Vaai Irandu
pour mezzo-soprano

Gabriel Dharmoo
Composition Date: 2009
Duration: 00:07:00
Genre: Solo Voice, A Capella


Instrumentation Set Number 1:
  • 1 x Mezzo Soprano
Programme Note:

This short 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.


  • Call Number:
  • MV 1000 D525va
  • Genre:
  • Solo Voice, A Capella
  • Date of Acquisition:
  • April 17, 2014
  • Type:
  • Print-music, Published by CMC
  • Physical Description:
  • 1 score (18 p.) ;
    18 Pages
    Height: 32 cm
    Width: 24 cm
  • Language Information
  • Main language: Afrihili (Artificial language)
  • Additional Information:
  • pour mezzo-soprano
    En 1 mouvement

    The piece requires a tonic and dominant harmonic drone of D flat / A flat, equivalent to Sa and Pa in D flat, in Indian terminology. The favoured choice is an acoustic tanpura or an electronic version of this sound, such as a tanpura box (eg. “Radel” products). Nowadays (2012), there are iPhone applications such as “iTanpura – Tanpura Player” – in this case, select D flat for Sa and A flat for Pa. The use of another instrument (acoustic or electronic) is possible, but should emulate the tanpura shift between tonic and dominant.

    If an electronic drone is used, it should play in 2 or 4 speakers, depending on the hall. Keeping in mind this is a drone, not an electronic component such as a tape or live electronics, the volume should be relatively low. The audience might even – during animated sections – forget that it is playing. The harmonic drone fades in progressively and should be heard for 8 to 10 seconds before the performer starts to sing. Similarly, the drone fades out for 8 to 10 seconds at the end. The singer’s entrance and exit from the stage may match that of the drone, or not.

    * The harmonic drone, as well as the whole composition, can be transposed to better suit a potential singer’s voice.

    Although there is no time signature, the quarter note acts as the pulse throughout the piece. Sections A, B, C and H are set to a Flexible Tempo with gradual pulse fluctuations such as Hold back and Rush. Sections D, E, F and G are set to a Measured Tempo where the quarter note pulse is stable and the performer should render rhythms precisely. However, you will find in these sections a few Hold back and Rush pulse fluctuations. The size of a fermata is proportional to its length. The smaller one indicates a 1 to 2 second suspension, the medium a 3 to 5 second pause and the big one a long pause between 5 and 15 seconds. Once the rhythmical structure is well integrated, the tempo fluctuations should feel quite natural. Once a performer starts learning this piece, it is
    suggested she first ignores fermatas and tempo fluctuations, beating a regular quarter note pulsation to place all rhythms with precision.

    Oeuvre déposée au CMC Québec

    Pour voir la partition | To view the score

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Copies of this work are available for loan from: Toronto, Montréal, Vancouver