In a Beginning... is the critically acclaimed debut album from Meiro Stamm. Drawing on influences as diverse as J.S. Bach, Indian classical music, Jimi Hendrix and Indonesian music, Meiro has created an album of melodic compositions that are easily accessible to a wide variety of listeners.
The album consists of six tracks ranging in arrangement from trio to full orchestra and choir. Used extensively are instruments not commonly found in connection with Western orchestras. The Indian tabla drums, cimbalom (Eastern European hammered dulcimer) and its Chinese equivalent the yang ch'in, as well as electric guitar play important parts in the music. Two pieces are of particular interest in the way they incorporate these instruments.
Mache dich, mein Geist, bereit (Get Thyself, My Soul, Prepared) utilizes a Lutheran choral meloday as its basis. Stamm treats the chorale in a way similar to how Bach would have for the movement of a cantata - using the existing melody as a starting point and weaving it together with original material. Three tabla, tuned to different notes, play the same rhythmic figure simultaneously at different metrical subdivisions. One plays in quarter notes, the second in eights, and the third in sixteenths. The combined effect is reminiscent of an Indonesian gamelan orchestra. This is further heightened by a melody played on the oboe and electric guitar using the degung scale from Sunda.
Atavistic Meditation on the Four Elements makes extensive use of the yang ch'in. The part is extremely diffcult and here was doubt on the part of many dulcimer players as to whether it could be performed at all. Toronto percussionist Alan Hetherington proved the skeptics wrong. He rose to the challenge and delivered a truly virtuosic performance whcih set new technical standards for the instrument. Also of interest in this piece is the "recitation" at the beginning and end. This is actually aspoken version of the tabla part - each syllable corresponding to a specific drum stroke.
Meiro travelled to Prague, Czech Republic to record with the members of the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir in the famed Rudolphinum concert hall. Tabla, yang ch'in and guitar, performed by Bob Becker of NEXUS, Alan Hetherington, and Meiro Stamm respectively, were recorded in Toronto at Manta Studios.