Rahman & Yermakova

Artists: Anya Yermakova, Shama Rahman

Series: Festival of New, Residencies

Ideas explored: developing new work, music influenced by science

Anya and Shama are both multi-instrumentalists, artist-scientist hybrids, multi-modal creatures. While coming from different musical worlds, scientific backgrounds, and art-science cultures, their shared dedication to carving out spaces of inbetweenness is bringing them to this collaboration.

Shama has a unique approach to the sitar, where her electro-acoustic music seamlessly crossing jazz, live electronica, psychaedelia, pop, hiphop, afro latin worldbeats, beat poetry and folk storytelling.

Anya’s process weaves between improvisation and composition, sound art, sound-movement interactivity, and conceptual art. Together they are interested in co-creating to investigate dynamic neural structures and emerging complex systems, with mixed tools of composition/improvisation from both Western and non-Western musical worlds.

In this residency leading up to Festival of New 2019, we would like to take first strides towards co-composing a concerto for Sitar and Orchestra, based on foundational principles of the dynamics of neural networks and the way they communicate. Using our backgrounds as both musicians and scientists, we will employ the neuroscience to create graphic notation and conceptual goals that will invite the Sitar into the Western orchestra in a novel way that is raga-evocative rather than raga-dependent, with space for composition and improvisation that has as much vertical as it does horizontal harmony.

For the world of art-science at large, we think this is a special time. There are more and more works leaning away from representation (ie, where the art serves to “represent” the real science, or the science serves to “analyze” the complex art). However, there is still a lack, especially of collaborative creation. That is, not where one of the collaborators is a “scientist” and the other “artist,” but where both humans complement each other as art-scientists. Similarly, not where one person is the “Western” musician and the other “non-Western,” but where we build with our work a bigger community of non-labelled musicians. Not where one is “composer” and the other “improviser” or “performer,” but where the making, breaking, trying, and playing flows both ways. We both see ourselves in a unique position to contribute in this defining time to creating “seminal” works in these spaces in between, with aspirations of engaging new kinds of hybrid audiences.