"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 is a Persian-American composer, performer, and musicologist. He earned his PhD at the University of Cambridge, where he has garnered acclaim for his extensive body of work spanning nearly two decades. Samadi's prolific collection of over one hundred diverse compositions encompassing orchestral, chamber, solo, and electroacoustic pieces have been performed and presented across the globe, from the Middle East and the Far East to Europe and the United States.

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 interests traverse a broad spectrum of interdisciplinary pursuits encompassing ethnomusicology, Persian music, composition, poststructuralism, semiotics, music and identity, linguistics, aesthetics of modernism and postmodernism, conceptual history, continental philosophy, Deleuze and Guattari, complexity, music notation, experimental music, and the performance practice of new music. Driven by a curiosity for the multifaceted aspects of musical and philosophical exploration, Samadi's academic endeavors demonstrate an understanding of the intricate interplay between culture, language, and the nuances of sonic expression. Through a focus on the convergence of theory and practice, his scholarly work reflects an intellectual commitment to unveiling the underlying structures and meanings embedded within both musical and conceptual systems. Embracing the historical and contemporary dimensions of musical thought, Samadi's scholarship resonates with a balanced blend of erudition and creativity, shedding light on the contours of modern music's evolving landscape, while exploring its cultural and 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 earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance and a Master of Arts in Composition from the University of Tehran, studying under the tutelage of 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. In 2013, Samadi was awarded a scholarship for music composition studies at the State University of New York, where he studied with Daria Semegen, under whose guidance he worked at the Electronic Music Studio in Stony Brook. Samadi's doctoral research at the University of Cambridge was under Richard Causton and Peter McMurray.

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 a faculty member at the Music School of New York City and the Piano School of NYC. Furthermore, he held the position of Editorial Officer for the Wolfson Research Event in 2020-21, showcasing his dedication to scholarly pursuits. Samadi founded and directs the Cambridge University Experimental Music Ensemble, fostering a platform for sonic exploration at the Faculty of Music, Cambridge. His academic accomplishments have been acknowledged through his appointment as a Grantham Scholar at Cambridge, and his current role as President of the Wolfson College Music Society at the University of Cambridge.

Saman Samadi is available for instruction and supervision. Email address: ss2728@cam.ac.uk

  • Cambridge University Experimental Music Ensemble: cam.cueme.uk

Artwork: Salvator Rosa (c. 1645); Philosophy (detail).