What is a Scale?

A scale (or Saptak) contains the set of 12 notes starting from the Shadaj or the base note to the Shuddha Nishad corresponding to the Shadaj. For most of the performance, the Vocalist sings from the Madhya (Middle) Saptak. However the vocalist will also invariably use notes from the lower Saptak and the higher Saptak.

A Saptak is comparable to a stair case. The first step of the middle Saptak is the Shadaj from which all the notes originate. You can go to the lower octave which is like going to the basement or you can go to the upper level by climbing up the stair case.   

Sometimes the vocalist changes the base Swar, during the performance. However, the vocalist will surely come back to the original scale. This is a style of singing called “Moorchana”.