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Article: Harmonium Lesson 7: The First Song

By Haresh Bakshi
  As mentioned in earlier lessons, we have assumed the first white key to be the Sa (S), for convenience and convention, simplicity and uniformity. 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 5.

The Scales: Summary.

In Lesson 4, we have dealt with our first scale:

Bilawal. The scale is called "thaat" in Indian music. Bilawal thaat is:

          S  R  G  m  P  D  N  S' [Ascending] 
          1  2  3  1  2  3  4  5  [Finger #]

          S' N  D  P  m  G  R  S  [Descending] 
          5  4  3  2  1  3  2  1  [Finger #]

In lesson 5, we took up two more scales (thaat-s), called Khamaj and Kafi. They are:-

Khamaj:   S  R  G  m  P  D  n  S' [Ascending] 
          1  2  3  1  2  3  4  5  [Finger #]

          S' n  D  P  m  G  R  S  [Descending] 
          5  4  3  2  1  3  2  1  [Finger #]

Kafi:     S  R  g  m  P  D  n  S' [Ascending] 
          1  2  3  1  2  3  4  5  [Finger #]

          S' n  D  P  m  g  R  S  [Descending] 
          5  4  3  2  1  3  2  1  [Finger #] 

In lesson 6, we covered four more scales (thaat-s), namely Bhairava, Asavari, Bhairavi, and Kalyan. They are:-

Bhairava: S  r  G  m  P  d  N  S' [Ascending] 
          1  2  3  1  2  3  4  5  [Finger #]

          S' N  d  P  m  G  r  S  [Descending] 
          5  4  3  2  1  3  2  1  [Finger #] 

Asavari:  S  R  g  m  P  d  n  S' [Ascending] 
          1  2  3  1  2  3  4  5  [Finger #] 

          S' n  d  P  m  g  R  S  [Descending] 
          5  4  3  2  1  3  2  1  [Finger #] 

Bhairavi: S  r  g  m  P  d  n  S' [Ascending] 
          1  2  3  1  2  3  4  5  [Finger #] 

          S' n  d  P  m  g  r  S  [Descending] 
          5  4  3  2  1  3  2  1  [Finger #] 

Kalyan:   S  R  G  M  P  D  N  S' [Ascending] 
          1  2  3  4  1  2  3  4  [Finger #]  

          S' N  D  P  M  G  R  S  [Descending] 
          4  3  2  1  4  3  2  1  [Finger #] 

Play one scale (thaat) at a time, repeatedly. Practise all seven scales (thaat-s) till you are very comfortable playing each of them correctly, without having to look at the keyboard.

In the 7th lesson, we start with a song. Playing a song of any kind, does NOT demand any specific finger placements. So, a particular finger does not play a particular note of the song. You use your fingers according to the EASE of playing.

However, there is a big, very big difference here. The difference is this: In the scales, shown above and in the previous six lessons, our playing was restricted to only ONE (call it middle) octave. But the song may take you beyond one octave. So, now, we need to practise in the three octaves, namely, the middle, the higher, and the lower octaves. Let us take the middle and the higher (the upper, the next) octave. The notes and fingers are:

Ascending: [for Bilawal, for now]

S R G m P D N S'| R' G' m' P' D' N' S'' 1 2 3 1 2 3 4 1 | 2 3 1 2 3 4 5 Descending: S'' N' D' P' m' G' R' S' | N D P m G R S 5 4 3 2 1 3 2 1 | 4 3 2 1 3 2 1

Careful!! Work patiently and diligently. When we were working on only one octave, the key "S'" was played with the finger #5; but now, the same key "S'" is played with the finger #1 (thumb). That is the only diference. Whenever we play a scale, a key is assigned a particular finger. But when we play a song, we do not assign a particular finger to a particular key.

For playing a song, the rules are: (1) The ease and convenience of playing;
(2) You should not run out of fingers -- whether you are playing to go up (right), or to go down (left). [Try using the first three fingers more frequently; try to reserve the fourth finger, and, especially, the fifth finger, for playing the last one or two notes, before you have to go descending].
This requires that you keep moving your wrist, to the left or to the right, as required, so that the fingers get re-arranged conveniently -- and you always have a finger to reach and play the note required by the song. By practice, you will formulate your own rules, in addition to these two rules.

Note: To play a song fully correctly, we need to have its notation which gives details on the notes, as well as their DURATION, and the taala. We are giving here only notes. That is for simplification.

Let us start with a very simple, very dear song:

Jana gaNa mana adhinaayaka jaya he bhaarata bhaagya vidhaataa |

[Finger number and finger sequence according to the two playing rules given above].

Example I:
ja-na  ga-Na ma-na  a-dhi-naa-ya-ka  ja-ya  he .
S  R   G  G  G  G   G G   G . G  G   R  G   m  .

bhaa-ra-ta  bhaa-gya  vi-dhaa-taa |
G .  G  G   R .  R    R  'N R S   |
The following version of the above takes a little care of the duration also:
ja-na  ga-Na | ma-na  a-dhi-| naa . ya-ka |  
S  R   G  G  | G  G   G G   | G   . G  G  | 

ja-ya he . |
R  G   m . |

bhaa . ra-ta | bhaa . gya  vi  | dhaa . taa . |
G    . G  G  | R    . R    R   | 'N   R S   . |
Note: In the above arrangement, each note, and each dot, represents one beat (maatraa). You do not play a dot -- for each dot that FOLLOWS a note, you prolong that (previous) note by one beat. For example, "G" is one beat, but "G ."is two beats. In other words, when you come across a dot, you prolong the previous note, BY KEEPING ITS KEY PRESSED. To repeat, how do you prolong the previous note? The answer is: by continuing to press the key of that note. When you 'play' a dot, you keep the previous key pressed. One additional beat for one dot. You will learn these things easily -- by becoming familiar, by practising, by repetitions.

[Next: lesson 8]



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