Above are the notes and tab for the beginning of the Carnatic geetham Sreegananaatha / Lambodara.

Starting from 3rd string open G as Sa, the melody is played within the first four frets of the guitar.

Try playing it – use first, third and fourth fingers for 1st,3rd and 4th frets respectively.

The geetham is in Raga Malahari which is a janya of Raaga mayamalavagowla. Malahari does not include Ga and Ni when you ascend (arohana : S R1 M1 P D1 S) and avoids the Ni when you descend (avarohana : S R1 M1 P D1 S)

I will be talking of Mayamalavagowla at places in this article because that is the bigger set of notes that contains all the notes of Malahari, and what is said about Mayamalavagowla will be true for malahari.

Two corrections

There are two things that can be changed to make the image represent the music better. We have given the original image since learning what to change makes for a good music lesson.

Rhythm grouping In the figure, the bars keep the notes in groups of 4, while the original song rhythm goes in 6 (roopaka thala). Yet, if you just play the notes without giving much concern to the rhythm grouping, it will sound just fine. Use the figure to identify the notes and the fret/string position on the guitar. The image given was made with a basic free software.

Better way to write G mayamalavagowla

In the figure,

  • Sa and Ri are written as G and G#
  • Pa and Dha as D and D#

According to the figure, G mayamalavagowla would have the notes : G G# B C D D# F# G

It can be written better, using different alphabets for the different note positions.

Let us write the alphabets from G to G : G A B C D E F G

To make those notes that of G mayamalavagowla, let us add some sharps and flats. We get :

We are mixing sharps and flats here, but that allows us to write each of the notes of G mayamalavagowla on its own staff space.

The tab, the note positions shown are correct and will give you the correct melody when played.

Playing the rest of the Geetam

Let us find a way to play the complete song on the guitar using just the first line which is given. We will be trying to play the song from its swara/iindian note information.

Identify the string/fret position of the swaras -> use that to play the whole geetham yourself using the swaras for the geetham.

Here is how we will do it :

Swara to Note and Tab

Here are the swaras for the first line of the Geetam.

Sri Gananatha Sindhoora Varna

M P | D S S R || R S | D P M P ||

Karuna Saagara Kari Vadana

R M | P D M P || D P | M G R S ||

  • Take the first 6 swaras : M P D S S R.
  • Find out from the tab, where those note are played.
  • Remember them for future use, when the same swaras appear.

The S and R in the first 6 notes are from the higher octave.

Look at the notes for 'Vadana' :M G R S. That R and S are from the octave in which the song starts with.

Now, you know the string/fret position for all the swaras used to play the Geetam.

You can play the whole geetam from the swaras. (Find the swaras here)

This will give you a better understanding how compositions are made by arranging the same note positions in different ways. That there are only so many notes, with which all music is made.

Playing in Roots or Pitches other than G

  1. Head over to the Raga Guitar Mapping App.
  2. Go to the part below the fretboard diagramn.
  3. Choose Mayamalavagowla from the Melakarta list.
  4. Go to the part above the fretboard diagramn.
  5. Choose your Root / Pitch, which string to start from, choose the fingering styles

There, you have the string/fret position of notes to play any composition in Mayamalavagowla according to your specifications.

For now, the app shows only notes and not swaras. It is not difficult to identify the swaras on the fretboard, because the root is Sa, the next note in the scale is Ri etc…

S R G M P D N S just represents the note positions of the scale : 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 respectively.

Soon we will add an option to the App, to display swaras over string/fret positions when you choose.


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