Translated by Mahboube Khalvati
The year 1396 (21 March 2017-20 March 2018) was the most sorrowful year for HarmonyTalk journal. One month after holding HarmonyTalk’s 13th establishment anniversary in Mohsen Ghanebasiri’s house in Tehran in April 2017, he passed away at the age of 68. Mohsen Ghanebasiri was the prominent HarmonyTalk author.
To pay tribute to Mohsen Ghanebasiri and his unique contribution to the literature and theory on the Iranian classical music, I decided to review concisely some of his most important theories.
I invited Mohsen Ghanebasiri to contribute to HarmonyTalk journal in 2006; a collaboration which lasted until 2016. During this decade, 16 of his articles were either published or re-published in the journal.
Apart from his full-time engagements as the editor-in-chief of “the Management” and “the Thunderbolt” magazines, and the authorship of five books including “Marx and Technology”, “A Question from Heidegger”, “Westernalization, Nostalgic Packing of History”, “Displays and Aspects of Democracy” and the unpublished “Power”, he wrote articles on arts which he never found the opportunity to fully develop into theories. They, therefore, serve as an introduction to his unwritten-but-much-spoke-about theories.
Ghanebasiri and Mohammad Saeed Sharifian, a contemporary Iranian composer, had started a collaboration to compose an opera. Ghanebasiri was writing the libretto which was again left unfinished. In collaboration with Behzad Abdi (Iranian composer) and Arian Karami, he was also recording two audio poem collections.
In order to introduce him as an arts critic and theorist, I have concisely reviewed some of the most important articles by Mohsen Ghanebasiri:
– Identifying teleological purposes of the classical arts
In his article entitled “On the Definition of the Classical Music”, Ghanebasiri evaluates the purposes of the classical arts. The article offers items which suggest an approach for value judgment of the works of classical music.
– Mediating devices theory
Mediating devices theory was developed based on a multi-dimensional and inter-disciplinary study to change the musical development ranging from improvisation to composing.
Mediating devices theory not only provides an opportunity to study the historical status of music in different periods and a geographically diverse classification of different civilizations, but also serves as an effective tool for criticizing arts and separating scientific and artistic fields in the world of arts.
– Definition of arts
The issue of defining arts was constantly discussed in the meetings that we had with Mohsen Ghanebasiri. I had considered two characteristics for identifying a work of arts: firstly, a work whose creation is far-fetched for the majority of the people. Secondly, a work which unties the existing knots. When I presented this definition to Mohsen Ghanebasiri, he brought to my attention a neglected aspect: the engagement of the active imagination faculty.
The added part plays a key role in completing this definition, because it allows the critic to distinguish between works that have no effect on the long term. This third component which was added by Mohsen Ghanebasiri completes the definition because the critic becomes capable of distinguishing the works of arts which are capable of becoming universally influential in extended period.
Finally, words do not suffice in explaining his depth of knowledge and level of modesty.
- Inefficiency of some chords and harmonization systems in Iranian music
- The response of the fired musicians to the interview of the managing director of Rudaki Foundation
- Loss of Development in Iranian Music
- Last Year under the Light of Music
- Interview with Farhad Poupel (II)
- Interview with Farhad Poupel (I)
- About Davoud Pirnia, the founder of “Golha” radio program
- Rouhollah Khaleghi Artistic Center established in Washington DC
- Ruggero Chiesa’s Legacy
- The Structure of Kurdistan Daf (VII)
- The Structure of Kurdistan Daf (VI)
- The Structure of Kurdistan Daf (V)
From Past Days…
With this description, we have automatically included a criterion called “History”, Until we know the time of the creation of a work of art, we cannot judge whether it has been easy to create or not. Suppose that, in a historical study, we find a musical work that is similar in compositional techniques (including form, melody, context, and orchestration) to a minor work of the nineteenth century; however, our research proves that, this work dates back to 200 years prior to that date. Can we still consider this work insignificant? Definitely not! So this is where the first use of history-based judgment comes into play.
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.
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.
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.
In this project, my specialized responsibility was the basic drawings of the desired instrument with the help of engineering and mechanical software. I have also the carried out phases related to engineering designs, related variables, and volume and weight calculations under Mr. Ziaei’s direct supervision from the very beginning. Regarding the challenges of this work, suffice it to say that the set of designs for the instrument lasted more than 9 months in the final stage of the project only.
The year 1396 (21 March 2017-20 March 2018) was the most sorrowful year for HarmonyTalk journal. One month after holding HarmonyTalk’s 13th establishment anniversary in Mohsen Ghanebasiri’s house in Tehran in April 2017, he untimely passed away. Mohsen Ghanebasiri was the prominent HarmonyTalk author.
Torqeh or jal is the same bird (Bimaculated lark) and is the name of a muqam which is well-known in Torbate Jam and those areas. Jal muqam is called Torqeh in Esfarayen and Bojnourd. This muqam which was used to be played by Bakhshis/Bagşies (dutar-players) in the past is seldom performed today.
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.
Born in Isfahan, Iran, and based in the UK, Farhad Poupel’s music has been performed and will be performed in numerous prestigious concert halls and festivals throughout the world including Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Japan; La Roque-d’Anthéron Piano Festival, La Roque-d’Anthéron, France; Biarritz Festival, Biarritz, France; Stoller Hall, Manchester, UK; Janacek academy of music and performing art, Brno, Czech Republic; Karlskrona International Piano Festival, Karlskrona, Sweden; by distinguished artists such as Kotaro Fukuma, Peter Jablonski, Daniel Grimwood, Margaret Fingerhut, Catherine Carby, Kristýna Znamenáčková,Jeffrey Biegel, Jean-Francois Bouvery and orchestras such as Windsor Symphony Orchestra or broadcasted on the NPR Radio 4, Netherland. The following is an interview with him on the ocaasion of the premier of the Legend of Bijan and Manijeh.
Regional music festivals are organized to, firstly, introduce the music of different regions and, secondly, to support its performers. Regional music festivals are held in large cities for various reasons, including the availability of financial and executive facilities and the presence of an audience. However, the organization of these festivals has always been one of the challenging issues of ethnomusicology. The reason is that the presence of regional music performers in large cities places them in a context other than the context they would normally perform in their homes; consequently this change in situation leads to changes in the quality of their performance.