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Review of Indian Ragas for Piano Made Easy by John Pitts

Updated: Sep 30, 2023

My initial observations of the book are influenced by a previous knowledge of Ragas and Sitar playing. I like the simplicity in the layout and the inclusion of time and mood settings with each piece.

The layout of the Ragas with the use of accidentals alongside the piano keyboard images aid for immediate awareness. The transposition into a common starting note is also beneficial from an educators perspective.

The descriptions of the general properties of Ragas and their components are clear and accessible without any previous knowledge required. The inclusion of the structure of the Raga form is interesting and informative.

Turning to the Ragas, the layout contains easy to follow instructions with some detailed information regarding time and mood for when and how the Raga is to be played. Western classically trained piano teachers may struggle as sometimes, even with the easiest instructions, the Ragas require less rigid structure. I personally liked the instruction “play as if you are struggling”, this helped me a lot when working through these initial pieces to achieve the sound required.

To summarise, this book is excellent in presentation, content and clarity. An excellent introduction into Eastern style music which could be referred to classical in its own way. A must for any music teacher wishing to expand their horizons further than Western classical.

A sub note, it should be remembered that the Raga’s are considered to be sacred music and should be treated with the respect that their centuries of use warrants.


Chris Caton-Greasley LLCM(TD) MA (Mus)(Open)

Ethnographic Musicologist, Teacher, Researcher

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