September 24, 2021

Harmonium Lesson 7 Chords

Harmonium Chords

Indian music is melodic. In melody we sing one note at a time. In case of Indian movie (film) songs, the melody still has a role to play. But singing only one note at a time does not satisfy the needs of the film industry, which requires the film songs to sound “modern”. This translates into adding ‘hot’, loud beat and heavy orchestration to accompany the melodic line. This has made our film music a kind of hybrid. Much of the current Indian film music tends to sound like dance music. Melody, the queen of the past days, is now downgraded to a much less important position.

To achieve this added punch to the ‘dry’ melodic line, harmonizing Western music style is extensively employed. Chords and chord progressions accompany the melodic lines, so that the music sounds fuller. This makes it necessary that we learn the fundamentals of chords as employed in Indian film music. What, you may ask, is a chord?

A chord is a combination of three (or more) notes played at the same time. All chords are formed by playing simultaneously three or more notes, according to definite rules.

Chords are played, mostly by your left hand, and mostly in the left-most keyboard area. Since you are learning harmonium, and not the electronic keyboard, your left hand is already occupied with the task of pumping the bellows to force air onto the reeds of the harmonium. So, how do you play the chords? Well, you simply cannot — unless you do something about this problem. We will not take up this issue here. We would only say that, in spite of this problem, you should have a introductory information about chords. And, you should be able to play the chords we will use to accompany our songs, in a simple way. In the next article, we will deal with the chords that we need to use more commonly.

Harmonium Major & Minor Chords

Harmonium Major Chords: A chord is a combination of three (or more) notes played at the same time. All chords are formed by playing simultaneously three or more notes, according to definite rules.

The Basics: Keep the keyboard diagram in view. Please remember, once again, that any key can become a Sa; but we have assumed the 1st black key to be the Sa (S), for convenience and convention, simplicity and uniformity.

CHORD: TYPES and SYMBOLS. Out of a very large number of chords, we need to do only very few of those. To avoid any confusion and conflict of symbols, we have entirely Indianized the names of the types and symbols of the chords. Later on, in a separate article, only for your information, we will present you with the comparative names used in this Indian system and those used in the Western system.

Major Chords. Symbol V.

A major chord is formed when we simultaneously play three notes S-G-P or an equivalent combination. Let us explain by assigning key numbers, calling Sa (S) as key number 1.

So, to play the major chord S-G-P, you will play key numbers 1-5-8. This major chord is called S major. Using the symbol ‘V’ for a major chord, S major chord will be written as SV.

Similarly, the major chord “rV” will be formed of the following notes (to be played all at a time): r-m-d. How can we say that? Like this: Now, r is key number 2. So the new set of three keys [in the relative distance 1-5-8] will be 2-6-9. The keys 2-6-9 represent the notes r-m-d. Here is the complete list of the major chords we will use:

Note: S key number: 1
r ………. 2
R ………. 3
g ………. 4
G ………. 5
m ………. 6
M ………. 7
P ………. 8
d ………. 9
D ………. 10
n ………. 11
N ………. 12
S’ ………. 13
r’ ………. 14
R’ ………. 15
g’ ………. 16
G’ ………. 17
m’ ………. 18
M’ ………. 19
P’ ………. 20

Chord NameChord SymbolKey Nos.Harmonium Notes
S major chordsymbol SVkey# 1-5-8notes S-G-P
r major chordsymbol rVkey# 2-6-9notes r-m-d
R major chordsymbol gVkey# 3-7-10notes R-M-D
g major chordsymbol gVkey# 4-8-11notes g-P-n
G major chordsymbol GVkey# 5-9-12notes G-d-N
m major chordsymbol mVkey# 6-10-13notes m-D-S’
M major chordsymbol MVkey# 7-11-14notes M-n-r’
P major chordsymbol PVkey# 8-12-15notes P-N-R’
d major chordsymbol dVkey# 9-13-16notes d-S’-g’
D major chordsymbol DVkey# 10-14-17notes D-r’-G’
n major chordsymbol nVkey# 11-15-18notes n-R’-m’
N major chordsymbol NVkey# 12-16-19notes N-g’-M’
12 Harmonium Major Chords Table

Similar sets of notes will apply in all the three octaves. So much for the major Chords.

Please note:
Whatever key is your Sa, the major keys will retain their names (like, for example, R major chord), will retain their symbols (like, for example, RV), will retain their key# (like, for example, 3-7-10), will retain their notes combination (like, for example, R-M-D).

Minor chords

A chord is a combination of three (or more) notes played at the same time. All chords are formed by playing simultaneously three or more notes, according to definite rules.

The Basics. Keep the keyboard diagram in view. Please remember, once again, that any key can become a Sa; but we have assumed the first black key to be the Sa (S), for convenience and convention, simplicity and uniformity.

Minor Chords. Symbol L.

A minor chord is formed when we simultaneously play three notes S-g-P or an equivalent combination. Let us explain by assigning key numbers, calling Sa (S) as key number 1.

Note: S key number: 1
r ………. 2
R ………. 3
g ………. 4
G ………. 5
m ………. 6
M ………. 7
P ………. 8
d ………. 9
D ………. 10
n ………. 11
N ………. 12
S’ ………. 13
r’ ………. 14
R’ ………. 15
g’ ………. 16
G’ ………. 17
m’ ………. 18
M’ ………. 19
P’ ………. 20

So, to play the minor chord S-g-P, you will play key numbers 1-4-8. This minor chord is called S minor. Using the symbol ‘L’ for a minor chord, S major chord will be written as SL.

Similarly, the minor chord “rL” will be formed of the following notes (to be played all at a time): r-G-d. How can we know that? Like this: Now, r is key number 2. So the new set of three keys (in the relative distance 1-4-8) will be 2-5-9. The keys 2-5-9 represent the notes r-G-d. Here is the complete list of the minor chords we will use:

harmonium chords
Chord NameChord SymbolKey Nos. Harmonium Notes
S minor chordsymbol SLkey# 1-4-8notes S-g-P
r minor chordsymbol rLkey# 2-5-9notes r-G-d
R minor chordsymbol gLkey# 3-6-10notes R-m-D
g minor chordsymbol gLkey# 4-7-11notes g-M-n
G minor chordsymbol GLkey# 5-8-12notes G-P-N
m minor chordsymbol mLkey# 6-9-13notes m-d-S’
M minor chordsymbol MLkey# 7-10-14notes M-D-r’
P minor chordsymbol PLkey# 8-11-15notes P-n-R’
d minor chordsymbol dLkey# 9-12-16notes d-N-g’
D minor chordsymbol DLkey# 10-13-17notes D-S’-G’
n minor chordsymbol nLkey# 11-14-18notes n-r’-m’
N minor chordsymbol NLkey# 12-15-19notes N-R’-M’
12 Harmonium Minor Chords Table

Similar sets of notes will apply in all the three octaves. So much for the minor Chords.

Please note:
WHATERVER KEY IS YOUR Sa, the minor keys will retain their names (like, for example, R minor chord); will retain their symbols (like, for example, RL); will retain their key# (like, for example, 3-6-10); will retain their notes combination (like, for example, R-m-D).