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There are thousands of reasons why you should learn enough chords to be able to "chord a song" at the piano.

By "chord a song", I mean the ability to play 3 or 4 chords on the piano in some sort of rhythm while you or someone else sings the tune. To do this, you don't need to be a Van Cliburn; all you need to do is learn a few basic chords and be able to more back and forth between them in some organized rhythmic pattern.

For example, did you realize that all of these songs (and hundreds more) can be sung or played with just 3 chords?

Auld Lang Syne, Amazing Grace, Kum Ba Ya, Silent Night, Joy To The World, Jingle Bells, Happy Birthday, Down In The Valley, On Top Of Old Smoky and many more!

Add just one more chord to the basic 3, and you can play another thousand songs or so. So why not learn a few chords and start your chording career?

Here are my top 10 reasons for learning "chord piano":

Reason # 1: Its easy. Learn 3 chords and start in.

Reason # 2: Even though its easy to get started, you don't have to stop there. You can learn more and more chords and more rhythm patterns and get really good.

Reason # 3: You'll be able to play "Happy Birthday" while the gang sings it.

Reason # 4: You'll be able to play half-a-dozen Christmas carols. In case you haven't noticed, Christmas comes every year, so every year you'll get better as you participate in family gatherings.

Reason # 5: You can help your kids learn to play the piano, guitar, or most any other instrument by learning chords. Most teachers don't teach chords, so you'll be giving your kids an advantage by learning chords.

Reason # 6: People will admire you. Its true. Musicians are popular. Anyone who can play anything is in demand at parties and social gatherings. And if you can "chord" while others sing, you're bound to be popular.

Reason # 7: Piano playing using chords is good for your brain. Studies have shown that people who actively participate in music do their brain lots of good. And since chords require 3 or 4 notes at a time instead of one, you are giving your brain a good workout.

Reason # 8: Piano playing, particularly using chords, is good exercise for your wrists and fingers. (Take the time to learn about correct hand position, though!)

Reason # 9: Piano playing is excellent therapy for the stress of life. Many professional people come home from a hard days work and relax by expressing their emotions on the keyboard. Play a few dark and angry chords, and you'll be surprised how much better you feel!

Reason # 10: Piano playing is a blast. Its just plain old fun. So learn 3 or 4 chords and get going. Maybe you'll stop there and enjoy it the rest of your life.

But just maybe you'll love it so much that you keep going and turn yourself into an excellent piano player who can read music as well as play chords!

Carnatic Music - An Overview

Kiranavali, the granddaughter of the late legendary Gotuvadyam Narayana Iyengar, was born on 2nd Jan. 1973. Her father, N Narasimhan, is a musician of great merit, and has nurtured the musical talents of Kiranavali and her illustrious brothers, Chitravina N Ravikiran and K N Shashikiran. When hardly three years old, Kiranavali was able to identify more than 200 Rāgas and the 175 Tālas, besides answering numerous technical questions pertaining to Carnatic music. If Indian Express called her "astounding in her precocity" (14 June 1975), the music critic of The Hindu wrote, "More fantastic is the manner in which Kiranavali, the three-year old sister of Ravikiran and Shashikiran is able to tell the Rāga even at the commencement of its outline."

Kiranavali's performing career began at the age of eleven. Both her solo recitals and the duets with her brother, Shashikiran, won the hearts of the knowledgeable and laymen alike. In her quest for excellence, Kiranavali pursued advanced vocal music training under the late Sangita Kalanidhi T Brinda, the highest authority on the works of many a great composer. Under her guidance, Kiranavali has matured into a sensitive musician with a deep commitment to highly refined musical values. At the young age of twenty-eight, she brings a degree of maturity and involvement to Carnatic music that is commensurate with her professional experience of over two decades.

Kiranavali also plays the Chitravina, true to her family tradition. She has performed solo, and has also accompanied Ravikiran. Her concerts have been featured by many leading organisations like the Madras Music Academy, Krishna Gana Sabha, Narada Gana Sabha and Shanmukhananda Fine Arts (Mumbai). The first artiste to be graded high for both Vocal and the Chitravina by AIR and Doordarshan, her music is regularly featured in broadcasts.

One of the hallmarks of a mature civilisation is the level of artistic accomplishment achieved by its peoples. The vast Indian civilisation, which is about 5,000 years old, boasts of a rich cultural heritage. Each region has its own language, religion, music, dance, rituals and practices. And in turn, each region has been influenced by the culture and practices of its surrounding regions. The result is a kaleidoscopic but mind-boggling variety of languages, beliefs, cultures and art forms!

The music system of music in India is believed to have originated from the ancient Vedas. The Vedas, four in number, are Sanskrit hymns that were transmitted from generation to generation through oral recitation. The Sama Veda, in particular, was believed to have laid the foundations for the development of classical music in India.

Carnatic music, the classical system of South India, is certainly one of the most complete and sophisticated systems of music ever invented by man. But did it achieve this level of sophistication overnight? Well, the answer is no. To understand this, we need to take a quick look at the history of the Indian civilisation.

As mentioned earlier, the roots of all Indian classical music are generally traced back to the Vedas, particularly the Sāma Veda. Carnatic music has also been considerably influenced by the ancient Tamil music from the Dravidian culture of the southern parts of India. Thus, it epitomises the glorious confluence of the Sanskrit and Tamil cultures that underlie all of Indian civilisation. Around the 13 - 14th centuries, following the establishment of the Islamic Sultanates in Delhi, musical practice in north India slowly started acquiring a different dimension. This was further developed during the reign of the Moghul emperors, when the music and culture got significantly influenced by Persian, Arabic and Turkish cultures. This finally led to a divergence between the music systems of the north and the south, as Carnatic music did not undergo some of the metamorphoses that took place in the north. Thus, despite common origins and fundamentally similar melodic structure and concepts, there emerged two distinct and highly contrasting systems of classical music in India, namely the Carnatic and Hindustani systems. However, the name Carnatic is itself only of recent origin, although it means ‘ancient and traditional'.

This is not to say that Carnatic music is totally devoid of external influences. The exchange of musical ideas between Carnatic and Hindustani music and the interactions of both classical systems with Indian folk music have always been important. Carnatic music has also drawn from the styles and works of other parts of India.

Then, during the period of British rule, Western influence on Carnatic music resulted not only in the induction of the violin into Carnatic music but also in the composition of Carnatic tunes based on Western melodies.

Remarkably enough, even as Carnatic music has imbibed novel or even alien concepts and makes them its own, it continues to retain its distinct image and identity, never jeopardising its fundamental foundations. This is because the basic concepts of Carnatic music have been so all encompassing and anticipatory that innovations or imports have only enriched it without irreversibly modifying its basic structure.

Features of Carnatic music:

Carnatic music, like other important music systems of the world, has the basic elements of melody and rhythm. This has been beautifully conveyed in the Sanskrit saying, ‘Srutir mata, layah pita. Translated, it simply means, Melody is mother and Rhythm is Father. In addition, Carnatic music also places great importance on lyrics. Thus we have several thousands of compositions, of multiple varieties, in several languages and themes. There is also the extra dimension of creative improvisations, both in melody and rhythm. This ensures that the entire system has a healthy balance of excitement with restraint, which is the hallmark of anything that is truly great, and can consequently be enjoyed at various levels - emotional, intellectual and spiritual.

Needless to say, the performing tradition of this system is as old as the system itself. Today, vocal music and the wide range of instrumental music are in great demand all over the world. Carnatic musicians also have the advantage of easily being able to learn or adapt to other music systems of the world since the basics of this system are strong, yet accommodative, thus paving way for fusion music too.

In the coming weeks, we shall go into the details of each aspect of Carnatic music.

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