October 22, 2021

Harmonium Lesson 2

Note: This arrangement is also for keyboard in which you use your  both hands but you use right hand in playing harmonium.

As mentioned earlier in Diagram 1, we have assumed the first white key to be the Sa (S), for convenience. But from now we will use black key as our first starting point for Sa (S). You will find that there are sets of 5 black keys on the keyboard. Each set of those 5 black keys is made up of 2 + 3 black keys. The first white key is that white key which lies immediately to the left of the first black key. Since there are several sets of 5 black keys, there will also be several “first white” keys. In a saptak there are total 12 keys which consists of 5 black keys and seven white keys as mentioned below given diagram 4:

Diagram 4

You are going to use only your right hand to play melody on harmonium/keyboard. The right hand fingers are numbered as follows:

The  thumb  is numbered 1
The  index finger is 2
The middle finger is 3
The ring finger is 4
The little finger is numbered 5.

Proper Finger Position:

In western system there are 12 scales while in Desi system there are ten thaat. A thaat is the ascending and descending movements from S R G M P D N S’, and back that is, S’ N D P M G R S. All the 8 notes are always included in a complete thaat/scale where 8th note is from taar saptak Sa. In these lessons thaat/scale uses only ” first black” key as our starting point, that is, natural. We will always fix our first note from  first black key in madh saptak which is easier for  sargam practice and playing songs. Sargam means seven notes in ascending and descending order. For a complete sargam we also include 8th note of the next taar saptak which is Sa’.

Know Your Swars

In music there are seven notes in a ‘Sur’ which are Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni  There are twelve swar in one saptak because five swar also have their  saathi swar. Only two swar are called achal swar (fixed swars) because they do not have any saathi swars. The achal swars are Sa and Pa.  

The following five tiver swar have their saathi swars. 

1. Re
2. Ga
3. Ma
4. Dha
5. Ni


Sa and Pa are not included in the above mentioned five swar.  The reason is this that their saathi swars do not exist.  These swar are called achal swar.  These achal swar are not komal nor tiver.  To distinguish komal and tiver we will write  komal swar  with the small letters and tiver swar with capital letters as given below:

List of Komal Saathi Swar  of Re, Ga, Ma, Dha, Ni  

Komal Swars are shown in small letters.

Komal Re          ———                  r
Komal Ga          ———                  g
Komal Ma          ———                 m
Komal Dha         ———                 d
Komal Ni            ———                 n

List of Tiver Saathi Swar of Re, Ga, Ma, Dha, Ni  

Tiver Swars are shown in capital letters.

Tiver Re            ———                  R
Tiver Ga            ———                  G
Tiver Ma            ———                  M
Tiver Dha           ———                 D
Tiver Ni              ———                 N  

Achal or Qyme Swars  

Achal or Qyme Swars are also shown by capital letters.

Achal Swars  ———             S and  P  

We can also write the whole sargam by combining achal komal and tiver as S r R g G m M P d D n N S.  (here S and P is called achal or qyme swar without komal and tiver saathi swar). When all the swar are tiver in a Sargam then it will become the sargam of Raga Aiman or Kalyan. Raga aiman or kalyan is same.  In the Sargam of Raga Aiman  all swar will be tiver along with Sa and Pa which are achal or qyme swar. These tiver and achal swar are represented here as under:-

       Tiver Swars or Sharp Swars:              R,      G,      M,       D,      N

                                                                                      Achal              S,       P,

There are total 12 notes in one saptak:  5 Komal + 5 Tiver+ 2 Achal = 12  

This rule will apply to all three saptak in a harmonium and in all four or five octaves in a keyboard. In the below given diagram  we have shown notes from all three saptak which are mandar, madh and taar. The below given diagram 5notes are shown only for understanding different notes arrangements.

Playing arrangement (1) from first white key (not recommended)

Diagram 5

Here in diagram 5 ACH = Achal Swars, TIV = Tiver Swars, KOM = Komal Swars

Here starting from first white key or start playing music from first white key as our Sa  the arrangement of notes will be as given below:-  

Note : The first  note or key  just attached  after Sa  is always Komal Ray, then  Tiver Ray, then Komal Ga Then Tiver Ga, then  Komal  Ma then Tiver Ma,  Achal Pa Then  Komal Dha, Tiver Dha, Komal Ni Tiver Ni,  Then Achal Sa.

Or we can write whole sargam as S r R g G m M P d D n N S

Explaining again: In the diagram 5 above, we are starting to play from left side and from first white key.  The immediate key just attached to Sa is r with key number 2.  With r the next  immediate key just attached is R with key number 3 and with R the next key just attached is g with key number 4 and so on . . . . . In all three saptak the keys attached with each other are shown by numbering 1,2,3,4,5……36.

We can also explain in another way: After Achal Sa there will be Komal note then Tiver, and so on…………. Pa is also Achal  and after Pa then there will be Komal Dha, Tiver Dha and so on  If you will recognize komal and tiver Swars then you will be able to understand thaat, scale,  ragas and song notation which will help you play a song. Many old and new song are composed  in a particular Raga.

Saptk: A saptak is the complete set of five komal and five tiver swars  along with two  achal swar  which are Sa and Pa. So there are total  twelve swars in a complete sargam.  

Actual playing arrangement (2) from first black key in desi style (recommended arrangement)

Diagram 6 – First Black Key as our Sa in all three saptak

Please note our actual playing arrangement for further lessons

harmonium chords
First Black Key Our Sa

Here starting to play from first black key as our Sa the arrangement of notes will be same as mentioned in playing arrangement (1) above.

Notes Arrangement: The first  note  or key  attached just after Sa  is always Komal Ray  Then  Tiver Ray, Komal Ga Then Tiver Ga,  Komal  Ma then Tiver Ma,  Achal Pa Then  Komal Dha, Tiver Dha, Komal Ni Tiver Ni,  Then Achal Sa.

Or we can write whole sargam as S r R g G m M P d D n N S

Note:- Arohi (Aaroh) means ascending from a lower position to a higher position and Amrohi (Avroh) means descending from a higher position to a lower position. In Pakistan musician say arohi for ascending notes and amrohi for descending notes. Indians use words aaroh and avroh for ascending and descending notes.