Hossein Aslani passed away!

Hossein Aslani, Iranian pianist residing in the US, passed away due to cancer in late January 2020. His last musical activity was an article written for Harmony Talk entitled “Iran amidst musical struggle” in 2016, his memoir entitled “I Play You Again” in the same year and his album “Symbolic Emotion” published by Arganoun Publications in 2014. Here is a brief biography of Hossein Aslani according to his own website:
Hossein Aslani was born in the village of Shahghaji in Gilan, Iran in 1936. After elementary education, he moved alone to Tehran. While completing his high school years and surviving for sustenance on labor-intensive daily jobs, he entered the music world by mastering accordion.

audio file Listen to “Hope and Hopelessness” for Piano

Recommended by a close clarinet virtuoso friend the late Hossein Shahverdi, he entered the international conservatory of music in Tehran in Vahdat Hall in 1958. He was trained under the tutelage of renowned western classical music scholars of the era in piano by Tatania Kharatian, music theory and solfeggio by Fereidun Farzaneh, and harmony and orchestration by Houshang Ostovar. Hossein Aslani was also invited to join the national radio Iran as a composer, arranger and pianist in 1965.

audio file Liaten to a part of the String Quartet

In an era when Pop music was still regarded as an artistic classic genre, Aslani was instrumental in popularizing it among the youth in particular, through his innovative polyphonic and independent melodic lines. He employed wind instrument ensembles, electric guitar and percussion. This was manifest through performances by the late vocalist Mohammad Nouri and many other singers of the era during 1968-71. Concurrently, with his professional endeavors, he has tirelessly continued piano instructions since 1960. Aslani’s first written composition was a piece for piano and orchestra, conducted by Feredun Shahbazian, and performed by the Grand National Radio Orchestra in 1971.

audio file Listen to “A Shadow at Midnight” featuring Mohammad Nouri (singer)

This popular notoriety prompted Aslani’s involuntary emigration to New York U. S. A. and his trials and tribulations that followed in a foreign land. Committed for life to contemporary music as anchored on his intrinsic affinity and love for music, he earned his master’s degree in music composition from the State University of New York Conservatory of Music specializing in contemporary music and orchestration. His lifelong cooperation with his university mentors as Professors Dary John Mizelle and Joel Thome for 20th century harmony, Suzanne Farrin for music literature and critique, Steven Lubin for classic, Brady Brookshire and Stuart Isakoff for music analysis as perceived by the musicians and listeners, has continued.

audio file Listen to “Moments of Solitutde” featuring Aref (singer)

His work has remained most inspired by the folkloric music of Gilan and other regions of his motherland Iran, combined with nostalgic melancholy of his early years as well as his extensive research of the works of renowned Master contemporary composers Charles Ives, Aaron Copland, Igor Stravinsky John cage, Bella Bartok, Leonard Bernstein and Houshang Ostovar. Aslani’s unique approach to contemporary music is deemed progressive; nonetheless, emanated from noble well rooted origins. This has thus far yielded a number of pieces and proses that are multidimensional and unimaginable at times.
Hossein Aslani’s firm belief in humanity and community, nurtured by his beloved mother Gilaneh, is heralded through his lifelong philanthropy, altruism and voluntarism.

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A Note on the Occasion of Houshang Zarif’s Demise

No introduction is needed when talking about the position of the late Houshang Zarif (1938-2020) in the Iranian music. His character and personality are so well-known among musicians that his name per se is a symbol and role model for the Iranian youth. “Becoming Houshang Zarif” is the dream of many young people who enter the world of music in Iran and many of whom retire regretting the realisation of this dream.

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.

From Past Days…

Developments in Iranian Music Since Qajar Era (II)

Santour:
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.

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.

The 4th Iranian Festival of Music Websites and Weblogs

The 4th Iranian Festival of Music Websites and Weblogs was held in Niavaran Cultural Center, in Tehran, Iran on Feb. 28th, 2015. The initiator of the festival was Sajjad Pourghanad, Iranian music writer, researcher, founder of the festival and Persian setar and tar player.

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.

Developments in Iranian Music Since Qajar Era (I)

At the end of the Qajar era and as Iran entered the power transition period, known as the constitutional era, the Iranian music went through a lot of changes. These changes gained momentum as the students and followers of Ali Naqi Vaziri’s entered the musical scene. These changes greatly influenced designs of instruments, playing methods, singing, composing, etc.

New Technique for Playing Classical Guitar (II)

When the author was working on the piece “Playing Love” by Ennio Morricone (from the legend of 1900), he realized a failure of the Lip Technique. Needing to play a chord in the 14th position of the guitar and in order to complete the harmony, it is necessary to play a harmonic note on the 7th or 5th position; it was not possible to touch the string to play this harmonic note, because the Lip Technique is used for getting the notes and not to touch the string and producing harmonic notes. Naturally, the only possible way to touch the string was to use the nose at the required position and playing the note with the right hand, and this was the best option the author found to how to play such harmonic notes, and where the Nose Technique was generated.

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.

Layla Ramezan, Iranian Pianist

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.

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.

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.