Seyyah

 

 

Seyyah represents a three-part series with each instalment, focusing on a different orchestration starting with a concerto for pan flute and orchestra followed by a sinfonietta and ensemble; that in the end, forms the basis behind the idea of Seyyah. By definition, Seyyah is the ancient Arabic word dedicated to a traveler, a wanderer. They used to be explorers of unknown realms, merchants of leading trade routes and writers of many diaries that shine light on uncharted lands. These travelers often lacked the sense of belonging to a certain place and had trouble identifying with a certain society. Due to constant exposures to different cultures, I have also lived with this problematic from the very beginning of my youth and as a result, it shaped my character as someone without the sense of attachment to any society or place; which you may also call as a Seyyah. Within each instalment, one can find a different piece of my sound world. In a way, one might see the Seyyah trilogy as my musical auto-biography.

- 9 September 2018 –

Seyyah I (concerto for Pan Flute / 20‘)

                                               

        Commissioned by Matthijs Koene.

 

Seyyah II (for Sinfonietta / 9-10‘)

 

        Scheduled to be premiered by Bilkent Youth Symphony Orchestra in May / 2020. 

Seyyah III (for Ensemble / 9‘)

                                              

       Performed by Cikada and Hezarfen Ensemble.

Seyyah I

(for Pan Flute & Orchestra / 20' )

- Commissioned by Matthijs Koene -

Being the first instalment of Seyyah trilogy, the piece houses a unique instrumentation with pan flute at the spotlight surrounded by an orchestra. While being one of the oldest known instruments, pan flute is still a rare sight to be seen within classical music scene, which made this project particularly exiting to undertake. In the hands of the right player, this fascinating instrument produces the purest earthy tones with occasional agile attacks, which result in a timbre I have been longing to find. Combined with an orchestra, it complements the sound world of Seyyah in a way that few other ensembles can.

One of the key elements that bring the piece together is the recurring Seyyah Motif which is revealed in critical points within the piece. Acting as leitmotiv or idée fixe; this simple melody not only holds this piece together, but the whole series, as this motif can be found both within Seyyah II & III. The melody that is derived from a diatonic tetrachord, represents the identity of Seyyah, who initiates the whole trilogy at the beginning of Seyyah I (Section A) and finalizes its path at the end of Seyyah III (Section E), while making multiple appearances throughout the series. Below you may find the exact sections that that houses Seyyah Motif:

 

Seyyah I        Sections A, F, K, M

Seyyah II       Transition to Sabi

Seyyah III                     Section E

Structural construction of the piece is based on some of the most special places from my travels which made me get closer to the mindset of a Seyyah. Each of these places inspired a different story, resonated with a different piece of my sound world that made me connect with the surroundings. Below you will find particular sections that are associated with those special memories.

Seyyah II

 

(for Sinfonietta / 9-10‘)

Written for a sinfonietta consisting of 15 parts, this piece marks the second instalment of Seyyah trilogy. The piece focuses on several individual concepts and various extra musical ideologies. The musical form and the flow of time is based on, surely one of the most fascinating and pure rock gardens in Zen Buddhism; Ryōan-ji. Although built as a residence during Heian Japan, the site later transformed into a temple complex by a member of the shogunate in Muromachi Period. The rock garden is widely regarded as one of the greatest examples of its kind and praised by masses, even the likes of John Cage which also had a special connection with the garden.

 

Zen gardens are in its simplest form, made up of various rock formations, white gravel and moss around the rock formations which is the case with Ryōan-ji. White gravel represents the water and it is regularly raked by monks to represent the ripples of ocean. Rocks are placed very carefully within the gravel to represent various land formations. Ryōan-ji rock garden consists of 15 rocks with different sizes and shapes placed in five groups paired as; one group of 5 stones, two groups of 3 stones and two groups of 2 stones. These groups are resting inside a rectangle garden full of white gravel with each of them placed at an intersection of two or more diagonals of an imaginary heptagon. Although the garden is meant to be viewed from the hojo, which is situated within the veranda of the temple; the heptagonal placement and fascinating engineering behind the garden design allows the viewer to only see 14 rocks at most from any point around the structure.

 

These 5 groups of rock formations made up of 15 individuals is taken as the base structure of the instrumentation as well as the time flow as the piece features 15 instrumental forces which are grouped in various formations throughout the piece. With each section, these groups of 5 cumulative forces constantly changes to allow each force their equal time just like the perfect order among the rocks and encourages the listener to understand and the full ensemble which may never happen due to the formation of the parts.

 

There are five separate sections within the piece focusing on different ideologies. These sections are arranged respectively as; Wabi (which represents the beauty of simplicity and imperfections), Bushido (which is translated as the way of the warrior), Hanran (which is translated as rebellion), Ronin (which is a wandering warrior without a master) and Sabi (which represents the beauty that comes with age, the careful and artful mending of damage). Wabi-Sabi being an important philosophy of Buddhism, marks the beginning and ending phases of the piece while Bushido-Hanran-Ronin features the heavier textures and influences from the gagaku music repertoire.

 

The pitch organization behind the piece uses modality both harmonically and melodically. Different modes from various musical traditions are used both in their original forms, as well as merged in order to capture different harmonic colors as it is one of the foremost aims behind Seyyah Trilogy.

- Scheduled to be premiered by Ankara Youth Symphony Orchestra in March / 2021. -

Seyyah III

(for Ensemble / 9‘)

Written for an ensemble of 7 players, this piece finalizes the Seyyah trilogy. The piece finds its core within the imperishable work of the Persian mathematician, astronomer and poet Omar Khayyam; The Rubáiyát. The quote below which is taken from this work represents the essence of the trilogy, therefore is the final step on the path.

(...)


The thoughtful Soul to Solitude retires, *

(...)

Solitude is a powerful concept which should be distinguished from the state of being alone. In various cultures, solitude is seen as a divine purpose. Hence one should realize that the crucial aspect of this state is that it is often dependent of someone’s will. Of course, it is probably required to acknowledge that solitude would be a necessity which comes natural to the souls that pursue divine paths of their cultures.

The thought process that comes with solitude is often regarded from the outside as, stimulating the mind and reaching some version of enlightenment by releasing yourself from your earthly connections, depending on the culture. According to my version, this process should make the mind reflective of its surroundings rather than isolated, as contrasting as it may sound. To me, what Khayyam might have tried to propose could be the realization that earth and possible outside universe(s) does not matter. What matters is the self as both those realities are one within each of us and varies from person to person. This almost intangible (and possible) definition of soul might be a way for the self to be aware of one’s reality.

 

That is why the mentioned quote reflects the idea behind Seyyah perfectly. This realization process marks the end of the wandering path and enable the Seyyah to retire.

NOTICE: The English version of the above quote from Omar Khayyam’s work The Rubáiyát is translated by Edward FitzGerald in 1859. Although criticized for its poor authenticity to the original Farsi text, it is praised for its literary aesthetics and attention to rhyme. Therefore, FitzGerald’s translation is featured because of phonetic and aesthetic preferences.

- Performed by Cikada and Hezarfen Ensemble. -

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