Mathematics is the music of reason. - James Joseph Sylvester
Autobiography. I was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1974. Due to the fact that my parents are Azerbaijanis and my father Nasrollah Nasehpour is a master of Persian vocal radif repertoire, I was exposed to both Persian and Azerbaijani classical music as a child. In my childhood, I was interested in the tonbak. My father's friend, Maestro Nasser Farhangfar who was an incomparable master of the tonbak and Persian rhythms, taught me the tonbak at Chavoush Conservatory when I was nine years old. At that time, my father was the singing teacher at the same conservatory. On the other hand, he also taught Persian vocal music at the Chang Conservatory. I attended the Carl Orff class taught by Mr. Mohammad Reza Darvishi, a music teacher at Chang Conservatory, with the help of my mother. After these two conservatories closed, my father's vocal classes were moved to our house. Consequently, I became more familiar with Persian radif repertoire by listening to my father's courses.
My interest in mathematics began in high school when I read Professor Parviz Shahriari's books. After some time, I found out that there is a major called "pure mathematics" at the university, and mathematics is taught in almost every unit in that major. Therefore, I decided to study pure mathematics at university. In the fourth year of high school, I did not practice the tonbak very much and mostly focused on the university entrance exam. After participating in the national entrance exam, I was accepted into the pure mathematics field at Shahid Beheshti University (formerly known as the National University of Iran). While I used to practice the ghaval before I entered the university, due to my father's friendship with Maestro Latif Tahmasebi-zadeh, I eventually ended up in his private classes and learned ghaval and the Azerbaijani rhythms from him. In the middle of the 1990s, with the encouragement of Mohammad Reza Lotfi, I traveled to Sanandaj to get acquainted with the daf and Kurdish rhythms under the supervision of Khalifa Mirza Agha Ghosi.
In the late 1980s, I had become familiar with North Indian classical music, especially the tabla, but in 1991, when I attended the concert of Ustad Bismillah Khan (the famous Shehnai player) and his ensemble, I became more curious about the tabla. Therefore, I was looking for a suitable opportunity to research this instrument.
In the early 1990s, the Internet was not yet common in Iran, and searching and collecting information was not an easy task. In 1996, I took part in the post-graduate entrance exam and was ranked 10th, and I was admitted to University of Tehran to continue my studies. My undergraduate courses were more focused on mathematical analysis, but my master's course focused on commutative algebra and my master's thesis on a topic in commutative algebra.
During my studies and in my free time, I searched the internet to find more information about mathematics and music (especially tabla). Although there was not much information available on the Internet in those years, I found the material useful and informative. When I finished my studies at University of Tehran, I had more time to study other courses in mathematics and research tabla and Indian rhythms. In addition, when I saw that nothing was written about the tonbak on the Internet, I was upset and decided to write about the tonbak on the Internet so that foreigners can learn about the tonbak as well as some other Persian percussion instruments.
Almost a year and a half after receiving a master's degree from University of Tehran, with the help of Mr. Hormoz Dilmaghani, who was a computer engineer living in London, interested in the tonbak and had launched a website called "Tombak Network", I wrote about the tonbak and other percussion instruments that helped to promote precious Persian music in those years.
In the first year of my bachelor's degree, I realized that the university courses, although they were not bad, were not what I was looking for, i.e., the logical and philosophical foundations of mathematics. Fortunately, through Dr. Amir-Hossein Aryanpour, I got to know Professor Abdollah Anwar, and I attended his classes held in his house every week for 11 years, and I first got acquainted with mathematical logic (based on the book of Dr. GM Mosaheb), and then, I studied Wittgenstein's philosophical books under his supervision. These classes continued until the last months I was in Iran. In order to familiarize myself with old logic, Professor Anwar taught me also the treatise of Minhaj Mobin by Baba Afzal Kashani.
One day in 2004, I felt that it was necessary to move abroad to continue my studies. My trusted friend Dr. Saeed Salehi, who was studying computer science in Finland at the time, helped me to apply and get admission to a university in Tarragona, Spain, to study "formal languages" in 2006. After some time, I realized that the courses related to "formal languages" were not what I was looking for, though the classes were really interesting. As a result, I applied and got accepted to one of the German universities. I left Spain for Germany. In the mathematics department of the University of Osnabrück, I had the honor of being a student of the esteemed professor of algebra, Professor Dr. Winfried Bruns. I wrote my thesis under his supervision, and in 2011, I defended my dissertation and graduated from the University of Osnabrück.
After finishing my studies in Germany, I came back to Iran and for 9 years, I taught in Iranian universities (including the Engineering Faculty of Tehran University, where I was invited by Dr. Dara Moazzami).
While studying in Tarragona, I had a discussion with Professor Manfred Kodlek. He had come to Tarragona to teach, and during a private conversation with him, he introduced the theory of semirings to me. While working in Iran, I did a lot of research in this field.
Due to recent unfavorable circumstances, I realized that it might be better to pursue my interests in music and mathematics independently. I have been doing my own independent work for some time now.
Finally, although my main goal in music has been to do research, I have also collaborated with respected masters of music such as my father, Mohammad Reza Lotfi (master of tar and setar), Habil Aliyev (master of kamancheh), Hassan Nahid (master of ney), Milad Kiai (master of santoor), Peter Giger (Jazz drummer), Gitti Khosravi (opera singer), Azita Mostofi (santoor player), Elshan Mansurov (kamancheh player), Gevorg Dabaghyan (master of duduk), Massoud Shaari (setar player), Majid Derakhshani (tar player), Mohammad Molla Aghaei (vocalist), Peyman Soltani (composer and tar player), etc.
This was a brief journey of mine in life, mathematics and music.
For more on my teaching and research experiences, see the following pages:
From 2000 to 2004, I published articles and notes in the field of music to promote Persian music and culture on the web.
I have re-published most of them here: Music Articles and Notes