Hansadhvani, a janya raga belonging to Dhirasankarabharanam mela, has a deep emotional connection for me established mostly through a recording by Shivkumar Sharma, and my viewings of two swans that live in a protected place here in Los Angeles. It is a pentatonic raga that is beyond beautiful, with origins rooted in the voice of the swan. My instincts tell me that the raga also depicts the undulating shape of a swan's body.
Hansadhvani is the first 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. In effect, the result is as much Vedic Chant as music.
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. Hansadhvani is based on B.