Tip #248 – Understanding the Navanitam Scale

The Carnatic music of South India has 72 scales (melakartas) comprised of seven different notes in either an ascending (arohana) or descending (avarohana) fashion. These scales are used in a kind of India music called rāga and are extremely beautiful. In addition these scales are grouped into different chakras, based on certain similarities.

Today’s melakarta is the Navanitam scale, the fourth scale from the seventh chakra.

Below is a representation of the scale as if it was put into Western notation:

Both the first (SA) and fifth (PA) scale degrees are in a placement normal to most scales found in Western music.  However, the lowered second (RI) and third (GA) scale degrees as well as the raised fourth (MA) degree creates chromatic lines.  Plus, it has a raised sixth degree (DHA).

Try playing around with the scale, possible harmonies, and progressions!

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Tip #247 – Setting a Sample to a Pitch

Sometimes, we just default to the idea that the sound sample that a person takes (whether of an instrument, pitch or unpitched, sound effect, etc.) should stay at its captured pitch.

Thanks to the advance in music technologies from the 1980’s to present-day, we have the ability to modulate the pitch of any sound. In addition, we have the ability to tune any captured sound to a frequency we desire.

Experiment with taking sounds like a kick drum, an explosion, a tap on the table, an animal sound, etc. and tune it to several different pitches. Then, try to use what you have melodically! Take advantage of the technology you have before you!

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Tip #246 – Start Small Before Going Big

Remember how when you first started out… with pretty much anything, you had to start at the beginner level, or with the smallest amount, or in the most simplest form? Same rule applies to when writing for an ensemble.

The excitement of getting to write for an 80-piece orchestra might be hard to handle, but before rushing in to see how you’ll write for each instrument – start out small. Start by section, and go even small to groups.

Meaning, you might have the capability to write for 10 horns. Start instead by writing as if you only had 2 horns available. Then write as if you only had 3. Now 4.

At this point, you will begin to train yourself to write first the necessities and then worry about how you will orchestrate across a large ensemble.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Tip #245 – Understanding the Jhalavarali Scale

The Carnatic music of South India has 72 scales (melakartas) comprised of seven different notes in either an ascending (arohana) or descending (avarohana) fashion. These scales are used in a kind of India music called rāga and are extremely beautiful. In addition these scales are grouped into different chakras, based on certain similarities.

Today’s melakarta is the Jhalavarali scale, the third scale from the seventh chakra.

Below is a representation of the scale as if it was put into Western notation:

Both the first (SA) and fifth (PA) scale degrees are in a placement normal to most scales found in Western music.  However, the lowered second (RI) and third (GA) scale degrees as well as the raised fourth (MA) degree creates chromatic lines.  Plus, there is a raised seventh degree (NI).

Try playing around with the scale, possible harmonies, and progressions!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Tip #244 – Expanded Possibilities with a Limited Melody

This has apparently been going around the web:

With the most recent pop music hitting radio stations and streaming platforms, there seems to be a rise in a stagnant melody. Such as one where the chorus of the song form features a melody were it is just on one note.

For compositional and performance purposes, this is really easy. I mean, it is only one pitch – you can’t really mess that up so much. However, as an arranger for harmonic purposes, you have a load of possibilities.

More often than not, people make the pitch the fifth of the chord because it makes the tonality of the key (major or minor) ambiguous. However, that is for you to decide on.

Basically, make a list of all chords (stick to triads) that feature that one pitch. Then, attempt to use them in a creatively manner to harmonize the stagnant melody.

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Tip #243 – Fake Sidechain

A sidechain in the audio-technology world means something different that what musicians/producers typically associate it with. Most of the time, sidechaining involves compressing the volume of an instrument when a more prominent sound plays at the same time. People might referring to this as “ducking” the volume.

Anyways, this is only one of the many uses of sidechaining – but this is certainly one of the most common scenarios.

But say that you don’t have the ability to use a DAW’s and mixing console’s compressor to do a volume ducking sidechain. You are not out of luck.

As a composer, have you thought of writing in volume swells? When you have an instrument whose attack you want to accentuate, try ducking the volume of all the other instruments and have them swell to an increased volume right after the initial attack.

This will create for of an artificial sidechain that can be used in the concert hall and in recordings, too!

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Improve Your Lyrics – Tip #51

It is important to set goals before attempting to start a project. With lyric writing, here is a goal you can set for yourself that could help dramatically improve your writing ability:

For people who typically write music in the verse-chorus form, they fall into the trap of allowing themselves too many verses. And it comes to no surprise either; a lot of grate music has the form of VVCVCBC – with two or three verses leading up to the fist chorus.

As mentioned previously, a verse is used to help narrate the story you are telling. Give details, explain the situation, etc. But allowing yourself too many verses can cause you to not get to the point – instead, blabbering on with unnecessary words cluttering up your song.

So, set yourself the goal of only allowing yourself one (and only one) verse before the first chorus. 4 to 8 small lines max.

Forcing yourself to be constrained to one verse will make you prioritize the important information first. Then, if you were to add another verse, you will be secured of already have hit the punch of the song.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.