Balkan Art Scene
Hanan Hadžajlić — Music Gives Me Something Stronger Than the Power Itself, and That Is Freedom
Hanan Hadžajlić is an internationally awarded composer, flutist and transdisciplinary researcher, currently residing in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since 2018 she has been employed as a Teaching Assistant and since 2021 as a Senior Teaching Assistant at the Department of Composition of the Music Academy (University of Sarajevo).
She is a founder and director of the INSAM Institute for Contemporary Artistic Music (2015) and manager of scientific journal INSAM Journal of Contemporary Music, Art and Technology; member of the ensemble SONEMUS (2012) and since this year, its executive director.
Hadzajlic holds doctoral degree in flute performance (live electroacoustic music performance) and master’s degree in composition. Currently she is a student of doctoral studies in composition and doctoral studies in transdisciplinary studies of contemporary art and media.
Her music was performed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Hungary, Denmark, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Israel, USA (New York, Connecticut, Maryland) and Australia.
In addition to activities in the field of artistic music, she is also engaged in the composition of popular music, as part of the collaboration with the Bosnian&Herzegovinian rapper Cunami, under the pseudonym Nanah Tzil.
For the beginning, if you could tell us about your educational background. How come you've chosen music as a way to communicate thoughts and feelings?
I began with music education when I was four years old, attending preparatory classes for elementary music school in Slovenia. Then, I went through the standard system of music education; from elementary and high music school to academia.
So, I completed bachelor's and master's degree in flute performance at the Music Academy of the University of Sarajevo and later completed doctoral studies in the same field, but specialized in performing live electroacoustic music (with modular systems), at the Faculty of Music in Belgrade of the University of Arts.
Also, at the Music Academy of the University of Sarajevo, I completed bachelor's and master's degree in composition, and continued doctoral studies, so I am currently still a student.
In addition to that, I am a doctoral student in the field of art theory and media at the Faculty of Media and Communication in Belgrade of the University Singidunum.
Since I have been in the music education system all my life and I have gone through many different creative experiences, both in the field of artistic and popular music, I am in a way trained to express my ideas about the world primarily through my ways of shaping different music syntaxes.
I do not always and not necessarily communicate the thoughts and feelings that I truly want to convey in some more abstract form; sometimes I just deal with dramaturgy, which aims to achieve a certain effect in the end. Sometimes it is all about the money and fun. Dear artists who still believe in myths, it is time to accept that.
However, sometimes, but also most often, music is for me the only free space that does not allow me to grow up according to current standards and limits of civilization, so it gives me something stronger than the power itself, and that is freedom.
At the moment you are actively working with INSAM Institute, collaborating quite often. What's a crucial point in your bond?
The crucial point is that I enjoy the achievements of the INSAM Institute, especially of the fantastic, internationally accepted scientific journal INSAM Journal of Contemporary Music, Art and Technology.
I founded INSAM in 2015 with the aim of establishing an international network that would deal with the latest practices in the field of artistic music and will constantly follow but also create new scientific paradigms and/or trends.
I am very happy and grateful that my job at INSAM is now exclusively managerial; sometimes I suggest ‘where we could go’, what to pay attention to, and I actually enjoy it the most when I watch my colleagues, especially the journal's editorial team, run a business at a highly professional level. The editor-in-chief of the journal, Bojana Radovanovic from Belgrade, has in some way gained a status in INSAM that probably no one will ever be able to overshadow.
Maybe this is exactly what should be the true ideal today; to be irreplaceable in your work.
As a part of your academic practice, you've been writing and publishing papers quite often. Any favorite topics, or even a certain niche which you like to handle your own way?
Yes, I have written about various things, from the analysis of baroque sonatas, through heavy metal and globalization, artificial musical intelligence, to aspects of performance in everyday life.
At the moment, my favorite is to deal with performativity in accordance with human nature (where I mostly refer to N. Machiavelli), models of behavior (cognition and performance theory according to R. Schechner) and the human need for drama and hype (popular culture). The world is much more interesting when we do not take people's final decisions or current situations too seriously. Disappointments are an outdated paradigm in this century.
As a music producer, you're working with Cunami, who's a well-known rapper. This can be a huge difference from academic forms. How do you transform from classical forms to rap music?
Cunami is fantastic. The most talented person for music I've ever met. He has a sense of detail that most people are unable to perceive, which I have not seen with many world-renowned musicians with whom I have collaborated. It is not just about talent but also about a special form of courage and bravery in thinking.
Composition is always composition; skill and ability to find and carry out a certain intention. Contemporary artistic music definitely transcends the historical concept of form, which is on the other side, still a condition for popular music. However, the combination of work in the field of artistic and popular music for me means balance and direct insight into the various contents of today's world. So, on the one hand, I seek freedom in security (form), and on the other hand, security (form) in freedom.
If there's anything you would change when it comes to music production in Bosnia and Herzegovina, what would it be?
Music is just one instance in the production of music and culture in general. Yes, I would change some things. For example, human beliefs in current knowledge, experience, and ideas about the ‘struggle for justice’, whose overall, average intellectual status reminds me of high school fascinations with young revolutionaries who most often end badly in their thirties. I may seem rude and narcissistic but I don’t like it when something is unconvincing.
People prefer to criticize capable and brave people rather than to work 16 hours a day and try to keep things under control at least in part. I don’t like social parasites that feed by gathering information from the practices of creative and courageous people - and they do it mostly out of context.
The greatest enemies of people and humanity in general are those who are so convinced that they are on the right path that they do not leave room for self-analysis and new knowledge. It’s like having an intelligent and capable but not sufficiently educated and experienced art student; when he realizes how dangerous art is because of its usability, he often stays at the level of recounting the first lessons of history to his friends, and does not even think that perhaps he is the best medium of modern ‘Goebbels’ machinery. I was like that too. At some point, I realized I that I was an audience of already outdated discourses. They sold me this pen.
We live in a century in which things are often not what they seem. One should know how to wear wolf fur and act like a beast and not just cry from the perspective of a sacrificial lamb. However, most people change their minds because of money. But they often prefer their free time so they go back to old practices, their comfort zone.
For example, some people do not understand that I consume very primitive music in my private life, at least from the perspective of the topics it deals with. The same people like to watch Netflix series and movies that have even more extreme content. That's fine with me.
See, probably no gynecologist approaches the problem professionally in his private life. Also, I believe that one nutritionist will sometimes eat something from McDonald’s and not only eat broccoli. On the other hand, the best inspectors are those who are capable of thinking like criminals. Quite simply, I am sick of the slowness in thinking and understanding the possibilities of the modern world, but also our tasks. Artists who supposedly devalue popular culture: either they admire it pathologically and thus just feed their frustrations, or they are very bad at their job. All historically significant artists have consulted with popular culture. Don't forget that historical music today is mostly music for tourists.
As long as we separate working in fields of culture and art, we do not understand what it is all about and especially our function. Consequently, as long as we criticize one and obey the other, it means that we are still not in the capacity to accept new knowledge and practices in our lives and thus not to implement appropriate self-criticism for our development.
Without self-criticism there is no reprogramming of the old identity and shaping of new identities (and I believe that the richer a person is, the more identities one has), and without the above mentioned, we cannot keep up with a world that is constantly changing. When we realize that these identities are nothing more than just our roles that we practice and apply every day in various interactions and actions, we will find our essence. Without knowing its essence, man is a dead social being because he is not authentic. Authenticity is the most expensive and extremely rare. Everything flows, everything changes, everything passes, but authenticity always has a messianic character.
Even if I change my mind about some things, I’m sure it will never make me happy to meet market standards. Because met standards are not satisfied appetites, and humans are very hungry animals. Life is cruel but it can be a lot of fun we stop feeling sorry for ourselves and at the same time ask for special rights. Even in the animal world, the strongest, the most intrusive and those who know how to take what they want, they survive. Thus, after all, great societies are created.
Why is it wrong to say that the center of the world is where I stand? If you say no, measure, prove it. I think we lack that attitude in general and I want to change that.
Follow Hanan's latest work on her Instagram account.
Author: Hana Tiro