Fatal Urge Carefree Kiss

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Pseudo Penta-tonic Scale



“An artist has the same expression as anyone else. He just views things differently.”



As an active music producer who has been writing poetry since he was barely out of senior school, I’ve had my fair share of enlightening movements during the course of my learning life so far. This article sums up one such moment which many others must have noticed before me, but not expressed it in the way that I am.

People often ask me; what’s the difference between Indian classical music, and western music? I am not competent enough to answer this question, primarily because my learning of Indian classical music is almost non-existent. All I have learnt so far is western music. But from what I know about Indian classical music and the Ragas, that make its’ backbone, I always tell people; they are both the same at the soul level. This is not because both music styles have a similar seven note pattern (twelve if you include accidentals; sharps and flats), but it is more because the notes, even though used in a dissimilar manner, are used so for similar reasons and effects.

What are Ragas? Each Raga is made up of a particular sequence of notes, and songs can be written based on those note patterns. What is a scale? A scale is a particular pattern of notes, and songs can be written based on those notes. Yes, Ragas are really complex; but so are scales. If there are Ragas for different times of the day, the scales have different moods. If there are Ragas for morning and evening, and each Raga can have a different Ras (or mood), like veer ras (bravado feeling); a major scale has a happy and vibrant mood, while a pure minor scale has a dark tone. Add harmonic minor and melodic minor scales into the mix, and the moods get complex. A Raga may not use all the seven notes found in the basic Sargam (the seven notes family), but may use accidental variations of those that it does use. But so is the case of scales. Each note and its’ sharp or flat variant can have any of the four scale variants of its’ own. Like each Raga has a distinct tone, each note’s various scales will have their own distinct sound, each being pitched at a different level. And no, a scale in Western music need not have all the seven notes of the basic scale either. For example, a Penta-tonic Scale.

What is a Penta-tonic Scale? Simply stated; a scale made up of five different notes. So what is this Pseudo Penta-tonic Scale that I am talking about?

Working on my current project, which happens to be in the scale of G# Major, I noticed a strange pattern of notes. The scale still contains eight notes like any other western scale; G#, A#, C, C#, D#, F, G and G#. And I know, I could have written the scale as Ab, Bb, C, Db, Eb, F, G and Ab and called it an Ab Major scale. In this latter case it would have all the seven notes of the basic scale present in some form. But then that is how any person would look at the scale and exclaim. However I am an artist. For me the note that has the value of G# or Ab, has a sound that develops, on both the sounds of the note G, and the note A. It can be linked to either of the two without any prejudice.

So let’s look at the G# Major scale again. G#, A#, C, C#, D#, F, G and G#. It is a pseudo Penta-tonic Scale. It only has five basic notes and their variations, and thus it has to be called a Penta-tonic Scale. But it has the same number of notes making it up, as a regular seven note scale. Thus it has to be a Pseudo Penta-tonic Scale.

I rest my case.

Fatal Urge Carefree Kiss “Amanpreet Singh Rai”


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