The speaking world, tarab and iPod alchemy : The Sensuous Terrain, for mixed chamber ensemble and percussion
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The Sensuous Terrain, a work for violin, clarinet, piano, cello and two percussionists is a 28-30 minute commission for the SOLI Chamber Ensemble of San Antonio. The goal of the work is a hybrid, or reconciliation, of Sufi devotional music and Western, jazz-inspired impulses and continues my interests in weaving pop idioms through a post-modernist canvas. It is also reflective of my ongoing research and exploration of the application of extended graphic design to score mechanics and construction. The work is inspired by the melodic structures, phrasing and voice-exchange concepts found in the music of the late Pakistani composer and singer, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. The preliminary plans for the piece included the piano prepared to mimic the sounds of traditional Middle Eastern percussion instruments such as the dumbek, a tabla-like instrument. This idea quickly evolved into the incorporation of two percussionists whose parts consist of nearly all Middle Eastern instruments or their closest Western equivalents. These percussion parts, which are notated in a purely Western style and evoke many traditional Middle Eastern rhythmic modes, are symbolic of the aforementioned “reconciliation” of the Eastern and Western styles found in the piece.