Available on CD and digital download from CD Baby! Modal Tapestry – Ken Zuckerman & Friends

Equinoxe inside photo

To listen to a sample from a live concert in Freiburg, please click here:

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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, Australia, Hungary, Rumania, Italy, Germany and the USA, also add to the rich weave of the tapestry.


Ken Zuckerman, sarod,
Anindo Chatterjee, tabla,
Christoph Grund, piano
Keiju Nakajima, guitar
Benno Trautmann, french horn
Jalalu-Kalvert Nelson, trumpet & percussion

Diego Pagin, violin
Susanne Kaldor, violin
Jean-Eric Soucy, viola
Markus Tillier, cello
Wolfgang Güttler, bass

Monika Hamlascher, tanpura
Annette Bauer, tanpura

A live concert recording of Modal Tapestry I, recorded at the Freiburger “Zelt” Festival in 2001.

The Composition and performance was such a success that the Radio SWR commissioned Ken Zuckerman to compose “Modal Tapestry II”, which had its premier performance in Karlsruhe in 2002. Modal Tapestry II both developed musical concepts initiated in the first Modal Tapestry and also broke new ground.

Once again, the central concept of Modal Tapestry II is that melodic modes, existing all over the world in music styles of the past and present, can form a continuous thread which brings musicians, composers and audiences together in a special way. The juxtapositions of “composition / improvisation”, “ancient / modern”, “classical / popular”, “east / west” and “solo / ensemble”, all interacted to make Modal Tapestry II a unique listening experience!

Ken’s compositions and arrangements for Modal Tapestry II were complimented by pianist Christoph Grund, who contributed arrangements and compositions for the “classical” string section of the ensemble. In addition, guest appearances by medieval singer Dominique Vellard and Dhrupad singer Amelia Cuni added a vocal element to the performance. Modal Tapestry II had its Swiss premier at the Rheinfall festival in June 2007.

  • Recordings

  • 2 Worlds Modal

    Ragas d'equinoxe

    Salon de Musique

    Nature of Ragas

    Modal Tapestry


    Live in Basel

    Lute Improvisations
    (soon available)