Take A Ride on the "South Indian Line"
(...and If you actually get to where you're goin' in one piece. you'd better thank the Lord!)
The exercise here is a page from my personal workbook (as is most of the stuff I post, I guess).
In order to kill two birds with one stone, I thought I'd create` these lines for myself as a method to get closer and more personal with this odd meter Carnatic composition "South Indian Line", and post them here, to share with my fellow masochists.
This band, whose original incarnation dates back to the early 1970's and whose charter members featured such names as Charlie Mariano, Kenny Wheeler, Albert Mangelsdorf, Jon Heisman, & Eberhard Weber, among others; is to this day still somewhat of an institution in Germany.
It's founder and leader (musically, spiritually & financially), both then and now, is our beloved septuagenarian pianist / composer / arranger; the one and only, Wolfgang Dauner.
The original recordings of "South Indian Line" featured Charlie Mariano on nadswaram, a Carnatic double reed instument, which he studied in Bangalore with a master teacher.
I've had the privilege of both recording and performing "South Indian Line" live with UJRE 2G and being featured on soprano saxophone (as I don't play nadaswaram).
The tune itself is based over a vamp in Eb concert, consisting of a cycle of 24 beats (eighth notes), which is divided up and notated as::
2 measures of 5/8; 1 measure of 4/4; and 1 measure of 3/4
Ta-da-gi-na-tom (5), Ta-da-gi-na-tom (5), Ta-ka-di-mi (4), Ta-ka-di-mi (4), Ta-ka-di-mi (4), Ta-ka (2).
As one of my goals here is to play over the vamp using primarily 16th notes, the first two 5/8 measures can be further broken down into a group of ten 16ths (3rd speed) like this:
Takita (dotted 8th = 3 16ths); Takita (dotted 8th = 3 16ths); Takadimi (2 8th notes = 4 16ths)
Melodically, the tune is based on Melakarta #16 (Chakravakam).
In Eb concert:
Eb - Fb - G - Ab - Bb - C - Db
It could be considered in western scale terms as an Eb Mixolydian b2, or as the 5th mode of Ab Harmonic Major.
On the recording, I used a combination of the original scale together with an Eb Dorian b2 (2nd mode of Db Melodic Minor), which changes the original scale by one note (G becomes Gb, Maj 3r to min 3rd).
In these line exercises, I'm experimenting with breaking it down further by using combinations of Pentatonic b2s and Augmented Scales, as these scales contain both Maj and min 3rds, relative to the key.
It's not my goal to memorize and use these composed lines as "plug & play" phrases; rather I'm hoping it will give me some added ways of ultimately seeing and intuitively approaching an improvised solo over this multi-metered vamp.