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Before the Rāga Comes the Drone – Alifiyah Imani

Jan 2024  

Before the Rāga Comes the Drone - Alifiyah Imani at Errant Sound

Presentation of spatial sound installation with Alifiyah Imani

Tuesday, 13 February 2024 | 19:00 – 21:00
‘Before the Rāga Comes the Drone’ is around 20 minutes in its entirety and is performed for three cycles between 19:00-21:00.
Free Entry

The cyclic principle and form of the drone create or imply a harmonic and textural canvas, extending an invitation to attune. Here, a sound is sustained with enough consistency to form a grounding presence, influencing the listener’s state of mind to a moment of concentrated unity, as if approaching a sound source that has been present all along. Just as a prism reveals the hidden spectrum within light, the drone reveals itself in a spectrum of musical colours, each note refracted into a vibrant array of harmonic relationships. The once static and unassuming drone now takes on a dynamic quality, revealing continuous movements with fractal subtleties.

Experienced in a spatial sound set-up, ‘Before the Rāga Comes the Drone’ is a contemplative exploration of sound and form through the enigmatic intricacies and energy of age-old acoustic instruments and the spatial dynamics that unfold within vibratory relationships. The resulting interplay of multiple instruments saturates the space with shifting overtones, a polymorphic variety of sonic textures that, at times, unite in resonance or become their own element, constantly undergoing continuous change in emphasis and location, revealing their nuances to careful listening.

Based on a distillation of home recordings, I am guided by instruments with an intrinsic drone character, particularly the tanpura. Its different tuning variations let me start with a simple sound and create a foundation through the harmonics of each string. This approach is extended to other instruments like the gusli and psaltery, which, when acoustically extended and thoughtfully treated, contribute to recreating the drone effect. I also spontaneously immerse myself in recording sound fragments of my voice and drones on woodwinds, harmonium, vibratory bells, and bowls. The different tonal layers, currents, and oscillations emphasise unique harmonic structures as quintessential vessels of resonance.”

Alifiyah Imani is an artist and writer based in Berlin, originally from Karachi, Pakistan. In her practice, she interrelates sonic experiences using field recordings, voice, text, and handcrafted instruments, experimenting with different media and forms of sensory ethnography, performative ritual, installation, and experimental radio. She attempts to locate sound as lived experience, exploring the possibilities of relational listening through intimacy and encounter. Since 2020, she has actively engaged in participatory group settings to explore how the ear, breath, gesture, gaze, and movement are connected and alter the way we relate to ourselves and one another. Her artistic process draws immense inspiration from deep listening, metaphysical traditions, particularly the philosophy and practice of Nāda Yoga, and training in ancient embodiment practices, with a special interest in the Rasa aesthetics of Bharatanatyam and the voice culture surrounding Dhrupad music. Imani holds a joint Master of Arts degree in Media Arts Cultures from three European consortium partners: Danube University (Austria), Aalborg University (Denmark), and the University of Łódź (Poland). She is currently hosted by Errant Sound following her selection as a Weltoffenes Berlin fellow (2024).

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