound module. The sound module, with myriad programmable features of its own, includes sound samples of acoustic instruments and synthesized sounds.

Ragas are based upon universal laws that are available to anyone who can absorb those laws and then develop a new way of filtering them through one's individual temperament. In other words, ragas are not only for Indians, just as chess and yoga have transcended their South Asian origins.

After over ten years of working with this miraculous musical form, I have discovered that each raga becomes a unique reflection of my inner and outer perceptions manifesting through the simultaneous prisms of rasa, swara and tal.

- Michael Robinson, Los Angeles

© 2000-2006 Michael Robinson All rights reserved


Here is additional information about ragas from Ravi Shankar.


Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and musicologist. His 162 albums include 149 albums for meruvina and 13 albums of piano improvisations. He has been a lecturer at UCLA, Bard College and California State University.