Electroacoustic, Composer, Greek Traditional, Computer

Epa Fassianos - Computer Music Composer Incorporating Greek Traditional Instruments

Name

Epa Fassianos

Ethnicity

Greek

Area

Rusholme

Researcher

Angela Moran

Comments

Epa Fassianos is a computer music composer from Greece. Having completed postgraduate studies at York and Sussex Universities, Epa moved to Manchester to study for his PhD in electroacoustic composition at Manchester University. Epa draws on many different styles for his compositions, including recording traditional Greek instruments. Website: https://www.epafassianos.com/ “I got familiar with Manchester directly when I went there in 2014. And, to be honest, although I love the UK, it’s like my second home, Manchester was my favourite city, in terms of student life, from all the cities I've been.” Epa’s Musical Life History After an early experience of live music, Epa initially set out on the road to becoming a professional pianist. “Maybe I was five or six years old, my mom took me in a concert, not far, near my house, just for fun. And I'm not sure if I asked her, or if I said it as a joke, ‘Let's go then and see what happens’, you know. And I started playing the piano, and then I loved it. And the initial plan would have been that I was going to be a pianist.” It came as a surprise for Epa when the University of Thessaly accepted him on a computer science degree, but this was to change the course of his music career. “At the beginning, I was very upset. I wanted to quit and to study music only. But then I thought, ‘Why don't I do that as well and you never know’. And then, once I started studying computers, I became aware of some computer music applications, which I didn't study at university, but it was part of my motivation to explore different programmes. And then I started composing the music, which was notated, but not like real performance, just from the computer, and then I fell in love with this. And then suddenly, I realised, ‘Oh, maybe then I should move to music technology to see how things work’, and then suddenly, I stopped playing the piano professionally. I still play of course, but I prioritise composition.” It was in Manchester that Epa further honed is compositional interests. “When I started my PhD in Manchester, it was focused on, it was purely focused on, electroacoustic music, which is actually mostly any type of music that can be performed through loudspeakers, without the participation of real life instruments.” Epa finds inspiration in a limitless soundscape for his compositions and, for his PhD, he recorded the traditional Greek instruments with which he was familiar. “We don't only record instruments. We also record aeroplanes, trains, whatever, whatever sounds we want. We can record anything. Sounds from nature, anything, voices, as long as we process it, it can be anything.” “There is a Greek element, but strictly in an electroacoustic context, because I recorded traditional Greek instruments for some of my pieces, but then I transformed the sound.” The Purpose and Motivations of Epa’s Music-Creating “We also tend to sometimes record sounds from instruments, but we always transform them, because the point is to listen to something that cannot be performed in real.” As a postgraduate student in Manchester, Epa found specialists with whom to work and further develop his composition skills. “My main supervisor was David Berezan, who is a Professor of Electroacoustic Music Composition at the University of Manchester. He is an Electroacoustic Music Composer. And the second supervisor was Ricardo Climent, who is a Professor of Interactive Music Composition at the University of Manchester. I was also visited by Dr. Richard Whalley, who is a Senior Lecturer in Musical Composition. He is a Manchester-based instrumental composer. He was supervising my progress during the PhD panel meetings.” The sounds of the traditional Greek instruments Epa included in his PhD pieces were transformed, but, at certain moments, it was important for him to retain a sense of their original timbre. “I made use of three traditional Greek instruments: They're called santouri, baghlamas and the floghera. The santouri is a hammered dulcimer of Persian origin and was spread in India (santoor) and China (yangqin), in the Middle East and Turkey (santur), as well as in Eastern Europe and the Balkans (cimbalom). The baghlamas is a plucked string instrument which originates from the Ancient Greek Pandoura. It is also used in Turkish and Azerbaijani folk music (bağlama). The baghlamas is a smaller version of the traditional Greek bouzouki. The bouzouki can also be related to: dutar (Central Asia & Iran), buzuq (Arab world) and setar (Iran). The bouzouki was also evolved into the Irish bouzouki (búsúcaí). The Byzantine and Cretan Lyras which also belong to the same family of traditional Greek instruments as the bouzouki, can be related to the rebab family of plucked string instruments, which are utilized in the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia, and, through Indonesia and Malaysia, they also reached Japan (Kokyū). The rabab family of instruments is also used in Xinjiang province of northwest China. Finally, the floghera is a type of flute. It can be related to the Persian ney. I was fascinated by the ways in which these traditional Greek instruments acted as intercultural links between Greece and the Middle East as well as Asia.” Whilst studying in Manchester, Epa was also working in Greece, collecting recordings of the santouri from his friend at a studio in Athens. But it was in Manchester that the pieces came together and, most importantly for Epa, were performed at music festivals, such as Sines & Squares, and MANTIS. “What I can say for sure, is that when I was always finishing the pieces, I was always finishing in Manchester studios, and I was feeling always very happy and proud that I had brought the Greek elements to Manchester.” “What was really important for me was the fact that I received values, feedback, from Manchester academics and also audience. Also from other places, but most of them were Manchester-based. It made a huge impact on the way I wanted to proceed.” Writing Music in Manchester “This type of life in Manchester and the way it combines, somehow, hard work, the way, I combined hard work in the studio, with kind of leisure activities, nightlife and stuff, all these things, they influenced me very positively.” A major influence on Epa’s work came from being situated in a city whose architecture balances modern and traditional elements. “I love the architecture very much of Manchester. I love the architecture in all cities of the UK basically, but especially Manchester. I loved it.” Epa tried, similarly, to represent a balance of modern and traditional elements in his compositions. “In electroacoustic music, we don't use scores at all. We don't use notations. We just compose directly in the computer, so we record all the sounds in advance, anything.” The electroacoustic music Epa wrote for his doctorate does not represent the extent of his compositional styles. He also writes music in notated format, including writing fugues inspired by Bach, and would love to continue his music journey in Manchester. “I would say that I have many different sides. But I would say that, I’m a music composer which uses electroacoustic music a lot, but amongst other styles as well.” “I have a friend who is from Manchester and I told him, ‘I want to die in Manchester. I want to live all my life there!’ I mean, I love it [...] I’m very emotionally attached to Manchester, so if I had the chance to live there, maybe the rest of my life, hopefully, or at least use it as my base, I would love to.”

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Electroacoustic, Composer, Greek Traditional, Computer

Epa Fassianos - Computer Music Composer Incorporating Greek Traditional Instruments

Name

Epa Fassianos

Ethnicity

Greek

Area

Rusholme

Researcher

Angela Moran