Tag Archives: Loga Ramin Torkian

Artist Profiles: Loga Ramin Torkian

Loga Ramin Torkian

Loga Ramin Torkian was the guitarist and musical director of Axiom of Choice. Born in Iran, he moved to the United States after the revolution. When asked to speak about his musical background, he says, “The path to defining one’s music is never straight. I reflect upon the day I left my flamenco guitar teacher – disheartened by his truthful comment that after practicing for years, the only way to bring myself to professional standards would be to move to Spain, otherwise my playing would always have an accent.

I knew I could not leave the United States for years to come and I felt I had reached an end. I did not realize then that I was about to discover something very unique within myself.” Loga spent the next three years studying the tar, a Persian lute and joined for a short period a traditional ensemble. But he quickly learned that he could not satisfy his creativity within the framework of traditional music. It was then that he decided to create the quarter-tone guitar to which he adapted many of the tar techniques and formed Axiom of Choice, which served as a common ground for other expatriates to work with him. “As an emigre artist, I have chosen to express myself in music that is not bound by the confines of traditional Persian music. Yet, my music in its very depth comes from that tradition,” said Loga who continues to use the radif (Persian repertoire) and Persian melodies as the source of his compositions. Many master musicians have welcomed his approach.

Loga’s unique approach to compositions is influenced heavily by years of playing for Masters Theses concerts at U.C.L.A. and by his education in Mathematics. “Dancers,” he says, “count to subdivide the space, not time! In mathematics one defines the axiom before articulating any theory. I find both principles to be of great help when I am composing. I also believe that every composition must have a concept or principle, and should not just be a direct expression of the subconscious. Often I use visual images to inspire and –assist musicians in the creation of these compositions. To me, musicians are like actors on stage. They bring to life through music their personal interpretations of images, feelings, ideas, and that to me is very respectable.”

Loga’s extensive travels around the world have been essential in developing his great sensitivity towards other cultures. He believes that any music originating from a specific tradition that crosses over to other cultures must remain equally convincing for the traditions that it involves.

In 2005, along with vocalist Azam Ali and programmer/producer Carmen Rizzo, Loga founded the best-selling world music group Niyaz. Blending medieval Sufi poetry and folk songs from Iran, the Indian sub-continent and Turkey, rich acoustic instrumentation, with modern electronics.

He is currently based in Montreal, Canada.

Discography

Solo:

Mehraab (Six Degrees Records, 2012)

With Axiom of Choice:

Beyond Denial (Faray-e Enkaar) (X Dot 25, 1996)
Niya Yesh (Narada World, 2000)
Unfolding (Goshayesh) (Narada World, 2002)

With Niyaz:

Niyaz (Six Degrees, 2005)
Nine Heavens (Six Degrees, 2008)
Sumud (Six Degrees, 2012)
The Fourth Light (Six Degrees, 2015)

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Artist Profiles: Axiom of Choice

Axiom of Choice

While the core sound of Axiom of Choice was based on the quarter-tone guitar, traditional Persian vocals, and various native percussion instruments, Axiom of Choice always welcomed musicians with different musical and national backgrounds. Their sound was delicately balanced by the usage of many Persian instruments such as the kamancheh (spike fiddle), setar (Persian lute), daf (frame drum), tombak (the Persian goblet-shaped drum) and ney (cane flute), as well as cello, accordion, harmonium, tampura and many other percussion instruments. Axiom of Choice incorporated the sounds of other cultures – broadening the scope and appeal of their music – while remaining loyal to their roots and retaining the originality, distinctiveness and integrity of their sound. As such, their music combines some of the best and most original elements of Persian, eastern, and western music.

The musical director of the ensemble was Loga Ramin Torkian. His original compositions were based on Persian classical melodies and modes. The musicians worked within a unique compositional structure in which both improvisation and personal expression can freely take place. Loga’s innovative quarter-tone guitar retooled with movable frets and sympathetic strings also sets him apart as a guitarist, allowing him to play Middle Eastern scales and create new ornamentation on the guitar. The other core member of the ensemble was vocalist Mamak Mhadem who is trained in the classical-Persian style, which is by nature, poignant. She weaved emotive textures ranging from bliss to pain, which give a mystical and nostalgic bent to the music. In a time when female vocalists have a limited scope in Iran, Mamak Khadem is one of the few women who, while preserving the tradition, has dared to explore further.

Axiom of Choice

The album Niya Yesh was recorded in Iran, India and the United States and extended Axiom of Choice’s collaboration with other musicians beyond their immediate surrounding. Inspired by the city of Pushkar in India, Loga Ramin Torkian collected live recordings of Pushkar musicians and environmental sounds during his regular visits to India and used them to establish a theme for their new work. As soon as the compositions were finished, the vocalist of the group, Mamak Khadem, recruited some of the best musicians of traditional Persian music, and virtuoso setar player, Mas’oud Sho’ari, and recorded them during her visit to Iran.

The remainder of the album was recorded in Los Angeles and combined the talents of Greg Ellis (Vas) with his unique percussion style, cellists Martin Tillman and Cameron Stone, vocalist David Stringer, foremost kamancheh player Saied Farajpouri, and the renowned U.S.-based Persian percussionist Pejman Hadadi. While the inspiration for this album comes from the city of Pushkar, the music remained however firmly rooted in Persian music.

Discography

Beyond Denial (Faray-e Enkaar) (X Dot 25, 1996)
Niya Yesh (Narada World, 2000)
Unfolding (Goshayesh) (Narada World, 2002)

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