Tip #209 – Understanding the Dhirasankarabharani 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 Dhirasankarabharani scale (roughly translating to “the jewel of Shankara”), the fifth scale from the fifth chakra.

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

It is really a major scale.

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

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Tip #208 – Jazzy Progressions with the III7 Chord

Oh no, here is another dominant chord.

Well, this isn’t as boring as it could be – trust me. While dominant chords appear often in music (as well as in these blog posts) there is something new to learn about them every time.

Typically, a dominant chord would resolve down to the chord a P5 below it. So in this case it would be III7 – vi like in this progression:

I – III7 – vi7 – Imaj7

But, another way that I found interesting that appears in jazz music is a resolution up a m2 interval to the predominant chord:

I – III7 – IVmaj7 – Imaj7

Here we see a motion opposite to that of the tritone substitution bII7 chord, but this time it is resolving up. Also, the root motion of III to IV is common in music, so the ear tunes in to the bass. Try it out!

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.

Improve Your Lyrics – Tip #41

When beginning with the frame of your song, there are many things to consider.  We have talked about brainstorming an idea, building a catchy title, writing a great opening, detailing the plot, and setting a conclusion in mind.  Now that these pillars are set, we need to talk about the form.

Without a form in mind, your lyrics will lack structure that that can hurt how the listeners will enjoy or even remember the song.  In addition, it is good to know about multiple kinds of forms.  Why?  Each year in music sees a new trend.  Plus, old styles have an importance as well.  More tools that you have, the better you are.

Today, let’s talk about the 12-Bar Blues form.  This post will only focus on lyrics, so I suggest to look at previous posts about the musical form and blues scales from previous posts as well.

The lyrical structure of the 12-Bar Blues form is a couplet (two rhymed lines) with the first line repeated (with a bit of variation) forming the lines AAB or AA’B:

Oh you hurt me good, my baby girl

Yeah you hurt me real good, my baby girl

I never felt a pain like this, in the entire world

Each line is dedicated to 4 measures in the 12-Bar Blues form (4×3=12), with about each line leaving roughly 1.5 measures at the end for improvisation.  See older posts for more information.

While each “couplet” can talk about a different thing, there is usually a linear progression as to the story.  Possibly like indicating the problem, explaining how one feels, talk about the resolution, etc.

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.

Teach Yourself Music Theory – 31.) Figured-Bass and Lead-Sheet Notation

Even though we have been using the staff and writing notes to communicate which notes to play, there are other ways of notating music.

The first way we are going to talk about is figured-bass, which is a more “classical music way” of using Roman numerals and symbols to notate what chords to play in relation to the key.  To notate with figured-bass, you take the following steps:

  • Start by finding the key that you are in (with the example below, we are in C major)
  • Next, determine the chord harmonies with their qualities and inversion
  • Place a Roman numeral underneath each chord, with the numeric value corresponding to the root of the chord in relation to the kay
  • If it is a major triad, use uppercase letters
  • If it is a minor triad, use lowercase letters
  • If it is a diminished triad, use lowercase letters plus an “ o “ symbol
  • If it is an augmented triad, use uppercase letters plus a “ + “ symbol
  • Finally, add extra figures if inverted
  • If it is in first inversion, add a “ 6 “
  • If it is in second inversion, add a “ 6 “ with a “ 4 “ below it

Notice how the “ 6 “ and “ 4 “ correspond to the interval made with the root during an inversion.

Another way is lead-sheet, which is a way commonly found in jazz, pop, and rock tunes of writing out the letter names, chord qualities, as well as inversions of the harmonies.  To notate in a lead-sheet style, you take the following steps:

  • Determine the root of the chord and write it in an uppercase letter above the chord
  • If it is a major triad, do nothing more for its chord quality
  • If it is a minor triad, add “ min “
  • If it is a diminished triad, add an “ o “ symbol
  • If it is an augmented triad, add a “ + “ symbol
  • Finally, add extra figures if inverted
  • Add a slash mark “ / “ and write the bass note after it

Tah-dah!  There you have it.  Give it some practice, but we will be using these forms of communicating and writing for now on.

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 #207 – Two Ways of Resolving Secondary Dominants

Seems a bit silly that we have gone this bar in the blog without mentioning secondary dominants as much as they should be. Nonetheless, they are common in music composition and deserved to be discussed.

A secondary dominant is the V7 of a chord besides I (usually the V7 / V ). The progression would be:

V7/V – V7 – I

And that is one way to resolve it. Simply use it like the nature of the V7 chord and resolve to the chord a P5 below it.

Another way, that is common in jazz, is to have it resolve to the minor version of itself. That progression would be:

V7/V – ii – V7 – I

Both the V7/V and ii have the same function of being the “predominant area” so it makes sense that they can lead into one another.

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 #206 – Understanding the Harikhamboji 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 Harikhamboji scale (very roughly translating to “removing evil”), the fourth scale from the fifth chakra.

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

It is really a Mixolydian scale.

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 #205 – Progress by Voicing

In music theory, we are taught a certain way that chords progress by – following one by another based on their Roman numeral analysis. Such as:

  • V7 goes to I
  • Progression follow the Circle Of Fifths, I-IV-viio-iii-vi-ii-V-I
  • IVmaj7 can act as a predominant area or a Plagal cadence figure.
  • Etc.

Instead of thinking about chords by their Roman numerals, think about their voicings (in relation to the key or outside of it).

For example a dominant-seventh chord. You would think of that as the fifth scale degree to resolve to the root. So, G7 to C.

But, the function of the domain-seventh chord doesn’t always have to be the V7. It can be the:

  • Tritone Substitute, bII7 – I , G7 to F#
  • Dorian Vamp, V7 – ii , G7 to Dmin
  • Bluesy Vamp, IV7 – I, G7 to D
  • I7 chord in a 12-Bar Blues, I7 – V7 – IV7 – I7 , G7 to D7 to C7 to G7
  • Etc.

And now look! You have more possibilities than you can ever think of because you valued the chord voicing more than the Roman numerals in regard to the key.

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.