Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hamed Nikpay: The fusion-vocalist.

More on Iranian music ...

Today, I discovered a 34-year old vocalist, Hamed NikPay- حامد نیک پی-who experiments with translating world-wide vocal techniques to make a genre of (perhaps a Peter-Gabielesque or Dead-Can-Danceing ?) fusion music that is rich with traditional Persian poetry, traditional Persian string-instruments--which he effortlessly mixes with his vocal timber--and flamenco, jazz, cuban, Indian, Turkic and other harmonics to produce something that sounds like this below (see him in performance here; and the song can be purchased (Track 7, 99c)).

From his Biography (official website):

He was born in Iran in 1977, and learnt to sing at the age of seven, encouraged by his mother who loved Persian music and poetry. At nine, he studied Tar & Setar, under the tutorship of some of the masters of classical Persian music such as Hooshang Zareef, Zeydolah Tolouee, Attaolah Jangook, Farokh Mazharee, and Daryoush Pirniakan. By the time he was twenty he could play five instruments expertly, adding Tanboor, Oud and Daf to his existing repertoire. His interest in classical Persian music coupled with his passion to write his own music, motivated him to learn fundamentals of music composition from such music Masters as Vartan Sahakian and Farhad Fakhredeanee. He received top honors for improvisation for Setar and vocal in the All Iranian Students Music Festival held in Tehran in 2002.

Since his arrival in the U.S., Hamed has performed in numerous concerts before enthusiastic audiences throughout the U.S. His mesmerizing voice has earned him the reputation of being "One of Iran's Best Young Vocalists" among both the American and the Iranian audiences. He currently resides in Palo Alto, California, where he teaches, writes and records music."

In a recent interview with Radio Free Europe, he describes himself as a traditionalist, one who wishes to stay within the traditional frameworks of Iranian and Non-Iranian music, but to play with tonality and spectrum (he calls it colour) of the music adding little 'accents and flavors', fusing the genres into melo(w)dies that although light on the ear, but are heavily enriched by lyrics of the canonical poems accompanying them.

Here are the lyrics from the video I posted above (not the best of Persian poetry, but one by Fereydoon Moshiri, one of the leading figures of New-Poetry, famous for rhyming natural imagery into political commentary, with simple but memorable lyricism.)
دریا ، - صبور و سنگین –
می خواند و می نوشت :
« ... من خواب نیستم !
خاموش اگر نشستم ،
مرداب نیستم !
روزی که برخروشم و زنجیر بگسلم ؛
روشن شود که آتشم و آب نیستم !
The sea [of people]--patient and placid,
wrote and sang:
"I am not asleep ...
If I am quiet
I am not a swamp
The day that I rise and break the chain
it will become clear that I am fire, not water!"