Gaanam ("voice" in Sanskrit) was composed as a piece steeped in the Carnatic idiom that could (via thorough listening) be rendered by a traditional choir. It was based on certain high-level theoretical concepts of melody and rhythm in Carnatic music (alapana, vrittham, and thani avarthanam) that were explored and further developed beyond their original idiom, thus harnessing the power of the multi-phonic ensemble. The singers first used a basic score for introduction to the challenging Indian languages as well as the general melodic contours before using their ears, hand motions, graph drawings, and transcription software to achieve the microtonal nature of Carnatic music.
Microtonality of Carnatic (South Indian classical) music. NB: When defining the microtonality of Carnatic music, it is important to think of motion. The "notes between notes" are essentially inflections localized on particular swaras (scale degrees). This piece is primarily based on three ragas: Kalyani, Desh, Hamsanadham. Each come with their own set of the idiomatic motions (gamakams)
Shruthi Rajasekar is an Indian-American composer and vocalist. Trained in the Carnatic and later Western classical idioms, she explores the intersection of cultural and musical identity in her music. Shruthi graduated with highest honors from Princeton University with a B.A. in music, received the Edward T. Cone prize for her compositions, and is pursuing graduate study in ethnomusicology and composition in the UK as a Marshall Scholar.