From the Last Instrumentalist to the First Composer (I)

Translated by Mahboube Khalvati

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.

Rouhollah Khaleghi was not merely a student of Vaziri, he was rather his loyal friend and companion to Vaziri’s goals and managed to follow the forerunner’s objectives to the best of his abilities that was remarkable per se. Khaleghi finally established the character of a composer in Iran.

With composition of beautiful pieces in Rast Panjgah, Mahour and Dashti, Rouhollah Khaleghi presented, for the first time, instrumental music, to the audience of Iranian national music.

Khaleghi was a dexterous artist. He once mentioned that in a summer night while he was walking in an old, dark alley in Bukhara he heard a dervish singing what he later developed into the famous theme of “Bouye Jouye Moulian,” interestingly enough the dervish has been also singing Roudaki’s poem . The poem was read to the Sultan by the poet himself in such a musical attractive way that made Sultan Mahmoud Ghazni (971 – 1030) leave Samarghand, where he was happily residing with no willingness to return to Bukhara, to jump on the horse and gallop towards Bukhara without his turban and shoes on.

It is not simple to dig out such a perfect work of art from the heart of Iran’s culture and dramatize it like an experienced composer. Khaleghi was the master of finding such melodies. Another example is when he recorded a short piece being played by Reza Mahjoubi in a dilapidated coffee house and then arranged and harmonized it to compose a beautiful piece in Dashti which was first broadcasted in “Golhay-e Rangarang” (Colorful Flowers) programme on radio.

In another opportunity and in a visit to Dezfoul in Khouzstan Province, Khaleghi listened to an unknown Dezfouli Tar player playing the beautiful melody of “Dast be Dastmalom Nazan” and saved one of the special Iranian national melodies from negligence through time. It was again Rouhollah Khaleghi who re-composed unison tasnifs by Ali Akbar Sheyda (1843-1906) and Aref Ghazvini (1882-1934) for orchestra and turned them to the jewel of the national Iranian music.

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Celebrating 20 Years of Harmony Talk’s Journey: Resilience, Evolution, Honoring the Legacy and Navigating Future Growth

In a momentous celebration of two decades, the “Arasbaran Cultural Center” was the stage for the 20th anniversary of “Harmony Talk”, an online journal that has become a cornerstone in the music community. Sadjad Pourghanad, the editor-in-chief, delivered a speech that resonated with gratitude and vision.

HarmonyTalk Journal’s Twentieth Anniversary Celebration

On the 10th of Khordad, 1403 (equivalent to May 30, 2024), the twentieth anniversary celebration of the online journal “HarmonyTalk” took place at the Ersbārān Cultural Center. The event garnered such interest from enthusiasts that the venue was completely filled.

From Past Days…

Polyphony in Iranian Music (I)

Despite the fact that Iranian folk music (regional music of Iran), like the Radif of Iranian traditional music, is monophonic and follows heterophony in principal, we experience polyphonic forms, albeit, majorly unconscious.

Violin’s inner mold, an essential factor in developing the idea of violin

A part of the secrets of the masterpieces from the golden era lies in the special design of the instruments, as a result of a profound insight to and awareness of the significance of the precise calculation of the various components of the object of arts being created, such as making a violin or a bow.

Developments in Iranian Music Since Qajar Era (III)

Developments in Composing

Along with developments in the Iranian instruments, composition of the Iranian pieces developed as well. As a matter of fact, the developments of the two, mutually affected each other. In other words, instrumental developments led to developments in composition and vice versa.

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.

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.

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.”

Polyphony in Iranian Music (IV)

Two choirs alternatively perform Veŝ Tavaré Na avaz (Transcription 5). The second group starts the avaz before the first group finishes it; consequently, two different voices coincide (Transcription 5, staves 2 and 5).

Parviz Meshkatian’s Heart Beat for People (I)

Amidst the popularity of traditionalism in the Iranian music, Parviz Meshkatian (1955- 2009) moved from Neyshabur to Tehran. He learnt to play Santour and became educated in the Radif of Iranian music at the Centre for Preservation and Promotion of Music which was at the forefront of promoting the return to musical traditions. Despite his studies at a centre which promoted the use of the phrase “traditional music” in Iran, Parviz Meshkatian emerged as a creative artist whose innovative and unique ideas attracted the admiration of Iranian artists and people from different walks of life. This article studies the reason behind Meshkatian’s deviation from the wrong approach of traditionalism strongly promoted by the Centre and argues that apart from the issue of theory of Iranian music, he can be considered as Ali Naqi Vaziri’s successor.

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.

Interview with Farhad Poupel (II)

Fantasia on One Note was my first professional work for piano, which had its world premiere by the great pianist Peter Jablonski in Sweden, and it has been performed by various pianists in the UK, Germany, France, and the Czech Republic. The recording of this work has also been broadcast on the Dutch public radio, NPR Radio 4.