How to identify ragas
A very interesting thread, and nice hints on how to go about doing it. There are essentially two approaches to get there, if you want to be a pro at it, as mentioned earlier in the thread.
1. One is the formal theory route: Get someone in the neighborhood who knows how to do it, and understand some basics on what "sa re ga ma pa dha ni sa" is all about, and how ragas differ by how these are selected, etc.
2. Second one is very informal: Learn from hearing, relating patterns, etc, which works extremely well except for distinquishing close ragas such as "saramathi" and "marga hindolam" or such. In this route of learning, anything like film songs, bhajans, songs that you are used to (in childhood) can be very useful. Start asking what raga is thins song? Why does it sound like that one?
I have no formal training, so technically I came through route 1 technically, though nowadays I listen to "good" classical music more than what I started with (film music).
Here are some points, if they encourage you:
* You do not need any knowledge of what "sa re ga ma pa
dha ni sa" is all about to be able to identify raga. If you are
a keen listener and learner, you can learn to identify ragas by patterns.
* You do not need to know what kritis were composed by
any composer to be able to identify ragas. Although,
if you go to a concert, the person next to you will probably
relate to the raga rendered through some kriti, which
might make you feel like "may be I should know this".
* The same raga can sound different in different songs. So,
when this veteran XYZ tells you that some raga that you are listening to is ABC, which is the same as the raga of the
song DEF, you might fell that "I do not see the patterns
and relationship". Don't worry nothing is wrong. A raga can actually have different flavours.
* Here is the truth: a raga is represented by a scale, which specifies the allowed and disallowed notes or swaras in an octave. The classical definition of a raga goes beyond that: every raga has emphasis notes, pause notes and phrases allowed/ disallowed, which are not that strictly enforced (in the sense, you can always find a classical composition that violates one such specifications you put down for a raga). A raga is surely rich enough to generate pleasing tunes, which is what is heavily exploited in film songs.
Classically trained people do not see the raga, the way you would, in a film song because they are used to Thyagaraja's kriti in that raga. To the extent you hear the similarities, you may find it interesting. Even otherwise, let it not hinder your enjoyment. If you like a tune, listen to it, do not ask "what raga it is". It may not be worth it.
* Film songs are a great place to start (which is where I learned many ragas initially), though be warned that nearly every film song is impure. So, you can find the raga in that film song, but do not try to learn the raga from it because the film musician is not dedicated to teaching you the raga.
In short, if identifying a raga helps you in anyway, go for it. There are several ways to get there. If not, enjoy the music anyway.