In the classical music of North India, the term Âlâp refers to a kind of improvised prelude during which the soloist gradually unfolds a raga, i.e. the modal scale on which the whole piece will be built. The Âlâp consists of a long, slow melodic unfolding accompanied by the tambûrâ, a string instrument that plays the fundamental throughout the piece.
These founding musical processes are exploited and "transcribed" in this composition entitled Âlâp, thus justifying the choice of its title. However, the scale used, which corresponds to the pitches determined by the series of harmonic sounds, is completely foreign to the hundreds of raga that Indian tradition has developed. Right from the beginning, the bansouri (bamboo transverse flute) holds a characteristic sound for a long time: the sound 7, i.e. the minor seventh lowered by a sixth of a tone, which makes it strangely consonant. Due to the progressive deployment of the scale, the untempered sounds are gradually assimilated. The bansouri and arpeggione naturally offer the possibility of these particular pitches being heard, whereas the guitar only sounds the tempered sounds of the scale. At the beginning it assumes the role of the tambûrâ, then gradually it emerges as a solo instrument, imitating the playing of the sarod (a plucked string instrument whose fingerboard is covered with a metal plate allowing numerous ornamental glissandi). The last section leads us to hear the highest sounds of the bansouri while the guitar part, which has regained its role of evocation of the tambûrâ, is looped.