"His rich palette of colour, the exquisite extraction of sound, the admixture of meters, the articulated rhythmic power that can move one from the clutches of gravity to an upward expansion of an almost exalted levity, his exposure to two different musical traditions and his synchronic blending of Western and Persian modal music approach a well-nigh synergistic outcome; Saman Samadi is an extraordinarily gifted musician and composer, clearly destined for a trajectory of success in his field.
Samadi explores the common terrain which actually undergirds both the Eastern and Western worldviews and assumptions by meticulously tracing out their contours, looking closely at the roots of each individual tradition and ultimately finding there a single tree, with but only one trunk — a realization that these differentiated branches all attach." —Richard S. Campo, 2020
Saman Samadi, a Persian-American composer, performer, and musicologist, has garnered acclaim for his diverse musical works spanning nearly two decades. From orchestral and chamber to solo and electroacoustic pieces, his compositions have resonated globally, performed across the Middle East, the Far East, Europe, and the United States. His research focuses on contemporary Western art music and Persian classical music, excelling in new compositional methods and musical experimentalism. Committed to interdisciplinary connections, he seamlessly integrates creative practices with scholarly pursuits in cultural studies, (ethno)musicology, theory, and philosophy.
In Saman Samadi's compositional practice, an artistic context emerges, characterized by a dynamic intermingling of complexity and expressive depth. Drawing inspiration from the artistic endeavors of Brian Ferneyhough, Michael Finnissy, James Dillon, and Chris Dench, Samadi's music showcases a complex yet poetic and multidimensional terrain, weaving together influences from Persian music, poetry, language, visual arts, and postmodern philosophy. Through innovative notations and a fluid interpretative approach, his compositions embrace the complexities of linguistic discourse. His notational approach incorporates microtonal modes derived from Persian classical music, creating a new pitch space that infuses his compositions with intricate layers of heterophonic texture, polyrhythms, and polymeters, all conveyed through a sophisticated method of musical notation that enables fidelity. Innovatively reimagining Persian calligraphic letterforms, Samadi integrates them as both a visual concept and a structural foundation for his compositions. This novel approach informs the sonic texture, instrumentation, and elements of duration, blending harmoniously with his unique and complex Persian modal approach. Through the application of Persian calligraphic forms in designing Augenmusik scores, Samadi establishes a symbiotic connection between music and calligraphy, creating a multidimensional experience that transcends conventional boundaries and resonates with poetic and philosophical virtues, elevating his artistic expression to new heights. Samadi's artistic endeavors reflect a polymathic sensibility, forging bridges between disparate artistic disciplines and pushing the boundaries of both Persian classical music and contemporary Western art music.
As a music scholar, Samadi's research spans interdisciplinary realms, focusing on complex musical expression, cross-disciplinary research, new compositional methods, non-Western musical systems, contemporary improvisation, performance practice of new music, experimental music, poststructuralism, Deleuze and Guattari, semiotics, music and identity, linguistics, aesthetics of modernism and postmodernism, conceptual history, complexity, music notation, and their intersections. His academic pursuits demonstrate a nuanced understanding of the interplay between culture, language, and sonic expression, offering a balanced blend of erudition and creativity. Samadi's scholarship sheds light on modern music's evolving landscape, exploring cultural, sociopolitical aspects and reflecting on its implications for the human experience.
Samadi began his intellectual pursuits at NODET, an esteemed institution for mathematical prodigies in Iran, where he received a degree in Mathematics and Physics. He further pursued studies in Philosophy and Critical Thinking at the University of Queensland, as well as Artistic Research in Music at Orpheus Institute and Leuven University. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance and a Master of Arts in Composition from the University of Tehran, where he studied under composer Alireza Mashayekhi. Samadi served as the director of the Concentus Orchestra, a dynamic ensemble comprised of musicians from the Tehran Music Conservatory and the University of Tehran, from 2006 to 2009. His talent was recognized when he won first prize at the 2012 Counterpoint-Italy International Composition Competition, and his work was chosen for premiere at the 2014 New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival.
From 2013 to 2020, Samadi actively participated in the vibrant experimental music scene in New York City. In 2018, he formed the Saman Samadi Quintet, bringing together talented alumni from the Manhattan School of Music. He has also led two other ensembles based in New York City: the Apām Napāt Trio and the Aži Trio. Recognizing his contributions to the performing arts, in particular as an experimental music improvisor, the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) awarded him an Artist Diploma in 2015.
Samadi has served as the Editorial Officer for the Wolfson Research Event at Cambridge and is actively engaged in reviewing manuscripts for reputable journals, such as the Journal for Artistic Research, underscoring his dedication to scholarly pursuits. He is the founder and director of the Cambridge University Experimental Music Ensemble. Samadi earned his PhD at the University of Cambridge, where his academic prowess was recognized and supported through his appointment as a Grantham Scholar and concurrent role as President of the Wolfson College Music Society. His doctoral research was under Richard Causton and Peter McMurray. Currently, Samadi serves as an academic supervisor at the Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge.