The Western scale equivalent of Raga Mayamalavagowla is the double harmonic major scale.
Notes of the Mayamalawagowla scale when C is the root: C Db E F G Ab B
Finding basic chords for ragas scales songs
Any phrase can be shortened enough and reduced to two prominent notes, based on which a chord can be found. It is also possible to include more notes from the phrase and find more exact chords.
Below we try to find out chords possible for the scale of Mayamalavagowla (at times referred to in this article as MMG or similar, since the name is pretty long!), phrase by phrase.
Let us start by finding chords for pair of notes, the note C paired with each other note in the scale of Mayamalavagowla. The intention is to get familiar with the possible western chords and related raga notes, so that one has options to choose from and use in phrase situations.
Follow similar logic to find chords for any song raga scale or phrase.
Notes paired with the root, C
C Db (Sa Ri)
We try to match the two notes with a pattern of a familiar chord.
C and Db are notes adjacent to each other, with no notes in between.
The major 7th note and the root note in a major 7th chord are adjacent notes. C would be the major 7th note and Db the root. So, the DbM7 chord (notes: Db F Ab C) is an example chord that has the both the C and Db notes and can be tried as a possible chord option. Interestingly, if we check the notes of the chord with the notes of the Mayamalavagowla scale (see beginning of the article), we see that all the notes in this chord are within the scale of the raga, which is good, because that means there is no possibility of any notes clashing in sound; safe chord.
The major 2nd note and the minor 3rd note in a Minor added 9th chord are adjacent notes. C will be the Major 2nd note and Db the minor 3rd note. When C is the major 2nd note, Bb is the root. So, the Bbmadd9 chord (notes: Bb Db F C) is another chord option with both the notes C and Db. The Bb note in the chord is not part of the Maayamalavagowla scale. So be careful to make sure that the chord is not clashing with any possible B note usage in the melody phrase.
C E (Sa Ga)
C major chord (notes: C E G) has all the notes within the MMG scale.
A minor chord (notes: A C E) is the other usual possible chord from within the C major scale chords, for the notes C and E. In the case of MMG, the A note can be changed to Ab, to give the Ab augmented chord (notes: Ab C E). Try both the Aminor and Aaug chords and decide if they suit the purpose.
Also, if the phrase has other notes, try adding those notes to the C major chord to get chords with more of the phrase notes.
C F (Sa Ma)
The F major chord (notes: FAC) is an option. Try it and make sure that the A note (not within the MMG scale) doesn’t clash with any notes in the phrase, especially if Ab note is used in the rest of the phrase.
Change the A note to Ab note and we have the Fminor chord (notes: F Ab C) which is a safe chord with notes only from the MayaMalawaGowla scale
C sus 4th chord (notes: C F G) is another option, all notes within the MMG scale.
C G (Sa Pa)
Since C is the root and G is the fifth note of the C scale, naturally the C major chord is an option for the notes C and G (Sa Pa) and so is the C minor chord. The raga mayamalavagoula scale is a major scale (presence of the major third note E instead of the minor third Eb), so try the C major chord first. But in phrases where the third note (E or Eb) is not specified or present, try the C minor chord too.
For some reason, it is found that the C minor chord does work emotionally, for some phrases for Mayamalavagowla, contrary to the major scale, hence major chord logic. Personal choice/ taste.
C Ab (Sa Dha)
The F minor chord (notes: F Ab C) is a minor chord with both the swaras, and all the notes from within the raga’s scale.
C B (Sa Ni)
C and B notes can be the Sa and Ni (Ni3 or big Ni or shuddh Ni) when C is the Sa.
B is the major 7th note when C is the root.
The C major 7th chord (notes: C E G B) has the notes of the C major chord and the additional B.
More note pairs and phrases from Mayamalavagoula
Ri Sa Dha (Db C Ab)
We have already looked at the possible chord options for Sa Ri and Sa Dha separately.
The DbM7 (notes: Db F Ab C) chord was seen as an option for Sa Ri. The same chord has Dha (note: Ab) also, hence a possible option for the given phrase.
F Db (Ma ri)
The notes Db and F are separated by a major 3rd interval. Add the Ab note (the 5th of Db) and we have the Db major chord (notes: Db F Ab).
E Db (Ga Ri)
The notes Db and E are separated by a minor third interval. Add the Ab note (the 5th note of Db) to get the Db minor chord (notes: Db E Ab)
F E (Ma Ga)
E and F are two consecutive notes: nearby keys or nearby frets. The E note is the major 7th note when F is the root.
Usually we can try the Major 7th chord. F major 7th (notes: F A C E) has both the notes E and F. C is the root of the scale. The note A is not within the scale. Still you can try the chord as long as it sounds appropriate and doesn’t clash with the melody especially if the Ab note is present in the extended melody.
If you change the A note to Ab note, in the FM7 chord, we get the FmM7 chord. The sound of the chord may prevent it from being used in all situations.
Ma Ga ri (F E Db)
It is a combination of the above two situations: Ma ri and Ga ri and Ma Ga.
Since these are three consecutive notes, it is alright to try a chord that suits two of the three, while the third one can be present in the melody. Try one of the three chords Dbmajor, Dbminor, FM7. I would finally choose the Db major chord since it sounds appropriate (probably also because it has the beginning and ending notes of the phrase).
Ma Ma Pa (F F G)
F and G notes can use the G7th chord (notes: G B D F). Try it on the phrase.
If there is enough time to play two chords, we could use separate chords for Ma and Pa.
- The Fminor chord, for example for the Ma note.
- The C major chord/ G7 or even C minor chord for the Pa. Try the C minor (I find it very emotionally suiting for the situation) even though technically C major is the safe chord for the scale.
Chords for Geethams: Malahari Geetham
Click to see the chords for the Malahari Geetham Padumanabha Paramapurusha written for the root D, using the same logic as above.
Here is the Pallavi:
More chords for Geethams, Ragas, Scales, Melodies and Songs at Resource on how to play chords for any Song Raga Melody Phrase Scale.
Another chord example
The video below starts with chords similar to above, and then adds a few extra chords.