Tip #99 – Understanding the Vanaspati 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 Vanaspati (meaning “fruit-bearing tree”) scale, the fourth scale from the first 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 other scale degrees are lowered as well as clustered in chromatic runs. In addition, the sixth scale degree (DHA) is raised, creating a tendency to resolve upwards. While this may sound dissonant or exotic, this scale gives a great amount of opportunity to play with tension and chromatic passing tones.

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


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Tip #97 – Understanding the Ganamurti 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 Ganamurti (meaning “icon of music”) scale, the third scale from the first 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 other scale degrees are lowered as well as clustered in chromatic runs. In addition, the seventh scale degree (NI) is raised, which creates a tendency to resolve upwards. While this may sound dissonant or exotic, this scale gives a great amount of opportunity to play with tension and chromatic passing tones.

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.

Improve Your Lyrics – Tip #7

Another blog post

To which can help so many

Falls upon deaf ears

This post can also work as a way to break from the chains of writer’s block – but today’s topic is using haikus to improve your lyrics.

The beauty of the traditional Japanese haiku is the limitation of syllables per stanza.

As you can see, the pattern of the traditional haiku is 5 – 7 – 5, and is strict to it. Because there is now a level of consciousness about the amount of syllables you can use, one is more mindful to preventing a run-on of words in the song lyrics.

While using a lot of words to create a story is great, using a small amount of words to still get the same effect is by far better.


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 #94 – Understanding the Ratnangi 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 Ratnangi (meaning “gem bodied”) scale, the second scale from the first 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 other scale degrees are lowered as well as clustered in chromatic runs. While this may sound dissonant or exotic, this scale gives a great amount of opportunity to play with tension and chromatic passing tones.

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 #91 – Understanding the Kanakangi 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 Kanakangi (meaning “golden bodied”) scale, the first scale from the first 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 other scale degrees are lowered as well as clustered in chromatic runs. While this may sound dissonant or exotic, this scale gives a great amount of opportunity to play with tension and chromatic passing tones.

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 #63 – Taking Influence from Kwela Music

What is Kwela music?

It is pennywhistle-based folk music played in the streets of South Africa, playing decorated jazzy/blues-y melodic lines over a cyclical harmonic progression.

The name, “Kwela” has nothing to do with any music aspect. In fact, it is a verb from the Isizulu and African Bantu languages meaning “to climb.” Prior to this become an established music genre, it was used as jargon and also as code among kids to warn when the police was coming by. If they couldn’t hide, they would act innocent by taking out their pennywhistles and playing this lively skiffle music.

While the melody was improvised using select pitches from the blues scale, the harmonic progression was always a recurring variation of one of these three:

Play around with these chord progressions by having yourself record or use a DAW to playback as you improves a melody line over it.

Historically, these progressions then influenced the blues because so many South Africans had their ears tuned to the Kwela music harmonic predictability. Thus, the common 12-bar blues were adapted into these variations:

Once again, play around with these progressions to feel where and how the harmonic forces are different from the “original.”


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Tip #62 – Using the MpyƐmɔ Harmonic Progression and Scale

In some south and central African countries, musicians use homophonic multipart singing style in their songs.  That means that the group of people sing the same song rhythmically, but move in parallel motion at different pitches.  Typically, it is a fourth (interval) apart, but not always.

Below is an example of a multi-part harmonic progression called the MpyƐmɔ tribe progression from the Central African Republic as well as the derived scale. Notice how skipping every other note in the scale on the right produces the functional harmony on the left.  Also, observe the pitch fundamentals that build the harmony as well as act as a bourdon (open drone).

Besides advising you, the reader, to experiment, investigate, and take inspiration from these African harmonic progressions I strictly indorse you not to impose classical theory on these progressions.  While it is tempting to analyze these progressions with the idioms of Western music notation, I recommend not to as it takes away the purity/authenticity of African music’s own stylistic practices by framing it within a box.


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.