Iranian Sound Salad #2

So, you thought I had left the ship right? Well, I haven’t and I have just cut out a new mix for you. It is made out of sounds recorded in Iran once more, because I fell in love with Persian :) . I’ll tell you more about that really soon, in fact. But for now, a soundmix with only five samples. In this mix you will hear:

- a choir rehearsal in Kerman. When I arrived at my host Mohammed’s place in Kerman, he asked what I was interested in so that he could tailor me a perfect stay. I confessed missing live music. Music, arts and culture are not really encouraged in Iran, as you can imagine, since it can be used to claim one’s opinion… I didn’t understand at first that it was going to be a choir, I thought it would be an orchestra. But at that point, I was happy with any sort of live music, even a choir ;) (I am not tooooo found of choirs usually). It turned out to be an amazing experience, of course. The choir was of excellent quality and very enthusiastic. I was treated as a guest of honour and everyone has been really nice to me. They explained the meaning of all songs. This one is from the south of Kerman, and it is a cheeky love song I believe. Masoud,the conductor, gave me two books about music (in Persian!) that he had written and published. It was really interesting to talk to him. He told me for example that he had problem at the beginning with the accuracy of the women’s singing… because of their scarf! It covers the ears, so they can’t hear properly and they weren’t always in tune. Who ever thought of that kind of implications for the compulsory headscarf?

They asked me to find them a festival they could get invited to in Europe. I have failed so far… If they are properly invited, they get a little help from the local governement to cover the travel expenses. They were really excited about getting a chance to see Europe this way. Some of them have already taken part in a choir competition in Korea a few years ago. So, if you know someone organising a choir event anywhere in Europe where these great people could be invited as a guest choir, please do write to me! They really deserve it, I hope I will find something for them at some point.

- the sound of the hammers in a quiet bazar in Yazd. I think they were working copper.

- the echo in the Imam Mosque in Esfahan. on my way back to Tehran I stopped again in Esfahan and went inside the splendid Imam Mosque on Naghsh-e-Jahan Square, which I had not done during my first stay (I am a terrible tourist). This mosque is known for its double-dome. The tiles on the inside one are stunningly beautiful, but the particularity lies somewhere else. There is a gap of 14 meters between the outer and the inner dome, and this gap creates an impressive echo. Each sound you make, when you stand right under the middle of the dome, is repeated about eleven times. While I was enjoying the echo and the strange energy of the spot, an Iranian family came with a little kid to show him the echo. At first he didn’t get it. Then they started talking to me, and while they were busy, the kid suddenly figured out there was something funny with the sound right there, and he let out a few « da! » to test it out. I was lucky enough to capture that cute instant which hopefully will put a smile on your face :)

- Albi, one of my host’s in Shiraz, playing the Iranian flute. This type of flute is the most frustrating instrument I have ever encountered. I can usually at least get some sound (or noise!) out of any new instrument but this one requires more effort. It’s just a tube with holes, basically. I had come across a similar one in Bulgaria, and after trying for half-an-hour, had gotten one single sound out of it – my first and last on that type of flute. I could never get anything out of Albi’s flute, but he plays nicely. Apparently when you start learning this instrument, it is usual not to be able to get any proper sound for a few weeks

- finally, still in Shiraz, some poetry singing at the Hafezieh. Hafez is one of Iran’s most celebrated poets. The Hafezieh (literally « tomb of Hafez ») is a sort of little garden where his shrine lies. Around the tomb are some alcoves where lovers come for a chat (nothing more… you’re in a public place in Iran!) or where heartbroken people come to read or sing their sorrow. As our hosts where trying to recite and translate Hafez poems for us, reading from their smartphones, someone started singing behind us. The man was sitting alone and was singing for himself, the alcove beautifully amplifying his voice. It sounded like he was pouring his heart out in every word, yet with restraint, in a very humble way. I was mesmerized by his singing and decided on the spot to one day learn Persian properly in order to understand those poems without a translation. The man was quite amazing in fact. My hosts tried chatting with him, he answered each of their questions with a humorous quatrain!

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