“So much of my work with brass instruments has come into being because of incredible and intrepid brass players who have shown me new windows into my own music. Hence the title: Khirkiyaan means ‘windows’ in Hindi, and this brass quintet is made up of three ‘windows’ into my work. Each movement is a transformation of another piece of mine for another instrumentation, reimagined for brass quintet.
Tuttarana, the third movement of this piece, was commissioned by The Brass Project, a brass ensemble formed from graduates of the Curtis Institute of Music. It was originally a piece for women’s choir. The title of this movement is a conglomeration of two words: the Italian word ‘tutti’, means ‘all’ or ‘everyone’, and the term ‘tarana’ designates a specific Hindustani musical form, whose closest Western counterpoint is the ‘scat’ in jazz. Made up of rhythmic syllables, a tarana is the singer’s chance to display agility and dexterity. While the brass version of this piece doesn’t have the actual syllables that the vocal version does, it does aim to showcase the brilliant virtuosity of the ensemble.
The other two movements were added later. The first movement, Jog, is a movement of my string quartet Ragamala.Though not entirely in the purest form of the Hindustani raag called Jog, it does use the characteristic between the Western perception of major and minor.
The second movement comes from my song cycle for guitar and mezzo soprano, called Chuti Hui Jagah (The Space Between). ‘Joota’ means ‘shoe’ in Hindi. The title comes from a tiny couplet by the poet Manav Kaul: “When the shoe bites / Then it becomes difficult to navigate through the world / And when the shoe stops biting / Then it becomes difficult to navigate through time.”
It was through working with brass players, being shown the seeds of what was already there in my existing work, and then transforming it for these instruments, that allowed these windows to open.”