“Paj” won first prize for the 2012 Counterpoint-Italy International Composition Competition. 

Notes from the composer: As a composer who was always fascinated by western classical music and also knowledgeable in traditional Persian music, I became enthusiastic to acquire an alternate method of pitch organization while using Persian modes that would be acclimated, expressive, and innovative in the context of contemporary classical music. Thus, I formed a method of pitch organization based on the modes of traditional Persian music. Paj is one of the first pieces that I wrote in this style. While composing Paj, I used my life experiences to create a sort of journal. Paj has allowed me to be able to introduce myself in a different light. Being that the completion of this work was an important turning point in my career, I felt that it needed a strong title. The definition of “Paj” is as follows: the culminating point, as of achievement or excellence; Acme, Apogee, Perfection, Peak, Supreme.

Notes from pianist: At first I was intimidated by the piece. It looked very challenging technically and also had a few markings that I had not seen before. It is a one-movement piece with a few mood changes and different sections. It is a heavy piece that requires a great deal of concentration and energy. The flute uses extended techniques including quarter tones, airy tones, tongue ram, whistle tones, finger taps, as well as multi-phonics. The piano is written in a more traditional style, however, there are contemporary elements including improvisation boxes, extreme dynamic markings, and complex rhythms. In general, the two instruments are conversing with slight overlapping. There are a few solo moments, however, both players are equally active throughout.

There were a few technically challenging sections in Paj. Coordinating both hands was most difficult when one hand was playing written out notes while the other improvised. Regarding improvisation boxes: Samadi wrote a group of notes in which the performer was able to use and is limited to specific rhythmic guidelines. The pianist should mimic the flutist’s rhythmic phrases. They need not be exactly the same, but similar. Another challenge was coordination between the instruments. Since the rhythms are extremely complex, one must make approximations. Of course, our goal is to play as accurate as possible. There were also, a few phrases that were technically difficult due to large leaps, fingering issues, as well as fast virtuosic phrases.