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Chapter 12: Introductory Practice

 

There are other theories of Indian music which are yet to be discussed. However, before getting to that point, it is important to get familiar with harmonium playing with some songs. Therefore, the first portion of practice will allow one to get familiar with songs that use the basics that were previously mentioned.

 

The first song that is the easiest is the Hare Krsna mahamantra.

The words are “hare krsna, hare krsna, krsna krsna, hare hare; hare rama, hare rama, rama rama, hare hare.’

 

This is the generic tune that is used.

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Figure 12.1

AUDIO CLIP: Figure 12.1

 

This song starts at matra 7. Matras 7 and 8 carry the syllables “ha” and “re.” One may ask, “Why does the song begin at matra 7 instead of the sam?” To answer this question requires some knowledge of talas. Matras 7 and 8 are known as upbeats, because they don’t start at the beginning of the cycle. Matra 7 will be a very important matra as far as our words and beginning of melody is concerned. With this common tune of the Hare Krsna mahamantra, it is not uncommon to use an eight beat cycle. In relation to the continuously played eight beat cycle, the first syllable falls on matra 7. Everything else falls in place.

 

While it is important to get the correct swars, it is just as important to consider the duration of each swar. In Line 2, say “kri-i-shna-a-a-a-ha-re.” One must really voice out the syllables, even if they are vowels. Line 3 is very similar, “kri-i-shna-a-a-a-kri-shna.” Line 4 is the same as Line 2. Line 5 is said, “ha-a-re-e-e-e-ha-re.” Once one can say the words in correct timing and meter, then apply the swars.

 

Notice that the last line’s matras 7 and 8 are italicized. The italicized swars and lyrics indicate that they are part of the next stanza that will either repeat the musical form or use another musical form. For example, Figure 12.1 presents the tune for the “hare krsna” component of the mahamantra. When one sings the “hare rama” part, the same tune will be used as the “hare krsna” part. Thus, to indicate the “hare rama” component that will follow the “hare krsna” part, the “hare” syllables and swars are italicized. After completion of “hare hare” from the “hare rama” portion, then matra 7 will begin with “hare” from the “hare krsna’ part.

 

Practice this simple song with this tune in a continuous fashion.

 

ADDITIONAL PRACTICE:

If one is learning the Hare Krsna mahamantra on harmonium, it will make just as much sense to teach the pranamas that precedes it. Using the same technique described above, try playing the kirtan below.

 

FORM A:

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nama oḿ viṣṇu-pādāya kṛṣṇa-preṣṭhāya bhū-tale
śrīmate bhaktivedānta-svāmin iti nāmine

 

namas te sārasvate deve gaura-vāṇī-pracāriṇe
nirviśeṣa-śūnyavādi-pāścātya-deśa-tāriṇe

 

(jaya) śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanya prabhu nityānanda
śrī-advaita gadādhara śrīvāsādi-gaura-bhakta-vṛnda

 

hare kṛṣṇa hare kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa hare hare

hare rāma hare rāma rāma rāma hare hare

 

LYRICS: June 18, 2009