Homespun WW
Jaydev Mistry - 2011

Duration: 15'

In 2011 having worked as a freelance composer and musician for almost twenty years I decided to go back to University. This was prompted by a desire to develop a hyper-guitar with which I could combine my percussion and guitar skills. The composition is entitled Homespun as the final section of the piece is inspired by a campaign that Gandhi initiated in 1920 during the Indian independence struggle. Homespun was a protest against British colonial rule and specifically to bring light to the fact that cotton grown in India was being exported to the UK and being spun into yarn/woven into cloth and then sold back to the Indians at inflated rates. Traditionally in India, cotton was always spun in the villages and supported local economies. This industrialisation of cotton left many Indians unemployed and driven into poverty. Homespun was a drive to encourage Indians to become economically independent of the British Raj and was a direct attack on the Lancashire cotton industry.

The effect of the campaign on the mill workers in Lancashire was to create unemployment and hardship as the mill owners compensated their losses by penalising their employees. In 1931 Gandhi was invited to visit a mill in Darwen, Lancashire by various mill owners, to see for himself the effect his campaign was having. Local mill workers greeted Ghandi with great affection. They made it known to him that they understood it was not India that was creating hardship for them, but rather that the actions of unscrupulous mill owners were responsible for creating unemployment and poverty. The composition Homespun is dedicated to my father as, ironically, when he first came to the UK from India in 1956, he landed in a small mill town in the north of England called Stalybridge. Stalybridge has had along history of cotton production and he found employment in one of its cotton mills.

I have drawn influence for my composition from an Indian classical tradition. I have however, used it only as a starting point to explore new possibilities with the hyper-guitar I have created. The rules that govern Indian classical music performance and composition have been taken as a point of departure for my own work. Homespun is not only an exploration of the notes of the Raag Lalit but also an exploration of production techniques, sound design and new playing techniques.