IMAGINATIVE MUSIC

A Colorful Experience

I have always been inspired by the music and ideas of the English composer Brian Ferneyhough. American theorist Joseph Strauss has argued – in his article Anxiety of Influence that since Schoenberg's music, there have been many reasons for a widening of the gap between the non-musician audience and the pioneer composers who are trying to touch the extremes. One of these reasons is the visual aspect of music, whether in the form of instructions for performers or a visual realization of music for the audience to follow and understand. Ferneyhough admits that he has struggled with this visual aspect, seeking to incorporate such instructions or audience realizations without compromising the complexity and precision degree necessary to realize the composer's idea. For my own part, I have been preoccupied with solving the issues arising from Ferneyhough’s notation system and performance practice.

 

INTERPRETER-CREATOR

I want to further explore the issues within the relationship between the performer, the interpreter, and the creator. The discussion starts from the traceability of new notation systems and the blurry boundary of a playable or unplayable musical element. I am working on a series of pieces to be released as a score-reading/album project in which the performance score is more than a recipe or a list of instructions.

Mise-en-scène.jpg
Maximum Insufficiently Identical outline.jpg

THE VISUAL ASPECT

The score can have an independent function as a piece of visual art, before or even without being performed. It also has a traceable surface, readable with no deep knowledge of music—a surface that was, in much modernist and postmodern music, abruptly removed since the advent of dodecaphonic music as a replacement for the melody in Romantic music.

 

Maximum Indifferently Identical Outlines

There is always a minimum level of differences which humans can recognize in order to differentiate two things. Beyond that point, the differences are not distinguishable. The immediate moment of finding the minimum different enough details is the basic concept of this piece. In other words, the outline and macro structure of the music materials are the most identical but insufficient for the listener to hear the similarity, even in some sections where all instruments have the exact same material. Due to the nature of the notation design, and the approximation in the performance details, even the same musical material with the "maximum identical outlines" are "insufficient" to hear the perfect similarity, even though they are perfectly similar is some sections.

 

Maximum Insufficiently Identical Outlines (2019)
Mivos Quartet

 

Minimum Different Enough Details (2018)
Violin Duo, JACK Quartet

 
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SEARCH FOR A NEW LANGUAGE

This project took a significant step forward last year with my string quartet Maximum Insufficiently Identical Outlines (2019), where the notation itself functioned as a newly invented language, easily readable and learnable, that, due to its newness and lack of trials-and-errors, contains limited words. This new language can be tailored differently for each composition, as can be seen in the evolution of this system in my Mise-en-scene (2018), Mise-en-synthesis (2019), and Aposynthesy (2019).

Amin Sharifi - Mise-en-scène - Full Score_Page_06.jpg

SONIC OUTPUT

I am looking for a new language with which composers can write poems that are not understandable or translatable using conventional systems (languages). Its performance practice would be very much under the composer's control and one could easily increase or decrease the level of sophistication. Ultimately, I seek a notational system that does not rely on sonic output and has underlying meaning even without musical performance as a purely visual and imaginative musical score.

 

Mise-en-synthesis (2019)
Tenor Saxophone and Viola

 

SPECTRA

I have been designing computer software to analyze audio files and categorize their harmonic spectra by their types or other parameters. It can also analyze to the millisecond the exact timing value of each. My program is is still a prototype, but I am developing it to be a comprehensive spectral analyzer for composers. I also have been using some of the program's output as the source material for my recent compositions Koocheh Baghi for Hypercube and Aposynthesy for the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra.

 

Aposynthesy (2019)
Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra

 

DECOMPOSITION

Aposynthesy (decomposition) is based on the spectral analysis of recording of the piece Booy-e-Baran (Smell of the rain) by the Iranian composer Parviz Meshkatian (1955-2009). Booy-e-Baran is a composition in the Persian mode Nava and in the form of Tasnif* (vocal and instrumental dialogue) on the Rumi’s poem O Yusef. It has been recorded by the Tehran Symphonic Orchestra in 1985 and has been one of the most inspiring pieces of traditional Persian music in my life.


Aposynthesy is my tribute to this piece and in memoriam Parviz Meshkatian. The composition idea is basically giving individual and equal values to every frequency in the original recording. And assigning series of frequencies to each instrument quantized to the nearest pitch. Also keeping the timing of frequencies with quantizing milliseconds to the nearest 32nd rhythm while stretching and squeezing the material continuously. Thus, achieving a distorted view of the original piece passing through different layers of filters and processes.

* one of the several forms of Persian music and can be considered as the Persian equivalent of the ballad

 

Koocheh Baghi (2018)
Hypercube Quartet

 

CUBISM IN MUSIC

My new compositional direction began in 2018 with the piece I wrote for the JACK Quartet. Beginning with that piece, [Mise-en-scène], I have designed a new notation system based on the morphology theory of music, wherein all the musical elements are decomposed and the composer has complete control over every individual aspect of music that a performer could think of independently.


I also designed a new rhythm staff utilizing simultaneous irrational tempos (I can relate the concurrency of irrational tempos with the idea of cubism in music) instead of confusing partial tuplets. Both the morphologist approach and the rhythmic design of my new notational system give composers an extreme level of precision and offer new horizons with which to experiment. I believe it could be a new notational language with which composers can access more details and have the facility to use new musical dimensions.

 

Mise-en-scène (2019)
JACK Quartet