Behzad Abdi’s opera Rumi was physically released by Naxos, “the world’s leading classical label,” on 8/10/2018.
The composer’s note on the piece reads:
Composing a traditional Iranian opera using the Iranian modal system, dastgāh, has always been my dream. I first approached this by composing an opera called Ashura followed by the operas Rumi (Molawi) and Hafez. I believe that in order to attract an international audience for Iranian opera, it is essential to fuse dastgāh with Western classical forms.
Rumi, which can be considered as the first national opera of Iran, is based on the life of the Sufi mystic and poet, Rumi, and the circumstances of his time, from when the Mongols invaded Persia, killing the Iranian poet Sheikh Attar, to his time in Konya and his life-changing meeting with Shams. However, the librettist and director, Behrouz Gharibpour, chose not to reflect the events directly, instead creating a symbolic libretto based on Rumi’s thoughts and words.
This redefinition and distancing from the historical narrative is considered to be the most significant point of the text in this opera, and was in fact the only way to grasp the latent meanings of Rumi’s words. The unifying message of the work—the promise of the ‘immortality of truth’—is repeated throughout the narrative. The audience is also exposed to various other stories along the way.
Those familiar with 13th-century Iranian literary texts know that due to the successive attacks of the Mongols and the reports of massacres, the Iranian people had turned to Sufism and nihilism. This is why there are sometimes contradictions in the realm of ideas from that era, which complicates understanding, for our generation, of the secrets that lie within the literature of that time.
The key to understanding Rumi’s poetry is its far-reaching look at human aspirations; the power that we call love and the temptations that take us away from false mundane charms and attractions (which Iranian mystics in many poems refer to as wisdom or common sense).
Rumi is based on Iranian dastgāh and is the first opera to use this traditional form. The work fuses Persian and Western classical music, which creates a unique timbre and harmonic colour. Iranian music may form the base of this work, but I was not unaware of modern Western music techniques, and unlike most Iranian symphonic music, it is not based on any specific ‘ism’ or school of thought, and in all parts of the opera, Western composition techniques are employed.
In Rumi, the use of the polytonal technique is not limited to the classical elements, and it is often heard in various dastgāh simultaneously—a technique that helps to reflect the unique concepts of the poetry, and one that was also used in the opera Ashura.
The text of this opera, which is set in 15 acts, is mainly based on Rumi’s writings with several parts taken from other poets. Rumi’s poetry is not distorted and the poems are read in their original form.
For the listener, especially those familiar with Rumi’s writing, what Gharibpour has done is astonishing and admirable. Due to his long-time involvement with these concepts and careful selection of Rumi’s texts, he has created one of the best and most important libretti among Iranian operas. Gharibpour not only considered Rumi’s literary and conceptual techniques but created an artistic mix of drama, history and literature. He was able to look at Rumi’s life and his eternal teachings from several aspects.
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- Inefficiency of some chords and harmonization systems in Iranian music
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- 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
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From Past Days…
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.
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.
After watching Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie, The Hateful Eight, everyone was excited by its novel music besides the beautiful scenes of blood and guts.
The Hateful Eight is the first collaboration between the world-famous film music composer, Ennio Morricone, and Quentin Tarantino as a famous director.
Discussions and research have been conducted on the harmonization of “dastgah” and melodies in Iranian music, and several books have been published on this topic, including “Armenian Music of Iran” by Ali Naghi Vaziri, “Harmony of Iranian Music” by Farhad Fakhreddini, and “Harmony of Iranian Music” by Ali Ghamssari. A master’s thesis titled “Presenting a Solution for Harmonizing Based on the Structure of Tritone Intervals” was written by Atefeh EinAli in 2014. Additionally, the invention and use of “Even Harmony” by Morteza Hannaneh should be mentioned.
Shiraz Arts Festival which was held in Shiraz from 1967 to 1977 featured many contemporary renowned artists who were commissioned by the Iranian royalty to compose or create works of art for performance in the arts festival. Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001) participated in Shiraz Arts Festival three times in 1968, 1969 and 1971. The Greek-French composer,…
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.
Avaye Naerika Percussion Orchestra is an Iranian percussion orchestra featuring 40 lady percussionists. The Orchestra was established as Iran’s largest all-female percussion orchestra in 2008 by Ms. Minoo Rezaei under the title Naerika Percussion Orchestra and changed its name to Avaye Naerika in 2017.
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.
When the author was working on the piece “Playing Love” by Ennio Morricone (from the legend of 1900), he realized a failure of the Lip Technique. Needing to play a chord in the 14th position of the guitar and in order to complete the harmony, it is necessary to play a harmonic note on the 7th or 5th position; it was not possible to touch the string to play this harmonic note, because the Lip Technique is used for getting the notes and not to touch the string and producing harmonic notes. Naturally, the only possible way to touch the string was to use the nose at the required position and playing the note with the right hand, and this was the best option the author found to how to play such harmonic notes, and where the Nose Technique was generated.
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.