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.
- Polyphony in Iranian Music (III)
- Polyphony in Iranian Music (II)
- Polyphony in Iranian Music (I)
- Behzad Abdi’s opera Rumi was physically released by Naxos
- Developments in Iranian Music Since Qajar Era (III)
- Developments in Iranian Music Since Qajar Era (II)
- Developments in Iranian Music Since Qajar Era (I)
- Harmony in the Iranian Music (II)
- Harmony in the Iranian Music (I)
- A year without Mohsen Ghanebasiri
- Principles of Violin Playing (X)
- Musical Sense or Technique?
From Past Days…
Shaahin Mohajeri, the award-winning Iranian microtonal compose, has contributed to The Art of Silence is an international project which features unpublished pieces by microtonal composers from Iran, Japan, the United States, and other countries.
One of his works was the translation of Harmony, which was carried out with the help of Mozayyan al-Dowleh, and included a pamphlet based on which he used to teach the subject to the students of the school of music; the pamphlet was never published. It was, in fact, a kind of simple harmony for the piano with no quadriads, it rather featured the engagement of both the right hand and the left hand which was being taught at the music school for the first time. Salar-Mo’azez also composed military marches and hymns for schools, which he harmonized to be performed and piano. Likewise, he used to compose for military orchestras.
Iranian pianist Layla Ramezan has always sought to create a connection between her Persian origin and the contemporary music which she encounters daily. Sound, phrasing, a particular sense of rhythm and a refined understanding of the “time of musical development” are the foremost qualities of her interpretations. Her musical and pianistic education began in Tehran at the age of 8 with Mostafa-Kamal Poortorab. Having moved to Paris and received a scholarship from Albert Roussel Foundation, she integrated the classes of Jean Micault and Devi Erlih at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris Alfred Cortot, where she received a Diplôme de Virtuosité in piano performance and chamber music.
Preparations for Saba Student Music Festival started in the summer of 2016; the Student Music Festival will be held annually by the students of music at Arts University. The first part of the closing ceremony of the Festival was dedicated to the celebration of the life, work and strives by Maestro Hossein Dehlavi to upgrade the level of music as an academic discipline. The name of the award-winning students and ensembles were announced at the second part of the ceremony.
Gholam Hossein Banan was born in 1911 in Tehran. He was born in an affluent art-loving family who were Naser al-Din Shah Qajar (1848-1896)’s relative. The Qajar King was his mother’s uncle on her father’s side. He learnt his first lessons in music while his father sang Iranian avaz (improvised rhythmic-free singing), he then attended classes by the renowned Iranian composer, Morteza Neydavoud (1900-1990) along with his sisters; the composer is, therefore, considered as his first teacher. He then learnt Iranian avaz under the supervision of Mirza Taher Zia Resaee (Zia-o Zakerin) and Naser Seif in an oral manner.
Composing a traditional Iranian opera using the Iranian modal system, dastgāh, has always been my dream. I first approached this by composing an opera called Ashura followed by the operas Rumi and Hafez. I believe that in order to attract an international audience for Iranian opera, it is essential to fuse dastgāh with Western classical forms.
With regard to each polyphonic form, only one specific and distinguished example is analyzed. These polyphonic forms are as follows:
Nine-bridge and twelve-bridge Sanours were both used until the early Pahlavi dynasty. However, as Faramarz Payvar devised new methods for playing the nine-bridge Sanour, this variety of the instrument which was hammered by felted sticks became popular.
3/1/2/5: When the first finger lands next to the nut, continuation of first phalange of this finger, on back of the hand, should be in line with continuation of the back of the wrist and the left hand; moreover, it should not pass them and bend at knuckles. Otherwise, an uncommon stretch is created in first finger’s knuckle also reducing the freedom of other fingers (especially the fourth finger) in finger placement.
In the few days prior to the New Iranian year (March 2015), the news of the revival of Tehran Symphony Orchestra under Ali (Alexander) Rahbari’s conductorship was announced. Ali Rahbari, who served as assistant to Herbert von Karajan in Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra at a very young age, was also invited to conduct Tehran Symphony Orchestra in 2005; however, the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government put an end to his collaboration with this Orchestra. Recently, it was announced that Rahbari is invited to conduct an orchestra in the U.S.