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In Five

The Attar Project is the duo of violinist Parmela Attariwala and percussionist Shawn Mativetsky. Their latest CD release, The Road Ahead... features the Stamm composition The Melody of Rhythm commisioned by the Attar Project in 2009. Meiro explains the structure of the piece:

"The central concept of this composition is that though there is a finite number of tonal combinations possible with the 12 notes found in Western music, there is an infinite number of rhythmic combinations possible since each beat can be subdivided endlessly. A melody can be radically changed by altering the rhythm of the notes within a given time signature or by recasting the melody in a different time signature. The Melody of Rhythm is an exploration of how a simple theme with limited harmony can be transformed by rhythmic devices alone. The theme is first presented in 4/4 and the variations move through the time signatures 2/4, 3/4, 5/8, and 7/8. The theme itself has several rhythmic variations within each time signature.

The meeting of Eastern and Western instruments is explored through the use of a drone – a musical device common to both cultures. The tabla drum is tuned to a fixed pitch (“A” in this case) and this note on the tabla serves as the drone. The notes used throughout the composition are restricted to the pitch “A” functioning as scale degrees 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7 thus relating to the drone and the time signatures employed. The tabla has a rhythmic theme and set of variations complementary to the melodic theme and variations performed on the violin."

Of commissioning Stamm, Parmela says: "I discovered that in addition to training in Western music, Meiro had also studied tabla and gamelan, and that he was not beyond referencing “classical” era techniques in his music. He is also of Swiss parentage, and as I had spent two rather traumatic years in Switzerland, Meiro and I discovered that between Switzerland and music, we had much in common. So, I challenged Meiro to write a piece that would allow me to tap into the Mozart and classical-era style I studied in Switzerland. The result is, I suspect, not unlike Mozart: the music sounds much simpler than it is. Shawn and I also discovered that a big challenge lay in negotiating between harmonic time and linear time."

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