BEYOND THE POLITICS OF MODERNITY: POSTMODERN EXPERIMENTS IN IRANIAN MUSICAL THEATER
This chapter addresses experimentation in contemporary musical theater, encompassing dance, musical performance, and dialogue. It captures some of the ways in which traditionally trained artists seek inspiration from Iran’s history to address arts regulation policies, bend artistic hierarchies, and render cultural practices of the past palatable for contemporary audiences. In doing so, these artists offer a multicultural conception of what an “Iranian” artistic expression looks like that diffuses binary narratives of the past centered on Iran’s relationship with Europe in modernity.
REINVENTING RUHOWZI: EXPERIMENTS IN CONTEMPORARY IRANIAN MUSICAL THEATER
This article offers a genealogy of a style of musical theater known as “ruhowzi.” It traces the path of its artists from high traditional performers of royal patronage to lowbrow urban entertainers following rapid urbanization in Pahlavi-era Iran. It addresses contemporary experimentation among young, emerging artists who aim to revisit the art form and reframe it within the canon of classical practice. In doing so, they cut across established musical and social hierarchies to offer a more egalitarian view of traditional arts for contemporary audiences.
This article, explores the conceptual evolution of classical performance in Iran. Based on reflections from artists who are navigating Tehran’s classical concert circuit today, it explores how musicians adapt highly traditional performance (historically, open-duration extemporization in intimate, informal settings, based on a structural framework called the “radif”) to function under contemporary performance conditions that increasingly favor more formal venues, wider audiences, and shorter fixed-duration performances. This article reframes the concept of “classical” in light of these insights.
This article address traditional performance ideals in Iranian classical music, which center on the dexterity of an artist as they extemporize in the performing moment. Addressing a vocal practice known as “avaz,” a form of unmetered free singing, the article offers a summarized account of the conceptual significance of embodied skill in traditional Iranian performance, placing it in comparative contrast with European aesthetic ideals that center on formalism.
THE CURIOUS CASE OF “GOOD MORNING IRAN:” MUSIC AND BROADCAST REGULATION IN THE ISLAMIC STATE
This chapter explores the conceptual significance of visual dimensions of musical performance. It explores a curious editing blunder that made international headlines when a national television show called “Good Morning Iran” inadvertently aired about ten seconds of footage showing Iranian musicians performing on television. Normally, visual representations of performers are dubbed over with images of nature or flowers. The conceptual implications that follow are compared with aesthetic analyses of jazz improvisation and western classical performance.
HAPPINESS, MONEY, AND MAKING IT WORK: EMERGING MUSICIANS AND THE GIG ECONOMY IN IRAN
This chapter, based on interviews with emerging artists in Iran, summarizes contemporary realities of working as a professional classical musician on Iran’s public performance circuit. These are compared with traditions that used to valorize artists who would not accept money for performing. This practice is encapsulated in a concept called “eshgh,” referring to artistry that arises from performing for the love of the music alone.
This article offers a brief summary of Iranian classical music, and offers interactive footage of artists in rehearsal.
This chapter explores traditional instruction methods in Iranian classical music, which historically centered on one-to-one rote transmission based on extensive bodily mimicry, without appeal to theoretical discussion or the use of notation. It addresses the comparative significance of theory and notation in Iranian and European classical contexts.