Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Link for Further Lessons!

Please Click the following Link for Further Lessons


For ease of handling, further Lessons are published in the blog




Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Lesson - 53 : Inversion of Intervals

Now one more new concept we will learn and that is the Inversion of Intervals…

Many of you know that, in mathematics, any degree of angle can be expressed as the Complimentary of 180 degree also.

Same way, here also the interval measured in one direction can be complimented in the other direction backward (from the same base note) and that’s simple called inversion.

For example remember the Middle C.

If we measure the interval to a note G which is placed above in the Stave (meaning, in the key board you will travel upward to right from Middle C to locate this G..) the interval is Perfect 5th as we know that.

Suppose if we want measure the interval for G which is placed below the middle C in the stave, which will be coming in the Bass Clef..(meaning, you will travel downward to left from middle C to locate this G..), the interval if measure this will be Perfect 4th!

Keeping the C at center, the interval of C to G upwards – Perfect 5th. The inversion of this interval is C to G downwards is Perfect 4th.

Like this we may locate any inversion of intervals.

But there is a simple mathematical solution to that.

Any interval if you invert it, you have to deduct the interval number from 9, and the quality or name of the interval will be inverted as follows :

So Simple…!

For example C to D is a Major 2nd.

Its inversion ( C to D located in reverse direction) will be Minor (9-2 =7) so Minor 7th.

(You check it through semitone methods also).

Some more examples to explain :

And so on…….!

So with the above understandings and methodlogies, we can more or less master the intervals of any notes.

And Chords are built up of two or more intervals !

We will see about the Chords in our next session

Lesson - 52 : Refresh Knowledge on Intervals

Let us recall and reinforce some of our earlier understandings on Intervals.

(Please Refer to Lesson 22 ) (and other previous related lessons as you required!)

Intervals measure the distance between two notes and also the name given to them indicates the quality of interval.

We saw that Major Scale has the Perfect Intervals for 4th and 5th and all other intervals w.r.t. Tonic are Major intervals.

In case of Harmonic Minor Scale, the 3rd and 6th intervals are Minor and all other intervals are same as Major scale.

Then we also learnt the method of finding the intervals of any note to a note above it, this was measuring the number of semitones they were separated and based on the table we can name the intervals.

The reference table is reproduced below again :

In order to get any interval between any two notes, based on the difference of how many Semitones they are separated the following table can be used : (bracketed names are theoretical possibilities only, though sometimes may not have direct relevance in case of WCM)

Alternative way to calculate any interval is,

- assume the Major scale on the base note and
- measure the relative distance of the Major scale interval and
- adjust for the variations to get the final correct intervals.

For example, if we have to find the intervals between F and B, remember the scale of F major,
and we know in F-Major we get B-flat as the fourth note to give the Perfect 4th interval.

But in our case, we need the interval of B which is a semitone higher.

So the interval has to be Augmented 4th.

(To check it, if you measure the actual semitones separation based on the Keyboard visualization, this comes to 6 semitone; as per the above table, this is called the Augmented 4th since F and B is separated by 4 letters alphabetically, it cannot be 5th.)

So interval measurement ability is one pre-requisite skill while naming the chords etc.

So have some practice on that.

Aim is that even if we could not tell mentally, check leisurely using the keyboard figure and verify from the table and confirm yourself.

With time passing, you can do that mentally and quickly also.

Our aim is to understand the concept and not writing some exams now..!

So don’t worry about any complexity initially. In fact everything is simple mathematics of addition or subtraction !

Certain other basic formulae you shall remember are :

In nut shell, the path of semitone wise progress is

(Diminished---Minor---Major---Augmented) or

In our next session we will see a new Concept "Inversion" of intervals.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Lesson-51: Harmony - The Basic Composing Tool - Part-2

So, to recapitulate once again, each of the vertically integrated notes in a harmonised music (e.g. four part or three part harmony) form the Chords….!

So please visualize the composing a song as a composing of chords structured one after another…!

What you are composing is not a single line song, but you are composing the whole orchestrations simultaneously…!

Though conceptually it looks simple, to compose in that fashion, you need a tremendous knowledge and control of complete concept of WCM.

Usually, in our film composing, what the composer forms the melody with his harmonium etc is (the first level composing to get approval from Director/Producer) the single line composing.

But while writing for orchestration, it will be the harmony writing of balance parts (three or four or multiple parts of harmony as required)!

IR writes such hundreds of notes forming chords and harmony in a flat half an hour approximately….!

Absolutely unbelievable speed……!

Each individual instrumentalists copy their parts separately while he goes on composing…..and so when composing is over, the full song is ready for rehearsal….!

You may feel that the simulatensous composing of multilines is complicated, but if you understand the basic principles and rules of chords and part writing based on Harmony, atleast the framework is very clear and starightforward…!

So what I am trying to make you visualise is a Top-Down approach of a song composing….!

To compose you shall follow Harmony Part writing…!

Part writing consists of forming Chords in succession !

Single Chord formation consist of writing notes vertically in the inter-related way.

That inter relation (in vertical direction) is all about the individual notes and the Chemistry / Physics/ Mathematics…of their INTERVALS….!

So, the fundamental learning block is “Interval”…and their quality…!

Now you can appreciate, why we were so much elaborating and stressing about the Intervals, while learning Major and Minor scales, in our earlier lessons …!

So, we will reinforce our knowledge of intervals, then learn the concept of chords and then the very minimum basics of Harmony writing…! In that order….!

I want to create some interest in you regarding Harmony subject, by requesting you to visualize the subject as a strategic key to unravel the mystery of composing a song in WCM way……which is the IR’s way…!

Listing and explaining of various rules of harmony is beyond the scope of my present effort…!

(A simple way to say that is “beyond my knowledge and capabilities”….! )

Becasue, The subject is so vast and amazing…to make anybody puzzled….

But our aim is, as usual, to understand the basics, concepts…in the mathematical way ….. and in a simple way….!

That will help you to appreciate the IR’s effort in a better manner…!

And who knows…one day some of you will get into the subject so deep to become a composer in future……!

To carry on the torch of IR…into another generation….!

Lesson-50: Harmony - The Basic Composing Tool - Part-1

We are back to WCM track….!

I would request you to just revise the Lesson-3 once again, where I tried to answer about the basic question of What is harmony ?

As said earlier, Harmony is the multi-line concept of music, but we must remember these multi-lines are integrated vertically also, note by note.

This vertical connection is what the Chord concept is all about !

Let us go into some simpler understanding…!

While listening to any IR song, you can listen, visualize, and feel the various voices and instruments all are complimenting each other, so beautifully !

Now, you will be wondering, if a single line song composing needs so much pains taking effort, how much will be the efforts to be made in composing each of the instruments that are accompanying the voice…?!

Your query of worry is true to some extent, in that, most of the composers see the various accompanying lines of instruments as a separate entity and struggle to compose them.

Even after synchronising them, the outcome of combined song+instruments may be either successful or unsuccessful depending upon the experience and ingenuity of the composer in composing and getting the output.

So, these old time MDs (or generally MDs not using WCM-Harmony as basic tool of orchestration) used to claim credit for orchestration and usage of 40 instruments songs, 60 instruments, 100 instruments etc etc….!

That is Not the case with IR…..!

The Complexity OR the Simplicity, in whatever way you look at it, its one and same for IR…!

Whether two instruments passage or 20 instruments passage, for IR’s composing, it’s fundamentally based on Harmony (which usually viewed as Four Part Harmony in WCM ! .......meaning in a lay man term, a four line integrated music…!)

For less than four, the principle and effort is same and you only hide the not-required-now parts !

For more than four, you either multiply some parts or take the clue from any one part and further develop that…!

The point here is, when you compose, all the lines of voices and instruments are to be seen as integrated item and not as a separate individual lines !

We can enjoy the SPB voice separately, the Violins separately, the Bass Guitar separately, etc….!

But in reality, all the notes of these are interconnected ….every moment of it…!

So next time when you enjoy a song of IR, visualize it as an integrated system of lines !

Monday, September 18, 2006

Lesson -49 : WCM Vs Carnatic - Melody Vs Harmony

We have seen the comparisons of WCM vs Carnatic w.r.t. the Pattern formation abilities, Modulation aspects and the flexibilities and rigidities etc.

Today we will see one more significant parameter which distinguishes WCM and CCM ( is that term Ok for Carnatic Classical Music ?)

To start the subject in over-simple way (!) , Imagine the following situations :

Case-1 :

One single person (or single instrument) is singing a line of a song….!


A group of persons (or set of instruments) all are singing the same line of the song in synchronization (Carnatic Experts singing Pancha Rathna Keerthanai in Thiruvaiyaar during Thiagaraja Aaradhanai….!)


A group of persons (or set of different instruments) all singing, but each one is singing different lines at a time….no control whatsoever…! (Like we sometimes sing Jana Gana Mana…..! )


A group of persons (or set of different instruments) all are singing different lines, but there is a controlled way of singing such that at any given moment of time, each one’s note is connected with other’s note with a specified relationships and all maintain strictly such relationships by singing their individual part with utter discipline.

In WCM terminology, the first category is called Monophony and the rest three categories are called Polyphony.

Individually, you can call the first Category as Melody singing, the 2nd one as Chorus singing in unisons , the 3rd is called the Cacophony and THE FOURTH TYPE IS HARMONY !

CCM practices and advocate the theory of First Category ie Melody and WCM the Fourth category…Harmony, which includes the Melody line also !

(you can witness the 2nd category in Carnatic to limited extent only in Thiruvaiyaar … … What they play or sing is the same song… in unisons…!)

Whereas you can categorize most of the other MDs of film music in the first three category, IR has uniquely positioned himself in the Fourth Category….!

That’s his USP…!

Whether you understood or not about the intrinsic nuances and rules of this 4th category, viz Harmony, over the years, you have been so developed and fine tuned by IR, in your listening habits, that you distinctly identify his style of this Harmony even unconsciously and enjoy this…!

Now my aim is to make you enjoy this consciously…that’s all !

While listing the 4th category (Harmony) above, I was stressing about the discipline …!

You can easily understand why that’s required ! Because, any elongation or cutting short will severely affect the relationship of musical notes or the silences each one is playing or singing…!

Now, you yourself can vouch for that strict discipline IR is demanding from every singer and player…while they perform their part !

Because…..hundreds of notes (and even silence….!) form a single line of song….and mulitiple singing involves such multiplied notes composing…!

When you put such huge efforts for specific purpose of setting the Relationships of Notes and Silences, how much painful it will be to loose that relationships…!! And spoil the song…!

CCM allows the freedom of improvisation of a song while singing, but within the pre-defined parameters like : no modulation, no change of raagams, no abaswarams etc, no "dhush-prayog” of prayogams , maintaining the bhaavam of songs, following concert etiquettes etc.

That’s quite possible in CCM, being the follower of a single line melody concept, you are not going to spoil others…since, ‘effectively’ there is no presence of “others” !

All the other instruments and percussions are basically serving the supportive” role only and not to do the parallel “domination” or improvisation….!

(Even if Lalgudi has to play for MS Subbulaksmi, he knows how to downplay or play the “exact role” )

Of course each will get their own chance to show their skills in a specified time allocated as “Thani Aavardhanam…”

Similarly, in CCM in the name of improvisation, we can witness a lot of “frills” are getting added to show one’s skills as well as to show the nuances of Raagam & song one is singing…!

Traditionally, in film music, from the period of Baagavathar, to TMS to SPB to Hariharan ……., that’s expected from them as a natural output …. to show their skills…even many MDs giving instructions to the singers to improvise on their own ….!

Not in case of IR……! For obvious reasons….!

Now you can understand why IR is not wrong…!

Why the people who never understood that concept (in his early career of IR), has made drastic comments and left him…!

Its all the stuff called Harmony of “Category Four” which made that !

As you know, WCM has only Major and Minor scales.

All the relationship rules of Harmony are based on the intervals of the notes of these scales only as perceived by WCM exponents and developed over the period of time !

There are ocean of such Harmony rules and findings…..

which is ideal,
which is good,
which is tolerable,
which is not tolerable,
which is to be avoided

etc etc…..

Such harmony concept enriches WCM in spite of the limitations of number of patterns it can offer…!

Also you can easily recognize that WCM by its nature of Harmony concept with multiple lines is so helpful in Orchestral Music composition !

Orchestration is the life line of Film Music!

In short… If you want to term the CCM concept as Horizontal expansion oriented, …..WCM concept is the Vertical expansion oriented……!

But IR’s ingenuity and strength is on the creation of his magic of applying these Harmony concept and rules to Carnatic Raagas…!

Which nobody would have imagined/dared to do that !

Thus giving a new Music entity to the World, which is enriched in both Horizontal and Vertical directions…..!

Enriched Many times exponentially !

We on this part of the world and living in this period of this legend, are so lucky and fortunate to witness and listen such music…!

And specially, we the IR followers are so blessed to have realized (consciously or un-consciously) that divine gift given to us by him and we have developed such taste to appreciate and retain that !

Only when we understand that consciously and make efforts to sustain, we can carry that for our next generation !

So far, the comparisons made between these WCM & CCM are basically to understand, the basic and fundamental frameworks adopted by the individual musical philosophies only.

It is not to compare the superiority of one over another !

Each has its own advantages, flexibilities, rigidities etc.

But the final aim is to make you appreciate how IR adopted both to the advantage of music field and enriched our life !

From next lesson onwards, we will get back into the WCM concepts on Harmony and chords and related topics..!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Lesson -48 : WCM Vs Carnatic - Modulation Aspects - Part-2 - IR THE WISER !

Please Listen from IR Album "How To Name It?" two numbers of pieces titled,

“I Met Bach….” &

“…. And We Had Talk…”.

Here IR has given a new look to the Bach’s Prelude in A-Major as well as Bourre in E-Minor.

(This prelude of Bach is available in the Ilaiyaragam file section also ! Please Click here and download the midi file part3emj.mid and the tab file Bourree In Em-00.tef In case you want tab software, download the exe file tabled32.exe ) .

In the prelude, what Bach has done 300 years ago is writing a composition for Violin piece in A-Major scale and is continuously modulating into various major and minor scales in a sequence….!

During such transition from one scale to another, if you look at Carnatic angle…., you can perceive a different rainbow of Carnatic Raagams !

So the brilliant IR has identified those transition zones and in order to highlight them he added one more Carnatic line to the existing Bach’s composition and Plays the both Western Bach (300 years ago) with Carnatic IR in synchronized fashion…!

IR's imagination is "Had Bach met Thiagaraja and both understand each others music and joined hand to create a New World of Music ...?!!"

That's the theme of HTNI !

If you hear the Bach’s composition and then IR’s HTNI’s piece you will be so mesmerized….who is playing for whom…?

Is Bach is doing the background music for IR or IR is doing the background for Bach…?

Its with so much Perfect Balance between WCM and Carnatic…!

And this is what to be called as fusion…!

Which made this possible for IR…?

Imagine if he remained himself constrained to any one field, the net result is he would have remained a good disciplined fellow for that particualr field but we all would have been starved of certain GEMs !

His imagination and enthusiasm of bringing the best out of two by adding the advantages & flexibilities of both the field only made this possible!

He has been doing that right from Annakili…..!

With "Potruvar Potralum...Thootruvar Thootralum...Pogattum Kannanukke...!" type of resolutary mind !

Imagine, one person is offering you the plate consist of gold ornaments….! Another person is offering the plate consists of full of diamonds…!

Imagine both says you take only theirs and not others !

And I feel the wiser approach is to get both the gold and diamond and make a Diamond studded Gold ornament!

The value and look and elegance….. everything is multiplied, rather than when they are seen as an individual !

But imagine if both the persons who offered the individual gold or diamond, now started criticizing that he spoilt the gold with diamond and vice versa….!

So to conclude the WCM Vs Carnatic perceptions, let me summarise like this….!·

-Carnatic gives the flexibility of Patterns but pose the constraints of their usage and shifting from one to another….!

- WCM has the constraint of Patterns but has flexibilities of usage or shifting from one to another…!

And the wiser sense tell that ……AVAIL ALL THE FLEXIBILITIES OF BOTH……rather than worrying about their constraints !


To recognize those things, one will need a century ! And to learn and follow that ……centuries and centuries are needed…!

Like the genius mathematician Ramanujam, he has written thousands of such Musical Theorems in short steps in each of his musical compositions…!

To solve and realize and prove and adopt them is for the next generation job….!

To perceive that we have to educate ourselves…. So that even if it is not possible for us to do, we can guide our next generation towards that !

And can see them attaining that with enjoyment and self-satisfaction !

Our discussion on WCM Vs Carnatic will continue for one last time which will lead us to the new zone of WCM learning…

That is introduction to Chords & Harmony…..!

Lesson -47 : WCM Vs Carnatic - Modulation Aspects - Part-1

In the last few discussions, we have seen the apparent benevolence of Carnatic scheme in bestowing upon us in terms of numerous pattern formations and thereby the possibilities of using numerous ragas by us while composing a song.

But at the same time, Carnatic scheme is disciplining us "Hello, all raagams are available to you OK…But use only one at a time….! And dont spoil its appearance & structure !"

On the other hand, WCM is constrained with the number of patterns it has its just three or so

But there is no restrictions whatsoever from jumping one from pattern to another…!


Its not only just shifting of scale, even the shifting of tonic…!

Which is un-thinkable in Carnatic scheme ! Major to major ……Major to Minor……..Minor to Major ….etc etc…!

This is what called Modulation….as explained earlier….!

The only fundamental guidance WCM prescribes is “While Modulating from One scale to Another, it is preferably effected by change of any one note …either by raising of note or flattening of note ! and reach another Major or Minor…!”

For example if you are in C-Major, You can modulate to the following :

Once you have modulated to the other nearby major or minor, then you are having again the options of further modulating upwards to additional sharps or flats OR modulating back to original…. Previous one….!

As you can appreciate now, while one makes the gradual transition from one scale to another, in the transition zone, you may be getting the notes of both old scale and the new modulated scale…!

Which may create an illusionary effect to Carnatic experts that some shifting of Raagam is taking place !

For the WCM expert , he did nothing new except that he was following the modulation rules…!

Again the change of raagam perceptions also one shall look at two basis :

One way is without noting the shifting of Tonic, you name the swarams and see it as a ragam of EXISTING TONIC only and measure the shift of raagam and name it….!

Second perception is clearly identifying & feeling the CHANGED TONIC and measure the deviations from the new Tonic..and perceive the shift of raagam and name it….!

Whatever, the case may be, one thing is sure, that in the “changing zone” of one color to another, you can certainly get some “Rainbow” of colors !

Thats what the precise case IR was "highlighting" in his How To Name It……!

Where he compares the Modulation Effects of Bach's compostion with our Outlook of Raagam !

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Lesson-46 : Scale Vs Raagam - A Bird's Eye view!

We saw the 72 basic patterns of Carnatic Scheme in our last discussions. These are called Melakartha Raagam.

Which itself is reflecting the relatively wider canvas Carnatic is handling than WCM.

But Carnatic again open its avenue for further pattern formation with various options!

All such other Raagas are seen as the derivatives of one of these 72 parent raagam.

Basically we must understand one basic difference between Scale and Ragam.

As emphazised at the time of explaining Scale earlier, the combination of notes in a particular pattern gives a feeling. In Raagam also that created feeling is most important.

But in Carnatic, such a feeling is not only created by mere availability of swarams / keys / notes in the pattern, but also by :

-the way the combination of these notes take place to form some identifiable phrases,
- the way the stress on certain notes or leser stress on certain notes, or some frills on certain notes etc are made

and so on.....!

To illustrate the point, you may check that with the Same Major scale notes, if you omit certain notes altogether and try to play a song, it will be giving a totally different feeling.

For example, omit the Sub-Dominant and Leading note in a Major scale ( ie omit F and B in a C-Major scale) , the resulting pattern with 5 notes is significantly different. In Carnatic scheme this is called “Mohanam”.

Similarly, by omitting the Sub-Dominant and Sub-Mediant in a Major scale (for example, omit F and A in C-major), we can get different pattern, which is called “Hamsadhwani” in Carnatic.

Even with the same 7 swarams, if you empahasize a particular combination of notes as phrases, then that is separately recognized as different Raagam.

For example instead of Sa Ri Ga Ma….. you use the phrase as Sa Ga Ri Ma..... and emphasise this in the pattern, this is considered as a different raagam. (here you break the sequence of notes either in ascending or descending or both )

So what I try to explain, unlike Scale, which decided the 7 notes that should be available in a pattern and named it Major or Minor and left the matter there itself, Carnatic Raagam scheme, gives importance to the combination and type of usage of notes also and register that as a separate Entity.

In WCM, while playing the song even if one omits certain notes repeatedly and later on added back etc , till the time one is using the notes defined for Major scale, it is within the Major scale.

But, In Carnatic, the song will be identified as Mohanam or Hamsadhwani, etc etc.

Again in Carnatic concert, when one sing a song on Mohanam pattern, he must use that raagam through out that song… (even though certain songs are composed as raaga maalika with different raagams, but these are exceptions..)

Similarly, what you see in the Melakartha Table (provided to you) as No 8 Thodi, has the same 7 notes as Sindhu Bairavi (not considered as Melakartha).

But the usage and stressing and frills (Gamakams) of certains notes differentiate Thodi (Gangai Karai mannanadi…) from Sindu Bairavi… (Naanoru Sindhu , Poongatru pudhiraanadhu..etc…) !

So Raagam is having deeper meaning and connotations when compared to the Scale of WCM.

Though the swarams of Keeravani or Nata Bairavi may be matching with the Minor scales, a song in WCM Melodic Minor and Carnatic Natabaiaravi may be giving a different feeling for the new listener !

Same is the case with Sanakarabaranam and the Major Scale, even though they are having same 7 notes.

If you look at the same point of above para in another angle,

WCM allows you to roam with the “Flexibility” while Carnatic binds you with “Rigidity” of one-song-one-raga concept.

In Carnatic, Any additional swarams or change of swarams will be viewed as Abaswaram and indicate your lack of knowledge or seen as your inability to follow the swarams and raagam disciplines.

[ This was the precise case, in the earlier periods, when IR was used to be criticized by Carnatic exponents…. For mixing up of swarams, whereas He was knowingly using the WCM perspectives on Carnatic with due love and respect for both! ]

In Pattern formation, Carnatic gives the enormous Flexibility, (but for a single song, it poses a discipline of sticking to same raagam/ pattern).

Some patterns formed from Major Scale equivalent are given below as examples : (Raagam – Ascending – Descending )

As you can see and feel, the options of pattern formations are many in Carnatic .

- Same ascending and descending –
- Different ascending and descending –
- Even 6 notes pattern – 5 notes pattern – 4 notes pattern etc
- Pattern with violation of sequence of Sa-Ri-Ga-Ma etc etc….


See closely the minute change of Aarabhi and Bilahari (Maaman Voodu machu voodoo);

Difference in Aarabhi ( Aasai Kiliye…) and Suddha Saaveri (Kovil Mani Osai thannai);

Similarity of Aarabhi and Devagaandhaari (remember the famous fighting between Ragavendhar (Judge) and Krishnan (driver) in film Sindhu Bairavi…? )

Note the slightly complicated pattern of Kedhaaram (Pon Maalai Pozhudhu) and Neelambari etc.

My aim is to give you some idea about the pattern formation ability of Carnatic scheme in comparison with the WCM.

In order to avoid too much deviations from present WCM discussions we are aiming at, I restrict myself here now.

In our next session, let us see some of the points on Modulation aspects of WCM vis-à-vis Carnatic scheme.

Lesson-45 : A Glimpse of Melakartha Table

As discussed earlier the basic raagam pattern exercises will yield 72 raagams called Melakartha Ragams.

The Melakartha table is illustrated below for your easy ready reference.

(Click here and Download the Excel File format from the file section of Ilaiyaragam Group)

Examine that carefully…! And particularly visualize their grouping !

They are basically divided into 2 Major divisions

36 ragams based on M1 and remaining 36 ragams based on M2.

Within that also, they are arranged in groups of Six, each called “Chakra”.

Also the name of ragam is so selected that, from the first two letters you can tell their number (there is a method for that !), and from their number you can easily make out that what kind of variants of R, G, D and N are used in that particular raagam.

Amazing…isn’t it…!

Just like Periodic Table we used in the Chemistry …..! Very number will indicate you the property of the element…!

Also, you can see from the Melakartha table and examine the Sanakarabaranam pattern (no 29 ) and check whether it matches with our Major Scale pattern.

Similarly, Keeravani (21) matches our Harmonic minor scale, Gowri Manohari (23) matches our Melodic Minor ascending, and Natabairavi (20) matches our Melodic Minor descending pattern !

So WCM is having only 4 recognised patterns against the 72 patterns of Carnatic.

This makes the Carnatic the richer…! Isn’t it ?

Now, on Pattern formation w.r.t. Carnatic as well as WCM, we have some comparative ideas.

So, once again, we are wiser than yesterday …. .!

In the next session, we will further expand our knowledge on other Pattern formations in Carnatic scheme.

That will give you a picture of the Scale Vs Raagam concepts !

Monday, August 21, 2006

Lesson-44 : Carnatic Ragam Pattern Formation - Part-2 - Melakartha Formation

So the Carnatic Pattern formation basically involves selecting the 7 notes from the 12 keys, satisfying certain mutually exclusive conditions described earlier.

Let us recall those conditions:

Sa must be Selected.

Pa must be Selected.

Ma have two variations M1 or M2

- If R1 is selected, we have 3 options for Ga …….as G1 or G2 or G3.

- If we select R2, our choice for Ga is restricted to 2 options……..either G2 or G3 only
(as G1 is ruled out by R2 selection)

- If R3 is selected, our choice for Ga is restricted to 1 option …… G3 only,
(as G1 is crossed and G2 is ruled out by R3 selection)


- If D1 is selected, we have 3 options for Ni …….as N1 or N2 or N3.

- If we select D2, our 2 options for Ni is restricted to ……..either N2 or N3 only
(as N1 is ruled out by D2 selection).

- If D3 is selected, our 1 option for Ni is restricted to…… N3 only,
(as N1 is crossed and N2 is ruled out by D3 selection)

Mathematically, the selection process will give a table of 72 basic patterns called “Melakartha Raagam”

To illustrate the typical process, let us analyse the first case and extreme cases of Perumnuation Combination

Formation of the first Pattern will be like this :

To complete octave , C is added back

So the resulting pattern is:

C – C# - D – F – G – G# - A – C

(S R1 G1 M1 P D1 N1 S)

The above pattern is called “Kanakangi” in Melakartha Scheme.

Take the extreme 72nd raagam pattern :

The resulting pattern is :

C – D# – E – F# – G – A# – B – C

( S R3 G3 M2 D3 N3 S )

This is called as “Rasikapriya” in Melakartha scheme.

In between the 1st and 72nd ragam , remaining 70 other patterns of Melakartha scheme are arranged.

I am not burdening you with the exercise of formation of balance Pattern formations ! Once you understand the basic principle, you can do that automatically.

Let us have a glimpse of the 72 raagam as in the Melakartha Table, in our next session.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Lesson-43 : Carnatic Ragam Pattern Formation - Part-1 - Basics

Let us continue our discussions on Pattern Formation as visualized by Carnatic scheme…!

As many of you already aware, Carnatic Scheme has 7 notes, Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni

Now, in WCM system we know that there are 12 keys (black and white) for an octave.

But in reality Carnatic scheme has 16 notes in total between Tonic to Ocatve !

While Sa and Pa has no variations, Ma has 2 variations and the balance Ri, Ga, Dha and Ni have 3 variations each, totalling to 16 notes between an Octave.

These are tabulated below:

However, the variation between certain notes like (R2 & G1) , (R3 & G2) , (D2 & N1) and (D3 & N2) are so minute, you can ignore that variation and represent these 16 keys in the 12 key system as below:

For our discussion purposes, let us presume that middle “C” as our Fixed Tonic as required by Carnatic. We have to use these 12 notes to form a pattern of Carnatic Scheme. How many notes to select…?

Carnatic scheme at the outset demands 7 notes (or less…! )

(Remember WCM demands strictly 7 notes and nothing less or more is accepted..! ).

Let us analyse the case of 7 notes selection ( viz. Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni) out of 12 notes available.

Also, there are certain restrictions of notes posed while selection :

Certain notes are must (Sa & Pa) and the notes which have alternatives (Ri, Ga, Ma, Dha & Ni ) you shall select within that alternatives satisfying certain mutually exclusives conditions.

Conditions :

Sa and Pa have no variations and must be selected.

Ma is having 2 variant and select any one at a time.

Ri, Ga, Dha and Ni are having 3 variants each out of which you select any one variant for each.

(At the same time in certain variants, mutually exclusive conditions arise between Ri & Ga as well as Dha & Ni due to the adoption of the method of 16 notes represented in the 12 Keys.)

To explain the above visually, let me give the Comparative position of the 12 keys - Carnatic Vs WCM as below : (Taking C as the Tonic, Sa ) To simplify let us also use only the Sharps

For example…..

- If R1 is selected, we have 3 options for Ga …….as G1 or G2 or G3.
- If we select R2, our options for Ga is restricted to ……..either G2 or G3 only (as G1 is ruled out by R2 selection)
- If R3 is selected, our option for Ga is restricted to…… G3 only, (as G1 is crossed and G2 is ruled out by R3 selection)


- If D1 is selected, we have 3 options for Ni …….as N1 or N2 or N3.
- If we select D2, our options for Ni is restricted to ……..either N2 or N3 only (as N1 is ruled out by D2 selection).
- If D3 is selected, our option for Ni is restricted to…… N3 only, (as N1 is crossed and N2 is ruled out by D3 selection)

With the above set of conditions we can start with our Carnatic Raga Pattern Formation which is purely as per mathematical topic of "Permutation & Combinations".

We can see that in our next session.

Lesson-42 : WCM Vs Carnatic - Scale Vs Raagam - Pattern Formation Comparison

Let us take the Pattern Formation of both WCM and Carnatic.

We have seen the pattern construction of WCM scales.

Basically, the exercises involved the following two things:

1) Selecting a Note as Tonic

2) Based on this Tonic, construct the Pre-determined Pattern (either Major or Minor as required for us)

For further variations, we shifted the Tonic (say by Perfect 5th upwards or downwards) and repeated the pattern formation. We are sure and know that we struggled to keep the pattern same..!

To say it in simple logical way, We kept changing the Tonic as per Step-1, whereas the Pattern in Step-2 exercise remained and kept absolutely the same.

Imagine, the reverse of this…..!

Meaning, keep the Step-1 constant, and Change the very pattern itself ! That’s’ Carnatic scheme of pattern formation.

Because,,,,,,,Carnatic Philosophy is

“Select any one note as the Tonic…

Then onwards, that Tonic SHOULD BE / MUST BE / COMPULSORILY maintained and remain same……! Through out the concert……!”

You might have noticed the Thampoora….or… Shruthi Petti …. etc.. being the integral part of any Carnatic concert….!

Now do you realize the importance of such instrument……?

This makes you to stick to the note you started as Tonic and help in remaining in that Tonic through out the concert…!

Percussion instrument like Mridhangam etc are having equal importance in Carnatic concert…! These are also tuned based on the tonic shruthi set in Tampura , shruthi petti…etc !

While the vocal and instruments like violin can pick-up and adjust quickly to the shruthi required, It is difficult to adjust and change the shruthi of these percussion instruments which will take considerable time…!

Imagine in the middle of the concert or between songs, if the Tonic changes…! then the whole Carnatic orchestral system arrangement will go haywire….!

Abaswarams…the great sin…!

When you compare this with WCM system, because of the frequent shifting of tonics, you generally never find the percussion instrument separately (except in few operas –dramas - for any dramatic effect and occasional/ selected usage in symphonies…! ).

So back to track…! In nut shell, if we compare the basic philosophies,

WCM scheme Fixed the Pattern and Changed the Tonic

Carnatic scheme Fixed the Tonic and Changed the Pattern itself….!

Now, you can realize the opportunity Carnatic is giving us …..in terms of pattern formation….!

While WCM prescribed only Two main patterns ( Major & Minor ), Carnatic scheme can have millions of Pattern formations…!

It is better to have the basic knowledge of Pattern formations of Carnatic scheme.

Again everything is mathematics…! Some Permutaions & Combinations !

We will see that in our next session…!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Lesson-41 : WCM Vs Carnatic - Philosophical Comparisons

Hi All,

Warning : Once I start this topic on WCM Vs Carnatic, I may wander here and there and it is the responsibility of the reader to collect and correlate whatever useful contents from these discussions, as he feels so !

Disclaimer : Any view expressed here is of author only and at the same time author is not to entertain any “How dare you can Compare this and that “ sort of complaints ! .

Read the following Q & A
(This may not be word by word translation, but just conveying the overall meaning of Q & A.) :

“Why there are no significant Carnatic based songs from you ? “

“If I don’t spoil Carnatic music, that’s the service I am making to that (laughs)…”

The period was somewhere around 1978 and that was in one of the Radio interview and you might have guessed by now, that the answer was from IR !

Really shocking and surprised you are…Aren’t you ?

I also felt that shock because, around that time, I started hearing from various news/ tidbits that IR was learning Carnatic music daily in the morning with some famous carnatic musical Gurus….!

Imagine a gold medallist of Trinity College in WCM, starts his lessons on Carnatic at that age and also when he was already a roaring success in film world!

Don't forget the decade of film composing experience of IR before Annakkili as an associate with GKV etc!

One cannot doubt his Carnatic music knowledge, if you carefully analyse even his initial two years of hit songs! A wider spectrum of Carnatic base and innovations can be easily identified even now!

In spite of all these, IR still felt that he shall formally learn Carnatic music. Because he felt knowledge is not sufficient, attaining skills are what the primary requirement!

My point here is, I view IR as WCM expert who tread into the Carnatic field and obtained the expertise of that also and then expanded his horizons !

Having the advantage of not started the Carnatic first, his perceptions of Carnatic music are flexible & unbiased and he might have approached Carnatic from the point of view of WCM, which he already knows thoroughly.

So while learning and expertising the Carnatic music, he interchangeably superimposed the one philosophy and rules over the other !

( I repeat the words Philosophy and Rules ! The one who knew both, applied exactly the rules and philosophy ! Its others perception that he violates the other ! )

That made and even now makes IR different !

As the beginners to both WCM and Carnatic, let us also get into the path IR might have followed and look at the both the perspectives…!

Because…… IR’s WCM is Carnaticised and IR’s Carnatic is also WCMised…!

Three major Philosophies and Perspectives we shall have to study to understand his amazing creations !

First : Scale Vs Raagam Concepts !
Second : Modulation Concepts !

Third : Harmony Concepts!

Then let us have begining with a small learning of above perceptions of both the fields…!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Lesson-40 : Major to Minor Modulations - Basic Tool of IR !

One noteworthy point of IR music is here : That’s Modulation !

We had a brief introduction about modulation earlier.

Modulation means changing from one scale to another with minimum effort ie with minimum change of note ! usually just one note change !

Can you realize now that , If you are in C-Major, you can easily go to its minor equivalent A-harmonic minor, with just one change of note that is changing G to G-sharp !

Please thoroughly check your understanding of this point here !

Only thing you should additionally watch and remember is your tonic has come down by a Minor Third now ! which means calling each of the old notes in different new name in terms of tonic, super-tonic etc! That’s all.

Same way from a minor scale you can travel to its major scale equivalent, just by dropping that one additional sharp and shifting the Tonic to Minor 3rd upward…!

Do you agree….?

IR effortlessly handles such modulations in most of his songs !

One such example is “ Putham Pudhu Kaaalai…” which starts in one particular Minor in Pallavi, then it changes to equivalent Major scale in the charanam when its starts “Vaanil Thondrum…” ! When the charanam ends in the last two lines or so, it again travels back to the old minor to catch up with the minor Pallavi again….!

“Ilangathu Veesudhe” of Pithamagan also is of that category. Minor Pallavi and Major Charanam .

Examples like this are many……….!

If you could appreciate this modulation, I believe I have achieved something of my efforts in reaching the WCM to you ! Give me that hope !

Again, Out of the Minor Group of songs of IR, most of them are Melodic Minor Type.

May be its flexibility of changing in 6th and 7th, gives a slightly better feeling when compared to very serious nature of harmonic minor.

Utmost 80% of the theme music of IR re-recording will be in minor scale!

It can cover all types of feelings suitable to any situation. Tender, soft, romantic, light nature etc to heavy , melancholic and serious nature …. All type of effects are provided by these minor scales and as such has found extensive place in the IR’s music repertoire.

(Truth may be the other way round also….because of IR it might have got so much versatility….!)

Who can forget the theme music of 16 Vayadhinile, Kizhakke Pogum Rail, Mouna Raagam, Chinna Veedu, Kallukkul Eeram, Mudhal Mariyadhai, Nayakan, etc etc…

The list is endless…! You name the film, you can have the minor scale theme/ re-recording in it !

Most of the other songs of IR in Carnatic raagaas also can be represented notation wise through Minor Scales.

I feel at this stage, I may have to do a brief comparisons/ clarifications of Pattern Formations in both Carnatic Vs WCM, for better understanding of each of their basics and inherent strengths.

The people who knows the Carnatic, can get a comparative feeling by such exercise.

For the ones who don't know Carnatic scheme but have reasonably understood the present WCM scheme, they can get a glimpse of the Carnatic scheme basics also through such WCM comaprisons !

That we will see in our next session…!

Lesson-39 : Melodic Minor - A Variation of Minor Scales !

So far, We have seen the Harmonic Minor Pattern as :

( Whole + Semi + Whole) + Whole+ ( Semi + One & Half + Semi)

However, one another variation of this Harmonic minor scale is also practised by WCM.

This one is called the "Melodic Minor Scale"

Basically this differs in the second bracketed portion of the pattern (ie Semi + One & half + Semi ), while the first half remains the same as harmonic minor.

If you observe the Harmonic minor pattern, there is a jump of One & half tone between the 6th & 7th.

This jump is felt as a difficulty while singing by the westerners.

So they wanted to smoothen out this jump by raising/flattening the 6th & 7th suitably.

This resulted in the Melodic Minor Scale pattern, which has different ascending and descending.

(In Carnatic this is explained as different Aarohanam & Avarohanam )

What is required to be done is :

Assuming the Harmonic Minor pattern as basic,

While ascending, ( ie playing the notes one by one up from Tonic to Octave ) Raise the 6th note by a semi tone.

So the second half pattern changes to :

(Whole + Whole + Semi) …….(this is same as Major second half…as you know already…)

But while descending, ( ie playing the notes one by one up from Octave to Tonic backwards ), Reduce the 7th and 6th note by a semi tone from that of ascending one just used.

So the second half pattern changes to :

(Semi + Whole + Whole)

So, putting the complete patterns together, the Melodic Minor is like this :

Ascending : ( Whole + Semi + Whole) + Whole+ ( Whole + Whole + Semi )

Descending : ( Whole + Whole + Semi )+ Whole+ ( Whole + Semi + Whole)

If you select “A” as Tonic for the Melodic Minor , then

Ascending : A – B – C – D – E – F# – G# – A

Descending : A – G – F – E – D – C – B – A

Carnatic experts can recognize this as Gowri Manohari ascending and Nata Bairavi Descending.

If they feel and visualize this Nishadam and Dhaivadham variations, they can easily recognize and understand why N2, N3 & D2, D3 usages are regularly made by IR in such minor based songs.

What you feel as mixing of swarams or raagams of Keervani, Nata Bairavi, Gowri manohari etc. In reality this is nothing but the melodic minor scale usage by IR.

So naming of Carnatic scale is a tricky issue for such songs ! My advice is better to call it as Minor Scale and leave it !

So we are having one another variation of Harmonic minor, and here also all the Sharps and Flats scales of Melodic Minor is possible for each one of the Harmonic Minor scale, and this will lead to another 15 scales of WCM.

I will leave that exercise to you for checking and forming the 15 Melodic Minor Scales.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Lesson-38 : Harmonic Minor - Consolidation of Understandings!

Harmonic Minor Scales:

Consolidation of our “Minor” understandings are as follows :

US – 1

The pattern of Harmonic Minor Scale is arrived at by effecting two changes from the Major scale pattern :

Reduction of Third Note of the scale by a Semi tone
Reduction of Sixth note of the scale by a Semi tone

Thus the resulting pattern is

( Whole + Semi + Whole ) + Whole + ( Semi + One & Half + Semi)

US – 2

The interval between each of the notes and the Tonic of the Harmonic Minor Scale is as follows:

When compared with Major scale, the Minor 3rd and Minor 6th intervals of Minor scale are the crucial one which makes the difference between the Major Scale and Minor Scale…!

US – 3

In order to arrive at a Common method between the Major and Minor scales, for finding the sequence and number of sharps and flats in progression, following method is adopted for the Minor scale:

· Represent the harmonic Minor scale omitting the sharp of Leading note

· (so that it can be equated mentally to particular Major scale in terms of number of sharps or flats )

· and then add back the sharp on the leading note separately, later.

US – 4

Considering the number of sharps (or flats) and their sequence of appearance, Every Major Scale is having an Equivalent Minor Scale, if we select the note a Minor Third below the Tonic of Major scale and make this as the Tonic of Minor scale. ( forgetting conveniently the sharp of Leading note of Minor scale

US – 5

Considering the Sharps sequence, the following are equivalent Major and Harmonic Minor scales (Tonics of which are separated by Minor Third)

US – 6

Considering the Flats sequence, the following are equivalent Major and Harmonic Minor scales (Tonics of which are separated by Minor Third)

Only additional thing to remember is to put a Sharp (or such accidental to raise the note) before the leading note of the Harmonic Minor scale every time without forgetting!

US – Key Signatures:

Key Signature is the Cluster of symbols of flats or sharps that are used in a specific scale under consideration. Such key signatures are written in the Stave in the beginning (after Clef symbol) once in each of the beginning of the line.

The Sharps or Flats as the case may be are written in a specifc sequence in the specific lines or spaces identified for this purpose.

By seeing the key signature location and noting the number of flats or sharps, one can easily say What the Scale of the song is….!

if any other notes, other than the above notes to be sharpened or flattened, these shall be written in front of the concerned notes separately wherever they occur.

Caution :

While writing the notes in score sheet, Please remember this,

· When you are using key signatures all the Sharps/ flats are taken into the key signatures, and only the sharp or natural symbols are added in front of the leading note.

· If you are not using the key signatures, then all the necessary notes shall be added with corresponding flats or sharps individually each time wherever it occurs; but there is no need to add separate natural symbol for a leading note which is raised to normalcy (from presumed flatness).

(That is to say, write a normal note as normal note only, and no need to add a flat and sharp symbol simultaneously in front of the leading note ! )

Friday, July 21, 2006

Lesson-37 : Harmonic Minor - Flat List

By this time, you are familiar with the Harmonic Minor Scales and similarity with the Major Scales.

Such a kind of similarity we have already seen regarding Harmonic Minor Scales w.r.t. Sharps. (Of course, some slight adjustment about the additional sharping the leading note is already clear in your mind).

If so, you can easily guess the sequence of Harmonic minor scales with Flats also.

The steps are just repeated to recall the procedures :

With the above, our Harmonic Minor Scales sequence with flats are as follows :

[you can also check each scale with the standard pattern required for the Harmonic Minor Scale which is (Whole+Semi+Whole)+Whole+(Semi+One&Half+Semi) ]

Our standard sentence for flats sequence (reverse sentence of sharps),

“Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles Father” holds good.

Hope, now you can realise that, the system of forgetting the leading note first, helps us in getting a uniform system, similar to major scale approach and then adding back the effect of leading note separately, which is the simple task.

Caution :

While writing the notes in score sheet for Harmonic Minor, Please remember these:

· When you are using key signatures all the flats are taken into it and only the sharp or natural symbols are added in front of the leading note.

· If you are not using the key signatures, then all the notes shall be added with corresponding flats or sharps, but there is no need to add separate natural symbol for a leading note which is raised to normalcy (from presumed flatness).

That is to say, write a normal note as normal note only, and no need to add a flat and sharp symbol simultaneously in front of the leading note !

As done before for sharps, if we compare the Major & Minor scales equivalent in terms of flats for each of these scales, we get the confirmation that the tonics of each are separated by the interval of Minor 3rd !

Remembering these equivalence tables will help in undertsanding the Modualtion aspects later.

Yes….where have we reached now…?

15 Major scales and 15 Harmonic Minor scales….

We have travelled a long …long….way….!

Try to consolidate that ! In your mind and in your feeling !

Monday, July 10, 2006

Lesson-36 : Harmonic Minor - Sharp List

Let me repeat the two harmonic minors discussed last time viz A & E Harmonic Minors.

A – B – C – D – E – F – G - A ( but G is Sharped separately )All White notes equivalent.

E – F# – G - A – B – C – D – E ( but D is sharped separately)Single sharp equivalent.

As we know, E-Minor was arrived at by going Perfect 5th upward from the starting A-Minor.

In the same way, if we proceed with the balance keys also, as we used to do for Major Scale, ie going upward in terms of Perfect 5th every time from the previous scale tonic,

we get the following complete table of Harmonic minor scales of

B-minor (2-sharps)
F# minor (3-sharps)
C# minor (4-sharps)
G# minor (5-sharps)
D# minor (6-sharps) and finally
A# minor (7-sharps)

in that sequential order.

Also, we know that, the leading note shall be separately sharped.

If the leading note happens to be a sharp note already, then it becomes double sharp !

[Double sharp is usually written using a x-mark (cross mark), before the notes].

This double sharp business is little but confusing in the beginning, but you can understand easily with key board in front of you, and try to locate the exact key and everything looks very logical.

For example,

F-Double sharp is equivalent to G, and
C-Double Sharp is nothing but D, and finally
G-Double Sharp is again nothing but A !

So that’s simple !

So, in case of Minor scales, we are now having the method similar to Major scale; similar in approach as well as the number and sequence of sharps etc.

Making our life a lot easier!

Only additional thing to remember is to Put a sharp before the leading note every time without forgetting!

That’s a relatively smaller simpler additional effort compared to our simplified learning…Isn’t it !

Our same old sentence of “Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle” helps us in identifying the sequence of sharp notes getting added each time.

Another important observation is :

If we compare the Major & Minor scales equivalent (in terms of sharps) for each of these scales, we get the confirmation that they are separated by the interval of Minor 3rd !

Refer the following equivalent table :

You can check yourself the interval between these two equivalent scales w.r.t. their Tonic,

C to A,
G to E,
D to B, etc. etc…..,

and understand that they are separated by the interval of Minor 3rd.

So, through our understanding of Major scales, we can learn the Harmonic Minor Scales easily.

Similar to the above scales of sharps, we can easily analyse and learn the scales of flats also.

In our next lesson!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Lesson-35- Harmonic Minor - Concept of Equating With Major Scale !

Our next endeavour is to get into the details of Scales of Harmonic Minor with sharps ! Before that, one approach we shall undertsand to make the matter simple.

Since we know better about the Major Scale, if we could correlate a Harmonic Minor with a corresponding Major scale, then we can blindly follow the relationships for establishing all the Harmonic Minor scales with Sharps (as well as Flats), through some Major scales whioch we already know!

Let us start from A-Harmonic Minor !

Actually A-Harmonic Minor is A – B – C – D – E – F – G# - A

But we will represent this way :

A – B – C – D – E – F – G - A ( but G is Sharped separately )

So now it can be visualized as equivalent to C-Major (with no sharp).

What does this mean while notes writing on stave ?

Thus, A-Harmonic minor will not have any sharps or flats in the Key Signature (just like C Major), but wherever the note G is written (the leading Note of A-Minor), sharp symbol is put in front of the note G every time, separately.

Then for the Next minor scale, as usual, as in the case of Major scale, Go upward by perfect 5th of Tonic of previous minor scale, which leads us to E-Harmonic Minor.

Actually E-Harmonic Minor is E – F# – G - A – B – C – D# – E

But we will represent this way :

E – F# – G - A – B – C – D – E ( but D is sharped separately) .

So, now this can be equated to G-Major which has only one sharp ie F-sharp.

Now, You will realize the advantage of our method of omitting the sharp of leading note and representing them later separately in the case of a Harmonic Minor scale!

What does this mean while notes writing on stave ?

Thus, E-Harmonic minor will have only ONE sharp in the Key Signature (just like G Major), ie F-Sharp, but wherever the note D is written (the leading Note of E-Minor), a sharp is put in front of the note D every time, separately.

Another matter for you to observe is the relationship between the Major scale selected for comparison in terms of sharps and the equivalent minor scale as explained above.

For example, C-Major has no sharps or flats. Similarly, with our above understanding of omitting the sharp of leading note initially, the equivalent Harmonic Minor scale is A-Harmonic Minor.

The relationship between C and A in terms of its interval is that, A-Minor is a Minor Third below C-Major!

Similarly, in the case of the ONE sharp equivalents G-Major and E-Minor, the relationship between G and E in terms of its interval is that E is a Minor Third below G

So we can conclude that Every Major Scale is having an Equivalent Minor Scale, if we select the note a Minor Third below.

Again remember, when we say equivalent, it is just the number of sharps (or flats) in both the scale (as will be represented in the key signature or otherwise), that also forgetting conveniently the sharp of Leading note…..!

For all other purposes, the pattern of Major and Minor scales and their quality of sound and music coming out are entirely different as you already know !

So let us define this Harmonic Minor Scale representation rule while writing on score sheet like this :

1. In the key signature, represent the sharps (or flats as the case may be) of equivalent Major Scale (which is separated by a minor third interval)

2. Then wherever the leading note of the scale is coming, sharpen (raise) the note by proper accidentals (sharps, double sharps, flats, natural symbol etc.) .

If the above rules understood, all our analytical method of forming and writing scales in terms of sharps and flats for Minor scales will be exactly replicated as in the case of Major scales.

So, as in the case of major Scales, all our understandings on Perfect 5th approach, our standard sentences for sharps & flats (Father Charles Goes Down……) etc etc…, for the sequence of notes sharpened or flattened etc. are absolutely valid and make our life easier….! Is that OK….?

Tell me…Is this a process of Simplification or Confusion…?

Initially it may look both way to you…!....... but you will appreciate this method with some deep thinking and homework…!

We will see all minor scale with sharps and flats one by one in our next discussion which will clarify all the above points.

Till Then, have a deep & thorough self-analysis and validation of above understandings !

Lesson-34 - Harmonic Minor - Some Minor Complications & Resolving !

Hi All,

Warning ! Take a deep breath (and time !) for this lengthy discussion…! This demands your absolute concentration !

To start with, let me repeat the pattern of Harmonic Minor once again :

( Whole + Semi + Whole ) + Whole + ( Semi + One & Half + Semi)

Using the above pattern, Can we get a Harmonic Minor scale with all Pure White Notes (as in the case of C-Major) ?

The answer is NO !

One case nearest to this level is the Harmonic Minor Scale starting with the note "A", which will be like this :

A – B – C – D – E – F – G# - A

Here also, it has one note as sharp.

Let us see one another case of case of D-Harmonic Minor,

Here it is getting complicated !

We are getting the one flat note as well as the sharp in the same scale, (based on the strict rule of selecting “One note only once” for the scale formation ) !

D – E – F – G – A - B(b)C# -D

Which is peculiar, because so far, in case of Major scale, it is either sharp everywhere or flats everywhere. At no instance, we used both !

So what will happen ?

In case of Harmonic Minor, could we not get , (as we used to get in Major scale), any equivalent easy method to get step-by-step increase of either Sharps or Flats?

Also How to avoid the complicated flats and sharp combination of representation within the same scale?

Don’t get dis-heartened ! There is a way !

A slight compromise is required for the sake of simplicity !

Let us make some small adjustment of representation of note ! Then everything will fall in line automatically !............How ?

Let us get back to the A-Harmonic Scale which we just saw!

The actual notes of A-Harmonic minor to preserve the pattern of minor scale, are like this :

A – B – C – D – E – F – G# - A

So if we take A– Harmonic Minor and temporarily forget about the sharp of G, which is its leading note, and write this as follows:

A – B – C – D – E – F – G - A ( G is to be sharped later )

Now, we can say, this is like the pure white keys equivalent of C-Major…..?

Do you agree ?

So there lies the solution…!

Step-1 :

Represent the harmonic Minor scale omitting the sharp of Leading note (so that it can be equated mentally to particular Major scale in terms of number of sharps or flats )

Step-2 :

and then add back the sharp on the leading note separately, later.

You wont believe….! This also incidentally solves our problem of complex representation of using both sharp and flats in the same scale !

Otherwise please be assured that we are not changing the pattern of Harmonic Minor scale at all in the final outcome !

We exactly follow that pattern, but only representing in different way..!

Lesson-33 :Harmonic Minor Scale - Part-2 : Establishing the INTERVALS !

Just now, we have established the Pattern of the Harmonic Minor Scale.

Coming to our next stage analysis we are going to establish the Intervals w.r.t. Tonic.

Let me re-emphasize our earlier learning that , irrespective of any scale, the name of the each note from 1 to 7, it is called, Tonic, Super tonic, Mediant, Sub-Dominant, Dominant, Sub-Mediant & Leading note !

( and of course Octave, the repeated tonic note… to complete the scale..)

Also you remember that the intervals w.r.t. Tonic to other notes of a Major scale are

“ Everything is Major interval except the 4th and 5th which are Perfect interval"

Again recall, while converting Major to Minor, we effected changes in 3rd and 6th note by way of reduction of semitone….!

So the changes in case of intervals also shall be for the 3rd and 6th only which now changes from Major to Minor intervals ….thats all…..!

All other remain the same….!

By consolidating in our usual way, we get the following :

The above also clearly indicates our earlier understanding that, Major Scale can have minor intervals and a Minor scale can have Major intervals….!

For all other intervals between any note to any note in a Harmonic Minor scale, I am leaving that exercise to you to check for yourself, using our Standard Intervals Table given earlier….!

These Minor 3rd and Minor 6th intervals are the crucial one which makes the difference between the Major Scale and Minor Scale…!

So try that on key board repeatedly and feel it and register that in the mind strongly…!

So second part of analysis is also over for the Harmonic Minor Scale..

What next…? Listing of Harmonic Minor scales with Sharps and Flats…..!

Before jumping into that analysis, one question I want to pose to all of you…!

In case of Major scale, we started with a all pure white keys major scale viz.. C-Major…!

And then started traveling Perfect 5th upward for sharp and Perfect 5th downward for flats…!

To repeat that, in case of Minor scale also, “Can we get any Pure All White Minor scale to start with ?

Try and answer ! (I need not remind you that we should preserve the Pattern of Minor scale discussed above, when you try from each white key…! )

We will see the answer in next Lesson!

Friday, June 30, 2006

Lesson-32 :Harmonic Minor Scale - Part-1 - Establishing the Pattern !

From Mood to Maths...!

As usual its time to analyse and understand the Minor Scale deeper. !

Now, having gone through the course of “Major Scales” analysis, its easy for me to repeat those analysis for the Minor scales also, in the similar manner.

If you remember, in case of Major scales, we went through the following steps:

a) Establishing the Pattern of adjacent notes (in terms of Tone and Semi tones)
b) Scrutinising the intervals with reference to Tonic and other notes
c) Various Major scales in terms of Sharps
d) Various Major Scales in terms of Flats

The same lessons we have to repeat for Minor Scales also.

Before further proceeding, I want you to recall, that while formulating the Minor Scale from the established Major Scale, we effected two changes viz.

1) Reduction of Third Note of the scale by a Semi tone
2) Reduction of Sixth note of the scale by a Semi tone

Keeping this in mind, we can easily recognize the change of pattern from the standard Major scale.

Due to the 3rd note reduction the first half pattern of Major scale

(Whole + Whole + Semi )

now changes to

(Whole + Semi + Whole)

Due to the 6th note reduction, Second half pattern of Major scale

(Whole + Whole + Semi)

now changes to

(Semi + Whole & Half + Semi)

I hope there is no confusion about that ! You can visually check it with the keyboard in case of doubts !

So the minor scale which we established in the last discussion will have the following pattern :

( Whole + Semi + Whole ) + Whole + ( Semi + One&Half + Semi)

As a cross check, if you count the total of a scale we shall get Six tones ( 12 keys x Semi = 6 ) a fact we established in our earlier understanding

So this is the pattern of Minor scale. This minor scale is called “Harmonic Minor"

( At this junction I would like to confirm your likely query that ……is there any other minor scale ? …

Yes.. one other variation of minor scale called “Melodic Minor” scale is there.

We will discuss about that much much later…..!

Hereafter, when we say minor scale it means Harmonic Minor with the above pattern…. Unless it is specifically told about the Melodic Minor…)

So we have established the Pattern of Harmonic Minor scale…!

It is needless to say that, if we could follow this pattern from any key, the scale must be Harmonic Minor….!

So first part of our analysis is over…simple and fast…..!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Lesson-31 : Minor Changes - Nothing Minor About that !

Hi All,

We were so involved in our discussions of Major Scales so far, so that, if I once again say that the pattern of Major Scale is

( Whole + Whole + Semi ) + Whole + (Whole + Whole + Semi )

you will be irritated a little bit…! ?

Anyway, that’s a good sign…..indicating that…. your brain has registered the Major Scale strongly in your mind !

What about some other pattern…?

OK.. …WCM has another pattern to entertain you…! Sorry….its make you mooooody……!

Anyway let us see what is that so called "other" pattern !

One more time let us recall the C-Major…..Its all white keys of the keyboard …isn’t it ?

You may recall all those IR song examples I gave you for the Major scales…explaining the jolly mood of Major Scale.

Now I am going to suggest one small modification of using a black note in the C-Major…that is instead of the third white key “E”, use E-Flat .

(you will not call that black key as D-Sharp now…because…you know the reason…and I know you are already wiser now to call that as E-Flat only…..!)

Certainly we have upset the Major pattern……! Aren’t we…!

What is the new pattern now?

C-D- E(b) -F-G-A-B-C

Absolutely it cannot be a Major Scale…. Do you agree that….?

If you want to feel that change, try to play the normal C-Major Scale first slowly.. and then try to play this new scale….! Slowly and repeatedly………..!

You will find a hell lot of difference in quality of the scale…!

Major has lost its jovial nature…! Now become suddenly moody…just the change from E to E-flat makes that….!

Some examples of IR song that can follow this new pattern…are :

“Dhoorathil Naan kanda “ (Nizhalgal)…
” Pon Vaanam Panner Thoovudhu..” (Indru Nee Naalai Naan)
“Adhikaalai Nilave..” (Urudhi Mozhi…)
“Solai Poovil “ (Vellai Roja..)
“Muthamizh Kaviye Varuga…” (Dharmathin Thalaivan)

Our Carnatic friends would have identified this new pattern as “Gowri Manohari “ Raagam!

Anyway, our journey has not ended. We have entered …only entered..the MINOR Zone…!

To authentically finish off our change process, we have to do one more change…!

Let us effect that change..!

Again change another white note "A" to "A-flat"….!

Now this change makes it further deadlier pathetic and heavily moody..!

You will recognize that, if you play this sequence,

C-D- E(b) -F-G- A(b) -B-C
(back and forth..any combination of these notes…on and on and on…)

and correlate with the following IR songs :

“Kaatre..Endhan Geetham…” (Johnny)
“Nee dhaana Nee dhana..Nenje Nee dhaana (Thaalatu Paada Vaa)
“Keeravaaani..” (Paadum Paravaigal.) (Anveshana…)
“Malargalile….. Aaraadhanai…..” (Karumbu Vil)
“Thanga Changili…” (Thooral Ninnu Pochu..)
“Nandhavana Kuyile..” (Ponnu Veetukkaaran)
“Aayiram Kodi…” (Kariasa kaattu Poove..)
“Pen Poove…. Pen Poove….”
“Thedum Dheivam Neril Vandhadhu…” (Kazhugu)
“Deiveega Raagam…Thevittaadha Paadal...” (Ullaasa Paravaigal..)

You can automatically feel the heaviness of this pattern which makes a deep impact inside you…!

I can bet that, whatever may be the lyrics and situations, if you hear these tunes alone also..….these will make you internally cry….!

An instant melancholic situation simulator !

Anyway, that’s what the so called Minor Scale is all about

(just namesake that’s minor, but impact wise well above major).

(Our Carnatic friends can recognize this as Keeravaani Raagam)

Try this pattern on key board and feel that…
Play alternatively with C-Major and this C-Minor….
and involve yourself in the visual and hearing impact it makes on you…
I want you to drown in this Minor ocean…!

Listen to those songs also….!

(Those who can afford and have some taste for Hindusthaani Music, please try and get Pandit Shiv kumar Sharma’s CD of Santoor recital in Raag Keeravani.. and listen it…..! )

I will leave you in this deeeeeepppp meditative moooood…..!

Till such time I again catch you ….!

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