Illusion or Ingenuity?

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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.

Footnote

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?”
2- photius.com
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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Developments in Iranian Music Since Qajar Era

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.

Harmony in the Iranian Music (II)

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.

From Past Days…

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Shaahin Mohajeri Wins UnTwelve Composition Competition

UnTwelve Non-profit Organization announced the results of its 2014/2015 composition competition on January 28, 2015. Shaahin Mohajeri, an Iranian Tonbak player, microtonalist, acoustician and composer, was awarded the second prize for his piece “Castle of Babak.”

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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.

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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.

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Banan: the Artist of the Age

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.

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A Promising Concert by National Instruments Orchestra

The National Instruments Orchestra of Iran performed its first concert amid much hope and anxiety on July 18, 2015. The Orchestra is founded by Roudaki Cultural and Arts Foundation which is a semi-private foundation in Iran. The Arts Director for the National Instruments Orchestra of Iran is cand the Orchestra Executive Director is Sadjad Pourghand.

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Qanun, a feminized instrument?

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.

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Kayvan Mirhadi and O.R.P Qaurtet

Establishing O.R.P. Quartet is Kayvan Mirhadi’s latest activity as a guitarist, composer and conductor of Kamerata Orchestra. Besides working with this Quartet, Mirhadi is busy these days recording and mixing some of his own works as well as some pieces by 20th century composers. O.R.P Quartet performed a concert in Rasht, Gilan Province in late May 2016 and offered a master class.

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Iranian Contradictions: Iranian Chords

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.

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From the Last Instrumentalist to the First Composer (II)

Rouhollah Khaleghi was the master of composing beautiful melodies. He was the premier of the course of history which was first established by Ali Naghi Vaziri and which improved the Iranian music from simply a gathering music to the classical music of the country. First efforts to compose independent and instrumental music can be also traced in Khaleghi’s works.

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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.