TIPS FOR RAAGA IDENTIFICATION
1. Memorize one classical bandish of every raaga or a very characteristic song in that raaga – film song or ghazal or anything else like an bhajan or even an ad!. The next time you hear a similar song, you will figure it out – you may be wrong the first few times but when you've listened to LOTS of songs, a few will automatically creep into your memory.
2. Try to know as many songs as possible in one raaga so that you get the complete raaga boundary (please check here for examples http://indian-classical-music-hindustani.blogspot.com/2011/05/index-of-hindi-film-songs-raagas-they.html).
3. The ideal way is to know the swaras and phrases of a raaga, the notations of the song, play them on an instrument or in your mind, & recognize – so knowing a music instrument is an advantage.
4. When you want to figure out a song, find "correlations" and recall "connections”.
a. Listen to the song and the drone notes (S, P, S) in background carefully, try to convert it to equivalent identify those notes.
b. When a song is being heard, without our knowledge, we tend to give importance to the lyrics and deviate from the Raag search. You would have a feeling that the Raag is quite familiar, yet you wouldn't be getting it. Step away from the music source or lower the volume to where you can barely hear the lyrics, but still can hear the tune quite well. Now hum with it. And eureka! You may end up in some other song of the same Raag.
c. Try to change the tempo of the song - faster or slower speeds may also not allow clear comparison of any two songs.
d. Try to figure out which of the 12 swaras the song uses in the ascending scale, and which in the descending scale.
e. When you hum in your mind, try to hum just the tune, the entire aaroah & avroah, without the words.
f. Try to see what feeling the raaga evokes. Many raagas sound similar, have same swaras, and yet they're different because of the mood, tempo, lyrics they're set to, or the rasa they evoke, among other things.
Problems in identifying raagas of film songs:
1. Instrument interludes in between stanzas, often do not follow main raaga of the song.
2. Differences between closely similar ragas e.g. Gara and Pilu or Marwa and Purya-dhanasri may not be highlighted in film songs. In the short span of 2-5 minutes, it might not be possible to bring out the uniqueness of a particular raga.
3. Music directors are not obliged to stick to just one raga, they mix 2 or 3 and confuse lay-listeners like us further! Several songs are listed under multiple raagas!
4. 2 songs of the same Raaga need not use similar swara patterns. For instance, Thyagaraja's "Namakusumamula" in Sri Raga uses "srmpns-snpmgrs", whereas Dikshitar is known for his "pdnpmrgrs" sancharam in Sri Raga.