Imaginary Knots - Music of the Performance

Celebrating the Cultural Origins of Persian Carpets

Listen to samples of the music here.


Album Notes:

For me, as an artist, the Persian carpet is a reminder of my people’s quest for beauty and harmony over the centuries. Though the motifs, colors, patterns and the style of weaving vary from community to community, they all reflect the values of the hard-working men and women who produce them. Each Persian carpet is unique -- reflecting the weavers’ hopes and innermost wishes for a peaceful and meaningful life.  

The Persian carpet (Farsh or Qali) is an essential element of Persian identity and culture. Iranian children are born into homes filled with ornate carpets, grow up counting the trees and the repeated patterns of Persian carpets. They sleep on a carpet, dream its beautiful designs, contemplate its patterns in their homes, in their offices and ultimately, in their graves where they rest under a carpet placed by their loved ones as a sign of respect.  

Every Persian carpet is an excursion into a world of imagination. The carpets tell stories or lead us into beautiful fictional gardens envisioned by the carpet weavers. They become reflections of a delightful world that is delicate and beautifully balanced.  

This album is dedicated to my mother and countless other Persian carpet-weavers who knot their love, dreams and hopes into each new carpet, taking us on a shared journey to utopia.  - Hamid Saeidi

Story behind each track:                                            

1-Warp and Weft: In the carpet warehouse, Ustad (the chief carpet-weaver) reads the carpet pattern aloud for the weavers. After the color and number of knots are called out, the carpet-weavers reply melodically “got it.” The rhythmic repetition of the commands and answers was the inspiration for this song. The featured vocalist is Hamid’s mother, Iran Saeidi.  

2-Depth of the Voluminous: This composition is based on the Hooreh or Ahura melody, an ancient piece of music that dates more than 3000 years ago when most Persians practiced Zoroastrianism, a religion based on the worship of Ahura Mazda, the divine and benevolent creator.   

3-Yatook(occult): This song celebrates the commonalities and contrasts between the East and the West. At the heart of the song is the altered sound of an electric guitar transformed to play the musical tones and rhythms popular in Persian classical music. The main melody of this piece was introduced by Mehran Khalili. 

4-The Howdah on wave: In the 15th century, Portuguese explorers brought slaves from the African coast to Iran. The community of former slaves has maintained their African roots for centuries through their Zaar ceremony – a ritual to eliminate evil spirits that have penetrated a person’s body creating sickness or melancholy. The exorcism is performed by Mama (mother) or Baba (father) Zaar – qualified healers who are known for their ability to connect with evil spirits – with the help of music and dance. This composition is based on original chant by Mama Zaar. 

5-Lullaby for Soldiers: The region of Chabok Sar in northern Iran, known for its fierce soldiers, is believed to be among the last areas in Iran to convert to Shi’a Islam. In Chabok Sar there is a unique and ancient shrine open only to female worshippers. Here, the women perform an unusual musical ceremony to commemorate the birth of babies in the community. After the oldest woman in the town blesses the baby, the other women in attendance sing the child a local lullaby. This piece is based on this lullaby.   

6-Three Viewpoints on a Happy Occasion: Traditionally in Tehran, happy occasions were celebrated with a performance of takhte houzi music. Families would place wooden planks (or takhte) across pools (houz) (before modern plumbing, Persian courtyards were equipped with small pools) and cover the wood with carpets creating a temporary stage and seating area. In this piece, three genres of “happy music” have been assembled together: First an Iranian urban music based on a live performance by Ali Rabani, one of the foremost takhte houzi performers in Iran today, followed by a contemporary Persian Pop piece (most Pop music is produced in Los Angeles and exported to Iran) and finishing up by an old Iranian folkloric music (based on a Baluchi wedding song).  

7-The Color Volume: This song has been composed on an original Dastoon, a style of folkloric music performed by an Aryan tribe in Persia called Talesh. This tribe lives in the southwestern part of Azerbaijan as well as in northwestern Iran. Dastoon or Dastaan in Persian means melody, myth or song and is traditionally written in couplets.  

Imaginary Knots



Greg Ellis-percussion/trumpet/Indian flute

Mehran Khalili-Guitar

Reza Abaee-Gheychak

Ole Mathisen-Clarinet/Saxophone

Ali Chereghchi -Violin

Hamid Ghanbari-Tombak

Hamid Saeidi-Santoor/setar/Synthesizer 






Mamak  Khadem -Habib Meftah Bushehri-Kasra Ebrahimi - Mehdi Saki- Amanda Roraback –Dr. Elham Gheytanchi- Ronda Berkeley



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