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Aruna’s Bells

I composed Aruna's Bells in winter 2014 while I was in Bhopal, India for nine months on a Senior Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship studying Dhrupad vocal with the renowned Gundecha Brothers. For many months I would get up at 5:30 every morning and practice the morning raga Bhairav for an hour or so, while it was still dark and misty outside. We lived in a colony with row houses and every morning at the same time I was practicing Bhairav my neighbor Aruna would worship her gods at her alter in her house (called a puja). Her routine involved  ringing a high bell for many minutes at a time, which I could hear clearly through the walls.  Aruna's bells mingled with the sounds and feelings of Bhairav and inspired this piece.

— Payton MacDonald, 2014