Many of us prefer to use simple three note major, minor and 7th chords over Indian ragas even when such chords may have notes outside the notes of the raga. Most often this is done by choosing two notes within the raga and the third note to form the major or minor chord, the third note being from the scale or outside.
Below, we find out triad chords for Raga Mayamalavagowla or Malahari (janya raga or raga derived from Mayamalavagowla on which four carnatic geetams are based on) starting from the root G. You can extend the method to find out chords for other ragas in a key of your choice.
Notes of G Mayamalavagowla: G G# B C D D# F# G G# B C D D#
Below is a preliminary, starting point chord finding for G Mayamalavagowla.
Make groups of 3 notes each, skipping one note in between, starting from each note of the mayamalavagowla scale. See the detail of the process below.
Triad chord from the First note G
- choose G
- skip G#
- choose B
- skip C
- choose D
We get the three notes: G B D
The notes G B D forms the G major chord.
Therefore, the G major chord is an obvious choice for the note G (swara Sa) in the Mayamalavagowla scale.
Four note chord for Mayamalavagowla from G
Add the seventh note F# (again, skip D# add F#)
We get the notes G B D F# which forms the G major 7th chord.
The G major 7th chord is an obvious choice of 4 note chord for Mayamalavagowla in G. (More 4 note chords based on the scale notes.)
Chord from the second note
G# C D# – G# major chord
Third note B
We could try the reverse method: check if the major and minor chords from the note B have notes from Mayamalavagowla.
Suppose we take the B major chord – notes B D# F# – all the notes present in G Mayamalavagowla
Suppose we take the B minor chord – notes B D F# – again all notes present in G Mayamalavagowla
Chords from the note C of G Mayamalavagowla
C D# G – C minor chord
Chords from the Fifth note D
D F# G# – D flat fifth
D F# B – B minor chord (B D F#)
D F# A would give us the D major chord, though the note A is not present in G Mayamalavagowla. We can try the D major chord when the notes D (Pa) or F# (Ni) comes in the melody, or as the Vth chord played before going back to the root chord G.
D F# C – root, major 3rd, minor 7th. If we add the A to the three notes, we get the D7th chord, the Vth chord of G major scale, in its dominant function. Try D7 when the melody line has the suitable notes. Listen, decide for yourself if you like the sound.
Chord from the sixth note D#
D# G B – D# augmented chord.
Try other notes from the scale which are nearby to any of the notes in the chord, to make a minor or major.
D# G C – C minor chord
D# G Bb – D# major chord, though the note Bb is not present in G Mayamalavagowla.
Chord from the seventh note F#
F# G# C – does not form any of the triads, or seventh chords, but add D# to it:
F# G# C D# – G#7 chord. (G# C D# F#: root-major3rd-fifth-minor7th)
The D major chord also has the F# note. D7th also has the F# note. In case the F# note comes just before going back to the root chord, try the D or D7 chord since they are V and V7 chords respectively, which usually precedes the root note giving the perfect cadence.
More chords from the scale notes
G C D – notes from within the scale, gives G sus 4th chord. Try it on the swaras Sa, Ma, Pa.
Similarly, combine notes from the scale notes of Mayamalavagowla to find chords that will fit for the Raga melody. You are free to choose and then decide based on your taste.