is the fifty-ninth mela of Karnatic music. The swaras mirror the Western melodic
minor scale except for the transformational presence of tivra madhyama in place
For the present composition, I found the mela both gentle and poignant, heavily
steeped in the sounds of South Asia and Persia.
Dharmavati is the third of nine alap compositions completed in 2009 and 2010
that share the same musical setting for the through-composed melodic voice sounded
by a spare piano timbre. In effect, the result is as much Vedic Chant as music. The setting consists of a dramatic composite drone
first used on Gangadhara (Bhupali) from 2002, combined with a single tanpura,
Indian bells, rotating drum and rainstick.
The process of selecting which precise tone to use for shadja (tonic) for each
particular raga is fascinating for me. Indian musicians use one tonal center
for their entire life, but given the nature of the meruvina, I have used all
twelve possibilities in my work. It is an intuitive process that filters the
melodic personality of the raga together with my individual temperament, and
I frequently am surprised where shadja turns up. Dharmavati is based on E flat.