Iran. A country that I hope to visit one day, mainly due to its rich heritage and cultural importance throughout history. I especially would like to go to Persepolis, and to visit the Imam Mosque (Persian: مسجد امام) in Isfahan, after seeing it years ago on the Dan Cruikshank TV programme ‘Around The World In 80 Treasures’. This show was a kind of Jules Verne trip around the globe, but historian Dan picked out artefacts and buildings and items along his journey that he considered to have extreme historical and cultural importance. My mind was totally blown by the beauty of the mosque, the grandeur and the gorgeous turquoise and blue tiles. I saw another TV programme more recently about the Silk Road, which showed the importance of Persia (as it was then) in the journey of silk and produce from China to Europe. Anyway…on to the music…
Information from Wikipedia about Iranian music here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_of_Iran
I had an excellent recommendation from my friend Chris today, who told me I needed to look at the tanbour (a kind of lute) music of Ostad Elahi. I found a fabulous film (see below) about a centenary exhibition held at La Chapelle de la Sorbonne in Paris in 1995 – it is just over an hour long, but if you are just interested in the music go to about 53 mins in. Ostad Elahi was a philosopher and a judge as well as a musician, and there is so much to learn in this film.
Vigen & Delkash – Bordi Az Yadam
Vigen Derderian is attributed as bringing the guitar to Iranian music, and Delkash (born Esmat Bagherpour) was an actor as well as a singer. This song is gorgeous!
Zia – Kofriam
This song is on the excellent compilation ‘Pomegranates’, on the Finders Keepers label. Zia Atabay was born in Iran where he was a successful musician. After the Revolution, when he was accused of being an American spy, Atabay left Iran. This was not an easy trip, and he had a tortuous journey, overcoming illness and abduction. He eventually moved to California in 1980, where in March 2000 he launched National Iranian Television, a 24-hour station that broadcast in Persian throughout the world from a North Hollywood warehouse via satellite (this TV station is now defunct). He worked as an activist for the rights of Iranians who had been persecuted and oppressed. Recently he has been ill and is recovering from brain surgery.
Last year I watched a film called ‘ No One Knows About Persian Cats’, which is about the trials and tribulations of a couple of musicians in Tehran who are trying to get a band together to go and play in London. They are constantly battling having their electricity turned off so they can’t practise, and having to find places where the noise of their instruments can’t be heard as they will be reported by their neighbours, as pop music is not allowed in Iran. They hook up with a guy who is a ‘fixer’, who is trying to help them get the required visas and paperwork to travel abroad. This 2009 film, directed by Bahman Ghobadi, has a great soundtrack, including the music of the band themselves, as well as some Iranian hip-hop. Having been in a few bands myself, the concept of being in a band that had to fight against the authorities just to do what they loved had a big effect on me. Seek this film out!