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Here is what you'll learn in the 10 day "Chord Piano" course:

1. You're going to be able to play all 12 major piano chords easily and quickly. Some of my students can play them in as little as 3 seconds! (Honest!)

2. You're going to be able to pick out a tune with your right hand both "by ear" and by reading notes. (Some people play by ear, and some by sight-reading. You're going to be able to do both -- and knowing piano chords speeds up both.)

3. You will be able to play all minor piano chords, all diminished piano chords, and all augmented piano chords, just by changing each major piano chord slightly. But that's not all: You will also learn how to form and play 6th chords, minor 6th chords, 7th chords, minor 7th chords, maj7th chords (different than "regular" 7th chords), and even 9th chords! You will be able to do this for the rest of your life.

4. You will learn to create a chording rhythm pattern with your left hand, made out of the piano chords you learn, which you can use on a thousand different songs the rest of your life. If you like ragtime, you can use it on The Entertainer, and songs like that. If you like gospel music, you can use it on Amazing Grace, and a thousand other hymns or other Christian music (Actually -- any kind of "popular" piano music). If' you like Country-Western or Contemporary or Pop or whatever, you can apply this "chording bass" pattern to your favorite songs. (The only kind of piano music you shouldn't use it on is classical). You will learn to do this "swing bass" technique in both 3/4 and 4/4 time (and all the other variations). Then you will learn a left-hand technique called "arpeggios" -- where you'll "stretch out" the chord into a beautiful and full orchestral sound -- great for ballads, love songs, certain praise & worship songs, etc.

5. You will learn a wonderful "harmonizing trick" you can do using piano chords. It's very easy to do, but adds a "duet effect' to your right hand melodies. (If you sing, or play another instrument, you can apply this technique to that as well!)

6. You will learn how to "fill up the empty spaces" in a song with echoes, fills, and runs -- all made out of piano chords. This lesson alone is worth ten times the cost of the piano lessons, as only the very top professionals know how to do this. You'll learn rapid-fire runs, straddles, fills, melodic echoes, and cascading waterfall runs!

7. You will learn how to arrange a song -- put an intro at the start of it, and an ending on the caboose. You can then take a piece of sheet music and play it your way, instead of just playing what's written.

8. You will learn how to create a fantastic "orchestral pad" in your left hand part that creates a "river of sound" for ballads, love songs, Christian music, regular sheet music and any kind of song needing a "smooth" feel.

Melody In Carnatic Music

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 Rgas and the 175 Tlas, 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 Rga 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.

As I said in my introduction, Carnatic music is ruled by the Sanskrit saying, Srutir mata, layah pitameaning, Melody is mother, Rhythm is father. In the next few columns, I shall deal with the first part of the saying, Srutir mata, or the melodic aspects.

Any lover of Indian music would have definitely come across the word Raga. Needless to say, this concept is a very ancient one. But what exactly is it and how did it evolve? Before we go into it, we need to know some basic stuff. Let's start with the skeleton of the Raga, which are the notes or swara-s, as they are called in Indian music.

Well, like most systems of music across the world, Carnatic music also has seven basic notes, the Sapta (seven) Swaras (notes) in an octave. They are Shadja (Sa) , Rishabha (Ri) , Gandhara (Ga) , Madhyama (Ma) , Panchama (Pa) , Dhaivata (Dha) and Nishada (Ni) . While Sa and Pa are the constant notes that remain fixed in any given pitch, the rest of the five notes have variable values of two each. That gives us a total of twelve notes or swarasthana-s in the octave (sthana literally means place or position). Isn't it amazing that different civilizations across the globe have arrived at the same results through the centuries?

Anyway, here's what makes Carnatic music different. Although there are twelve swarasthana-s, they are called by sixteen different names. This obviously means that there is some overlapping of the notes. This probably happened only to accommodate peculiar ragas like Nata or Varali which already existed before all these theories were propounded. So it was not with a view to be different that this idea was conceived, but only to properly classify these differences. Here's a table of the sixteen notes with their Hindustani equivalents:

Carnatic swaras

Hindustani swaras

Shadja - Sa

Shad - Sa

Shuddha Rishabha Ri 1

Komal Rishabh

Chatusruti Rishabha Ri 2

Shudh Rishabh

Shatsruti Rishabha Ri 3

Komal Gandhar

Shuddha Gandhara Ga 1

Shudh Rishabh

Sadharana Gandhara Ga 2

Komal Gandhar

Antara Gandhara Ga 3

Shudh Gandhar

Shuddha Madhyama Ma 1

Shudh Madhyam

Prati Madhyama Ma 2

Teevr Madhyam

Panchama

Pancham

Shuddha Dhaivata Da 1

Komal Dhaivat

Chatusruti Dhaivata Da 2

Shudh Dhaivat

Shatsruti Dhaivata Da 3

Komal Nishad

Shuddha Nishada Ni 1

Shudh Dhaivat

Kaisika Nishada Ni 2

Komal Nishad

Kakali Nishada Ni 3

Shudh Nishad

Now, from the table above, we can see that the sixteen different notes have been arrived at by increasing the number of variables for the notes Ri, Ga, Da and Ni from two to three. So we still have one Sa and Pa , two Ma- s but three Ri- s, Ga- s, Da- s and Ni- s.

The interesting thing here is that Chatusrtui Rishabha (Ri 2) and Suddha Gandhara (Ga 1) share the same place values. i.e., you would render them in the same place, but just call them by different names depending upon the context. The same thing happens in the case of Shatsruti Rishabha (Ri 3) and Sadharana Gandhara (Ga 2); Chatusruti Dhaivata (Da 2) and Suddha Nishada (Ni 1); and Shatsruti Dhaivata (Da 3) and Kaisika Nishada (Ni 2). This unique feature is more obvious from the table of the Hindustani notes where Shudh Rishabh, Komal Gandhar, Shudh Dhaivat and Komal Nishad occur twice.

Simply put,

Ri 2 = Ga 1

Ri 3 = Ga 2

Da 2 = Ni 1

Da 3 = Ni 2

This can be illustrated better with the help of the adjoining diagram. The notes on the left are the twelve basic swarasthana-s and those given on the right are the four extra notes.

Why the sixteen names?

As said earlier, ancient Ragas like Nata (Ri 3 and Da 3) and Varali (Ga 1) use relatively uncommon notes. In order to classify them properly, these notes had to be given a place. There are a few simple rules which determine how the overlapping notes are used:

  • When Suddha Rishabha (Ri 1) and Chatusruti Rishabha (Ri 2) occur consecutively in the same raga, Ri 2 is sung as Ga 1 (Suddha Gandhara).
  • When Sadharana Gandhara (Ga 2) and Antara Gandhara (Ga 3) occur consecutively, then Ga 2 is sung as Ri 3 (Shatsruti Rishabha).
  • Similarly, when Suddha Dhaivata (Da 1) and Chatusruti Dhaivata (Da 2) occur consecutively, then Da 2 is sung as Ni 1 (Suddha Nishada).
  • And when Kaisika Nishada (Ni 2) and Kakali Nishada (Ni 3) occur consecutivesly, Ni 2 is sung as Shatsruti Dhaivata (Da 3).

Of course, music being an art, there are cases when these rules are waived. However, we will come to that later. In my next article, I shall talk about how the 16 notes combine to give scales and Ragas. Meantime, if you would like to discuss anything or clarify doubts, you can post a comment on Discussions link below.

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