Maqam and creativity in contemporary world
Farangis Nurulla-Khoja (Dushanbe, Tajikistan) [BIO]
Maqam as a musical symbol and a code of musical thought of the people of Central Asia is very attractive for the contemporary composers. The reason of that interest is, that there are diversity of maqam traditions all over the world, especially in the world of Islam, which was speeded from Buckara and Samarqand up to Spain and Italy in Middle Ages. Thus, to re-think that diversity of forms of maqams by the modern and contemporary technique of musical art is a common goal of many composers of our own days. I would like to tell here about my own experience as a participator in one of the gatherings of composers and musicians, which have been organized by Rayamount Foundation, Paris, in September, 2005.
The festival was titles as Maqam and creativity: from Pamir to Andalusia and brought to-gather musicians of spiritual music from nowadays Badachshan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Spain and France. Each of group of musicians demonstrated their traditions and my task, as a composer, was to create a new peace, based on my impressions. There were no shortage of meeting, discussions, listening to the known and unknown sounds and expressions, ranging from ‘ego’ of the musicians to the wish of perception and harmonization. But it was clear that we are open to learn, to know and to create.
What happens, then, when contemporary music, this changing phenomenon, meets a traditional music which is the bedrock of, well, tradition? Does something have to give, as in the immovable post meets the unstoppable stone conundrum? Thankfully, art is not a logical thing and does not have to resort to logic to solve such a paradox. I prefer to think of this 'collision' as being greater than the sum of its parts, which defies all laws of physics anyway.
To take another perspective: my exposure to traditional music is deeply rooted in my culture, which is a culture which has a long tradition of being open to new tendencies. This was the essential and creative spirit of the Silk Road. Here in Royaumont, I had to face challenges in a concrete way and discover how to join these two tendencies.
My affinity for certain string resonances (the subtlety of the Tajik tanbur, for example, lies in this aspect) informs my outlook on contemporary music. Since the richness of strings lies in their capacity to resonate in sympathy with one another, I found here another metaphor for this project as a whole.
The incorporation of certain complex Pamirian rhythms also posed a significant challenge, as a large part of my work consisted in transcribing rhythms which had not been transcribed for this purpose. This way of breaking new ground with old tools, again, is the essence of contemporary music. But let us not forget that the equation works the other way. The spirit of contemporary music has also influenced the way in which we have rehearsed and improvised together. I trust that this collaboration will provide you with much food for thought and listening.
Being a Tajik-Canadian composer helps me to benefit from two distinct yet harmonious perspectives: my birth country emphasizes the search for national identity through exploration of history, while my adopted country emphasizes the search for national culture through exploration of identity. As all truly fruitful collaborative projects show, sometimes revelation is simply a matter of a slight shift in perspective.
Taking my chance to be here, in Samarkand, where my roots were formed, as a gift, I would like to present some pieces as a result of cooperation of the big company of the traditional and contemporary musicians.