Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Lesson - 64 : Harmony writing - A Perspective Insight - Part-3

Just to continue our previous session...!

For example,

if the first chord is formed on first note of song, (after evaluating atleast 6 possibilities..)

if the 2nd chord is also formed on second note, (again after searching atleast 6 possibilities..)

Now, examination of first and second chords demand an evaluation of inter-relationship note by note horizontally as well as vertically…satisfying some rules called
Harmony rules…(hundreds of rules)…...!

If any problems encountered at this stage……

.. again check all the possible combinations of re-arranging the notes of present and previous chords to get satisfactory results….!

Then proceed with the 3rd Chord for the third note…!

If third chord formation requires again re-arranging of previous two chords you again change them……!

And so on….! On and on……!

To complete the harmonization of a song…!

If you are a software person, I would have given my problem like this…… to carry out the System Analysis, Design and write a programme…for the above problem....!

Any you may be taking some weeks/months to give me a mathematical machine-like solutions…..!

Of course the human decisions on the desirable sound and notes cannot be equated by any machine based decisions….!

So imagine a Artificial Intelligence Programming situation…....!

So imagine the complexities…!

To satisfy Knowldege Based Rules and Database….!

But, my dear friends…!

This is what the problem our IR is solving instantaneously on daily basis…. matter of minutes....!

Day after Days......Year after years….! …..Decade after decades….!


Please remember that so far what we are talking about is a simple case of single scale, 3-notes chord only…..!

Chords are generally formed with 4 notes (four part harmony), and some cases more than 5 notes also…….!

Again….considering the modulation aspects……The permutations and combinations are increasing manifold…..!

Now, over and above……. imagine the entirely different field called Carnatic Music and its mind boggling pattern formations, which IR is mastering with his fusion techniques……!

In case of Harmony theory for Carnatic music, if you want that, it will reach Dimension of unlimited proportions….!

Hello……! All these are only to explain the Syllabus of Harmony…..! Just Syllabus...!

To have a real study into the subject and mastering the skills one need their life time.

That way, IR's works so far may be equivalent to many... many.... births!

We are now in situation Like standing on the sea-shore of Kanyakumari……and seeing the Oceans in all directions…!

If you have the courage to take a plunge…and swim….Please do that..!


Lesson - 63 : Chords and Harmony writing - A Perspective Insight - Part-2

In our last session we saw the enormous permutation & combination possibilities of writing a chord for a single note.

Of course, the choices can be narrowed down, if the Scale of song is fixed, and if the position of the given note is fixed i.e. whether given note shall be at bottom, or middle, or top is made clear.

As touched upon earlier, the formulation of a problem in a Harmony writing situation is as follows :

(very straightforward & simple case, 3 notes chord formation, or 3-part writing…)

In a song composed of single line, (as is always done initially), there are sequence of notes written horizontally & arranged with its time duration.

Now the task given to us is to add the other two parts below it for each note……

Meaning……you add two other notes below for each note to make that appears as a sequence of Chords…..! Placed side by side....!

Here, the position of each notes is fixed, ie each of the given note shall be at top.

Also, given the song in particular scale, the Scale is also known (unless the scale is modulating, which will make the case further complex ...)

For example, Imagine the first note as C……!

As seen above, you can visualize that note as

the root of C-Major Chord (C-E-G), or

3rd of A-Minor Chord, (A-C-E) or

5th of F-Minor Chord…….. (F-A-C)


Again whatever chord selected you can have two other variations based on the type we want as the root chord or, 1st inversion chord or 2nd inversion chord….!


So atleast 6 possibilities are there for you to select from….!

This situation is For ONE SINGLE NOTE at any given moment……! ……..And a song consists of hundred of such notes……..! ….

Mind blowing possibilities of writing chords……!

Can you visualize that mathematical / flow chart model which demands you to make a decision on every note by note and proceed…..????

Testing your skills and abilities to ANALYSE and DECIDE …. ! for each note of the song.....!


Even the CEO of any Corporate Giant will be doing such decision making job….?….I doubt…!

Even in their life time put together….they may not have such tense moments of requiring hundreds of instant decisions… !

And please mind the fact, music is not such mathematic complexity alone…..!

Its a matter of Creativity...!

Its about the quality of sound ...! …..Feeeeeling……!

…..Sound quality ….that is Acceptable, Un-acceptable, Desirable, Tolerable, Manageable (after treatment)… etc etc…….!

So, it is not just making the chords mathematically….!

Now, one more dimension of the complexity is arising when two such chords are placed adjacently side by side….further there is inter-relationships develop,

Between notes to notes….vertically……as well as horizontally…… ! as well as development of chord-to-chord relations..!

which again needs to be examined microscopically……! based on various harmony rules etc..!

and again to be decided on the selection of individual notes and chord formations….!

A cylce of iterative processes to be done, still one is satisfied quantitatively, qualitatively and creatively..!

Let us see a little bit more on this aspect in our next session.


Lesson - 62 : Chords and Harmony writing - A Perspective Insight - Part-1

Hi All,

[Warning : Every time I write, I always try to make you feel comfortable by saying things are simple ..!

But, this time, I deliberately don't do that….

because, I want you to understand the complexities of this subject in its real term…..!

And make you appreciate the genius called IR….! ]

Just in last session, we saw how the same chord/triad can be part of different scales or so….!

Now let us see one such multifaceted possibilities of any single note within a chord also !

Let us take the note "C"

To start with, assume the C-Major scale as our simple scale model….and also assume the simple case of the C-Major Tonic Chord .... by taking two other notes as "E" and "G"

As we see earlier also, the possible combinations of arrangement of these 3 notes C-E-G in vertical mode , in its root position, 1st inversion position, 2nd inversion position are :

C-E-G, C-G-E, E-G-C, E-C-G, G-C-E and G-E-C

Depending upon our decision to have this particular note "C" either on top, or middle or at the bottom, we can re-arrange the other two notes in two possible ways to occupy the balance two positions…..!

So, a single note C can be converted into or made part of a chord, by these many 6 variations of writing!


Now, let us see one another variation of the same question.

Instead of E & G, If we select the other two notes A & E, then ?

Then, the letter "C" forms part of a chord called "A-C-E" ( Sub-Mediant Chord of C-Major scale)

Again here, we can have 6 other variations of A-C-E , with the chord inversions

A-C-E, A-E-C, C-E-A, C-A-E, E-A-C and E-C-A


Alternatively, instead of E & G or A & E, if we select the other two notes as F & A , then ?

Then, the letter "C" forms part of a chord called "F-A-C" ( Sub-Dominant Chord of C-Major scale)

Again here, we can have 6 other variations of F-A-C, with the chord inversions

F-A-C, F-C-A, A-C-F, A-F-C, C-F-A and C-A-F


So a single note "C" is already represented in 18 different ways in chord format !

This is also assuming a particular scale called C- Major only, where the note C is a part of;

If we consider the variations w.r.t. different scales and variations w.r.t. other forms of chords (like diminished chord, augmented chord etc), the possibilities are numerous !


Can you visualise this complexity of this problem ???

Why I am stressing this fact is .......

Harmony writing is Filling up the other balance notes to form the appropriate desirable chords for each note of the song!

The complexity of filling the other notes are enormous..!

We will further elaborate on these in our next session!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Lesson - 61 : Inversion of Triads - Part-2

Just now, we saw the possibilities of the 3 notes of C-Major triad, C-E-G in different inverted and normal forms

As we know, with reference to the C-Major scale, the real, original order of notes are C , E and G only.

Thus based on the real order, the note C is called the “Root” of the chord…..!

Root is the note on which a chord is fundamentally built…..!

Irrespective of the inversions and other appearances…. The note C remains as the root in a chord of C…….!

So fundamentally, with a three notes chord, the following emerges….!

- If the root note is at the bottom most, then the chord is said to be in its “Root Position” …!

- In other cases, the chord is said to be in inverted position…!

- If the third is placed at the bottom most then it is chord of 1st inversion……!

- If the 5th is placed at the bottom most, then its Chord of 2nd inversion…!

For any ordinary people, it may appear in their mind that ……in whatever way you play the group of notes, as far as the same three notes remain there…… it is going to matter…?

But in Harmony composing IT DOES MATTER…..!

Because it does change the Tonal appearance…!

The note at bottom most, that is the BASS Note…forms one important aspect in Harmony writing…..!

We will see that later ……!

I hope, one thing you might have realized by now, is just by seeing a note in the bottom of a chord, you cannot term that the chord is of that bottom note…!

You have to follow methodical stepwise approach…!

You have to see all the three basic notes of the Chord first…!

and then re-arrange them to get the root, third and fifth ….!

Of course letter name of chord is based on the root note.

So get that..!

Depending on intervals between root & third as well as third and fifth, you can term the characteristic of the chord as Minor, Major, Diminished or Augmented etc.

Depending on the appearance of which note is kept at the bottom most, you can term its inversion number….!

Based on which note of the Scale, the chord is formed, you can term them as Tonic Chord, Dominant Chord etc….!

Take the example of a chord which is written as G-E-B…..!

As per our knowledge of “musical alphabets”, we can easily re-arrange the basic notes available as E as root, G as third and B as fifth…!

So this must be a Chord of E…!

Next the interval of E to G and G to B are Minor + Major…..So this is a Minor Chord….!

So we are talking about E-Minor chord…!

Since, the third G is at the bottom most, this is of First Inversion type…!

Now, which scale it belongs to…?

As we saw earlier….a Major scale has three minor chords on Supertonic, Mediant and Sub-mediant……Similarly, a Harmonic Minor scale also have the minor chords on Tonic and Sub-dominant….!

So options are many….!

If it is considered as part of C-Major, then this is a chord on Mediant……

If you consider this as part of the E-Minor scale…. then this is Tonic Chord…!

And so on…!

Confusing….? But see the positive side of it…! The opportunities it gives us to explore…!

Are you realizing that same Chord can play a different role, depending on the outlook viz the scale to which we want to associate it to…?

That is the “Bridging/ Pivotal Role” a chord can play……!

The Chord is part of “this” scale also…. part of “that” scale also….!

We learnt earlier that WCM prescribes Modulation ….meaning shifting from one scale to another…..!

Chords play the Effective Bridging Roles in the case of Modulations….!

Are you realizing now that , in spite of the change of scales, how IR manages to look them so easy and smooth and effective…..!

A Perfect Morphism……as software people can easily visualize and compare that……!

Now we have become further wiser….on Chords ….!

Having further in-sight into the deep ocean of WCM…!

Stay Floating…!


Lesson - 60 : Inversion of Triads - Part-1

Inversion of chords is one important concept of Harmony which we are going to see now.

In simple terms, Chord Inversion is nothing but shifting the order of the appearance of notes of chords…..!

As Simple as that…!

For example, consider the C-Major chord which is written as C-E-G….!

So the notes on the stave also written in that order from the bottom … so that the note C is at the bottom…then the note E is kept above C…… and finally the note G is kept above E….!

So the interval between C and E is Major 3rd …..! And the interval between C and G is a Perfect 5th …..!

Now, consider the situation, in which the note E, which is the 3rd is kept at the bottom most and C & G are written above E.

So now it is placed as E-C-G……!

Even though, we are still using the notes of C-Major chord, its appearance on a stave as well as its tonal quality is somewhat different from the normal C-E-G chord……!

Its basically because the inversion of interval C to E has taken place and resulted in an interval of E to C….! What we had earlier as Major 3rd between 1st and 3rd is now transformed into Minor 6th …..! So the chord is now said to be inverted…!

Thus, when the 3rd of a chord is put on the bottom most level it is called the First Inversion…!

Next variation is……imagine you put the 5th note, G in this case…., at the bottom most and keep the C and E above this note G….!

Thus what was earlier as Perfect 5th from C to G has now transformed into Perfect 4th between G to C…..!

So again the chord is inverted, but in different fashion…!

Such inversion formed by keeping the 5th at the bottom most is called the Second Inversion……!

You can appreciate the fact that whatever the way the notes are arranged in a stave, the notes played are of the same chord….viz.. C Major chord….!

You place the notes in whatever fashion, C-E-G, C-G-E, E-C-G, E-G-C, G-C-E and G-E-C etc.. all are termed as C-Major Chord only….!

The picture above will clear the inversion concept, I believe !

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Lesson - 59 : Some Abstract Perceptions of Chords

What we have learnt so far is Formation of Chord, their naming method and title etc.

Now let us see a little bit more about their importance, inter-relationship etc also.

While learning about scale (in Lesson-19) we noted that certain notes are “ more than equal “ and has some importance assumed.

Like for instance...the Tonic…..the Dominant ….the Mediant, Sub-Dominant etc….!

In the case of Chords also, the chords formed on Tonic, Dominant and the Sub-dominant are considered to be important when compared to chords formed on other notes.

The Tonic Triad is the most critical among all and is the life line of any song.

Just the way the Tonic is as important in a starting and ending of a song, the chords formed on Tonic also gives the punch of effective start and completeness of finishing..!

Invariably, vast majority of the songs start and finish with Chords on Tonic…!

If you consider Tonic Triad as the Full Stop equivalent, ................
you can equate the Dominant Triad as the Semi-colon, ..............
and the sub-dominant triad as the Comma kind of thing…!

-You complete the sentence with a full stop.
-When the meaning has been completed but the sentence is not completed you use the semi-colon;
-and if the meaning as well as sentence is incomplete you use comma. ……!

Similar to that, musical passages also have their own punctuation kind of marks, which are better expressed by such appropriate chords !

( In WCM equivalent these are called Cadences…which we will see later ).

What we can appreciate in simple way is, the Triads of Tonic, Dominant and Sub-dominant are in that order has some priority and importance.

Also, if you note the fact that these three chords put together completely cover all the notes of a Scale…!

To illustrate that ,

Tonic Triad – consists of – Tonic + Mediant + Dominant - ( I + III + V )

Sub-Dominant Triad – consists of – Sub Dominant + Sub-Mediant + Octave - (IV + VI + VIII)

Dominant Triad – consists of – Dominant + Leading Note + Super Tonic - ( V + VII + II )

That’s why, for all beginners in guitar etc., these three basic chords are taught initially, and with that one can cover most of the song…!

In our next discussion, we can see one more concept of Chords … ie…. Inversion of Chords…!
We heard about that term inversion just recently…isn’t it ?

Yes… While talking about the intervals between any two notes…… and their inversion…!

So you can easily guess what we are going to do…!

Anyway, we will see that soon !


Lesson - 58 : Quick Formation of Triads!

Earlier we have seen the Triads formed on various notes of a typical Major scale and a Harmonic Minor scale.

Basically the type of triads that are formed are four , viz. Minor, Major, Diminished and Augmented.

These four basic chords can be formed on any 12 keys of an Octave.

One quick way to form them is start with a key and consider the Major scale notes of Tonic, Mediant and Dominant (which are usually Key no 1, 5 and 8 respectively, in our scheme of numbering 1 to 13 of the keys of octave, including the black and white keys).

So start with 1+5+8, we can get a Major Chord.

You reduce the 3rd of a Major Chord by a semitone ( so to say, you are using notes 1+4+8 ) you get the Minor Chord.

If you increase the 5th of a Major chord by a semitone, (meaning you are using notes 1+5+9) you get the Augmented Chord.

Similalry, if you decrease the 5th of a Minor chord by a semitone (meaning you are using notes 1+4+7) , you get the Diminished chord.

To summarise the above :

In this fashion you can develop Any Chord on Any key in a key board.

So you can form 12 x 4 = 48 basic chords in a key board, which are the fundamental chords/triads.

[Considering the same black note is represented by Sharp or Flat, some of these chords are represented by more than one way also (like D# Major or E-flat Major etc..), but basically the sound and characteristics of such chords remain same in both cases]

What else…! You are now master of Chords ! (atleast theoretically you can claim that now…..! )

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