The Role of Arts in Development of Societies

Translated by Mahboube Khalvati

Mr. Mohsen Ghanebasiri, author and critic in the field of economy, culture and arts, delivered the following speech at the first anniversary of launching Women of Music website in March 2012. The late theorist  highlighted the role of arts, specially the music, in the development of societies: “As far as the individual upbringing is concerned, a newborn baby is absolutely dependent. The relation between the baby and the parents is based on orders. There is lots of relativity in these orders; therefore, they are political orders. In the economy, however, the relations are mutual and based on common logic; hence, the formation of the concepts of democracy and individuality.

The prerequisite for the emergence of economy in a society is the existence of an individuality which has the power to decide. However, the best type of a relation is the one which is mutual and procreative. In this relation, nothing is exchanged but created.

This relation is the ‘cultural’ relation. In the realm of the human-made structures, the human being is provided by the technological productions but they vanish after a while; however, this is not true about the cultural creations. The last phase of the human being’s capability shows up as a resource. In the domain of culture we have attractions.

The society which develops quickly is not a political society but a cultural one. The society which draws on the ultimate capability of its cultural spaces will be equipped with the power to play a role in the future. Now if we concentrate on the music, we perceive that the more this art pushes its boundaries and leaves the domestic territory and enters the social environments, it gains a richer capacity; on the contrary, the more it is created in the restricted spaces, the more it turns vulgar and cheap as it cannot be criticized. We have now made two genres of the art cheap and vulgar for the same reason in our society: music and dance. With regard to the dance, which is an absolutely spiritual concept we have turned into a cheap valueless affair by depriving it of the social life environment.

With regard to the music, we have again made it cheap by abandoning the female voice and depriving it of the social life power; and therefore, we have darkened the horizons of the society’s future.”

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HarmonyTalk Journal’s Twentieth Anniversary Celebration

On the 10th of Khordad, 1403 (equivalent to May 30, 2024), the twentieth anniversary celebration of the online journal “HarmonyTalk” took place at the Ersbārān Cultural Center. The event garnered such interest from enthusiasts that the venue was completely filled.

A combination of technique and musicality in the fingers of a pianist

In the world of classical music, the position of soloist has always been exceptional. Apart from the technical ability that many orchestral musicians also have, the soloist must also have a special power to be able to present a different and unique perspective of a piece. The soloist must maintain its special power of expression not only in solo roles but also when interacting with the orchestra.

From Past Days…

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.

History’s Impact on Evaluating a Work of Art

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.

Ali Rahbari’s collaboration with Naxos as a Composer

Concertino for Violin and Orchestra entitled Nohe Khan was composed by Ali (Alexander) Rahbari while he was studying music in Vienna in 1972. This piece was composed having in mind the Ashoura events and inspired by the music which is used during the Ashoura ceremonies. The piece was first performed and recorded by Bijan Khadem…
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Principles of Violin Playing (IX)

4.3.1. To practice playing of doubles of notes involving two different fingers, each note is played at separate bows with slow tempo, each note is played perfectly regarding its bass and tenor sounds and then the considered double is played at another bow while considering the resulted sound of the double.

Henry Cowell: “Persian Set”

Persian Set: Four Movements for chamber orchestra: Moderato; Allegretto; Lento; Rondo

Henry Cowell, one of the most innovative American composers of the 20th century, was born in 1897. Cowell and his wife visited Iran in 1956 and stayed there the whole winter, upon the invitation by the Iranian Royal Family, when he composed his album “Persian Set” in four movements for chamber orchestra. His composition is expressive of the characteristic quality of the Persian or the Iranian music.

The Structure of Kurdistan Daf (III)

“Our ancestors believe powerful blows upon the Daf scatters evil spirits of disease and distress to create a clean and holy space filled with health and prosperity. Adding tools to Daf increases this instrument’s purification, spreading, and summoning powers of evil forces and goddesses. Daf was mostly depicted by red, color of blood, in ancient times or sometimes it was depicted with green, the color of plants and nature. There were probably some mysterious designs painted upon the wooden body and frames of these instruments just like today” (Pahlavan, 2013: 44).

Layla Ramezan, Iranian Pianist

Iranian pianist Layla Ramezan has always sought to create a connection between her Persian origin and the contemporary music which she encounters daily. Sound, phrasing, a particular sense of rhythm and a refined understanding of the “time of musical development” are the foremost qualities of her interpretations. Her musical and pianistic education began in Tehran at the age of 8 with Mostafa-Kamal Poortorab. Having moved to Paris and received a scholarship from Albert Roussel Foundation, she integrated the classes of Jean Micault and Devi Erlih at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris Alfred Cortot, where she received a Diplôme de Virtuosité in piano performance and chamber music.

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.

Harmony in the Iranian Music (II)

One of his works was the translation of Harmony, which was carried out with the help of Mozayyan al-Dowleh, and included a pamphlet based on which he used to teach the subject to the students of the school of music; the pamphlet was never published. It was, in fact, a kind of simple harmony for the piano with no quadriads, it rather featured the engagement of both the right hand and the left hand which was being taught at the music school for the first time. Salar-Mo’azez also composed military marches and hymns for schools, which he harmonized to be performed and piano. Likewise, he used to compose for military orchestras.

“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.