September 24, 2021

Harmonium Lesson 4

Identifying notes and their position:

  • Shuddh (natural) notes are notated as S, R, G, m, P, D, N,
  • Komal (flat) notes are notated as r, g, d, n
  • All Tiver (sharp) notes are notated as R, G, D, N  and Tiver Ma is also notated as M
  1. (S R G M P D N) = 7 notes in middle octave (madh)
  2. Apostrophe + Note (‘S ‘R ‘G ‘M ‘P ‘D ‘N) = 7 notes in lower octave (mandr)
  3. Note + apostrophe (S’ R’ G’ M’ P’ D’ N’) = 7 notes in upper octave  (taar)

Komal, Tiver and Achal are shown in all three octaves.

Mandar Octave Notes‘S‘r‘R‘g‘G‘m‘M‘P‘d‘D‘n‘NS
Madh Octave NotesSrRgGmMPdDnNS’
Taar Octave NotesS’r’R’g’G’m’M’P’d’D’n’N’S’

The lower case letters indicate komal or flat notes, the upper case, Shuddh or pure, natural notes. Sa and Pa are never sharp or flat. Shuddh Ma, however, is written with a lower case m. It is the only note ever referred to as sharp. As tiver or “bright” Ma is written with an upper case M.

Sa of Indian is equivalent to C# of the western system. This need not be the case, since in Indian music ‘Sa’ is not only the most important note (also called the “tonic” note), it is modal, e.g. it can be anything you wish and the other corresponding notes will offset from there as shown in above picture 1a and 2a.  However, C, C# are commonly used as Sa. Most persons prefer to play music from the western C# as their starting point. In other words,

they select Sa from C#, which is a common expression which is easy to remember. It is suggested to use C# if you are beginning to play harmonium or keyboard as a student of music for simplicity and ease. After learning you may start playing from any note and corresponding notes will change according to our chosen khraj note.

Indian classical music is principally based on melody and rhythm, not on harmony, counterpoint, chords, and modulation. Before you begin your first lesson, you must go through the initial lessons above. When you have a basic understanding of the notes of a sargam, it will help you sing and play better.

You will need the following:

A good teacher is essential because this person will correct your mistakes and set a good example to follow. Your teacher should be someone capable of performing and have a good reputation for teaching. Treat your teacher with respect and consideration at all times, even when you are no longer learning from him. Instrumentalists must be sure to learn from both a vocal and instrumental teacher. From the instrumental teacher you will learn techniques and from the vocal teacher to implement these techniques as though your instrument is singing the words.

It is not enough to just attend a class once a week. Practice everyday, even for as little as half an hour. For those who wish to be performers, weekday practice should be 2-3 hours. You must be ready to listen carefully to your teacher and to other performers. Listening to great recordings of old semi-classical will help you learn faster. Attend concerts as well.

Thaat (desi music scale)  

The set of seven notes is called a thaat and thaat produce ragas. The system of classification for the raga in different groups is called a thaat. Thaat system is an “artificial” way to classifying ragas. Classification in Thaat system is purely for academic purpose. It is not necessary that Ragas from the same thaat might have same or similar personality. The idea behind thaat is pretty simple. There are 12 notes in an octave – 7 pure notes and 5 flat/augmented notes. If one makes various permutations of these notes, one can think of 72 different combinations. Hindustani system, however, adds further restrictions on the way these notes are used. It is usually not allowed to use both pure and corresponding flat note one after the other (and since this is an evolved art form and not science, there are always exceptions to such rules). When such restrictions are factored in, the numbers of thaat reduce to ten. It is important for beginners to practice Kalyan thaat well to begin with. As they get comfortable with it, they may switch to Behravi thaat. I also find from my own experience that Bhairav thaat too presents some interesting fingering challenges. If one gets command on these three, the other thaat usually follow pretty easily.

If you learn thaat then you can easily learn ragas and can play many songs in keyboard or harmonium. You can play few songs with thaat but unlimited songs can be produced with ragas and ragas produce beauty. It is easy to play songs in a thaat that contain fixed number of ascending and descending notes. In a raga there may not be fix number of notes in ascending and descending order so, it is not easy to play songs in the first instance. There are certain rules for representation of thaat.  These rules of classification of thaat are defined as under.

  1. A thaat must have seven notes out of the twelve notes placed in an ascending or descending order. Both the   forms of the notes can be used.
  2. Thaat has only one arohi and one amrohi.
  3. Thaat is not to be sung and is for only playing music songs but the ragas produced from the thaat are sung.
  4. Thaat is named after the popular raga of that thaat. For example behravi is a popular raga and the thaat of the raga behravi is named after the raga.
  5. Out of ten thaat about 80 ragas are developed and performed these days. But for a beginner 30 ragas are sufficient to bring perfection in learning.

The set of seven notes or scale that can produce a raga is called a thaat. The system of classification for the ragas in different groups is called a thaat. There are again several systems of classification of the raga. Presently in Indian classical music the 10-thaat classifications of ragas is commonly known.

Following 10 Thaats are widely accepted

Name of ThaatAscending Notes  Descending NotesNotes Properties  
BilawalThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-14.pngS, R, G, m, P, D, N, SS‘, N, D, P, m, G, R, SAll Shuddh or Natural Notes
KafiThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-14.pngS, R, g, m, P, D, n, SS‘, n, D, P, m, g, R, SGa, Ni, Komal
AsavariThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-14.pngS, R, g, m, P, d, n, SS‘, n, d, P, m, g, R, SGa, Dha, Ni Komal
KhamajThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-14.pngS, R, G, m, P, D, n, SS‘, n, D, P, m, G, R, SNi Komal
KalyanThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-14.pngS, R, G, M, P. D, N, SS‘, N, D, P, M, G, R, SNo Komal, Only Tiver Ma     
Bhairav/BehroThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-14.pngS, r, G, m, P, d, N, SS‘, N, d, P, m, G, r, SRe, Dha Komal
BhairaviThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-14.pngS, r, g, m, P, d, n, SS‘, n, d, P, m, g, r, SRe, Ga, Dha, Ni Komal
MarwaThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-14.pngS, r, G, M, P, D, N, SS‘, N, D, P, M, G, r, SRe Komal, Ma Tiver
PoorviThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-14.pngS, r, G, M, P, d, N, SS‘, N, d, P, M, G, r, SRe, Dha Komal, Ma Tiver
TodiThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-14.pngS, r, g, M, P, d, N, SS‘, N, d, P, M, g, r, SRe, Ga, Dha Komal, Ma Tiver
  1. A thaat must have seven notes out of the twelve notes placed in an ascending or descending order. Both the forms of the notes can be used.
  2. Thaat has only one arohi and one amrohi.
  3. Thaat is not to be sung and is for only playing music songs but the ragas produced from the thaat are sung.
  4. Thaat is named after the popular raga of that thaat. For example bhairavi is a popular raga and the thaat of the raga bhairavi is named after the raga.
  5. Out of ten thaat about 80 ragas are developed and performed these days. But for beginner 30 popular ragas or less are sufficient to bring perfection in learning.

Ten Thaat Diagram With Komal And Tiver Notes