Translated by Mahboube Khalvati
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 passed away at the age of 68. Mohsen Ghanebasiri was the prominent HarmonyTalk author.
To pay tribute to Mohsen Ghanebasiri and his unique contribution to the literature and theory on the Iranian classical music, I decided to review concisely some of his most important theories.
I invited Mohsen Ghanebasiri to contribute to HarmonyTalk journal in 2006; a collaboration which lasted until 2016. During this decade, 16 of his articles were either published or re-published in the journal.
Apart from his full-time engagements as the editor-in-chief of “the Management” and “the Thunderbolt” magazines, and the authorship of five books including “Marx and Technology”, “A Question from Heidegger”, “Westernalization, Nostalgic Packing of History”, “Displays and Aspects of Democracy” and the unpublished “Power”, he wrote articles on arts which he never found the opportunity to fully develop into theories. They, therefore, serve as an introduction to his unwritten-but-much-spoke-about theories.
Ghanebasiri and Mohammad Saeed Sharifian, a contemporary Iranian composer, had started a collaboration to compose an opera. Ghanebasiri was writing the libretto which was again left unfinished. In collaboration with Behzad Abdi (Iranian composer) and Arian Karami, he was also recording two audio poem collections.
In order to introduce him as an arts critic and theorist, I have concisely reviewed some of the most important articles by Mohsen Ghanebasiri:
- Identifying teleological purposes of the classical arts
In his article entitled “On the Definition of the Classical Music”, Ghanebasiri evaluates the purposes of the classical arts. The article offers items which suggest an approach for value judgment of the works of classical music.
- Mediating devices theory
Mediating devices theory was developed based on a multi-dimensional and inter-disciplinary study to change the musical development ranging from improvisation to composing.
Mediating devices theory not only provides an opportunity to study the historical status of music in different periods and a geographically diverse classification of different civilizations, but also serves as an effective tool for criticizing arts and separating scientific and artistic fields in the world of arts.
- Definition of arts
The issue of defining arts was constantly discussed in the meetings that we had with Mohsen Ghanebasiri. I had considered two characteristics for identifying a work of arts: firstly, a work whose creation is far-fetched for the majority of the people. Secondly, a work which unties the existing knots. When I presented this definition to Mohsen Ghanebasiri, he brought to my attention a neglected aspect: the engagement of the active imagination faculty.
The added part plays a key role in completing this definition, because it allows the critic to distinguish between works that have no effect on the long term. This third component which was added by Mohsen Ghanebasiri completes the definition because the critic becomes capable of distinguishing the works of arts which are capable of becoming universally influential in extended period.
Finally, words do not suffice in explaining his depth of knowledge and level of modesty.
- 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.
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.
The present series of training articles, “Principles of Violin Playing”, seek to help students, to appropriately understand this field, by gradually introducing, categorizing, and teaching the myriad relevant points. One of the principles of playing violin, which must be always kept in mind, is that the selection of the most natural position for the body parts while playing is the best and most appropriate solution. As a matter of fact, any unnatural body part position which requires lots of energy or unusual stretching to maintain, is wrong.
The album “Guitar Memories” consists of the performance of baroque to recent era masterpieces, by Mehrdad Mahdavi, and is published by Tanin-e Honar Publication.
In this album there are pieces composed and arranged by artists such as: Sylvius Leopold Weiss, Johann Anton Logy, Fernando Sor, Yuquijiro Yocoh, Leo Brouwer.
Violin players should always pay attention to the proper position of the left thumb and other points related to it and to its joining point to the palm.
4.3.1. To practice playing of doubles of notes involving two different fingers, each note is played at separate bows with slow tempo, each note is played perfectly regarding its bass and tenor sounds and then the considered double is played at another bow while considering the resulted sound of the double.
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.
Finding a way to harmonize the Iranian music has been the subject of controversy among Iranian musicians for a long time. Some believe in the creation of harmonies for Iranian music based on a method which is similar to the tierce harmony; while others have either selected or invented some other methods. There are also some musicians who do not basically agree with the harmonization of the Iranian music.
Creating sound continuity between two notes in the source and destination positions when left hand position changes and “two different finger numbers” are involved is called portamento. Portamento can be performed on single string or two neighboring strings and with hand moving on fingerboard either upward or downward.
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.