This is a victorious variation of Rossini’s barber of Seville (Il barbiere di Siviglia) [I think] in the middle eastern Homayoon scale played by hot chicks two centuries later! kitschy, but still delightful:

My auditory processing unit seems to be too melody-oriented. Styles, accompaniments and orchestration, and even the lyrics are usually filtered out. A brilliant sequence of notes can’t be cheesy or kitsch anyhow. And seriously, that’s not really cheesy compared to what I listen in some saddest and deepest moments of life!

Masters of Persian Music @ Berkeley

I just attended the Masters of Persian Music performing at University of California, Berkeley.

I have no more doubt about their performing skills, that is awesome. As of the concert during the second half I was bored by Grammy award nominees (for the best traditional world music)! That might be due to their monophonic and repetitive use of the very same melody patterns in Shur scale back and forth (dastgāh-e-Shur is a scale close to medieval Phrygian mode). Once they eventually modulated to minor and I noticed that it suddenly attracted every one’s attention around me. Just to know, my seat was in between of two groups of Americans and Iranians.

Their performance was consistent, harmonic, homogeneous, and professional, but there were really no innovation and creativity going on; no more ways of brain tickling. That was just in a way it used to be in one, two, or even three decades ago.

When it comes to traditional Persian music, my taste seems to be developing. Facing recent innovations in poetry, melody and rhythm as well as new approaches of correlating form and content in Persian music has moved it towards a more complicated and challenging scope. I am not talking about updating instruments, changing the orchestration, hiring polyphony or choice of the scales. These innovations can be accomplished within the exact same set of ensembles.

p.s. Their albums Faryad and Without You is available at Amazon.

Berkeley, CA, October 2008
Nim at Berkeley last year

Parviz Meshkatian (1955-2009)

Today afternoon, Parviz Meshkatian, Iranian composer, musical researcher and santur (cimbalom) player passed away due to cardiac arrest while he was just 54. In the past few years he had become artistically isolated, being very unsatisfied with the censorship and other troubles in the Iranian art scene.

I’ll never forget that once I had an epileptic seizure (when I was 14) as a result of listening to one of his pieces over and over and over… Its scale called “Bidaad” (can be translated in to something between injustice and catastrophe!) is very close to the harmonic minor but the tonic is two semitones higher.

To me introducing the Persian flute (Nei) with a syncopation or a back-beat is one of his signatures. This old song of unity (…0:07″ and 0:16″) which once more after thirty years has become widely spread around again (now in the Iranian green movement) is a good example . The epic lyrics are also written by him:

Eric Singer, and Adam Matta in Trondheim

Last night Eric Singer, musician and technologist from NY, had an electronic concert in Trondheim Match Making 08, a festival for art and technology. He is the founder of LEMUR (League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots). He is talking about his invention, Guitar Bot, one of the robotic musical instruments they have built up so far:

Now he has Adam Matta, the fantastic beat-boxer in his group:

In one piece while Adam and the robots were performing together, he wanted to teach them a rhythm so that they can tap with him. Tonight, during the Norwegian folk dinner Eric Singer told me he had just finished the programming code for this part right before the concert!

When something comes to the musical collaboration, I can not avoid thinking of collaboration over a distance. Since last night I’ve been thinking about the possibility of playing these musical instruments remotely, since in principle they are being controlled by MIDI commands.

In a remote duet we have two musicians and two instruments, each musician with his/her instrument in its own side. What if we keep a musician in one side and bring the instrument (remotely played by him through robots) to the other side? Then, instead of transferring the wave signal stream, we can send the performer’s MIDI commands and reproduce the musical sound at the destination, where the other musician is playing his/her own instrument and the audiences are attending.

An opposite mistake!

Hotel California, Eagles:

You can check-out any time you like, But you can never leave!

Last night I was listening to this for long hours, while I couldn’t believe that I’ve committed that mistake, the other way around! I did leave California but I didn’t check out! I didn’t pass through the secondary border check which is mandatory for Iranians and didn’t go through all the so-called rituals.

I’m home now without the stamp, hoping to be able to get there again without any penalty.