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We have chosen to listen to Iranian music because it is so diverse and brings out the kinds of emotion


February 1, 2007

I had been trying for months to make a date for myself to sit and compile some music for the site and most of the albums I had in mind were from young singers who perform with classical musicians. One is my own cousin who is a software engineer yet has a heavenly voice and performs to sold out crowds in Europe and neighboring countries in Persian Gulf area. Naghmeh and her group have been allowed to perform for women only in Iran.

Ironically, one comment I had in mind was, "those who call Iranian music boring, do not have the emotional or intellectual capacity to comprehend."

Houshang Pirnazar, the writer of the article "Aya moosighiye Irani beearzesh ast?" is too kind to refer to the asshole who had called Iranian music backward as "geraanmaayeh" or precious musician.

First of all, the people who call Iranian music boring or backward express their ignorant opinion clouded by eating too much fat laden and chemical filled "western" food.

Before the types of Menace the Lame -- who is miserable and all pissed off because as a nearly 52-year-old Iranian dame, I have more muscle in one arm that he has in his entire body (which is why he is just sitting and waiting for me to write so he can vent his frustrations) -- waste the precious time of the readers by assuming that I know nothing about other types of music, let me enlighten you.

Growing up in Khorramshar, I only saw classical music on TV occasionally. I heard some of the legendary Arab singers beginning the age of five and late at night Abadan TV wanting to make the Europeans and some of the Americans working for the refinery happy, played western programs and movies. I was fiver-years old when we bought our TV and I began to wake up and tiptoe to the hall so I could watch Count Dracula and see various American bands and all my playmates knew how to twist and we went to see Elvis. That is when I also developed a passion for Native Americans culture and way of life and hatred of John Wayne.

Abadan Radio had Golha and Barge Sabz late at night and before it played western classical music. At 4:00 pm it had "te dansan" or dance music. I never took naps so I read while listening to all these various music. I can easily retrieve "take five" by Dave Brubeck (which was later used for Infinity commercials) from the archive of my mind. When classical music was played you would hear the concert numbers and who the composers were.

Everyone who grew up in that area probably went to garden parties and as teen-ager knew all the western bands and singers. I even remember some of the country singers who were popular with some of my friends. We are not even going to mention the Nakhlak disco and our sneaking in to dance despite being under age).

I was at fist baffled at why I liked most types of music and then when I was 8 years old I read "the language of music is emotions". That solved the mystery and I began to listen to the type of music which appealed to my mood at the time. I was a big fan of Vivaldi (because I love violin) and in my late teens I wept hard reading (and saw the movie when I was 16-years old) about the sad life story of one of my other favorites Tchaikovsky.

In my college years I became a huge fan Joan Sutherland and Jose Carreras (I have rare old albums by the two as well as other singers I like) and loved Placido Domingo as Radame.

To me opera is like poetry and most people do not realize that the act performed during the two mourning months in Iran (Moharam and Safar) which is called Tazieh is actually opera because you have singers telling the story of the Karbala.

I also loved Ravi Shankar and the Sitar which was introduced to Iran by Mehrpoya.

I had tapes of every kind of music you can imagine in my car as a college student and to this day I do not like to have anyone ride with me because I love listening to my music undisturbed.

Form 1981 I began to go to jazz concerts and saw legendary Miles Davis, McCoy Tyner and Ahmad Jamal in concert at very small and private concerts. I had Wynton Marsalis's "Hot House Flowers" in 1984 and that was years before anyone knew who he was.

I had always loved ballet so often I would go with my American friends to certain ballets.

I also have most of Sara Brightman's albums and you will be surprised to find out that I know most of the country singers and their songs. My kid and his Iranian friends think I am so cool because I know most of the Rap and Reggaeton artists and their albums.

All the information was for the skeptics (and the morons) to know that unlike the popular assumption some of us know every music type out there and we enjoy some of them in various times, but ultimately we have chosen to listen to Iranian music because it is so diverse and brings out the kinds of emotion and highs most people have to get temporarily from drugs, booze, Prozac and other stuff in between.

Let me tell you that the week after hurricane Wilma I drove three and a half hours (normally it should be 45 minutes) in dangerous neighborhoods and without traffic lights to see a group of musicians from Iran. They were all young and educated and had other jobs yet the concert hall was packed and one of my pals who grew up in Europe and lives in a ritzy penthouse in the most expensive areas of Miami (and does not know much about Iranian music because he normally mingles with non-Iranians) came to this convert. He had tears in his eyes and kept telling me how amazing he felt. The entire audience was elated as well. Why?

Many just brush off the Iranian music because they have heard a few minutes of a singers like khansari or Ghavami perform Ghazal and because they are emotionally and culturally impotent and can not feel anything or understand the music, they reject all other types of Iranian music.

I can not tell you how many Americans ask me to recommend albums featuring Santur, tar, setar or instrumental concerts.

A while back a large group of us went to a ranch in Northern Florida where the owners were real rednecks. At night as always, we had gathered around fire and invited the family to join us and let me tell you that I had to give up one of my favorite Instrumental Iranian albums because the very quiet man with long hair sitting among us was just so touched and affected and wanted to know where to buy the album.

So dear Mr. Pirnazar, please tell your friend and by all means quote me because I stand by what I say: He and his type "goh khordan" to venture and call Iranian music backward. They are not educated or familiar enough with the world music to understand that the variety of Persian music is immense and it has something for everyone.

Any honest cultured person who has heard Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma or the legendary Yehudi Menuhin will tell you that somehow listening to Yahaghi or Assadollah Malek or Habibolah Badie just does something for the heart and soul and fills one with the most amazing sense of fulfillment.

At the end that is what life is all about. Having a sense well being and being totally fulfilled.

I will make sure to post some Iranian music soon so all the really educated, successful, cultured, well read yet, proud of their musical heritage Iranians will rejoice.

How do I know? All the wonderful e-mails I get from Iranians across the globe thanking me for posting the classical music (really my selfish act of wanting to let everyone know I love Iranian music). Top that. Comment

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Azam Nemati

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Crowning Anguish
Taj al-Saltana, Memoirs of a Persian Princess 1884-1914
edited by Abbas Amanat

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