Krsna Kirtana Songs est. 2001

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Chapter 20: Review


With two enormous units, this is a good spot for a quick review.



Alankaras are practice exercises in note progressions through various combinations of notes. In that lesson, various thāts were practiced by performing either three-note or four-note alankaras.



Tala is a rhythmic cycle. Each tala is measured by the number of matras per cycle. A matra is the smallest unit of measure for time-keeping.


First matra in the cycle is the sam. It is represented by an X.


Talas are divided up into sections or measured called vibhags. Each vibhag has a unique number of matras. The sum of the matras of each vibhag must equal the number of matras in the entire tala.


Using the divisions by the vibhags, accent and deaccent points are shown by the tali and khali, respectively. The khali is shown by a 0. The tali is shown by an X for the sam and a number on the accent after the sam. For instance, a tala with fourteen matras will have a sam, a tali, a khali, followed by a final tali. Thus, the divisions will appear to be X, 2, 0, 3.


Completing one cycle of a tala was known to be completing one avartana of the tala.



As music was getting difficult to transmit orally, notation for Indian music developed through this Bhatkhande notation.

Figure 20.1


-         The top red set of numbers indicates the tala signs.

-         The second set with black number indicate the matra number; position with an avartana of the tala

-         The third set (first row of cells) indicate the note to be played on the harmonium

-         The fourth set (second and final row) indicates the actual lyrics being sung. If the lyrics have S, it means silence. If both the third an fourth row have nothing, then dont play or sing anything.



This introduced the melody for singing and playing the Hare Krsna mahamantra. Key points in this lesson were:

- Not all songs begin at the sam (first beat of a rhythmic cycle). The melody that is played before the sam is known as the upbeats. The Hare Krsna mahamantra melody began at matra 7 before the sam. Therefore, matras 7 and 8 were examples of upbeats.

- The best way to learn is to break the lyrics line by line. First, break the words of the line and cut it up based on the number of beats of the cycle. Once you get an idea of how it sounds like rhythmically, then fill in the swars. Ultimately, the union between the melody and rhythm must be there.



asthayi or sthayi the melodic refrain, does not necessarily have to be the refrain of the lyrics.

antara the melodic verse, not based on lyrics. It may be a subtune of the asthayi.

lyrical verse a verse based on lyrics, not on melody



Recall the keyboard using actual tones (pitches or frequency), rather than positioning notes (solfege). Here is the keyboard.

Figure 20.2


It was also possible to change Sa to different notes by understanding the half-step and whole-step relationships based on corresponding notes.


There are six white key scales which are scales based on Sa equating to six other notes creating six other scales. They are shown in Figure 20.3


White Key Scales



Sa = C


Sa = D


Sa = E


Sa = F


Sa = G


Sa = A


Sa = B


Figure 20.3


The general tips for accompanying a singer or main musician are shown below:


1) Identify the raga or that


2) Identify the Sa


3) Map out the rest of the notes slowly



Indian music is based on melody where each note is played individually, one at a time. In contrast, Western music focuses on harmony where more than one note is played. The harmonium has the ability to produce harmony through chords.


A chord occurs when three or more notes are played together simultaneously.

A major chord is a chord with the root tone, major third from the root tone, and fifth from the root note. (R M)

A minor chord is a chord with the root tone, minor third from the root tone, and fifth from the root note. (R m)


The chords are selectively chosen depending on if the chords note fits harmonically with the notes in musical piece examined.

Example, make a good chord for the Sa position for Raga Marwa (scale using Sa, komal re, Suddha Ga, Tiva Ma, Suddha Dha, and Suddha Ni).

1. Try major or minor chords of the note in question as the root note.

The note in question is Sa. Using the formula of major and minor chords, one can immediately rule those out, as both chords require a fifth from Sa which yields Pa. Pa is absent form the raga, therefore, using S M or S m are poor choices.


2. If Step 1 fails, then try placing the note in question to the second or third position of a chord with another root note.

To derive those, one must work backwards to find the correct root note.

S as the middle note:

MAJOR: d + S + g = d M: Poor choice, as neither komal dha or komal ga are found in Raga Marwa.

MINOR: D + S + G = D m: Excellent choice, as Suddha Dha and Suddha Ga are part of Raga Marwa.


S as the end note:

MAJOR: m + D + S = m M: Not a great choice, as there is a Suddha Dha, but no suddha ma.

MINOR: m + d + S = m m: Poor choice, as neither suddha ma nor komal dha are part of the raga.


Therefore, from this deduction, the D m is the best choice.



These units are the core of studying the harmonium. If you do not understand something or if you understand something partially, please go back and review the material again. If you have a friend or a teacher that understands harmonium as well as the theoretical aspects, seek guidance, as this is final bulk of introductory harmonium study.


From this point forward, more song practice will be studied. Once you master each song in the key of C, practice with some other key. This will be somewhat difficult getting out of the comfort zone. However, this will be great practice when accompany someone in any key.


UPDATED: June 18, 2009