Ragas based on the melodic minor scale and its modes – Gowrimanohari, Charukeshi, Natakapriya, Vachaspati

//Ragas based on the melodic minor scale and its modes – Gowrimanohari, Charukeshi, Natakapriya, Vachaspati

Ragas based on the melodic minor scale and its modes – Gowrimanohari, Charukeshi, Natakapriya, Vachaspati

If you found this article useful, you will find the complete the complete Raga Chord resource useful. You will find more details about the Melodic minor based ragas along with access to detailed information on numerous Indian Ragas and  How to play chords for any Indian Raga, Scale or Song.

Playing chords for Indian ragas? Using Indian ragas in western improvisation situations? 

Mark Levine's The Jazz Theory Book book gives a lot of importance to the Melodic minor scale in the jazz music contextGowrimanohari, Charukeshi and other ragas based on the Melodic minor scale notes are popular in Indian classical music. We will be referring to the Jazz theory book in this article, because that is solid gold when it comes to Jazz/Music theory, one of the most authoritative and useful books on the usage of chords and scales.

Western musician can benefit from the wealth of raga phrases which they can adopt to the jazz or other music playing context, while the Indian musician can gain from the detailed Melodic minor harmony study available through numerous popular jazz improvisations and songs. 

Here is an introduction towards bridging the two worlds – Melodic minor scale, its modes and chords to the Indian ragas based on the Melodic minor scale.

The melodic minor scale

The C melodic minor scale

For ease of comparison, let us use C Melodic minor as the example.

C melodic minor notes: C D E♭ F G A B C

There is just one note difference from the C major scale: C D E F G A B C

The third note of the major scale is flattened to get the melodic minor scale. The major scale has a major 3rd note (E), while the melodic minor scale has a minor 3rd note (E♭).

Example: the F major and melodic minor scales

The F major scale: F G A B♭ C D E F

The F melodic minor scale: F G A B♭ C D E F

Finding chords for Melodic minor, based on the Major scale chords

Three note chords for the C major scale

Below table shows the triad chords of the C Major scale, made by choosing three alternate notes starting from each note position. The chord notes are listed below the chord names.

Major scale notes

C

D

E

F

G

A

B

Major scale chords

C

Dm

Em

F

G

Am

Bdim

Major scale chord notes

C E G

D F A

E G B

F A C

G B D

A C E

B D F

 

 

 

 

 

Three note chords for the C Melodic minor scale

Since the melodic minor scale has the same notes as the major scale with just the third note flattened, let us try to find out chords for the melodic minor scale by flattening the third note, whenever it is used in the chords.

The chords and chord notes in the above table are for the C major scale. The third note of the C major scale is E. The C melodic minor scale has the same notes as the C major scale, except the E (3rd note in the scale) which is flattened to Eb.

The last row in the above table has the chord notes of each triad chord of the C Major scale. Whenever the note E appears in the chord notes, we flatten it to Eb, so that all the notes should be within the C melodic minor scale and the resulting chord should be diatonic (chords that use only the scale notes).

Mel min scale notes

C

D

Eb

F

G

A

B

Major scale chord notes with E changed to Eb

C Eb G

D F A

Eb G B

F A C

G B D

A C Eb

B D F

New chord names

C minor

D minor

Eb aug

F major

G major

A dim

B dim

 

 

 

 

 

 

The new chords we have on the last row of the above table are diatonic triad chords (three note chords with all the chord notes within the parent scale, in this case, the melodic minor scale).

A dim (chord notes: A C Eb) and F7 (F A C Eb) have three notes in common. The fourth note in the seventh chord is a scale note, hence the 7th chord can be used instead of the dim if needed.

Similarly Bdim (chord notes: B D F) and G7 (G B D F) have three common notes. Again, since the fourth note in the seventh chord is a scale note, the 7th chord can be used instead of the dim if needed.

The minor major 7th chord and the Melodic minor scale

The melodic minor scale has a minor 3rd note and a major 7th note, which along with the root and 5th note gives us the Minor major 7th chord, which is considered as the chord for the first mode of the Melodic minor scale. (More about it below)

C mM7 chord notes: C Eb G B

Melodic minor scale to Raga Gaurimanohari

The notes of the C melodic minor scale are: C D Eb F G A B C.

When written as intervals: Root – Major 2nd – minor 3rd – perfect 4th – fifth – major 6th – minor 7th – octave

These notes correspond to the Sa Ri2 Ga2 Ma1 Pa Dha2 Ni3 Sa of the Raga Gaurimanohari. (The details of the relation between intervals and swaras is found in the pdf about notations.)

Watch this video of the Arohana Avarohana of Raga Gowrimanohari as shown on the guitar fretboard, to see how the notes are connected when played as the raga.

Modes of the Melodic minor scale

As we saw in the first part, the minor major 7th chord is associated with the Melodic minor scale. The minor major 7th chord is derived from the first mode of the Melodic minor scale – the scale, starting from the first note.

Play the notes of the melodic minor scale, in the same order, starting from each note till the same note one octave higher, to get the different modes of the melodic minor scale.

For example, C melodic minor scale: C D Eb F G A B C.

Start from the D note to get the notes: D Eb F G A B C. This is the second mode of the melodic minor scale. If we take the D note as the root and find interval relations between the notes, this set of notes form a scale with a defined pattern of intervals.

Similarly, start from Eb to get: Eb F G A B C D Eb – the third mode (starting from the 3rd note of the melodic minor scale, hence called the 3rd mode)

This can be done from each of the notes to get the 7 different modes of the melodic minor scale.

Detailed chords from each mode of the melodic minor

Each mode of the melodic minor scale has associated chords.

Which Mode?

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

5th

6th

7th

Melodic Minor scale notes

C

D

E♭

F

G

A

B

Swaras

Sa

Ri2

Ga2

Ma1

Pa

Dha2

Ni3

Chord from each mode

C-Δ

D sus9

E♭ Δ#5

F7 #11

G713

A Ø

B7alt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The The Jazz Theory Book mentions that the Melodic minor scale does not have ‘avoid notes’, which makes it possible to use the chords from any mode of a particular melodic minor scale with any of its modes.

Therefore, each chord in the bottom most row of the table can be used along with the C melodic minor scale and its modes. Similarly we can find chords for melodic minor scale starting from any root. Those chords can be used for any mode of that particular melodic minor scale.

Scales and ragas from each mode of the Melodic minor scale

Mode I

C Melodic Minor notes: C D Eb F G A B C

Intervals: Root – M2 – m3 – 4 – 5 – M6 – M7 – octave

Chord: CmM7 (root – m3 – 5th – M7)

Swaras: S R2 G2 M1 P D2 N3 S

Raga: Gowrimanohari

The only difference from the major scale (Raga Shankarabharanam) is the third note. Major scale has a major 3rd note, while the melodic minor scale has a minor 3rd note.

Videos shows the ascend and descend of the raga Gowrimanohari using a guitar fretboard. Note how the scale notes are connected to form the raga. Also, one can compare the connections Raga Shankarabharanam’s ascend and descend. Ri, Ga and Ma are treated a bit differently in the two ragas.

III mode

The third mode of the C melodic minor scale starts from Eb: Eb F G A B C D Eb

Intervals: root – M2 – M3 – #4 – m6 – M6 – M7 – octave

Chord: Δ#4#5 (Major 7th #4, #5) also written simply as Δ#5. The #4 part notes the Lydian part of the scale while the #5 shows the augmented nature of the scale.

Swaras: S R2 G3 M2 D1 D2 N3 S

This scale is similar to the Lydian mode (Raga Kalyani). The Lydian mode has a 5th note, while this mode has a #5th note – the minor 6th interval. This mode, the 3rd mode of the Melodic minor scale can be called the Lydian augmented scale because it has the notes of the Lydian scale, with the 5th note sharpened or augmented. (Remember the augmented chord: the 5th note sharpened from the major chord.)

Since a Pa note is absent and two Dha notes are present, this scale is not a Melakarta raga. But, if we avoid some of the notes, we can find similarities with some janya ragas.

For example if we do not use the D1, the resulting scale has the same notes as the Raga Kalyani, without a Pa. Look for janya ragas of raga Kalyani, which do not use Pa. Use this Wikipedia list of Janya ragas (scroll down to number 65, Mechakalyani).

e.g.Raga Kalyānadāyini: Arohana: S R2 G3 M2 D2 N3 S Avarohana: S N3 D2 M2 G3 R2 S

Raga Kalyanadayini, along with D1 note has all the notes of the 3rd mode of the Melodic minor scale.

Similarly, if we use the D1, and not the D2, the resulting scale has same notes as Raga Latangi (number 63 in the list of ragas) without a Pa. Look for janya ragas of Latangi, which do not have a Pa.

e.g.Raga Lalithāngi: Arohana: S R2 G3 M2 D1 N3 S | Avarohana: S N3 D1 M2 G3 R2 S

Raga Lalithangi, along with D2 note has all the notes of the 3rd mode of the melodic minor scale.

Also, Kalyani and Latangi phrases without using the note Pa, will fit for the 3rd mode of the melodic minor scale.

IV mode

Raga: Vachaspathi

This scale has the same notes as the Lydian (4th mode of the major scale / Raga Kalyani) except for the 7th note. Lydian has a major 7th note (Ni3) while the 4th mode of the melodic minor scale has a minor 7th note (Ni2).

Video showing the ascend and descend of the raga Vachaspathi using the guitar fretboard.

V mode

Raga: Charukeshi

This scale starts out like a Major scale, till the 5th note. Instead of the major 6th and 7th notes of the major scale, this 5th mode of the melodic minor scale has minor 6th and 7th notes.

Finding chords for any mode using the relation of modes

C Charukeshi

Charukeshi is the 5th mode of the Melodic minor scale. To find the root of the melodic minor scale it belongs to, we just need to find out which scale has C as the 5th note.

Scales starting from F as the root, will have C as the 5th note. We can use all the chords of the F melodic minor scale on C Charukeshi. According to Mark Levine (The Jazz Theory Book), in a jazz context, it is better to use the chords of the modes other than the 5th mode, with a slash. For example instead of using C7♭13, use chords like F-Δ/C, AbΔ#5/C etc.

Three note chords

F minor

G minor

Ab aug

 Bb maj

C major

D dim

E dim

Detailed chords

F-Δ

G sus♭9

Ab Δ#5

Bb7 #11

C7♭13

D Ø

E7alt

 

 

 

 

Find more examples and details about Melodic minor and associated ragas + detailed practical information on Ragas, and chords for Ragas in the Raga Chord resource.

How to play the chords for Melodic minor based scales and ragas

You know what chords belong in the melodic minor family. Now, how do we actually play those chords? Which notes do we use? 

Here are a few examples:

Example of notes of chord based on the Melodic minor scale

Notes (top to bottom):

  • C# – fifth
  • B – perfect 4th
  • G – ♭9 note
  • E – minor 7th
  • F# – root 

Those are the notes of F# sus ♭9 chord, the chord for the second mode of the E melodic minor scale

E melodic minor scale: E F# G A B C# D# E

2nd mode of E melodic minor (starts from F#):

The minor 7th note E is part of the scale, so it is fine to be played. Playing D# instead of E would include major 6th interval instead of minor 7th in the chord. 

Example 2

Notes (top to bottom):

  • E♭ – ♭9th
  • B♭ – ♭13th
  • F – #9th
  • C – minor 7th
  • F# – major 3rd
  • D – root

The root D along with the major 3rd and minor 7th intervals forms the D7 chord.

All possible alterations except the #4th are there in the chord making it a D7alt or the D altered dominant chord, which is derived from the 7th mode of the D# (E♭) melodic minor scale.

Like the two examples above, use the name of the chord to find out the notes of each chord.

Have a look at the Raga Chord resource.

By | 2018-08-04T18:21:58+00:00 June 30th, 2013|Indian Guitar|0 Comments

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