Benefit from effective Indian style and chord - rhythm Guidance from Shyam

Click on the play button (top left) to listen to the phrase.

Raaga Hamsadhwani Phrase Example

|G , , , G , , R | SRG , , , , R| NRNR G , , R| NRNP

Each alphabet and comma is of a sixteenth note duration.

Let us find out the chords for D Hamsadhwani – Hamsadhwani raga or scale starting with D as the pitch, root or Sa.

Harmony for Raga Hamsadhvani – Part by part

Part 1. (G G R) = (F# F# E)

There are just two notes in the selection.

Any chord with both of the notes will naturally have no problem with the phrase.
We will take the possible chords of one of the notes out of all possible diatonic chords. Then we will add the other note in the part to each of the chords to get chords which have both the notes.

Then do the same starting with the second note.
This is a very analytical way of covering the whole possibilities. We will do it for just the first part. With the remaining three parts, we will try making choices in a simpler, human way.
The note F# is present in the following chords :

D, F#m, Bm 

(These chords are taken from the diatonic chords of D major scale, since D Hamsadhwani notes are a part of the D major scale)

Adding the other note in the phrase (E), to the above chords gives

D chord + E → D added 9th

F#m + E → F#m7

Bm + E → sus 4th

(In the case of Bm, you may skip playing the D when adding the E, though nowadays sus4th chords are found with both 3rd and 4th notes.)
The note E is present in the following chords :

E minor,  A, C#dim

Adding the other note in the phrase, F#, to the above chords gives

Eminor + F# à Eminor added 9th

A + F# à A6

C# dim + F# à C# dim/ F#

From the above exercise, here is the list of chords one could use for Part 1 :

D, F#m, Bm, E minor, A, C#dim – 3 note chords

D added 9th, F#m7, B sus 4th, Eminor added 9th, A6, C# dim/ F# – 4 note chords

Which chord to play?

Any of the above found 4 note chords have both the notes in the phrase, so they can't be wrong.

The phrase GGR has G in the beginning and stays on the G for 2/3rd of the phrase. If we were to do it in a simpler way, i would think that out of the possible options, it is a good choice to play a chord that belongs to Ga.
Let us examine the remaining 3 parts of the phrase.  We will stick to finding more obvious chords. We can use just triads and seventh chords while still making the phrase interesting by the way we arrange the chords between each other.

To understand and use chords better, use The Chord Code.

Part 2. S R G R

D major chord is the most obvious chord to play for this phrase starting with Sa.

D major has both Sa and Ri in it (D and F# notes are Sa and Ga when D is the root).

If you want to include the Ri (E note), we get D added 9th (D F# A E)

B minor is another quick option since the chord has both D and F# (Sa and Ga). 

Part 3. N R N R G R

The notes are : C# E F# (Ni Ri Ga)
A6th chord has all the above notes. (A C# E F#)

F#7 has all the above notes too. (F# A# C# E)
But how does F# major come into the D major scale harmony? D major scale has F#minor, not major in it, leave alone the dominant 7th chord of F#.

F# major is the 5th chord in the B minor scale harmony. B minor is the relative minor of D and is much used while harmonizing D Hamsadhwani. F# major or F#7 can be used while moving to the Bm chord if the melody notes don't clash.
F#7 chord, with its tension, could add some interest into the phrase in place of a pleasant chord like A6. In fact A6th has the same notes as F#m7, the F# chord we should have used if following D major harmony exactly.

For this reason I may choose to play F# major or F#7 when the melody notes match, which does in the case of part3.

Part 4. N R N P

The notes are C# E  A  (Ni Ri Pa)

A major chord (A C# E) is the most obvious choice.

You can change it to something else depending on which note or chord you are going on to in the next phrase.

How to form progressions from the possible options?

We will choose the final progression based on what sounds good for the whole phrase and the phrases before and after.

Here are two example chord progressions we could play :

1.      |F#m|D|F7|A|   or

2.      |D |F#m|F7|A|   – this could be interesting because of the change from F#minor to F#7 (major chord in its seventh form)

C Hamsadhwani – transposing to C as the root

|F#m|D|F7|A|  becomes |Emm|C|E7|G|

Raga Hamsadhwani with Western rhythm guitar backing

The rhythm guitar in this video is based on chord logic as above. In the video, I have sung and played with D as the root.



  1. Try working out 4 note chords for parts 2 3 and 4
  2. Try finding triads and sevenths for more phrases of Hamsadhwani or other major scale based ragas
  3. Try changing the different possible chords in the final progression.
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