What is PureTones?

PureTones is an App for learning, understanding and making musical works in Indian Classical music.

We have built PureTones based on an in-depth study and exploration of Indian Classical music to understand the role of harmonics, microtones and consonance in Indian Ragas and musical scales. It consists of a family of apps:

  • PureTones Drone is a digital Tanpura (or Tambura) with controls for fine tuning the strings and adjusting their harmonic envelope. This enables skilled Indian Classical musicians to fine tune the harmonic envelope to suit whichever Raga they wish to perform or practice.
  • PureTones Musical Scale is a digital 12 note keyboard with controls for fine tuning each key to be consonant with an accompanying drone track. This enables skilled Indian Classical musicians to fine tune the musical scale to go with the PureTones Drone which they have finely tuned.
  • PureTones Sequencer is a sequencer which enables composition of melodies and musical works in Indian Classical music using notes from a fine tuned musical scale. It uses a simple but powerful grammar to accurately describe an Indian Classical music composition including support for microtones and note modulations. It synthesizes the audio from the description and plays it back.

Contrary to widely held perceptions, a Tanpura in Indian Classical music is not only responsible for providing a reference of the fundamental note Sa. It actually provides a tuning system resulting from string overtones which supports the entire Raga being performed. Skilled artists then employ appropriate shades of each note in the Raga they perform to render each note with utmost accuracy and clarity, in tune with the Tanpura. To understand this better, read this article which illustrates the role of the Tanpura in Indian Classical music.

Who are we?

The PureTones team consists of:

  • S Balachander, an Indian Classical musician, multi-instrumentalist, and inventor and performing artist of Chandraveena, and
  • Aravind Iyer, a scientist and computer engineer, music technologist and a general music enthusiast.

PureTones Showcase

PureTones is used by the following artists to create their musical works.

  • Chandraveena - S Balachander on Chandraveena. Balachander makes extensive use of PureTones for his background drone tracks and also for exploring microtones and consonances in Indian Ragas and musical scales.
  • Ragatronics - A fusion of Indian Classical music with elements of rock, jazz and electronic music. Ragatronics features musical works composed by S Balachander and Aravind Iyer, but sequenced and recorded using PureTones.

Technology behind PureTones

PureTones has been developed using Faust, a functional programming language for sound synthesis and audio processing.

The Drone and Scale apps are built using the command line tool faust2webaudio (see Faust Tools for details), while the Sequencer app has been built using faust2webaudio which enables dynamic, in-browser compilation of Faust codes generated by the Sequencer app from the musical compositions. These apps use WebAssembly for efficient real-time audio synthesis.

PureTones uses React, Gatsby and MDX to deploy the PureTones apps, articles and audio demonstrations, in the form of a website and web application.

Support PureTones

PureTones is under development. Please help us improve PureTones to serve the music community. If you are a music student or a musician, please try out our apps from the App page and let us know your feedback or requests.

If you are a music patron, please listen to recordings by our our featured artists: Chandraveena and Ragatronics. If you like these recordings, please consider supporting our development efforts by their purchasing musical works.

You can reach us at bala.chander@sadharani.com or aravind.iyer@sadharani.com.
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