Sacred Geometries

Being born and raised in Iran has exposed me to lots of deeply fascinating artworks as well as the ancient spiritual culture. Like many other teenagers of my time, I wasn’t really enthusiastic about the culture and art of my surrounding but there were two things that I always found myself drawn to: Sufi music and the sacred geometry used in Iranian mosques. This old desire hit me years later, when I was studying digital graphic design focused mostly on creating live generative visuals, since I had to deal with making live generative visuals in advance. During one of my researches I came across a photograph of Nasir Al-Mulk mosque in Shiraz, that was full of psychedelic patterns and intense colors. The art work I saw on the picture brought me to the idea of making digital versions of these sacred geometries.

Besides the visual aspects, se-tar improvisations are in the very core of this project. I have been always drawn to what I later found to be called minimal music (minimalism). It can be both the long-lasting sonic elements, such as drone and ambient, or the repetitive rhythmic figures. During my academic studies of composition, I was highly impressed by the works of composers such as Arvo Part and Steve Reich, whose works I have discovered during my very first introduction to modern music.

Soon I realized that my sense of closeness to the works of composers of the minimal school, especially the American one, comes from my Iranian musical heritage. The repetitive rhythmic structure is one the of core themes of Iranian mystical music, from pre-Islamic era to Sufism.

On the other hand the experimental thinking of John Cage and the works of Karlheinz Stockhausen with their very Eastern philosophy-based aesthetics also influenced me profoundly. All these influences brought me new tools and approaches towards conceiving and making music, especially the freedom to explore new sonic possibilities.

Back in Iran when I began to learn se-tar, I was taught in a very traditional way, where you have to strictly memorize and play what your teacher has played for you by just listening (in Persian we call it “heart by heart learning”). The system is based on the assumption that you are only allowed to improvise when you have mastered all the tunes and songs in all the Iranian musical modes (it’s called Radif with 7 main Dastgahs). But as a teenager I always found myself trying to improvise and do something different, to express my own feelings. Due to the Kurdish roots from my mother’s side, I was deeply drawn to Kurdish Sufi music. I was highly impressed by its rhythmic figures and performing techniques, and especially in the instrument called tanbur. There was something special in the sound of se-tar which kept the idea of leaving it for tanbur away, but in times when nobody was observing me I kept improvising in the Kurdish tanbur style.

Sacred Geometries is my personal project to explore different sonic possibilities of se-tar in the field of experimental music. This idea first came to my mind in 2014 during my collaboration with the Italian composer Giorgio Sancristoforo on the project called “poco Ali”.

With the usage of the mentioned visuals, I am trying to create/practice a spiritual experience that I am going through the improvisation for the audience.