Out of the blue, while vocalizing natural note-phrases for a long time, you are asked to sing the Re-Komal that is Re-Flat. Now that’s the puzzling, tension-some era. More than 90% of my beginner students, or even amateurs get the jimjams and go wrong, out of tune, when asked to switch from natural notes to Komal. And why not? this is one of the most reasonable and possibly appropriate timings to get puzzled especially when you have started randomly without pondering over it for a few seconds.
Normally, flat or komal denotes dull, faded version of the notes. Sharp or teevr denotes dominating or acute, ready to invade. Komal is the Hindi word for ‘soft’ and teevr refers to ‘tez‘ or clever. Thus, the first step is to perceive and grasp these terms clearly by imaging them as the meaning indicates.
The proper sequence of the 12 notes in a chromatic scale or in the realm of 22 shrutis are:
S re R ga G M ma’ P dha DH ni NI SA
- upper case denotes shuddha/natural ones
- lower case+italics+Underlined = komal (re ga dh ni)
- lower+italics+apostrophe = teevr (which is only ma)
The good news is that we never struggle to sing the seven natural notes (S R G M P D N) or major scale (C D E F G A B) because that’s the base scale, which is subtly printed in our brain. If you have even a speck of interest in music, you know the seven notes sequence be it what so ever culture or country you belong. Indian system calls it ‘saat shuddha swara‘ or ‘saptak‘ while the western discipline calls it major scale. Major means happy, so these are the happy tunes.
Visualize the Location Of Notes
Remember the sequence by hard as it helps visualize the location of note, hence you will grab the tonic ‘Sa’ and grab the subsequent note. Initially its hard to grasp the note, but far much easy to remember the location or diagram you had drawn. For instance, you are asked to track ‘ga’ komal. Visualize, imagine the location of ga komal: between shuddha re and shuddha ga, or at least think that, “I’ve to dim down the natural Ga.” You are all set.
Sing the Shuddha Version First
Once you have analyzed the concept of direction in your head, reach the natural destination of a particular note and back it up to dull it. Do not haste to ruin the things. Simply establish the base/tonic note Sa (on whatever scale) and reach out with S R G with G natural and return or back slightly by making the normal Ga to dull/dim. In other words fade the happy Ga to its dull form. This is not only the rational way to vocalize the vikrita swaras (komal/teevr) but also makes you a proficient 12-note singer. It’s actually hard to master singing the 12-notes together at one go.
Ragas Help a Lot
Another very catchy option to reach out complex notes is: recall the basic ragas you have learnt and experiment the notes taking its help. Let me illustrate. Suppose you are asked to sing Raga Shivaranjini, a pentatonic raga omitting Ma and ni, which you are learning as of now, but don’t exactly memorize the tune at the moment. In such case, we are all familiar with Raga Bhupali whether as a beginner, intermediate or advanced. Bhupali tunes are well inculcated in our brains so it might surely guide the way through. Fortunately, Bhupali is also a pentatonic scale raga which omits Ma and ni. But what’s the difference: Shivarinjini comprises of Ga komal instead the shuddha one like in Bhupali. Memorize and sing the Bhupali tune structure and dull the Ga in Bhupali, which lands fairly on Shivaranjini. In fact, this is how our 20th century musicians and gharanedaar veterans have experimented the different notes and created the new ragas.
Take Help Of The Movie Songs
Last but not the least, the most interesting and engaging way to address the different complex notes are memorize the movie songs. Lets take Raga Shivaranjini as there are ample of songs in this raga, so if you are unable to bring the Aaroh-avroh in your head, simply hum the popular song “Jaane Kahan Gaye Woh din” from an old movie ‘mera naam joker‘. The first line is exactly the aaroh-avroh of the Raga Shivarajini. Get ready sing all the notes as now you have mastered it. Similarly, if you unable to grab the lower ni to start raga Yaman’s ni Re Ga, simply remember the song ‘Ye Moh Moh Ke Dhaage‘ as the starting notes of this song is ni-Re-Ga…
Analyzing the Indian classical swaras and then pondering upon how they’re selected and combined to make a raga or melody is the most enthralling moments in the journey of learning classical music. Our honorable music legends have created these numerous incredibly scintillating ragas and indeed provided us a plethora of inestimable stuff to brood over and get startled. The only thing we need to do is to contemplate on those stuffs and value the moments, instead of puzzling ourselves with notes.