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Shruti Stick and Metallophone
Ganesh Anandan plays the Shruti Stick, with Metallophone in the foreground. The Metallophone is built with aluminum plates, and tuned to the Shruti system and to Harry Partch’s tunings.
Shruti Stick

String preparations and special effects:
There are different types of preparations to acquire a specific scale. The selected modes are tuned with the use of high tension clips and individual mobile bridges positioned at specific positions on the strings. Their respective positions with reference to the fret board are noted for future use by way of graphic charts. On the left side of the clips, the “true intervals” are heard by striking the same side string. Whereas on the right side of the clips, one can hear the inverse tone of the length of the string vibrating. This inverse tone is not always a clear tone and includes strange harmonics, enharmonics, upper and lower partials. These special sounds are often used as percussive and/or textural material. In compositions where two players or more are involved, it is essential to use the same types of preparations at exactly the same fret for all instruments.

Shruti Stick
Ganesh playing Hans Reichel's multi-neck guitar (with Shruti Stick in the foreground) at Hans' studio
Shruti Stick

The Shruti Stick is a musical instrument designed by Ganesh Anandan. The idea was to try to combine a santoor (asian hammered dulcimer) with an electric prepared guitar. Ganesh wanted to work with different types of sounds that are acquired by string preparations and mobile bridges. As a percussionist and explorer, he looked to develop a new musical palette and vocabulary to use and to compose with. The idea was to be able to tune the Shruti Stick to "just intonation" or to any type of tuning, hence the high tension clips, mobile bridges and built tuning objects. The Shruti Stick was named after the Indian Shruti system (the 22 interval octave).

General description:
The Shruti Stick is an electric small bodied 12 string instrument (6 guitar and 6 bass strings). It is tuned with a variety of different preparations principally high tension clips and individual mobile bridges in order to attain different tunings and “special effects”. To play the instrument, he decided to place it firmly on a short horizontal stand allowing freedom of both hands to approach the instrument percussively and in other ways. There are two custom made pick-ups: a custom made magnetic pick-up near the bridge and a custom made piezo transducer pick-up near the nut end of the instrument.

Writing music for this instrument is an evolutive process. Ganesh uses a combination of rhythmic charts, numbers and visual aids. At times it is hard to represent on the written score all the variable sounds available without making the score too complicated to play. To simplify things, he writes indications on top of the rhythmic staff that show objects and playing techniques for each piece. There are also graphic scores that allow the player the liberty to choose actions within certain parameters, almost like a game board.

Comprovisation (composition + improvisation)
Ganesh uses the term Comprovisation, which is a combination of composition and improvisation. These two aspects are pertinent to this kind of project where composition takes the form of sketches that allow personal extemporization and creativity. Each player is encouraged to be creative while playing a written part and to find things as they happen. The resulting music cannot be predicted 100% and advantage is taken of this interesting situation which allows for beautiful accidentals to occur or not. Personal interpretation is a surprise and perhaps allows players to go to exuberant places if it takes them there. "Cues" are used to come back to written material or a rhythmic motif whenever needed. This is an exciting part of comprovisation and a big part of the resulting pieces.

Listen to a short sound sample of Ganesh Anandan playing the Shruti Stick:

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Listen to a short sound sample of Ganesh Anandan playing the Metallophone with other instruments:

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For much more information about the music and vision of Ganesh Anandan, along with comprovisations inspired in part by modes and tunings of the South Indian Karnatic tradition, and Japanese and Gamelan traditions. please visit his website at: fingerworks.org


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