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Period of Audition Taste Decline


An interview with Keyvan Saket, the musician and master of Tar and Sitar.

Keyvan Saket is a musician who has gained a specific popularity among the young people who are the lover of Iran's national music due to his speed and special techniques in playing the tar and sitar, and sometimes due to his iconoclasm. He is of the first musicians who have played the classic works of the world's music by tar and sitar with perfect skill. Although, this aspect of his work has confronted severe criticism sometimes, it has been a notable and important work from the viewpoint of the confirmation of this matter that the Iranian musical instruments are not weak and primary in comparison with the classic musical instruments of the world, and they have very hidden capacities. We have conducted an intimate interview with Keyvan Saket concerning the music of Iran's regions.

- It is better to consider the music of Iran's regions as the introduction of our speaking. Considering this matter that you have done some researches in this arena, how you define this kind of music?

Iran is a country which has been formed from various cultures and the different nations live there with various customs and cultural views. Naturally, this matter causes the cultural aspects of Iranian nations that the music is a part of it to be different from each other. The Radif (the traditional sequence of melodies in any of the seven modes of classical Persian music) of national music of Iran that I never call it the Radif of traditional music of Iran is full of melodies and songs which have been resulted from the cultures of various nations for example, Dashtestani, Deylaman, Gilani dialect, Bakhtiyari, Shooshtari, Bayat-e-Shiraz, Bayat-e-Isfahan, Bayat-e-Turk, Bayat-e-Kurd; these are all a part of the Iranian music which are attributed to different tribes. So, the music's Radif is resulted from the music of various regions of Iran during these years. It is the music of the regions which has become more coherent and arranged after entering the music's Radif.

So, we can say that the music of different regions of Iran is the music of its different cultures. Also, the music of different regions of Iran is Maqami music. It means that this kind of music is not tonal like the European classical music; but it is modal. The word of "mode" is the same as the Maqam. The music of different regions of Iran is full of mode and Maqam which have both some differences and some common features from some direction. For example, the music of Sistan and Baluchistan differs from the music of other regions of Iran generally, but Gilani music has a great similarity with Mazandaran Music or Kurdish Music has so many common gaps and songs with the music of the South of Khorasan. Both the Kurdish music and the Music of the South of Khorasan are presented in Shur (one of the seven modes of classical Persian music) and its accessories.

- To what extent the geographical and linguistic aspect can be effective in the difference or communion of the music of different regions of Iran? Is the similarity of Gilani and Mazandarani music due to their closeness from the viewpoint of geographical aspect?

Yes, it is right.  Undoubtedly, the geography has great influence on the formation of the dialects and cultures. For example, in Sistan and Baluchistan, the cities are located with a great distance from each other and the people who live in desert do not have so much relationship with the other places. Accordingly, the music and language of this nation differ from the other regions of Iran considerably. In Reza Khan Period, some Kurdish people were exiled to the North of Khorasan. These Kurds by the name of Kermanji not only had influence on the language and music of North Khorasan but also they had been under the influence of the language and Music of the North of Khorasan. A new culture was created in the North of Khorasan which had basic difference with the music and songs of the South of Khorasan. The distances and note-making of Dotar (a musical instrument with two strings plucked with fingers) of the South of Khorasan differ from those of North of Khorasan. So, the immigrations, climate and neighboring culture have considerable influence on the formation of the music of the regions. For Example, the Arabic tone can obviously be felt in the Music of Kurdistan of Iraq. After the researches which were done in Bushehr, it was determined that the African tones and rhythms have influenced the Music of this region. When the Portuguese and the English entered Bushehr accompanied by their African slaves, some of these slaves was into Music and murmured African songs while working. So, a part of African music which was consisted of the idioms and rhythms entered the Music of Bushehr.

-You have pointed to the annihilation of the music of regions and criticized the ignorance towards this Music in your previous interviews, but you did not say your suggestion about the maintenance of the music of Iran's regions, what is your suggestion concerning this matter?

The fact is that today the cultures have become closer to each other due to the growth of mass communication devices, and their relation with each other has become more than before. We cannot expect the people who have got used to hearing these kinds of Music albums of foreign countries, to hear Dotar for one hour and enjoy it. My suggestion is that the financial and spiritual condition be provided for a person who wants to disseminate the Music of Iran's regions among the people not as a researcher, so that he/ she can accomplish this work without having any distress. We should perform this music by great orchestra and that local musician should be shined and flashed as jewelry in a part of that orchestra. In my opinion, this kind of music can be noticed by people via the various musical instruments and attractive orchestration. This work needs the investigation, probing, compassion and distress. I have already presented this suggestion to the custodians of the country's Music, but his suggestion is left in suspense like many suggestions of other artists which are resulted from compassion. Of course, this work has been done before, but it has been so much weak that have not been so effective. The anthem center has prepared the Music of the regions of Iran in the form of cassette, but it is not that much enough in order to be presented to people.

-So, it can be useful just for archive?!

Yes, sometimes we want the music for archive and museum and sometimes we want it so as to present and introduce it to people.  

- Does making people familiar with music cause it to be grown and developed?

Yes, in this cultural gap we should familiarize people with the music of their own culture in accordance with today condition. We should present the music in today clothes and language in such a way so that they don't keep distance from their previous nobility.

- You have pointed to the ignorance of cultural custodians of the country. However, don't you think that we don’t have enough masters in the music field? Usually, many masters of music of the regions of Iran are not interested in transferring their art to the young people. So, they don't try to maintain and protect the music as they ought to. What is your idea concerning this matter?

You see that the culture of education in small counties is very different in comparison with the metropolises. The job of most music's masters of Iran's region is different from their major. They never see the education of the music as a job and source of income. In fact, they don't think about it at all. The tones of music are so much sacred for some of them that they present it in private or in some specific gatherings. So, we can't say that they have been idle and don't have educated a student, because their thought is different. There are many institutes and art schools in metropolises, but these facilities are not provided in small counties and villages. The people are so much close and intimate with each other in these regions that they can't establish a class of music for each other. The people who have learned the music have acquired it impulsively from behind the door or on the roof.

- Don’t you think that it causes this kind of music to be wasted?

However, this music has continued its life in this way so far. We should support the music's masters of Iran's regions. Also, we should give scholarship to the eager young people like the whole world so that they go to small cities and villages and become a resident there and learn the music of those regions.

- We should not take those masters to the town…

Right, if they come out from the environment of their living, they keep distance from the nobility and spirit of their music. It is similar to this matter that we uproot a plant which is grown in the south of Iran and took it to the north. This plant cannot keep growing there surely. So, we should consider a budget for learning the obsolete musical instruments. It means that we should employ an eager person to learn these musical instruments. In western countries, many musical instruments like Contrabass   which is costly and needs an especial atmosphere in order to be played is educated by the financial and spiritual support of the music's custodians. This affair is applied to the music of Iran's regions. We should send the interested people in the music of the regions to the masters with complete supervision and support. Of course, we should send the people who recognize the music and know its importance. These persons are not few among my own students.

- Have you ever encouraged or supported a person among your students in order to accomplish this work?

I cannot employ a person to do this work. One of my students works and investigates concerning the music of Gilan. This work is not accomplished by one or two persons. A budget should be considered for it so that we can organize more interested people.

- What is your idea about the level of the audition's taste of people?

Before I answer your question, I should point to an issue; the art and music are not like the industry and civilization which are developing day by day. We have declined in art and aesthetics in some periods, and have progressed and developed in some other periods. In my opinion, the aesthetics comprehension of the people has descended in comparison with the previous decades, for example the time which the program of Golha (flowers) was broadcasted. I think that we live in a crisis and declination's period of audition taste of people. However, this period will end finally. Of course, there have been this rise and fall in the people's aesthetics comprehension and it will continue to exist throughout the world. We should be able to educate our addressees’ audition. This work is not possible save by the support of important media like the radio and television organization. I think Radio and television organization can have the most effectiveness among the people. Unfortunately, Radio and television organization couldn't accomplish its duty in cultural advancement of people in recent years. It is not only my opinion, but all the other artists in the country agree with me in this regard. If we investigate the works which have been presented to people as music, we understand that the music taste of people has been fallen off in the recent decade.

- When Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) doesn't show the picture of Iranian musical instrument, we cannot expect it to create a great change in music. Why should we pin our hope on IRIB?

However, a large number of people are the viewer and listener of IRIB, and we can't ignore such media easily. This organization is effective either in positive or negative direction, and we can’t deny this efficiency. We have three large organs which are active in the arena of music: IRIB, Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance, and IDO’s Academy of Art, which each of them has three various approach and laws.

For example, an artist who gets disappointed in IRIB refers to the Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance or an artist who loses his hope in that ministry enters the Academy of Arts so that he/ she can present his/ her work to people via it. What's interesting is that the works which receive license from these three organs sometimes have basic difference with each other. These three organs act stubbornly and are obstinate instead of considering the content and amount of efficiency of a work in order to advance the people's culture. What is efficient in these organs is the principles and relations not the value of the content of a work. If we are worry about the negative effective which the music and foreign culture have on the youths, we should consider the matters which I mentioned.

- Keyvan Saket is recognized as a technical musician not the intuitive one among the people of art. It is said that you present modern traditional music. Even some people believe that Master Mohammad Reza Lotfi is against your movement. How much are the sensation and technique effective in the formation of music?

Of course, Mr. Lotfi is not against me. I am surprised that the subject of technique and feeling are posed. A person who has skill and technique, can express his/ her feeling better.

- You mean that these two don’t contradict each other?

Never! If you are more predominant and proficient, you can express yourself better and can reveal your feeling superiorly. I have tried to observe the glory of Iranian culture in my works. You should feel the glory and greatness of Persepolis and Taqe Bostan (arch of garden) in musical work and feel pride. Also, you should feel the pride of reading Hafiz poem in Iranian music which is presented to you. I am after this matter.

- Don’t your excessive speed and skill keep you away from feeling when you beat a tone?

I didn’t like you asking this question from me. For the record, I should say that the speed is one of the different aspects of music. Undoubtedly, some of music sentences should be played with more speed. However since I am the first person who observes the technique and skill in his work, these factors are seen more than the other factors in my artistic work. Are Afsus (pity) in Sharq Anduh Album and Khatereh (memoir) in Shushtari album is only a technique? Don't you cry when you hear these strophes? Those who pose the subject of technique and feeling don't have any extensive view towards the music.

- Some people believe that the modern methods shouldn't be used in the education of traditional music. Because, Iranian music has obtained this position with bowing in front of the master during the centuries, what is your opinion concerning this matter?

I respect everyone’s idea. In my opinion, you can't say how we should paint or compose music. Every person presents a work which is different from the others, in accordance with his feeling, understanding and perception. The poems of Nima Yushij, the paintings of Van Gogh or the works of Beethoven encountered oppositions at first. However, the real value of them was recognized after that. The artists of Beethoven time believed that his works are offensive and indelicate, but do the artists of this time have the same idea towards his works? No one can say how an artist can present his artistic work.

Usually, the young people like your playing more, what is the reason of this matter?

In my opinion, the art and music is as a garden that all kinds of flowers should be there. When the human being sees just one kind of flower even if is the best one, he/ she feel bored. It is never true that we say the taste of me should be only dominated. Perhaps, my work is more harmonized with the taste of young people.

- Are you working on a new album?

The composition of some new albums, playing in national orchestra and accomplishment of some research works concerning the music are considered as the new activities of me that I will follow them in the upcoming days. Also, the album of "Broken Nay" and the sixth book of me will be published soon.

- When we entered here, you pointed to these forged irons and said, “I wish they were made out of wood". How do you as a person who has brought the modern elements in music define the solitary and essence of music?

The modern art and elements are not related to the type and kind. You can build a statue by the modern method from wood, iron or mud. The kind of atmosphere has great influence on the feeling. For example, when you read the poem of Hafiz in a situation which you have lightened candle, it has more influence on you.

- Don't the modern elements annihilate our music's nature?

- What do you mean by modern elements?

For example do you play the works of Bach by Tar.

All artists in the world use the artistic works of other cultures. It is pity that we don't make use of the great treasure of Music of the world. What is wrong if we play Tar and know the works of Bach.

- How do you define the solitary?

Thinking about myself. Seeing myself.

- What is the most important thing which you have found in yourself?

This matter that music helps human to be a human and love others.




Tuesday, June 22, 2010 - 11:5

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