Ata Ebtekar records the sounds of the Persian percussion instrument for the HKW’s new video series, The Disappearance of Music.

The tonbak is one of the primary percussion instruments that provides the backbone for Persian classical music. The rhythmic aspect of this music has its roots in the structure of Persian poetry and this ancient influence can still be felt in contemporary tonbak performance.

Sote catapults the sounds of the tonbak into the future with Synthetic Wood, an exploratory video work made in collaboration with Mazda Damadi, a percussionist and instrument maker. All the sounds featured in the piece are derived from the tonbak, with Sote manipulating recordings of Damadi’s playing to create new forms.

The producer recorded Damadi in various locations across Tehran, including the rooftop “where he would be rubbing sandpaper on wood and polishing it”, in his workshop when he was “improvising on one of his self-made tonbaks” and finally in a recording studio. The film was captured and created by Tehran-based photographer, videographer and musician Arash Bolouri.

Synthetic Wood is Sote’s contribution to a video series leading up to the HKW’s The Disappearance of Music festival in November. The series sees artists including Lucrecia Dalt and Matias Aguayo demonstrating how they have used lockdown restrictions productively, producing a new piece of music and documenting this process on film.

The Disappearance of Music festival takes place from November 12 – 15.

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