It has taken a long time since I got around to write about this track. I briefly mentioned it in my post Ethnic Chillout meet Disco Music: Sina ft. Bahramji & Mashti in 2012, when I released a second remix featuring Bahramji and Mashti. So it wasn’t until I released the second track that I mentioned Soul Awareness.
Here is a short introduction to Bahramji from his website:
Bahram (Bahramji) was born in 1952 in the Kurdish city of Kermanshah in Persia. As a child he heard the ancient Sufi melodies, which are the inspiration for his music today. At the age of 13 he learned to play the Santoor and started to perform at several places in his hometown. Through playing whirling music for wanderers from different cultures, his style has changed from the traditional approach to his own. He melts old songs into a new form, creating a meditative sphere to uplift body and soul.
I was inspired to incorporate some samples from his tracks, and the album Sufiyan [Blue Flame Records, 2009] was the culmination of spiritual and poetic music in the world of chillout and meditative music. Deriving its roots from Persian poets such as Rumi, Hafez and Saadi, the mystical renditions of the poetry was reflected in beautifully arranged songs that portrayed the mysticism surrounding Sufism, and the one notion of monotheistic beliefs. To draw parallels with Western music, Madonna’s song “Bedtime Story” (released in 1995, written by Björk et al.) has a similar lyrical and graphical inspiration drawn from Sufism.
I tried to play this song with only four chords. The track is played live with 3 drum variations, 1 oriental drum sample, 3 main sounds (two electric pianos and a strings) and a simple pick bass.
The track is unmastered and has not been tweaked in post. The levels were adjusted as I played along and there was a slight phaser effect on the electric pianos, and a generous amount of L/R delay was applied across the main instruments. Everything is processed in PA900.
I typically don’t post my practice sessions, but I decided to take on one of the most difficult time signatures, the 9/8. Note: This is not going to be a “how to play a song in 9/8” tutorial.
I started with a downbeat arrangement, added a few layers in the sequencer and played a custom turkish Mey reed sample, and the Live Piano RX. The RX, Real eXperience technology on my Korg PA900 is truly amazing.
As for the effects, on FX B, I used Reverb SmoothHall and Stereo BPM Delay. This particular delay effect enables the delay time to match the song tempo, which is optimal for downbeat melodies. The tempo was set to 70 BPM. In the future, I will consider applying a dynamic modulation source to the XY controller, to have more control over the note velocity when I am playing the Mey.
Last, as mentioned earlier, the track is an attempt to play with a 9/8 beat. The 8/8 time signature would be similar to a 4/4, thus resulting in 9/8 having an extra beat. This is certainly one of those challenging signatures that I often avoid and rarely attempt to play.
A few months ago, I received a YouTube message from a quite interesting person. It was a short and brief message in response to one of my music video uploads. To my surprise, it was signed Mashti, which is the alter ego of an ethnic chillout artist, known for his tremendesouly perfected collaborations with Bahramji. I had uploaded several of their songs from the album Sufiyan, mainly as a way to promote their work and show my appreciation to their immensely harmonic and soothing music.
I became aware of Bahramji by coincidence, of my assertively dedication to Digitally Imported in 2005. In fact, the Chillout music channel was broadcasting continuously in my speakers, many days up to 16 hours. Internet radio was in its infancy days, and á la carte streaming services were not publically offered, hence making DI the major internet radio provider that streamed unlimited electronic music. I spent much time listening to Downbeat and Chillout, which included Buddha Bar compilations and mixes. It inspired me to start exploring and learning more about these genres.