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Article: Harmonium Lessons - Chords: Part I

By Haresh Bakshi
  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 relegated 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 rudiments 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 lrft hand, and mostly in the left-most keyboard (harmonium) 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. I will not take up this issue here. I would only say that, in spite of this problem, you should have a rudimentary 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.



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