Translated by Mahboube Khalvati
Maestro Hassan Nahid is one of the most prominent and distinctive artists who values high morals, discipline and hard work. His music activities include playing the Ney as both soloist and an accompaniment in the most important Iranian music orchestras and ensembles during the last fifty years, including the Orchestra of Iranian Instruments (Nusratullah Golpayegani), the Orchestra of National Instrumentalists of the Ministry of Culture and Arts (Payvar Orchestra), the Orchestra of Iranian Instruments (Morteza Hananeh) , Darvish Orchestra, Samaie Orchestra, Roudaki Orchestra, Maestros’ Ensemble, Aref Ensemble, as well as performances in various radio programs, many concerts in different countries, as well as a long teaching experience in the National Conservatory of Music, music universities and other music institutions to name but a few.
However, high morals and piety are the characteristics which distinguish Maestro Hassan Nahid from all Iranian artists and music maestros; characteristics which are confirmed by all those who have collaborated with Maestro Nahid during these years. Having discipline and seriousness in work, humility, kindness and patience along with great skills and virtuosity, both playing in an orchestra and as a soloist, has made Maestro Nahid a unique person with a fully-developed personality which is rare to find among musicians. Among the Iranian classical instruments, Ney was the last instrument that was able to show its ability in accompaniment with the orchestra; a measure which was made possible through Maestro Nahid’s great efforts and abilities.
Although Maestro Nahid was not able to communicate directly with Maestro Hassan Kasaei at the beginning of his youth due to living in Shiraz while Kasaei lived in Esfahan, his great interest in learning to play the Ney made it possible for him to learn the basics of playing the instrument through radio programmes. When he moved to Tehran, he was able to introduce himself in the music community as the first Ney player who could read musical scores. However, at early stages of his work, Maestro Nahid played the Ney using the lip-positioning. Even while in Tehran and working with various orchestras, he used a combination of lip-and-tooth positioning for playing the instrument.
It is especially understandable for Ney players to what extent it is difficult to use these two methods and create balance in both sounds in terms of maintaining the tune; it does require high virtuosity in playing. Because the sound produced by the lip is naturally about a half-tone higher than the sound produced by the dental method. But later, upon receiving advice from Maestro Kasaei, Maestro Nahid completely replaced his traditional style of playing (putting the Ney on his lips) with the dental style.
It is worth explaining that using the lip positioning means that the sound of the Ney is produced by placing the Ney headpiece on the lips, a method that is still common among local musicians today. But in the dental method, the headpiece of the Ney is placed between the upper front teeth; therefore, the air enters the Ney through the tongue and the sound of the Ney is produced. This method became common among Isfahan school of musicians and today Iranian Ney players use this method.
In any case, the status and role of Maestro Nahid in the promotion and development of playing the Ney is not to be denied, and many musicians of today’s generation have been directly or indirectly influenced by the teachings of this precious Maestro.
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From Past Days…
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.
Regarding the classification of a new instrument in an instrument family, one can point to a number of fundamental issues, one of the most obvious of which is the instrument’s visual features. If we look at how the new instrument has changed compared to its historical versions, the set of visual elements that link the instrument to the Qeychak family becomes apparent. But other characteristics such as the geometric dimensions of the instrument, characteristics of the instrument’s various parts and how they relate to each other, its systematic performance, its sound range (compared to modern versions), the material and color of the sound, the way it is played and the like, can be considered in order to classify the instrument in the Qeychak family.
Finding a way to harmonize the Iranian music has been the subject of controversy among Iranian musicians for a long time. Some believe in the creation of harmonies for Iranian music based on a method which is similar to the tierce harmony; while others have either selected or invented some other methods. There are also some musicians who do not basically agree with the harmonization of the Iranian music.
Regional music festivals are organized to, firstly, introduce the music of different regions and, secondly, to support its performers. Regional music festivals are held in large cities for various reasons, including the availability of financial and executive facilities and the presence of an audience. However, the organization of these festivals has always been one of the challenging issues of ethnomusicology. The reason is that the presence of regional music performers in large cities places them in a context other than the context they would normally perform in their homes; consequently this change in situation leads to changes in the quality of their performance.
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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.