Tuesday, August 08, 2006

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.

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