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.

The orchestra performed several times both in Iran and Europe led by Mohammad Reza Darvishi, Hamid Motebassem and Hooman Khalatbari with Homayoun Shajarian as the soloist singer.

The third session of Naghd-e Naghmeh (Naghmeh Criticism) series which was held in Andished Cultural Center on September, 04, 2012 was dedicated to Simorgh Album.

Five critics, Peyman Soltani, Sadjad Pourghanad, Abdolhossein Mokhtabad, Arvin Sedaghat Kish and Kamyar Salavati were invited by Abolhassan Mokhtabad to participate as the session’s critics.

Siavash Sahb Nasagh who was supposed to attend the session did not appear due to the reasons mentioned in a letter he had sent to the session moderator, Abolhasan Mokhtabad, who read it at the session’s end.

The first critic to make his remarks on the album was Peyman Soltani who stated that some Iranian musicians tried to make the Iranian music polyphonic through crossing horizontal lines. Hamid Motebassem is one of them the result of whose attempts in this connection we heard in albums such as “Bamdad” and “Bouye Norouz”.

Motebassem, however, commented that after all these years and despite the effort made by musicians ranging from Colonel Alinaghi Vaziri to Morteza Hannaneh for making the Iranian music polyphonic, we still do not have a method for polyphony. So we have to experience it on our own, that is, we achieve it by combining Iranian musical modes.
Then, Abolhassan Mokhtabad, the moderator, asked Motebassem: how does the fact that you play Iranian instruments affect your composition?
Motebassem: I started composition based on Iranian instruments and came to know their problems, capabilities and techniques through experience. So if I write for Iranian instruments, it is in accordance with those instruments.

Sadjad Porghanad, instrumentalist and opera singer, was the second critic to voice his views:
Faramarz Payvar set up an orchestra with a special combination of Iranian instruments which in the melodic aspect included both the  bowed string instruments and plucked string instruments. Later, Hossein Dehlavi more seriously proposed a larger orchestra with only plucked string instruments as he was dissatisfied with the many acoustic problems of the bowed string instruments. So he suggested a combination of plucked string instruments for performing Iranian music with specific standards. Simorgh Orchestra resembles neither Payvar’s nor Dehlavi’s orchestras. It actually is a combination of available Iranian bowed string instruments, plucked string instruments and other Iranian instruments which has a long way to go before it reaches a desired point. We were supposed to conduct a research in collaboration with Reza Ziaee, instrument maker and Shahin Mohajeri, acoustician on Simorgh Orchestra instruments so that I could attend this session with the graphs which were prepared as the result of this research. But unfortunately this session was held much earlier than we expected.

Therefore, I can only point to some of the technical problems of Iranian orchestra instruments.
Sadjad Pourghannad further mentioned some of the acoustic problems of the Simorgh Orchestra and suggested that with the collaboration of educated instrument makers and acousticians familiar with music an instrument-making workshop be established besides Simorgh Orchestra.
Regarding Homayoun Shajarian’s singing, Pourghanad added that our experience with him in Rumi Opera proved that despite the fact that Homayoun Shajarian draws on Iranian singing technique and style, he also has a strong voice. However, it is possible that if Simorgh is sung by another singer with the Iranian style, the singer’s voice would not go beyond the orchestra.
Seyed Abdolhossein Mokhtabad, the singer, was the third speaker to go on the stage. Regarding the album he commented that composing on several ten-line poems with identical meter is very difficult and requires the composer to organize the musical contrasts and similarities.

Mentioning Homayoun Shajarian’s role in this project, he added that Hamid Motebassem along with Homayoun Shajarian have created a work which is truly Iranian with an Iranian identity. They have succeeded in creating an Iranian dramatic work; however, it might have been better if there were two singers involved in the project as they could enhance the dramatic effects of this work.
Arvin Sedaghatkish, another critic, stated that: I will briefly talk about the technical issues and explain, firstly, why these problems occur and, secondly, the solution Motebassem could find and thirdly, the ones he has chosen. He added that Iranian music is mostly based on lyrical poems which are less narrative and in which every line is self-sufficient as far as the meaning is concerned. Even the composer can omit one or some of the lines without any damages to the meaning of the poem while in Shahnameh the poems are narrative so there is little possibility for ellipsis. Moreover, the meters are identical which makes the composer’s job more difficult.
The last critic to voice his views about this album was Kamyar Salavati: in criticizing Simorgh I kept in mind two important points: the poem and the orchestration both of which should simultaneously exist. Another valuable point in this regard is the effort made by the composer in creating a musical project on this level under the current circumstances. Salavati mentioned the fact that the whole work has been sung by one singer and added that this fact is reminiscent of Naqqāli (Iranian dramatic story-telling) which is an old tradition in the Iranian music.

At the end of the session, the singer, Homayoun Shajarian, was also invited on stage and mentioned in response to Sadjad Pourghanad that Iranian singers can sing with a higher volume of voice but this is not in harmony with the spirit of the Iranian music and singing; moreover, the techniques are totally different.
The session ended with Abolhassan Mokhtabad’s reading of Kiavash Sahebnasagh’s letter.

Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *
*
*
Your email is never shared.

Is the Iranian National Anthem a Copy? (II)

In response, it should be said that it is better for the national anthem of a country to use the musical material exclusive to that country; however, some problems might come up in doing so the most important of which include: lack of familiarity of other countries’ music performer with the concerned country’s specific music intervals and special musical technique; and secondly, the strangeness of that music to the foreign listener.

Is the Iranian National Anthem a Copy? (I)

The alleged similarity between the Iranian and South Korean National Anthems has been a matter of discussion among musicians in Iran for several years. Earlier in 2021, the issue was taken to the media again with not only claims that the anthem is very similar to another song but also the suggestion that its musical content should draw more on the Iranian national music. Some even went to the extent to suggest replacing it with the song “O, Iran” composed by the late Rouhollah Khaleghi. Before delving more into the main issue, it would not go amiss to consider some technical characteristics of the song “O, Iran” composed in 1944.

From Past Days…

Iranian Fallacies – Composition and Arrangement

In the tradition of classical music, it is generally tried to use the same technical terms related to music in all countries. Even in the cultures in which native terms exist to refer to musical terms, usually the better known universal terms are employed.

“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.

Maestro Hassan Nahid’s Role in Promoting the Ney

Maestro Hassan Nahid is one of the most prominent and distinctive artists who values high morals, discipline and hard work. His music activities include playing the Ney as both soloist and an accompaniment in the most important Iranian music orchestras and ensembles during the last fifty years, including the Orchestra of Iranian Instruments (Nusratullah Golpayegani), the Orchestra of National Instrumentalists of the Ministry of Culture and Arts (Payvar Orchestra), the Orchestra of Iranian Instruments (Morteza Hananeh) , Darvish Orchestra, Samaie Orchestra, Roudaki Orchestra, Maestros’ Ensemble, Aref Ensemble, as well as performances in various radio programs, many concerts in different countries, as well as a long teaching experience in the National Conservatory of Music, music universities and other music institutions to name but a few.

Iranian Fallacies: 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.

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.

“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.

Interview with the Makers of the New Qeychak (I)

On occasion of the 8th anniversary of launching HarmonyTalk Online Journal on 6 April 2012, Reza Ziaei, master luthier and researcher on classical music instruments (violin family), announced that the first phase of the project to improve Qeychak has borne fruit. The new instrument would feature a bowl of ribs and the material used for the surface would be wooden. Carrying out the second phase of the project took more than 7 years engaging the new members of Reza Ziaei’s Workshop. In this phase, new researches were conducted from different aspects on the Qeychak and the modern versions of the instrument which were introduced previously by other instrument makers. The available versions of the instrument were studied in terms of their weak and strong technical features.

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.

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.

A note on “Illusion or Ingenuity” article

The author of the “Illusion or Ingenuity” article, who is apprehensive of the future of the Music in Iran, enumerates some symptoms of the music weakening in the country for example decreasing in the quality of the music as well as lack of the innovation in creating them, a gradual decline in the music public taste and the drop in the application of layered sound and polyphony in music. He explains that one reason for this gradual weakening might be our unawareness of the fact that we are not so intelligent nation. He believes that we, Iranians, have a comprehensive “Illusion of the high national intelligence “that make us ignorant of the unfavorable realities of our music and consequently no searching for the remedy is taking place. His point of view brings to the mind a patient who thinks he is healthy, therefore delays the treatment and finally is killed by the disease. The author also refers to the national difficulties which gradually will lower the national intelligence score such as the increased rate of the immigration and brain drain, low quality of the nutrition, incompetence of the education system and etc and predicts that the condition of the music of Iran might deteriorate in the future because of the mentioned illusion of its great status.