A Snap of The Fingers: In Review of Tigran Hamasyan

Tigran Hamasyan – Royce Hall October 14, 2018

Every one of us is uniquely ourselves. Every one of us is tied by a common thread of humanity. This makes every one of us uniquely the same. Tigran Hamasyan’s performance at Royce Hall October 14, 2018 is an expression of the unique nature of living relayed through music. It is an expression of how we are uniquely the same.

I speak in the present tense because experiences such as Hamasyan’s are nothing but the present moment. In fact there is nothing but the now, and Hamasyan lives in it. Therefore to speak of his music in the past tense is to do a disservice to the call it serves to announce.

I came to this concert because I had Hamasyan’s music ringing in my now. Hamasyan performed music off of his latest solo albums, “For Gyumri” and “Mockroot”. While I had heard the music before and had their architectural structure in my ear, I knew that what was recorded in those albums was only a snapshot. Hearing Hamasyan play some of the same tunes, such as “Revolving – Prayer”, in a live performance setting, you get a sense both of the piece’s architectural structure and the spontaneity of the now which influenced their creation. Hamasyan’s improvisation seemed to be a continuation of the architectural structure of the piece he had wrote. And through observing the improvisation, the structure of the piece itself became an extension of the improvisation. This intertwining of pre-written and conceived content and spontaneous content is what made the piece come to life. This is why I felt that what was recorded was only part of the picture and while the full picture is never painted, the only way I can experience the artist continuing to paint is to observe the artist live. So a creation is never finished, and it is this never finished quality which I wanted to observe. That is what Hamasyan gave – a glimpse of the infinite possibility within a single piece of music. The infinite in the one.

One other thing to note about this concert is that it was performed solo. The expression I witnessed was as much an act of bravery as it was an act of performance. To stand alone,

knowing none else stands behind you to fill up your sound, is to have the utmost confidence in the words you have to say. Hamasyan knew that only he could speak the way he did, and he also knew that this was valuable to himself and the audience. This confidence in himself and his voice shines through his music.

Born in Armenia, he grew up with the sounds of Armenian music. While he played jazz piano for years, he realized that there was no one style to play music. He realized that the piano can and should be played without style, as an expression of what one feels and experiences. And this we hear as a blend of Armenian music, jazz, heavy metal, choral music, and much more. But when it comes down to Hamasyan, he does not hear it that way. He hears only what brings him joy, what evokes feeling within him, and expresses it through his music. The labels, the “style” we hear, all come later and do not express the artist’s own approach to his music. This using no style as style, using no way as way, is what draws me deeply to his music. It is exhibited in the first of his two encores (yes two encores), where he light heartedly plays “Someday, My Prince Will Come” from Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

Hamasyan’s music strikes me so deeply because it connects me to my now. It connects me to the infinite possibility that we all are. It connects me to the fact that each of us are uniquely the same. It is this connection which I find invaluable and much like Hamasyan, I too strive to bring that connection to my now. And now..


Ram Eshwar Kaudinya