SOMA is the debut album of the SOMA trio Peppe Frana (oud, Afghan Robab), Masih Karimi (tanbur, daf) and Ciro Montanari (tabla, percussion). Frana and Montanari, Italians who have been engaged in research into extra-European musical traditions for years and Iranian Masih Karimi who is a virtuoso of the Kurdish tanbur and daf.
The album includes original compositions by the group members inspired by the musical languages of the Indo-Persian and Middle Eastern areas and arrangements of traditional melodies, interspersed with long introductory improvisations of the melodic modes on which the compositions are based.
The tanbur is the sacred lute of Yarsanism, a syncretic religion of medieval origin that combines elements of Islamic mysticism with pre-Islamic practices and beliefs. Prominent among its main uses is the musical accompaniment of the mystical gathering known as Jam, where a complex ritual alternates between choral singing and the sharing of specific meals, first consecrated as ceremony offerings, then consumed. The idea of sacrifice by ingestion finds its archetype in the Soma of the Vedic scriptures, the drink that brings health and immortality that the hero takes to prepare for his task. The symbolism of the Soma thus reveals the conception of life as a cycle of destruction and renewal: that which is devoured goes to constitute the nourishment necessary for the creative act. Our Soma in this case is the study of the musical repertoires and languages of the Indo-Persian area, from which spring these original compositions that of their traditional matrices retain only specific aspects. Ultimately, it is music itself, beyond its ethnic-geographical connotations, that represents the daily sacrifice we offer to the cosmos in order to have in return, if not immortality, certainly health.
PEPPE FRANA Passionate from a young age about rock music from America and overseas, he quickly became the nightmare of the best electric guitar teachers in the area.At 20 he was dazzled by interest in modal music from outside Europe. Thanks to the work of Ross Daly he took up the study of Turkish oud and other cordophones played with a plectrum, making frequent trips to Greece and Turkey. There he visited some of the most renowned maestros: YurdalTokcan, Omer Erdogdular, Murat Aydemir, Daud Khan Sadozai and Ross Daly himself. A meeting with the members of Ensemble Micrologus inspired his interest in European medieval music and in plectrum lute. He quickly became one of the most appreciated soloists and teachers in Italian 13th century repertoire. In 2013 he has been studying medieval lute at the Schola Cantorum in Basel, Switzerland, under the guidance of Crawford Young, marking his first experience of academic music study. He has an honorable degree in philosophy from the Istituto Universitario in Naples. He regularly works with many artists and musical projects in the world of Early Eastern and non-classical music including Ensemble Micrologus, Ensemble Calixtinus, Cantsilena, Christos Barbas, Ross Daly, Vinicio Capossela, Radiodervish, Angelo Branduardi. His flourishing artistic activities mean he has performed in the most prestigious festivals both in Italy and around the world. He is the artistic director of Labyrinth Italia.
MASIH KARIMI Painter & musician, He started music with the classical violin and after that some electric and classical guitar. In 2002, the course of his life changed with his discovery and intuition in ethnic and Maqam music. He started playing Daf and Tanbur. He also had the honor of being student of maestro Ali Akbar Moradi. In 2007, he obtained teaching certificate for Daf and Tanbur and finally in 2021 he moved to Italy to study painting at Albertina Academy in Turin. In the last years had some concerts & workshops in different towns in Italy.
CIRO MONTANARI In 2003 he began his study of Indian percussion (tabla) with M. Matteo Scaioli (Ravenna), who introduced him to Pandit Sankha Chatterjee, a former professor at the Rabindra Bharat University of Kolkata (India), who had the great fortune to learn with Ustad Masit Khan, Ustad Keramatullah Khan in Farukabad Gharana (style) and with Ustad Alla Rakha Khan in Punjab Gharana. He travelled frequently to India, learning with the traditional Indian approach. From 2005 to 2009 he attended at the Conservatory Arrigo Pedrollo in Vicenza the courses on “Non-European Musical traditions” under the guidance of Maestro Federico Sanesi. For several years he operates as a musician in Europe and abroad, collaborating in various artistic projects and playing in various accademic institutions and prestigious World Music Festivals.