The predominant thematic elements of the ‘Cantique en cinq versets’ are confined to Eastern Raga systems, although developed according to Western traditions in polyphonic presentation with all the variabilities of modulation.
In Eastern music there is a basic confinement to a certain number of specific Ragas, the structure of which is immutable as opposed to Western harmonic systems which are structured in line with various modulative theories.
The term Raga, which is generally translated as ‘ Melodic Formula’, should actually be regarded as being a definition of something much more complex than just a specific mode or scale. It implies the formulation of emotions, and as such it invokes a particular conditioning which can be described as being the process of the ‘’Tuning of the Heart’.
This composition is a Suite of Sacred Hindu dances each of which is preceded by the same basic opening theme which leads the way into each of the five verses. Theses verses or ‘Chants without words’ are meant to be devotional expressions of worship to the Almighty Grace.
A Raga consists of as many as twelve notes and as few as five in some cases. These groups of notes which sometimes present a melodic variation in their ascending successions or descending lines, are mostly characterized by a ‘tonic’ or first note of the series. This particular note is very much emphasized during the whole piece of music either by way of repetition or as an accompaniment, or both simultaneously.
These same groups of notes also have a ‘dominant’ called King Note, or ‘Vadi’, to which special attention is given in connection with eventual pausing in the melodic line. Thirdly a ‘Consonant’ called ‘Sandavi’ has a very special part to play in the mystical unfoldment of the thematic elements.
All other notes comprised in a particular Raga are called ‘Anuvadi’ meaning assonant tones. Those notes which are not comprised in a Raga are called ‘Vivadi’ meaning dissonant tones.
Classical treatise describe seventy‐two principal Ragas to which are added countless lists of derived formulations. In the East it is said that several thousands of combinations are possible with five, six or seven notes. Actually, two hundred of these are mainly used.