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Any freedom is a thought-out self restraint

Tigran Hamasyan:

Any freedom is a thought-out self restraint

PanARMENIAN.Net - Ahead of the release of his Shadow Theater album, well-known jazz pianist Tigran Hamasyan shared the history and details of its creation, fusion of jazz and Armenian music, and many other thoughts with PanARMENIAN.Net.

Shadow Theater

I used a totally different approach in creation of the album. We’ve been meaning to record it for 4 years, and it kept getting delayed.

The majority of compositions were written by me during the last 6 years. The album includes several Armenian songs, and a psalm (sharakan). Several compositions were created right before the recording; so, with numerous amendments and additions, the album was finalized, with much attention paid to its producing.

I’ve been trying for a while to think of a name for the album. I thought of “Shadow Theater” and later found out there is an actual shadow theater in Armenia.

The album’s is rather complicated – it incorporates orchestra sounds, rock, electro and pop music mixed with jazz and Armenian tunes.

It’s the first album that took so much time and detailed work to create. The band worked for a total of 1 year – keeping in touch since 2012. We had series of rehearsals. After a week of rehearsals in France I worked alone in a studio. Later, we were recoding compositions with David Gilejian and Adam Samuels. This was the first album which took so long to create.

National Music

National Armenian music is a part of my vocabulary. Armenian identity is natural to me – and much of it shines through my works.

To me – people are the best representatives of the Armenian music. There are very few keepers of tradition left in the country – and they are the most outstanding representatives of the national music. I don’t mention Komitas here, since he too, learnt and sang the songs of this people.

Fusion of Jazz and Armenian Tunes

Years are needed to create a fusion of Armenian music and jazz. I can’t quite explain how I managed to achieve it. Jazz does not carry any ethnic elements, so it’s easy to combine it with different cultures. In creating a fusion I’m just trying to use the music I hear in my head and develop it further. The important thing is to create something new.

To me, jazz is an instrument, a space in which I’m free to improvise. Yet to me, freedom is not a total abandon, but rather careful planning to feel your power in this space. A friend once told me: any freedom is a thought-out self restraint.

Armenian jazz is bad, it’s actually awful. There are only a few musicians here which can actually compete with the foreign ones. It’s pretty sad. We have many talented young people in Armenia, yet no conditions to promote their development. Many are taking up any jobs to feed their families, yet there are different examples when musicians are forgetting about their vocation and only setting their minds on earning money. The same is true for foreign professionals who don’t have their distinct musical personalities. To a person in art, ability to create in the most important trait. He who does not create cannot be called an artist.

To be able to rest I need absolute silence. Sometimes I close my ears to not to hear anything. I can play the piano for 3 hours non stop, but it’s not very healthy – so I’m trying to pause for a couple of minutes after 20 minutes of performing. Still, the music is always there in my head; sometimes I can’t get rid of the sound of it long after the concert is over.

Lectures and Karabakh people

The idea of lectures in Karabakh-based Narekatsi art center belongs to me. The initiative was aimed at discovering new talents and helping them develop. I found several of them and we’re currently keeping in touch. There are many young people who need to work on their performance and perfect their skills. And what’s most important – not stop developing, having caught star fever.

Vahan Stepanyan / PanARMENIAN Photo, Mane Yepremyan / PanARMENIAN News
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