Translated by Mahboube Khalvati
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.
Unlike many students at the Center for Conservation and Promotion of Music and the University of Fine Arts (whose approach to the Iranian music was similar to that of the Center for Conservation and Promotion of Music), Parviz Meshkatian was not only influenced by the traditionalist and anti-West atmosphere of the time, but also by the family culture and interaction with the elite took a different approach which eventually led him to a different course in his career.
In 1978, a year before the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Meshkatian formed an ensemble called “Aref” in collaboration with Hossein Alizadeh (b.1973), who, like himself, was educated at the Centre for Conservation and Promotion of Music; however, Alizadeh had new tendencies. Meshkatian and Alizadeh’s ensemble was named after the constitutional era composer and lyricist Abolqassem Aref Qazvini (1882-1934). Aref Ensemble was established parallel with Sheida Ensemble named after a Qajar musician and lyricist Ali Akbar Sheida (1844-1906) and founded by Mohammad Reza Lotfi (1947-2014). The names they had chosen for their ensembles suggested that they intended to work in line with the school of thought of the Centre for the Preservation and Promotion of Music and re-perform the works by diseased musicians. As time passed, they changed their path though.
After the protests on 8 September 1978 (17 Shahrivar 1357) and killing of the protestors by the Shah regime in Jaleh Square in Tehran, Meshkatian and some of the musicians of his ensemble together with Sheida Ensemble joined the wave of people who wanted change and established Chavosh Institute. In Chavosh Institute these musicians worked together and put aside their differences of opinions on issues such as Qajar music and different methods of playing Satour, etc. Their concern was the needs of the elite and the ideals which required the empathy and support of a larger number of people.
Meshkatian’s music was, therefore, informed by the culture and the humane aspects of life. After the Islamic Revolution 1979, the extent of Meshkatian’s activities expanded and he became almost as prolific as the other great Iranian Santour player and composer, Faramarz Payvar. Meshkatian’s works were published little by little and won the hearts of the people and the admiration of artists and the elite.
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From Past Days…
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One of the most important criteria for measuring the quality of a piece of classical music is number of times the piece has been performance by different ensembles and orchestras in different eras. This belief has become so pervasive in some societies, such as Iranian society, that it is considered the only criterion for measuring the quality of a piece of classical music.
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.”
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.
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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.
Preparations for Saba Student Music Festival started in the summer of 2016; the Student Music Festival will be held annually by the students of music at Arts University. The first part of the closing ceremony of the Festival was dedicated to the celebration of the life, work and strives by Maestro Hossein Dehlavi to upgrade the level of music as an academic discipline. The name of the award-winning students and ensembles were announced at the second part of the ceremony.
In the world music culture, there are instruments which were traditionally associated with a certain gender. It remains disputable to what extent these gender-based perceptions have been logical and scientific. For example, as playing wind instruments need more breath strength and the public opinion believe that men have stronger breath compared to women, these instruments are predominantly a male domain. Harp is also considered a female instrument as the public opinion believe that women have finer fingers and can therefore better perform nuances and delicate techniques on the instrument.
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 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.
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.