Polyphony in Iranian Music (II)

Written by Dr. M. Taghi Massoudieh (1927-1998)
Originally published in Honarhaye Ziba (Fine Arts) 3, 1998, 95-104.

Translated by Mahboube Khalvati

With regard to each polyphonic form, only one specific and distinguished example is analyzed. These polyphonic forms are as follows:

1. The coincidence of different voices due to an alternative performance by two singers.

The second singer starts singing avaz before the melody the first singer is singing is completed. This polyphonic form is especially observed in Ta’zieh as can be also seen in the notation.

Transcription No. 1

Transcription No.1

Transcription No. 1 is related to the Ta’zieh of the martyrdom of 72 Comrades which the author recorded on September 14, 1980 in Deh Abad in Meybod (around Yazd)[i].

Imam Hussein (PBUH)’s avaz (Transcription No. 1, b, staff 5) begins before Gabriel’s melody (a3, staff 4) is finished. Imam Hussein’s avaz then adopts a specific metre in line 6 onwards (Transcription No. 1). Specific metre of the Avaz includes irregular consequences of non-symmetrical metric-rhythmic units of 5+7+3+4/16. This consequence of non-symmetrical metric-rhythmic avaz carries relations to the howness of syllabic combination of the lyric and music. Syllabic combination of the lyric and music, has firstly facilitated the understanding of the text and strengthened its influence on the listener. The questionable or memory-evoking content of the second line of the poem (but, have you forgotten the promise of Alast Day?) obliges its melodic figures to end on E and bring about a status of uncertainty (Transcription No. 1, a2, a3, staffs 3 & 4).

Four repetitions of “Oh, Zulfiqar” in Imam Hussein’s avaz result in, firstly its belonging phrase (b1 staff 6) to consist of four changes in the brief figure (b1 staff 6) and secondly the types of this figure until the middle of phrase b1 (staff 6) to be explicitly separated by a quaver rest. As the next line begins with “legacy of Heydar” or “legacy of God”, a beginning figure is added to the two-type period b1 (staff 6) (b2 staff 7, b3 staff 8). The removal of the repeated melodic figure at the middle of period b3 (staff 8) is because “Oh, Zulfiqar” is performed only once at the last line. Consequently, the ascending movement of the melody at the beginning of Gabriel’s avaz (a staff 1) and specially the long G voice with numerous vibrations towards frequencies higher than F (a staff 1), justifies the belonging of cutting the beginning of the line to the one which includes addressing Imam Hussein (PBUH) as “apple of Zahra’s eyes”.

2. Imitation

Performing a single melody by several performers or singers alliteratively or consequently forms imitation. An example of it is well known in “Soltan Qeis” episode in Imam Hussein martyrdom Ta’zieh. Ta’zieh of Imam Hussein martyrdom was recorded in Studio No. 14 of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) on March 1, 1984. Sultan Qeis of India and his Minister were hunting on Ashura day when they were attacked by a lion. They immediately ask Imam Hussein to help them. Their request for help is, nevertheless, rejected as even though the lion is a wild animal, it should not be killed. The rejection of their request by Imam Hussein leads them to convert to Islam[ii].

 

Transcription No. 2

Transcription No.2

As mentioned earlier, the delay in alternative performance of the melody by Sultan Qeis, his Minister and Imam Hussein forms imitation or canon (Transcription No. 2, staff 2).

Sultan and his Minister’s final lines solely include the repetition of “Master Imam Hussein” (staff 2). The beginning of Imam’s line with “Oh, lion” coincides with this repetition and finally forms imitation or canon. Repetition of a single voice belongs to litany or “Oh, Hussein” prayer (Transcription 2, staff 2).



[i] Massoudieh, M. Taghi. Religious Music of Iran. Volume I, Ta’zieh Music. Soroush, Islamic Republic of Iran Publishing House, Tehran. Notation 152.

[ii] Massoudieh, M. Taghi. Ibid. p 75, p 97.

Post a Comment

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

Lilly Afshar, Iranian Guitar Legend, passed away

The text you are reading is about Hamed Fathi, a guitarist and one of Lilly Afshar’s students, which was previously published on the Persian website HarmonyTalk.com:

Mohammad Esmaili passes away

Master Mohammad Ismaili, a prominent musician and renowned tombak player, passed away on August 13, 2023, after battling an illness in the ICU of Rasoul Akram Hospital. His funeral will take place on Thursday, August 17, at 10 am in front of Vahdat Hall, and he will be laid to rest in the Artists’ Section of Behesht Zahra Cemetery.

From Past Days…

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.

The Structure of Kurdistan Daf (V)

ehrouz Mohammadi, “Daf and its feasts in Ghaderieh’s Tekyeh” mentions that the outer thickness of arch where studs are located, [is] between one to one and a half centimeters (Mohammadi, 2001: 12). The thickness of arch should be gradually reduced from the installation place of rings to skin (Avazeh of Daf) to create a high volume, clear sound from Daf; also, the connection of arch to skin should not be less than one millimeter, because in this case the skin will be torn due to the sharpness of the wood (Mogharab Samadi, 2009: 79-78). The thickness of wood on the skin side is about two to three millimeters (Tohidi, 2002: 79).

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.

Principles of Violin Playing (II)

Since for playing violin, it’s necessary that the player’s palms and fingers be inclined toward the fingerboard, therefore, the player, while bringing up his hand, should turn it toward the fingerboard.

“Pledge of Love”

The “Pledge of Love” is the first album in a series composed based on the tasnifs by the renowned Iranian tasnif-maker Mohammad Ali Amir Jahed and recorded by Sahba Kohan Ensemble with Ramin Bahiraie as signer.

New Technique for Playing Classical Guitar (I)

Joint application of the two techniques of “Lip” and “Nose” could be effectively applied for hearing and playing far-away intervals, by the Classical Guitar. Before this, a Classical Guitar player had to waive playing intervals not possible with the left hand, and had to replace or eliminate some notes, making it possible to play such intervals; specifically the capability of the left hand of the musician, was also a factor in such a selection. These methods are hereby illustrated by photographs and a video-file, in order to provide optimum comprehension of applying these methods, invented by the author; specifically the “Lip” technique, which is considered to be a more significant technique, emphasized by the author.

Polyphony in Iranian Music (V)

In addition to the above-mentioned, polyphony can be also formed when a melody is performed by several singers in different ambiances or different sound registers according to their physiologic abilities. An example of this has been performed in rituals of Khanqah of Ghaderi darawish of Mahabad[i].

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.

Hossein Dehlavi: the Composer

With Dehlavi it is not all about fame but recognition. Hossein Dehlavi is not a popular musician (like pop singers) whom everybody might know when he is walking on streets of Tehran; however, he is recognized by both amateur and distinguished musicians of the country.

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.