2010 Loneliness of Dust

Loneliness of Dust


Lonliness of Dust


A collaborative work with Hossein Omoumi featuring traditional Persian music fused with electronic music.

Hossein Omoumi: ney and vocals

Shahrokh Yadegari: live electronics

Faramarz Amiri: Tombak, Daf, Percussion


The UCI performance will feature

John Crawford: Live Video Mix

University of California, Irvine; Smith Hall

March 6, 8:00 p.m.

Improvisation plays an important role in Persian traditional music. The Radif, which is comprised of a set of ancient melodies and their hierarchical classification, is often the basis for a performance and It also defines performative rules which can establish the language of the musical communication among performers.

Computer music has often been produced based on Western ideas. It is often a difficult task for electronic/computer music to stay in the realm of a certain tradition without misappropriating some aspect of that tradition within the context of the Western frame of mind. Similarly traditional forms could appropriate electronic music when computers and electronics are used without consideration for the formal connotations that the use of computers and electronics may imply.

Similar to many Persian traditional music performances with no electronics, the form of this performance is structured improvisation, where specific parameters (and compositions) have been decided upon beforehand to define specific musical, emotional, and sonic spaces for each section of the piece. A computer music instrument called Lila (designed by Shahrokh Yadegari) is used for the live electronic parts. Lila allows its performer to establish a communication with other acoustic performers in tune with the rules of the Radif.

Lila is an old Sanskrit word signifying divine play, the play of destruction and creation, or the play of presence in the moment. Lila is built based on simple analog processes (e.g., loop, delay, ring modulation, and feedback) whose parameters are controlled precisely by a performative action. Lila samples and transforms the acoustic material played in real-time; the acoustic performer can improvise more material on this newly created element. This becomes a continual and circular process. In this way, the acoustic performer can have the same form of musical freedom which he or she enjoys in a traditional setting in an augmented expressive language.

We intend for electronics and the computer to play important structural roles in this performance without any demand for substantial deviation from the Persian traditional musical form. We hope to create a musical journey in which seemingly separate worlds reach into one another, complementing and challenging one another, without forgetting their own identity or violating the identity of the other.

Tunable tombak (Persian percussion instrument) innovated by H.Omoumi

In this performance we shall also use a newly innovated tunable tombak. Skin percussion instruments comprise a resonance box with a skin stretched across either or both ends. Tuning in these instruments is achieved by adjusting the skin tension; in Iran, Tombak players traditionally use heat in cold and humid conditions to make the Tombak sound louder and humidity in warm and dry conditions to make the pitch through the lower notes. These adjustments are not made to tune the tombak with the melodic instruments, but to have a better level of volume. A tunable tombak can be tuned on the central note (Shâhed) of one of the musical atmospheres (Gushe-s) of the 12 modal systems (Dastgâh or âvâz) of Classical Persian Music.