Orchestration in Indian Music
Another important chord is the “Minor chord”. Here we use the “komal” Ga or the flattened 3rd in stead of the natural 3rd. So, the minor chord is Sa, komal Ga and Pa played together. There is another important chord which is called the “Diminished” chord. In this we use “komal Ga”, then taking this komal Ga as the “Sa” we calculate its komal Ga and then again taking this as “Sa” we work out its “komal Ga”. These three notes played together is called the “Diminished Chord”. Each division therefore is a “Minor 3rd” interval. So, from Sa to komal Ga is a “Minor 3rd” interval, From komal Ga to KoDiMa (flattened 5th) is also a Minor 3rd interval and finally from “Kodi Ma” to Shuddha Dhaibat (Dha or the 6th note) is also a Minor 3rd interval. When we play these four notes together we create a “suspense” and this chord is called the “Diminished” chord. Salilda plays the diminished chords to demonstrate its effect. Another variation of this would be to use the “Major 3rd” interval which would be to use the “Shuddha Gandhar” (natural 3rd) in stead of the “flattened 3rd”. So, if we take this “Shuddha Gandhar” (Natural 3rd) as “Sa” then its “Shuddha Gandhar” would be the “Komal Dhaibat” (flattened 6th) note. If we play these three notes together we get an “Augmented” chord. We can also add the 6th note or the seventh note to this and we will get Augmented 6th or Augmented 7th chords. More or less the harmonic principles have been created based on these four types of chords. This means that as the melody moves the changing chords also follow the melody. This can be demonstrated with a simple example. We will demonstrate the chord progression for “Jana Gana Mana”, our national anthem.
Salilda now demonstrates the normal way to play chords with “Jana Gana Mana” in the key of C major. The chords are simple in fact quite elementary and they are C major, F major, G7 and C major. We will now show how to sing it using modern technique. Recently a French Choir group visited Kolkata. They were a group of nearly 100 boys and girls with 60 musicians. They did some superb shows and they performed “Jana Gana Mana” with their own arrangement. However, their arrangement was quite different. We will now sing “Jana Gana Mana” with my orchestral arrangement. Please listen and let me know what you think. Salilda now hums the song with the whole orchestra using quite different chord progression.
Salilda gets the chord chart and asks the audience if they would like to hear the singing again. He then explains what he did. He sings “jana gana mana adhinayaka jaya he” and says that the note “Ga” (3rd) is used for the words “gana mana adhinayaka jaya”. This is where the note “Ga” is basically not changing. But this is where the orchestra is moving and the chord keeps changing on this one note. Listen now (humming and playing chords) “na, na, na, na ,na,na, na ,na, na, na..” Here the same note Ga (3rd) is being repeated but our chord is changing. We are playing C major, E minor, C7, before arriving at F major. This movement is basically the western way of accompaniment in orchestration. When a note is being repeated at the same place the orchestral movement is changing, the chords are changing while the melody is not. Let us listen to the second line “Punjab sindhu gujarat maratha…” here also you hear the same note (5th) is being repeated. Salilda also plays the chords with this line. So, you see there are 6 chords on the same note ! Salilda asks the group to play it again from the beginning. Antara now sings “Jana gana mana” and the orchestra accompanies her with modern chord arrangement. Salilda now explains that this is the technique for modern orchestration how he used “Komal Dhaibat” (flattened 6th or 5th sharp) and explains that although the song’s melody does not use that note he has used this note in a passing chord (augmented) and he asks the audience if it sounds odd. It sounds fine !
Earlier we discussed that if a note is outside a raag then the purists would be upset but it this case . But in this case we used an alternative chord progression in which one of the chords uses a flattened 6th (in an augmented chord) and it fits in perfectly. But it requires a lot of discipline and practice. I remember when I composed the song “surero ei jhar jharna” for my wife Sabita, I used 3part harmony. That was more than 30 years ago. At that time many criticised me saying what kind of melody is this ? Three singers singing together in three different melodies ? Can’t they sing in one voice ? They can’t be very good singers ! We had to go through that criticism. But, now thanks to the radio, television etc it is quite common to hear harmony. Specially when we sing in a choir without any harmony it sounds quite dull. Here harmony has become a requirement.
So, we have become more used to this. Using harmony in orchestration also has become quite common. I will give you a demonstration of this kind of chord progression in of my songs. The song is “aaj noi gun gun gunjon premer” and I am sure you all know this song. I will first show you the chord progression of this song. Antara sings the first part of the song with orchestra and stops.They decide to start again from the prelude and sings upto the end of first antara and then stops. I don’t think there are any conflicts between the western music and our Indian music.
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