Title: Raga Cha
Year Completed: 2006
Duration: 9 mins
Instrumentation: Flute Quartet (and other combinations: see below)
Premiere: 2006 London, England: London Flutes

Purchase/Rent: Canadian Music Centre

Raga Cha is a transcription of an improvisation by Derek Charke.  It is not based on any authentic Raga, but rather attempts to emulate the sound world through the use of various extended flute techniques. It is repetitive and meditative in character.  The title ‘Cha’ is derived from the primary technique used to produce most sounds in this work, whereby the flutist must enunciate the word ‘cha’ to produce the desired effect.  One of the flutes acts as the tabla, this is accomplished by singing and playing at the same time.  Alteration between a low and high pitch is achieved, not by changing fingerings, or pitch, but by changes in vowel sounds and a sudden increase in air pressure, adding higher harmonics. Another flute takes on the role of drone, acting as the Surpeti (Swar peti) or Shruti Box.  Two more flutes provide variations on a simple, descending, natural minor scale. Each part has its own distinctive rhythm, that taken as a whole sounds rather complex.  A hemiola rhythm, 2 against 3, opens the piece.  Later still 3 against 4 is introduced as the piece builds in complexity. Two thirds of the way into the piece the tonic changes from C in the dorian mode, to E-flat lydian.  Further still the tonic changes to G in an aeolian mode, ultimately returning to, and ending on, the original C dorian.

"The admirable simplicity of the concept kept the audience riveted on catching the tiniest details." – Stephen Pedersen, The Chronicle Herald

Several different arrangements are possible. This list shows the combinations that have been used:

1) 4 C flutes
2) 2 C flutes & 2 alto flutes
3) 2 C flutes, 1 alto flute & 1 bass flute
4) 2 C flutes & 2 bass flutes
5) Any sized flute ensemble using any combination of C flutes, alto flutes and bass flute(s).


(1) A normal notehead indicates ordinary tone. However, often a combination of ordinary tone and chuffing attacks using "ch" sounds (on the bass flute in particular) should be explored.

(2) A triangle notehead indicates a “toneless” attack. Blow across the tone-hole (not into the tone-hole as you normally would) whilst using a harsh "ch", "k", or "t" articulation. For single tonguing use "ch". For double tonguing use "ch k". And for triple tonguing use "ch k t". Feel free to overblow at times capturing some of the harmonics and producing a grittier sound. Experiment with using combinations of "ch k t" for single tongued passages as well.

(3) A diamond notehead indicates aeolian sounds. Produce an airy sound using "sh".

(4) A square notehead indicates a note to be sung.
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