How to Sing Indian Songs

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    • 1). Learn a common Indian scale, or mode. Common scales will change depending on the region in India from which the music comes. But many common scales have a basic ascending/descending mode that flows similarly to the western minor and natural scales. It is the sound of the scales descending that creates the recognizable tabor sound in the music. It is helpful to pluck this scale out on a piano prior to singing, but it is not necessary.

    • 2). Learn a traditional Indian song. Indian music is not composed, but rather arranged according to a combo of rhythms and ragas. But many traditional songs use the same fundamental ragas: Shree, Bhairav, Hindol, Malkauns, Dipak and Megh. Use a website to locate the music and lyrics for a song (see Resources). Colorado State University, for example, offers a database of Hindi music via its website.

    • 3). Learn a traditional rhythm to accompany your singing. Basic Indian drum rhythms are arranged in simple measures that are categorized as claps and waves. Begin with two measures with four beats each; this keeps the rhythm simple. Add more measures when you feel confident with the basic rhythm.

    • 4). Use both hands and a table top to pound out the rhythm. The table top won't have the reverberation of the drum but it will help you follow the rhythm of the song.

    • 5). Practice, practice, practice. Follow the rhythm and scale of the song. Start slowly, and repeat each note when you hear yourself make a mistake. Repetition is key to practice, but if you are continually repeating a mistake it is difficult to relearn the correct notes. Listen to a recorded version of the song to check your progress.

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