Polyphony in Iranian Music (VI)

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

Translated by Mahboube Khalvati

Torqeh (Transcription No. 8)

Transcription No.8

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. Torqeh muqam describes how torqeh flies in the sky. Torqeh soars so high in the sky that cannot be seen; however, it then flies back to earth but flies again to the sky. This variety of Torqeh flight is described in the music.

The famous Zanbil Baf Bakhshi performed Torqeh muqam (Transcription No.8).

Torqeh music is comprised of several repetitions of a cliché melodic figure. This figure is moved in different tonal music ambiences. Simultaneously with this movement, the drone also changes.

Movement of parallel drone or relocation of the melodic figure in different tonal ambiences forms the parallel coincidence of two voices. Torqeh muqam, due to metric-rhythmic symmetry has motorized mobility. Constant repetition of a cliché melodic figure on the one hand and metric-rhythmic symmetry, on the other hand, describes the monotony of torqeh’s flight[i].

This polyphonic instrumental form is also very popular in Turkmen music. Here only one example of it, Kach Falak is introduced.

 

Kach Falak (Transcription No. 9)

Transcription No.9

The melody in Kach Falak muqam, as explained in its title, narrates the sorrow of the doomed destiny and is, therefore, performed in “Ghorogh Lar” muqam.

In Turkmen music, muqams which have a sorrowful content or condition are performed in this dastgah[ii]. Kach Falak muqam (Transcription No.9) is performed by Temedera– dutar is called Temedera in Turkmen music.

 

The beginning figure (Transcription No. 9, a staff 1) appears in the piece as the linking part (inter-mode) in the form of melodic figures. Types of periods of staff 2 (b) either have determined metre or free metre; or have a determined metre at the beginning and a free metre at the end. Almost these entire types end with a concise cliché figure (staffs 3, 4, 7 8, 11-15). In Kach Falak (Transcription No. 9) like in Farangi Rezagholi (Transcription No.7), the second accompanying voice constantly follows the melody’s movement and forms the parallel sequence of two voices.

 

Additionally, we encounter another form of polyphony in Turkmen music, i.e. sequence or change of dual-combination of voices. Sequence or change of dual-combination of voices is usually performed at the beginning of the piece and is generally based on the change of drone. This change is not definitely based on any chord or harmonic sequence. Another popular polyphonic form in Turkmen music is ostinato. Usually, the figure which emerges as ostinato is introduced as an individual at the beginning[iii].

Polyphonic forms in Iranian music which were studied here were based on a selection of most prominent pieces of Iranian music. These forms are also observed in many Iranian avaz and instrumental pieces. Obviously, the study of more audio sources can lead to conclusions on the existence of other polyphonic forms with regard to polyphonic music in Iran.



[i] Massoudieh, M. Taghi; Der Begriff des maqam in der persischen Volksmusic: “Von der Vielfalt  musikalischer Kultur. Festschrift  für Josef Kuckertz”. Anif/Salzburg 1992, S. 311-334.

[ii] As mentioned by Tajvardi Peykar.

[iii] Massoudieh, M. Taghi. Turkmen Music (research in progress).

Post a Comment

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

Ruggero Chiesa’s Legacy

Written by Peyman Shirali Translated by Mahta Mottaghi Since many years ago, I had the intention of writing an article on the Italian maestro Ruggero Chiesa and his musical life; but his ingenuity and the immense legacy, which is impressive for not only me, but also almost everyone who knows him properly, made it hard for me…
Read More »

The Structure of Kurdistan Daf (VII)

Conclusion

“Daf” is one of type of percussion instruments that has a long history and is commonly known as circular instruments (with a rim). In some tribes, Daf was used as the main instrument in festivity and joy ceremonies; in another tribe it was used as the main instrument for war and campaign ceremonies and some others used it for ritual and religious ceremonies.

From Past Days…

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 Violin Playing (VII)

4.3.1.3 Regarding the great linear distance and the unusual distance between the first and forth fingers, the first finger while playing the doubles of ninth and tenth interval, can be twisted in the knuckle area and the point mentioned in 3.1.2.5 paragraph in relation to the way first finger is placed indicating that the first joint of this finger in back of hand must be in line with the direction of forearm and left hand is not true here.

A Promising Concert by National Instruments Orchestra

The National Instruments Orchestra of Iran performed its first concert amid much hope and anxiety on July 18, 2015. The Orchestra is founded by Roudaki Cultural and Arts Foundation which is a semi-private foundation in Iran. The Arts Director for the National Instruments Orchestra of Iran is cand the Orchestra Executive Director is Sadjad Pourghand.

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.

“I Will Never Perform Just for Women!”: Golnoush Khaleghi Passes Away in Exile

Golnoush Khaleghi, first Persian woman conductor and daughter of legendary composer Rouhollah Khaleghi, passed away on February 14. She was 80. Golnoush Khaleghi was the conductor of the NIRT (National Iranian Radio & Television) Choir in the 1970s. Shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution Ms. Khaleghi moved to the United States and founded the Rouhollah…
Read More »

“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.

Women and the Music Environment in Iran

The life territory of the female-male relations in the Iranian cultural context is basically a domestic territory and not a social-living one in the labour and leisure domains. To prove this, it only suffices to consider the Iranian men’s viewpoints about women. For the Iranian men, there are three perspectives regarding the women: mother, sister and wife. Mother represents the emotional territory; sister represents the logical territory at home while wife represents the sexual territory.

“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.

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.

Banan: the Artist of the Age

Gholam Hossein Banan was born in 1911 in Tehran. He was born in an affluent art-loving family who were Naser al-Din Shah Qajar (1848-1896)’s relative. The Qajar King was his mother’s uncle on her father’s side. He learnt his first lessons in music while his father sang Iranian avaz (improvised rhythmic-free singing), he then attended classes by the renowned Iranian composer, Morteza Neydavoud (1900-1990) along with his sisters; the composer is, therefore, considered as his first teacher. He then learnt Iranian avaz under the supervision of Mirza Taher Zia Resaee (Zia-o Zakerin) and Naser Seif in an oral manner.