In this video featuring the song, Where is Home, santur virtuoso Amir Amiri and violin marvel Richard Moody beautifully perform to a piece composed by Amiri. Before starting this composition, I talked with Amir to get a sense for how he approaches music. "The philosophy behind most of my music is that I love rhythm and I love numbers, I really do, and most of my compositions go from a numeric perspective first, [in] the way I set them down." Amiri told me. To elaborate, he went on to explain how his favourite number is 60 because it divides into 12 five times, with 12 being a special number because of the 12 tone technique in music devised by Arnold Schoenberg, and because of how each day is divided into 12-hour halves. I tried to incorporate these numeric ideas into the fabric of the film.
Amir has been described as an artist who is "writing a new page" in world music. His underlying conviction that makes this so is his belief that the differences between different musical traditions are not that significant. Having been trained from a young age in the Persian classical tradition and having become much more experienced with blending world traditions upon coming to Banff, Canada from Tehran, Iran in 1996, Amir has had experience evoking the underlying unity of music. He explains,
"Why is it that the way you say things, and the way I say things are different. Why? Because our point of reference is different. Why is our point of reference different? Because it's the way we move through space. The way I move through space in Iran and the way you move in space in Canada is different because your topography, your landscape is different than Iran's. Iran is desert, so it produces the same thing, so your space is different. What is my movement in space is rhythm. The way you basically express yourself is through this rhythm, and the way which is the influence of mine and your environment on you, which is environmental culture, that is really the same thing. I look at all music from the rhythmic point of view, numbers and rhythmic points of view. And I think a lot of work needs to be done in that area."
I took the essence of his approach to music and tried to display it visually, for instance by making scenes representative of the day and the night, and by structuring them based on the number 12. His focus on cross-cultural musical unity mirrors my focus on a unity-oriented paradigm for life. The elements that constitute flowers and in fact all life on Earth originated in the nuclear furnaces of stars and supernova explosions long ago. As Carl Sagan said, "The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff."
This simple scientific truth beautifully mirrors the cultural truth Amiri aims to emphasize through his music.