Ganamurti is the third mela of Karnatic music. Its name translates to mean “the Idol of Music,” and it certainly is majestic, sharing the same upper tetrachord as Bhairava from Hindustani music, combined with the use, in effect, of both shuddha and tivra rishaba anchored by madhyama, panchama and shadja. I found this mela quite restless and demonstrative.
One of the phrases in this piece is the inspiration for my subsequent composition, Summer Morning.
Ganamurti is the last of nine alap compositions completed in 2009 and 2010 that share the same musical setting for the through-composed melodic voice sounded by a piano timbre. In effect, the result is as much Vedic Chant as music. The setting consists of a dramatic synthesized 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. Ganamurti is based on B.