JALI

 
 Nasser Mansouri’s extraordinary handmade “jali” lattice patterns

Nasser Mansouri’s extraordinary handmade “jali” lattice patterns

I am pleased to share a short excerpt of my recent work “Jali“ for Oboe Quintet, from the first half of the piece.

Performed here by the Liverpool Oboe Quintet, with Jonathan Small, oboe

Jali was prompted by the work of the Afghan artist and woodcarver Nasser Mansouri. Among the stunningly crafted works Mansouri creates are geometrically patterned wood-lattice screens, called “jali” or “jaali”, which can be seen throughout the Middle East, the former Moorish areas of Spain, and India. In one exhibit, the artist suspended the screens with a spotlight, so that a constantly shifting, kaleidoscopic composite pattern would be cast in shadows on the wall. Sometimes these were the same pattern over itself, or contrasting patterns.

My piece, Jali, is made of aural versions of these patterns, sometimes canons of similar patterns, in different tempi, or superimposed elements which are starkly contrasted – very accented double stops, a long legato line, or a scurrying kind of music.

The piece is in two equal parts. The first explores these patterns in a very rhythmically strict manner, with the vertical positions set in the score. The second presents them with greater flexibility, through the use of some uncoordinated playing. At one point, an argument breaks out between a faux-gigue and a courante, before sinking into a vastly stretched and slowed down version of the oboe’s opening line.

-Michael Small

 Jali patterns on a Morrocan mosque. Photo credit: Annalyse Moskeland

Jali patterns on a Morrocan mosque. Photo credit: Annalyse Moskeland

 
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