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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Oui, la musique iranienne

by By Jean Noctiluque

Yes, There is Iranian Music

Translated by Monika Navarro

Translated Thursday 27 April 2006, by Monika Navarro

Bush hates Iran. Well, Bush is patently a fool. But what about us? “How on earth can someone be ’Persian’?” - we ask. Do they all have beards, all wear turbans ... ? The "World Village" music-label "Lo’Jo, les yeux noirs" (1) has just released two real pearls from the Iranian music repertoire which will open many minds ...

The first, Bidad, is the scream of anger of a real prodigy: Mohammad Reza Shajarian, a quadra-cultural singer adored by the Iranian community, sings of the bitterness and anger during the years following the revolution. We are in 1984 and the hopes that followed the arrival of Khomeini are dashed. It takes time for the bitterness to surface. Reza Shajarian sings plaintively with his subtle whirling drone. As the musicologist Jean During reminds us, traditional Persian music has to be listened to amongst friends, drinking together, in a dark room. (2)

Then as we listen to the duo Hossein Alizadeh and Djivan Gasparyan during their concert "Endless Vision", recorded in Tehran in 2003, we can recognise the modernity of the interplay between the lute and the reed instrument, an essential pair within traditional music. Djivan Gasparyan is a world-renowned artist with the melody pipe, sought after by all western universities for his encyclopedic mastery of this instrument. This is truly a match between giants.

Endless Vision (CD World Village/ Harmonia Mundi).

Bidad (CD World Village / Harmonia Mundi).

[Translator’s notes]

(1) Les Yeux Noirs (French for “Black Eyes”) is a name taken from the title of a Russian gypsy tune made famous by Django Reinhardt in the ‘30s. Lo’jo comes from Angers in the Loire Valley where Les Yeux Noirs have been at the epicentre of an extended counter-cultural tribe of musicians, painters, poets, film-makers, acrobats, street performers... (http://lojo.calabashmusic.com/)

(2) Jean During :"L’Âme des sons" [The Spirit of Sounds], Relié Editions, 2001.

Article published in l’Humanité 21 April 2006


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