Qanun, a feminized instrument?

Translated by Mahboube Khalvati
In the world music culture, there are instruments which were traditionally associated with a certain gender. It remains disputable to what extent these gender-based perceptions have been logical and scientific. For example, as playing wind instruments need more breath strength and the public opinion believe that men have stronger breath compared to women, these instruments are predominantly a male domain. Harp is also considered a female instrument as the public opinion believe that women have finer fingers and can therefore better perform nuances and delicate techniques on the instrument.
It is also true about Qanun. Interestingly enough, a review of the history of the Iranian music proves that more men are more among the virtuous players of Qanun than women.
Six decades ago, Rahim Qanuni who had learnt Qanun from Arabs started teaching Qanun to Iranians. After him, Jalal Qanun plays the instrument in an Arabic style. However, Mehdi Fattah (1909 – 1996) started to officially and academically re-introduce the instrument.
Mehdi Meftah was a renowned violinist who had also started Qanun lessons under an Arab instrumentalist. He, therefore, considered a serious revival of this instrument in Iran as he believed that Qanun was an Iranian instrument which was hijacked by Arabs (it is worth mentioning that some researchers believe that the Iranian scholar Abu Nasr al-Farabi (14 December, 950 and 12 January, 951) had invented the instrument).
Mehdi Meftah went to Iraq in 1957 in order to take lessons on different methods of playing Qanun under Arab maestros; after returning to Iran Meftah started teaching the instrument in music conservatory (as the students’ second instrument).
So far, all great players of Qanun were men. So, when does women’s predominance over the instrument begin?
Meftah’s method of teaching the instrument was an Arabic method. Being talented, Simin Aqa Razi and Maliheh Saeedi were Meftah’s students who excelled at performance compared to the maestro.
After the emergence of TV in the society and broadcasting music programmes which attracted the attention of many arts lovers, solo Qanun performance or Qanun performance in accompaniment of the Iranian orchestra were aired frequently which majorly included performances by Aqa Razi and Saeedi.
Frequent reruns of Simin Aqa Razi’s solo performances (who was exactly ten years older than Saeedi), made the sound of this instrument even more popular and; therefore, the image of a woman Qanun player was imprinted on the minds of the public (like the ancient image of the women harpists).
The beauty and the gracefulness of Qanun in the hands of a woman soloist was a great motivation for young women to choose this instrument as their main one and this is the reason that even until today the most prominent players of Qanun are women.

Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *
*
*
Your email is never shared.

Parviz Meshkatian’s Heart Beat for People (I)

Amidst the popularity of traditionalism in the Iranian music, Parviz Meshkatian (1955- 2009) moved from Neyshabur to Tehran. He learnt to play Santour and became educated in the Radif of Iranian music at the Centre for Preservation and Promotion of Music which was at the forefront of promoting the return to musical traditions. Despite his studies at a centre which promoted the use of the phrase “traditional music” in Iran, Parviz Meshkatian emerged as a creative artist whose innovative and unique ideas attracted the admiration of Iranian artists and people from different walks of life. This article studies the reason behind Meshkatian’s deviation from the wrong approach of traditionalism strongly promoted by the Centre and argues that apart from the issue of theory of Iranian music, he can be considered as Ali Naqi Vaziri’s successor.

Farshad Sanjari, Forgotten Iranian Conductor Met His Tragic End

Farshad Sanjari, one of the most renowned Iranian conductors in the 1970s in Iran died after fire broke in his apartment in Vienna on November 22, 2019. Farshad Sanjari was not involved in politics; however, he was one of the victims of the Iranian Islamic Revolution in 1979. After the victory of the Islamic Revolution, his name was never seen as the conductor of any programmes.

From Past Days…

Farshad Sanjari, Forgotten Iranian Conductor Met His Tragic End

Farshad Sanjari, one of the most renowned Iranian conductors in the 1970s in Iran died after fire broke in his apartment in Vienna on November 22, 2019. Farshad Sanjari was not involved in politics; however, he was one of the victims of the Iranian Islamic Revolution in 1979. After the victory of the Islamic Revolution, his name was never seen as the conductor of any programmes.

A Promising Concert by National Instruments Orchestra

The National Instruments Orchestra of Iran performed its first concert amid much hope and anxiety on July 18, 2015. The Orchestra is founded by Roudaki Cultural and Arts Foundation which is a semi-private foundation in Iran. The Arts Director for the National Instruments Orchestra of Iran is cand the Orchestra Executive Director is Sadjad Pourghand.

Principles of Playing Violin (VI)

B. applying force: the force needed for putting finger on finger board is applied through finger tips and using the rest of hand set especially wrist is not allowed. To practice this, it is possible to hold violin without the bow and throw the fingers on the finger board from 1-2cm distance; apply force only through finger tips.

Polyphony in Iranian Music (V)

In addition to the above-mentioned, polyphony can be also formed when a melody is performed by several singers in different ambiances or different sound registers according to their physiologic abilities. An example of this has been performed in rituals of Khanqah of Ghaderi darawish of Mahabad[i].

Three singers in one larynx

Sima Bina (b. 1945) is a unique singer among the singers of Golha radio programmes which were broadcast on Iranian National Radio for 23 years from 1956 to 1979. She received her first lessons in music from her father who was a poet, a musician and the most important supporter of Sima’s cultural activities.

A year without Mohsen Ghanebasiri

The year 1396 (21 March 2017-20 March 2018) was the most sorrowful year for HarmonyTalk journal. One month after holding HarmonyTalk’s 13th establishment anniversary in Mohsen Ghanebasiri’s house in Tehran in April 2017, he untimely passed away. Mohsen Ghanebasiri was the prominent HarmonyTalk author.

Principles of Violin Playing (VII)

4.3.1.3 Regarding the great linear distance and the unusual distance between the first and forth fingers, the first finger while playing the doubles of ninth and tenth interval, can be twisted in the knuckle area and the point mentioned in 3.1.2.5 paragraph in relation to the way first finger is placed indicating that the first joint of this finger in back of hand must be in line with the direction of forearm and left hand is not true here.

Musical Sense or Technique?

One of the most popular terms used by Iranian instrumentalists is the existence or a lack of musical “sense”. Both musicians and fans of music consider having “sense” while playing music as an important principle to the extent that they use it vis-a-vis having technique.

Polyphony in Iranian Music (III)

In heterophonic variant, two performers perform a single melody simultaneously and change it. Performing and changing a single melody simultaneously by two performers leads to the coincidence of different voices.

Polyphony in Iranian Music (VI)

Torqeh or jal is the same bird (Bimaculated lark) and is the name of a muqam which is well-known in Torbate Jam and those areas. Jal muqam is called Torqeh in Esfarayen and Bojnourd. This muqam which was used to be played by Bakhshis/Bagşies (dutar-players) in the past is seldom performed today.