A year without Mohsen Ghanebasiri

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Question from Heidegger”, “Westernalization, Nostalgic Packing of History”, “Displays and Aspects of Democracy” and the unpublished “Power”, he wrote articles on arts which he never found the opportunity to fully develop into theories.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.

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Hassan Kassai, Ney Virtuoso

The name of Maestro Hassan Kassai is so vehemently intertwined with Ney (Persian reed flute) that one cannot imagine one without the other immediately coming into mind. Ney is one of the instruments which went through a lot of ups and downs in the history of the Iranian music since the time of Sassanid kings to the time when shepherds found playing it consoling when they took their cattle for grazing. However, Nay could never demonstrate its main capacities to gain a stable position among the musicians and the people like other instruments including Oud, Tar, Santour, all sorts of bowed string instruments and plucked string instruments.

Iranian Fallacies – Global Performance

One of the most important criteria for measuring the quality of a piece of classical music is number of times the piece has been performance by different ensembles and orchestras in different eras. This belief has become so pervasive in some societies, such as Iranian society, that it is considered the only criterion for measuring the quality of a piece of classical music.

From Past Days…

New Technique for Playing Classical Guitar (I)

Joint application of the two techniques of “Lip” and “Nose” could be effectively applied for hearing and playing far-away intervals, by the Classical Guitar. Before this, a Classical Guitar player had to waive playing intervals not possible with the left hand, and had to replace or eliminate some notes, making it possible to play such intervals; specifically the capability of the left hand of the musician, was also a factor in such a selection. These methods are hereby illustrated by photographs and a video-file, in order to provide optimum comprehension of applying these methods, invented by the author; specifically the “Lip” technique, which is considered to be a more significant technique, emphasized by the author.

“The Art of Silence” Project Will be Released

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.

Avaye Naerika Percussion Orchestra

Avaye Naerika Percussion Orchestra is an Iranian percussion orchestra featuring 40 lady percussionists. The Orchestra was established as Iran’s largest all-female percussion orchestra in 2008 by Ms. Minoo Rezaei under the title Naerika Percussion Orchestra and changed its name to Avaye Naerika in 2017.

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.

Principles of Violin Playing (VIII)

1.5.1.3.sometimes, a player, due to different reasons, may decisively want to play continuously two notes with a half-step by means of the same finger, in such a case, it’s necessary to open the interior curve of the finger like a spring. Naturally coming back, the curve of finger should be closed and the finger should become curved shape again (see paragraph 3.1.2.1).

Principles of Violin Playing (II)

Since for playing violin, it’s necessary that the player’s palms and fingers be inclined toward the fingerboard, therefore, the player, while bringing up his hand, should turn it toward the fingerboard.

Payam Taghadossi: Talented Iranian-Austrian Cellist

Payam Taghadossi (born in 1989) started his musical education at the age of 4 years with Monika Scherbaum in Bregenz (Austria). At the Conservatory Feldkirch he joined the class of Imke Frank and Martin Merker. Later he studied in Zurich (Switzerland) with Thomas Grossenbacher and Christian Proske, where he 2011 graduated as a Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance. Two years later as the student of Rafael Rosenfeld he received his Master of Arts in Music Performance diploma and later graduated as a Master of Arts in spezialized Music Performance in 2016 from the Hochschule für Musik Basel FHNW.

Principles of Violin Playing (IX)

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.

Iranian Fallacies – School of Vaziri

Iranian Fallacies – School of Vaziri

The term “School of Vaziri” is often used in writings on Iranian music, but the exact meaning of the term is not clear; some of the authors have used the term to only refer to the group of Vaziri’s students, including a large group of his conservatory students and his Tar students such as Abolhassan Saba, Rouhollah Khaleghi, Ahmad Foroutan Rad, Hossein Sanjari, Heshmat Sanjari and others. But can we consider all Vaziri’s students as followers of his school of thought? This is definitely a mistake, because we know that some of Vaziri’s students have chosen a completely different path than that of Vaziri.

Non-profit “Microtona” Project Released

Microtona is a sixty-eight-page Booklet with personal comments by the contributing microtonal artists. The booklet also includes a DVD which consists of 8 original video tracks and 9 original audio tracks. The project is an international one featuring unpublished pieces by composers from Iran, Japan, U.S., France, Austria, Germany and Belgium.