1. A generic term for Indian scales, consisting of five, six, or seven different notes and calculated to create a certain mood. Each raga is suited to a particular time of day. The word itself comes from the Sanskrit meaning “color,” so that an infinite variety of nuances is possible in the playing of ragas by musicians of India.
2. An instrumental composition, as above, usually in three parts: an arhythmic opening section, setting forth the scale tones; an improvisatory second part, growing in intensity; and a brief finale, where both melodic and rhythmic instruments engage in rapidly executed call-and-response figures.