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Cyminology: Exploring New Compositional Frontiers

John Patten By

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AAJ: What impact has touring had on your composing schedule?

CS: When I go on tour, I'm always very fascinated because I found out every country is different from the others, even when they are very close. And even every city is different than every other city, so that's something that influences me—that I think is going on in my head when I come back home after a tour.



I need some days to recover, and once I'm recovered ideas start to show. That happened when we just came back from India and Burma, and it was for me very moving to see the people, to meet them. We went on a three-hour train tour through Yangon [Burma] and just saw how the people lived on the market, and going on the train and getting off the train. And some people liked to talk to us—they know very little English but they're very happy—you can really see their eyes shining when they get a chance to talk to you and you answer. These are the moments that are just in my head and they sometimes lead me to special ideas; sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't.



That's the good part in music—you never know how it will work out, but that's also the dangerous part because you never feel that you're a great composer because it's not in your hands to compose something; you really are depending on the inspiration.

AAJ: What have you been working on recently?

CS: Actually, starting last year, I've been working on some piano pieces. In fact, one of the tunes on the new CD, it's called "As Ssafar," that's the first piano tune that I wrote in this style. I've written out 10 tunes and I feel maybe one of those tunes I can put on the next CD too, but [not] all 10 of them go in the direction where I believe the band goes. So, I [will] just keep those compositions and see what will happen—I met a pianist when we were on that tour, she's a Chinese pianist who is living in England and she likes my music. Maybe we will get a chance to work together and maybe I can arrange that music well enough for her to play, I don't know yet.



When I compose, I like to compose directly for the band—like imagining Khetan, the drummer, sitting next to me and playing the way he does. That influences me and influences the way I compose, too, and so today was the first tune that I thought sits very well for the band and uses those ideas and is still in the Cyminology [style], if I can say it like that.

AAJ: As Ney seems to move away from the overt jazz sounds to something more blended. Is that a direction the band is taking?

CS: I think definitely it's the songs, they're more important; they're actually the center of everything, so we try to make the sounds as good as possible. And another thing that I would say is the fingerprint of the producer.



The first CD we did all by ourselves, the second CD we had Frank Moebus, he's a guitarist in Berlin and he's famous with the Der Rote Bereich—that's really some unique music and we're really happy he said he would go into the studio with us, and on two songs he's actually playing guitar. So I would think him being there in the studio with us and being the producer in this case was one fingerprint on the second CD.



And definitely there's a fingerprint from Manfred Eicher on the third CD. So maybe that's another explanation of why the CD went in the direction it is now.

AAJ: As Ney was recorded at Rainbow Studio in Oslo, and has a very clear sound. How did the studio impact the recording?

CS: For the first time, I was staying in the room where the pianist and the bassist were, only our drummer was in another room—and we could see him. I think we were a little bit closer than on the other CDs.



That is definitely also a gift that Manfred Eicher has—that he can listen to the music and know that's what the music needs or what makes the music special, or the shape and this blending and everything. I'm amazed he did it so fast—our other CDs took so long to bring them to where they are. He just kind of snapped his fingers and everything was there—that really was amazing for me. So, after two days everything was done, nothing changed after that.

Selected Discography

Cyminology, As Ney (ECM, 2009)
Cyminology, Bemun (Doublemoon, 2007)
Cyminology, Per Se (Doublemoon, 2005)

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Phoenix

Phoenix

ECM Records
2015

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Saburi

ECM Records
2011

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As Ney

As Ney

ECM Records
2009

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Bemun

Double Moon Records
2006

buy

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