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Luminous Fragments (2021)

Luminous Fragments is a new work for Handpan, Flute, Violin and Cello, written for, and dedicated to, percussionist Poorbeh Torkzad and violinist Pooya Eshghinejad.

Much like any instrument that was invented during the last 20 years or so, the Handpan has an extremely small repertoire, so when Poorbeh and I decided to collaborate on a Handpan piece, I was excited to be amongst the first composers that would contribute music to the catalogue of this instrument. However, my enthusiasm was not without some reservations. I knew that there were going to be certain challenges ahead. 

Due to a lack of a diverse repertoire, writing for the Handpan presented certain technical challenges in regards to orchestration, particularly for my, arguably, wacky ensemble consisting of a Flute, Handpan, Violin and Cello. But that was not all; beyond courage and curiosity, writing the piece also required me to adopt a certain mindset. The uncommon instrumentation and a scarcity of professional Handpan players probably means that Luminous Fragments will get a maximum of one or two performances in total. This is, understandably, not ideal. In composing this piece I had to learn to find value and purpose in writing something that may be short-lived. I wrote Luminous Fragments in only three months, which I consider to be quite fast. I strived nevertheless to create an entertaining, fun and improvisatory ensemble composition, which, I hope, the performers will enjoy playing and the audience will enjoy listening to. A special thanks goes to my supporting friends who kept reminding me that there is nothing wrong with writing music that is “fun”.

About the Handpan

Although the origins of tuned steel drums can be traced back to the 1930s and 1940s in the islands of Trinidad and Tobago, the Handpan itself is a relatively new instrument. Having been first invented in 2001 by the company PANArt, the instrument gained popularity and can nowadays be seen played by enthusiastic buskers as well as professional players on streets and concert halls all around the world. Many know the words Hang and Handpan to be synonymous and while this is true to a certain extent, the term ‘Hang’ is a registered trademark of PANArt. After the company stopped the production of the Hang, admirers of the instrument had to come up with their own term for a hand-played steel instrument, the most commonly used word for which is now “Handpan”.

Performance note: 

Luminous Fragments only requires a selection of pitches on the Handpan, therefore it is conceivable that the performer chooses any combination of instruments available to them that gives them access to the following pitches.

Performers can feel free to devise and experiment with new dynamics throughout the composition.

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Compositions (more to come...)

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