Monday, August 01, 2011

Western - Carnatic Scales

In Carnatic Music, one learns several hundred ragams(scales) and thalams(rhythm). While I was preparing for my Berklee audition couple of years ago, I had an opportunity to browse through some western scales. Since then I have been quite intrigued by the similarities (and differences); how western scales translate to Carnatic music and vice versa. I finally managed to put together the following table which consists of a western scale and it's equivalent carnatic ragam, if any. It is interesting to see how the scales either translate to a Melakarta raga, janya raga, or a random vakra ragam. I really enjoyed doing this and found something very interesting - what is called the "Hindu scale" (Myxolodian b13) is actually raga "Charukeshi". Apart from this, there are other scales like "Japanese" which is "Kanakambari"," Jazz Melodic Minor" which is "GowriManohari". I am looking for the carnatic equivalent of "Hirajoshi", which seems like Shivaranjani with a flat "dha". It will be great to hear what you think of this and if you can find the missing links to any other scales here..

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

nAda: the har-peh-jee

nAda: the har-peh-jee

the har-peh-jee

As a vocalist, I tend to want an accompaniment. I have been using the piano, keyboards, guitar and whatever else that might ornament the melody. While I somehow have just managed with an instrument, I have always wanted to play an instrument well. A month ago, I read about the 'harpejji' and was pleased to see it being performed at the Oscars last weekend. (By A.R.Rahman for the song "If I rise").

The harpejji is a tapping instrument - which is where sound is created by tapping the string against a fret board, unlike strumming or plucking. It has a total of 24 bass and treble strings. It has a marking system that identifies all notes of a piano via a black and white code. This combination of colour coding and strings makes it accessible to pianists, keyboardists, guitarists and bass guitarists. The fact that it is isomorphic (which means that any given interval has the same shape/pattern wherever played) makes it easy for untrained pianists/keyboardists. Also, because of the way the notes are spaced, it makes it possible to play new chord intervals. I like how it supposedly does not force one to play known chord progressions but allows for exploring new chords/notes and tone. Each string has a pickup which reduces the possibility of sustain. The tuning is in place by a screw unlike traditional winding. I am not sure what to comment on this, until I try it myself. It has two separate pre-amps, one each for bass and melody. This would allow for separate effects.
The harpejji was invented by Marcodi Musical Products. I am quite intrigued by this instrument for all the above reasons mentioned. I hope to try it someday. Here is a peek at dream theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess playing the harpejji