Vaai Irandu

Gabriel Dharmoo / Gabriel Dharmoo

Vaai Irandu

This vocal piece explores the timbral and polyphonic potential of the human voice, as evoked in the Tamil title Vaai Irandu, which means Two Mouths.

The first mouth’s material is inspired ragas of South Indian Carnatic music, namely Kalyani, Thodi, Shankarabharanam, Abhogi and Saveri. Melodic fragments and gamakas (ornaments) from these ragas are developed in sequence to construct what we could call an imaginary metaraga.

The second mouth consists in percussive phonemes, superimposed to the melodic line of the first. These clicks and ejective consonants gradually reveal an arithmetical rhythmical construction typical of Carnatic percussion figures.

Composed after the composer’s first trip to Chennai, dedicated to learning Carnatic music. Overtly inspired by melodic and rhythmical fragments from this South Indian classical music, this “fiction” is the closest one to reality. Dharmoo had already adapted the piece from the angle of fake culture by integrating it as the opening of his solo show Anthropologies imaginaires — labeled as a Ruonshtan invocation prayer in that context. Meeting Priya Shah in 2017, a singer interested in Hindustani, Carnatic, jazz and improvised music amongst others, sparked the idea of singing Vaai Irandu as a duet for vocalists with timbres closer to the source of inspiration.


2nd prize in the Godfrey-Ridout Award of the SOCAN Foundation Awards for Young Composers (Canada, 2008)