Modal Tapestry

Modal Tapestry Orchestra


MODAL TAPESTRY I, composed especially for Germany’s SWR (southwest radio station), had it’s premiere performance at the cultural event “von vier bis vier” (from 4 to 4 – 24 hours of cultural events), which took place in Karlsruhe on May 27, 2000. The inspiration for the project came from Benno Trautmann, a member of the SWR Symphony Orchestra of Baden-Baden and Freiburg. With a strong interest in both classical western music and experimental and improvised styles, Mr. Trautmann asked Ken Zuckerman if it would be possible to create a composition for a mixed ensemble of musicians from diverse backgrounds, which would feature a blend of both western/eastern, and composed/improvised sections. Mr. Zuckerman, a composer and performer with extensive training in eastern and western classical music, readily agreed to the project.


Tapestry – a form of textile art, woven together and decorated with different kinds of threads. Modal Tapestry I is a composition that weaves together musical threads from diverse cultures into an artistic whole. The common thread, which exists in almost all music traditions – east and west – is mode. The concept of mode is at the core of many eastern music traditions – guiding a musician through the process of making melodies, both while composing and improvising. Mode was also a very important aspect of western art music during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Although in later times (including our modern day period), the active use of modal ideas is less prevalent, the echo of this earlier practice can still be heard in many styles of music that we listen to every day.

The performance of Modal Tapestry I gives listeners a chance to hear modally conceived music in different contexts and configurations, from fully composed and arranged sections for ensemble to sections giving the musicians more space for solos and improvisation. The musicians taking part in the performance, coming from diverse countries like India, Japan, Iran, Australia, Hungary, Rumania, Italy, Germany and the USA, also add to the rich weave of the tapestry.

The Composition and performance was such a success that Ken was given an additional commission to compose “Modal Tapestry II”, which had its premier performance at the same festival in Karlsruhe in 2002.

Modal Tapestry I was also performed in Freiburg, Germany in July 2001. The CD recording of this performance will soon be available (Fall 2007).

Modal Tapestry II will have its’ Swiss premier performance at the RheinFall Festival in June 2007.

To listen and read more about the Modal Tapestry project please click on the CD image.

  • Recordings

  • 2 Worlds Modal

    Ragas d'equinoxe

    Salon de Musique

    Nature of Ragas

    Modal Tapestry


    Live in Basel

    Lute Improvisations
    (soon available)