Aruna Narayan

Aruna Narayan

Mishra Pilu
2020 Duration: 13:00
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Performance Note

Mishra Pilu consists of an Aalap section and a Bandish section:

The Aalap is free and unmetered, with a melody line that passes through the quartet while the other voices add in their own improvisatory echoes as they wish.

The Bandish is metered with a rhythmic accompaniment provided by the cello. Watch Kronos’ instructional video online below to see how Kronos cellist Sunny Yang plays the “cello tabla”—an improvisatory technique that requires a close mic set-up. For a more accessible option, cellists can feel free to improvise any percussion on the body of their instrument (no miking required).

The entire piece is played with a tambura drone as the backing track, which can be found on the “iTablaPro” app with the setting "Teentaal (16) at 240 bpm.” This Taal is a 16-beat pattern, but is doubled to make it an 8 beat one—2 measures of 4/4 at the 120 tempo.

For players who choose not to or are unable to access the iTablaPro app, a 30-minute recording of the drone is also available to download below.

Download Backing Track
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Program Notes

Mishra Pilu

Aruna Narayan
(b. 1955)

Composed for
50 For The Future:
The Kronos Learning

Arranged by Reena Esmail
(b. 1983)

Artist Statement

“This piece is based on Raag Mishra Pilu. Mishra means a mixture of a few different raags that are woven into a central theme. Raag Pilu has a textbook ascending and descending structure. However, because it allows for the inclusion of all twelve notes, it is generally conducive to a wider range of improvisation than the traditional discipline of a raag.

“Since the Kronos Quartet is known for their many successful collaborations with different genres of music, I felt that Mishra Pilu would be a perfect representation of an Indian classical music bouquet! I have maintained the usual format – the “Alaap” which is the first slow movement, followed by a “bandish,” a composition set to a 16-beat rhythm cycle called Teental. Several of these cycles are devoted to a few different raags, returning to the principal line in Pilu.”

Aruna Narayan

Cello Tabla - Instructional Video

Sunny Yang demonstrates the cello tabla technique for Mishra Pilu.

Composer Interview

Aruna Narayan discusses her musical background, her composition process, her relationship with Kronos, and more.

Composition Process

For the composition of Mishra Pilu, Aruna Narayan first made this Sarangi demo, which was then arranged for string quartet by Reena Esmail for Fifty for the Future. Hear the original demo here:

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Artist’s Bio

Aruna Narayan

India / Canada

Born in Mumbai, India, Aruna Narayan Kalle plays the Sarangi, an ancient North Indian bowed instrument is considered one of the most difficult to master, and one of the more undeveloped instruments in both its physical and musical aspects. Its traditional role as an accompaniment instrument for vocal music kept it further in the background. Narayan’s father, renowned Sarangi maestro Pandit Ram Narayan, emerged as its messiah, and due to his efforts, the Sarangi is now well ensconced in the mainstream of the Indian performing arts.

Although Narayan began her music training at the rather late age of eighteen, she made fast progress studying intensively with her father for several years. She has fully captured her father’s disciplined, serious style, yet has also developed a unique voice for her instrument with a warm and generous musical temperament. Her playing is impressive in its subtlety, precision and grace as well as in its powerful and weighty bowing. As a recipient of Pandit Ram Narayan’s musical legacy, she has consistently worked towards maintaining a highly respectable profile for her instrument.

Narayan was recently a featured soloist in a unique presentation of the music of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, performed by Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. An hourlong documentary film about this project with an exclusive profile of her has been aired by the CBC and the Bravo channels on several occasions. Her music has been featured in several international and Hollywood films and she regularly teaches in the school system introducing young people to Indian music and the Sarangi. Her recordings are available on the Nimbus (UK) and Zig-Zag (France) labels. In addition to her international performances, she frequently appears in the National Programme of Music on Doordarshan (TV) and other networks in India. Presently she resides in Toronto, Canada where she teaches and performs.

Learn more about Aruna >>

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Help support Kronos’ 50 for the Future as we commission fifty new works designed expressly for the training of students and emerging professionals.
Sunny Yang - Narayan
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Mishra Pilu is so soulful and intense, and the journey it takes you on makes you feel like you've found human emotion at its absolute best. It's a wonderful gateway piece to learn more about the sarangi.

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Sunny Yang

Cellist, Kronos Quartet

Kronos Quartet

World Premiere

October 21, 2021

Kaufman Music Center & Montclair State University

Merkin Concert Hall

New York, New York

More Info