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 … 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 ! )

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