Kanakangi is the first mela of Karnatic music. It is believed to have been the primary mela at least five-hundred years ago, and that is astonishing because it is practically unknown to Western ears, and most Indian ears of our time. That may not last, however, because I found it to be utterly seductive in both a melodic sense, and the manner which it accentuates the tunings I employ. I cannot imagine creative musicians not wanting to use Kanakangi if they knew about it.
Kanakangi is the sixth 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 compostie 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. Kanakangi is based on B flat.