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Monday, December 07, 2009

Trouble in Guitarland

Was practicing "Samaja Vara Gamana" which is in Ragam HindOLam using the cheat sheet, and Jr. asked me

"How can anyone sing in that hollow voice to match your guitar?"

It did seem strange that when spanning two octaves, the lower octave below the one I had chosen as reference "C" was a too low!

Then the nerd in me went on a web surfing spree (followed by a lot of practicing) and found that:

a. most folks misquote the Center "C" in the keyboard to be 240Hz.

b. Actually the center "A" or "A4" as it called is at 440Hz exactly (round number). The Center "C" or the "C" key between A4 and A3(which is at 220Hz) is at 261.6 Hz and not at 240 Hz.

c. Guitar folks deliberately moved everything on the notation up by an octave! Apparently this was done to facilitate the notations (on western sheet music) to appear in the middle lines on the music sheets.. Now that is a bummer, and wish I had paid more attention to fixing the base scale.

d. No harm done. Now that I have been practicing the notes for the lower octave, just have to reset everything in my head and go up one.

Based on that, the advice for other guitar players trying to figure out Carnatic notes to play songs or "swaram RIF's" (that is what we are calling it in our house) is to practice in the "green" color coded octave on the cheat sheet.

The Hindolam reference example is here..
Hindolam is S G2 M1 D1 N2 S S N2 D1 M1 G2 S

If you are trying to play the song, play the S G2 M1 on the green and the D1 N2 on the Orange and your 4 to 7 year old's will be impressed!

If you are not interested in guitar playing, what I wrote may not make sense.. but if you do, you might be happy that the mixup was cleared up.

Better late than never!


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