Illusion or Ingenuity?


Mohsen Renani in the preface of his book entitled “The Political Economy of nuclear conflict; an introduction to traversing the civilizations” writes:
” … it is surprising; people whose average intelligence quotient (IQ) is 84 (compared to normal range of 90-100) and are in the class of “below average” consider themselves as the most intelligent people in the world and keep enjoying this deceptive belief and become arrogant and based on such self-delusion, repeatedly miss historic opportunity …”
In an approximate estimate of the average IQ of people in different countries in 2008, Iran compeered with countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Venezuela, and Uganda (2).
Unfortunately, such reality has numerous manifestations with respect to music and its status in today’s society of Iran. Performing the 6/4 rhythm which has been known as a difficult performance is one of these countless manifestations (3).
Another manifestation is the popularity of syllabic combination of poem and music which is designated by Abdol-ghader Maragheyi (titled “Hawayee” or “Mardom-zad”) as the most inferior style of using poem in music and has been categorically dominant in Iranian music since Qajar Period up to now, a style which is the simplest way of delivering language in terms of complexity (4).
Moreover, vocal layering has also melted away in Iranian music in the course of time. Sasan Fatemi, in the 28th issue of Mahour Quarterly, in part of an article entitled “Combination of poetry and music; rule or style” writes:
“… we have come to a point that it is very unlikely to find a nation in the world like us who get easily distressed after hearing simultaneous vocal events.”
There are many other examples in this regard. It appears that during the past years, with the increase of immigration phenomenon and brain drain, as well as declining of life quality and welfare of different classes of society which could likely contribute to degradation of a complete and health diet and so forth, the average IQ of Iranian people has come to lower degrees.
Low IQ and its gradual decrease in the long run, as a contributing factor in current inactivity, together with other factors such as inefficiency and lagging of country’s educational system (which considers no place for music learning), delivers a discouraging outlook.
There is no doubt that accumulation of all these deficiencies has dramatically lowered the average quality of the music productions as well as the taste of public today; an issue that has been frequently Requiem like mentioned in articles and writings of contemporary musicians and musicologist(5)(6).
In addition to low IQ, another issue is the lack of awareness of these falls and degradations in general consumers of music. While a group of students or educated people, in decades ago, used to sing together the modest works such as “Ma-ra Beboos” and “Elahe-ye Naaz”, same groups in a moment exhausted from leisure music, now sing “To ke cheshmat kheili ghashangeh…” which is barely even a kid’s music, and like producers of such masterpieces, have this mindset that they are experiencing a distinct musical work having musical values.
It should be noted that the genre of music is of trivial importance in this regard and the problem is the low quality of such music productions in all genres. Isn’t it true that our pop music is at the most basic and preliminary level, except few ones, and is in no way comparable to much of the world’s pop music? In such atmosphere, speaking of the globalization and universalization and in some case positing of Iranian music at the summit of world’s art and wisdom is because of nothing but the illusion that Mohsen Renani has alluded to, a historical illusion which equates intelligence with trickery (7) and has deceived himself for many centuries.


1- Economist and professor of University of Isfahan, author of books such as “The decline cycles of moral and economic” and “market or non-market?”
3- A renowned professor of music once said in his classroom: “…when late Saba during his training to students, came to the song of “Aseman har shab…” (in the rhythm of six four), said everyone who can properly perform this song, has all the rhythm…”.
4- See “contemporary Tasnif”, Sasan Fatemi, Mahour quarterly, No. 40, 112-85
5- See “current music of Iran: gap between existence and manifestation”, Mohammad Reza Fayyaz, Mahour quarterly, No. 39, 102-93
6- It should be noted that like the measure of “intelligence”, average trend was considered for the quality level of music production. Obviously, there have been valuable and genius productions. However, the average quality level of music works decreases with the bulk of poor quality productions.
7- There are many established examples of trickery in Iranian music which requires a comprehensive consideration. Here, we only refer to the statement of Mohammad Reza Nikfar (philosopher and theorist): “no word other than “trickery” can best describe our national vices…” (radio Zamaneh, critical idea, program 48, Iranian trickery)

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Principles of Violin Playing (X)

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.

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.

From Past Days…


Principles of Violin Playing (VII) 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 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 (I)

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.


Principles of Playing Violin (V)

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.


From the Last Instrumentalist to the First Composer (I)

Music as an art has its own special history; emergence of a singer, of an instrumentalist and then the emergence of the strong character of a composer covers three significant phases of the art of music. With the emergence of composer which was simultaneous with the emergence of the language of music, this art managed to offer a domain for criticism for its composer; a procedure which led to a magnificent variety and evolution in musical production. Even though the conflicts between singers and instrumentalists have not met their end in the Iranian society and while singers can achieve high, instrumentalists have yet to play behind curtains . In a special era, with the efforts of musicians such as Ali Naghi Vaziri (1887-1979) and Rouhollah Khaleghi (1906-1965), glimmers of a composing era started to glow bearing fruit in Khaleghi’s achievement as Iran’s first professional composer. Khaleghi made his reputation as a composer while Vaziri deserved to pioneer this path. By then Vaziri was well-known as a Tar player.


“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.


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.


Simorgh Criticised

Simorgh (Simorq) Orchestra was founded by the renowned Iranian composer, Hamid Motebassem, in 2011. Simorgh Orchestra is the largest orchestra featuring Iranian national instruments. Although the orchestra established by Master Hossein Dehlavi, the great Iranian composer, in 1993 was larger than Simorgh Orchestra, it only featured the Iranian plucked string instruments unlike the latter one. The first album which was recorded by the Orchestra, conducted under Motebassem’s baton, was his Simorq based on Zal story from Shahnameh by Ferdowsi, the great Iranian poet.


“Guitar Memories” Released

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.


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.


Henry Cowell: “Persian Set”

Persian Set: Four Movements for chamber orchestra: Moderato; Allegretto; Lento; Rondo

Henry Cowell, one of the most innovative American composers of the 20th century, was born in 1897. Cowell and his wife visited Iran in 1956 and stayed there the whole winter, upon the invitation by the Iranian Royal Family, when he composed his album “Persian Set” in four movements for chamber orchestra. His composition is expressive of the characteristic quality of the Persian or the Iranian music.