In Iranian culture, the art of music has a long history. From ancient times until now, every corner of Iran is indebted to works that express the age of our music
Today, in a situation where the cultural, social and psychological effects of music on human thought and spirit are clearly evident and this talent is being used a lot in all parts and countries of the world, according to many elders and experts, we and our land In the field of music, we are in a severe and bad recession.
It is as if the passengers of the musical train suddenly disappear at a station on the way. Only among the new passengers of this train, sometimes a whisper of past memories of legends and memories of the golden age of music is heard. Sometimes we also see the great music masters of the past who are quietly watching in a corner.
Arman Afifeh, who is a singer, composer and CEO of Avaye Armani Music Company, answered our questions about the current state of music and the reasons for its stagnation and weakness.
To begin with, what is your interpretation of today’s music situation in Iran?
I’m sorry that Iranian music is confused these days! Music is one of the basic arts. All arts have a relational aspect and are related to each other, a painter listens to music while painting and uses the effects it has on his soul in his art. Therefore, the status of music is higher than many other arts. But it is a pity that this position in our country has been questioned! The taste of the current young generation after hearing this music, poetry and song is exposed to severe destruction and there are many questions in the mind of people like me that we cannot find answers to.
First, we should ask where are the music custodians of this country and do we who have been working in the music field for many years know them? Who should be responsible for destroying the thoughts and creativity of today’s generation in the future? We do not have a well-known music curator in the country. Our music artist does not know where to turn. Who should plan for the future of music? To what extent should the government’s role in this issue be intervention and supervision? These are all questions that no one has answered yet!
Your years of activity in Radio Tehran and cooperation with many great and famous music artists are a shining point in your artistic career, which has brought you a valuable art collection, and today you are one of the few survivors of the golden era of Iranian music. However, what steps have you taken to improve the music situation?
I am the only one who has two decades of flourishing music literature and his hands are full. I am ready to give the young generation good songs and music to sing. I have many songs with poems with Iranian atmosphere that have not been composed and performed yet. I have witnessed hearing good voices in the younger generation. They don’t have a music player. Professor Farhad Fakhredini officially announced four years ago: “Creativity in music is dead.” But I and others like me are not given a significant opportunity to act. Give us an orchestra so that the youth and I can do the right thing. I miss music. We want to make music go beyond what it is. There’s still time to save the music.
You have been mentioned as an artist who tried to find the border between tradition and modernity in singing and composing and chose the middle ground. What is the reason for this choice?
We have a precious heritage called authentic Iranian music, which will somehow stop if we want to repeat it often. It is true that they make music for new songs and new demands, but these ballads are rooted in traditional music, and if these roots are not preserved, the music will be confused. One should follow the principles of innovation.
Years ago, they said that we should record traditional music and keep it in the archive of Iranian music culture. They gathered together and reviewed the music of Haft Saz, which was performed at the Culture and Art Sound Center. This collection was preserved as a relic of ancient music. This movement was the right movement in its time and the need of its time. We must recognize the need of our time and move forward.
You have trained many students in the field of composition. What do you think is the best way to train a composer?
When I came to radio and started singing, they sent me to music class. I said that these songs do not satisfy me, I have to make new songs. Young people feel the same way. Music should satisfy them. You can’t stop them from taking hold in the traditions. Of course, the success of a composer depends on a person’s talent, music is a science that cannot be learned in school. Composition cannot be taught in conservatories in Austria and Vienna. Those who left did not become composers, but learned the science of music. Artists in our time did not have an academic education and trained the best composers. Our love was music. There is a solution to get rid of this problem and we can definitely fix the situation.
You belong to an era when poetry had a high place in music and was probably equal to song. As a composer, what is the relationship between lyrics and songs in your mind?
Poetry has an independent identity and place in Iranian culture, and in the past poetry was mixed with all aspects of people’s lives. The roots of poetry in our land are very strong. We see its background in history. It is true that poetry should move with the requirements of time, but its link with its past should not be cut.”
Poetry exchanges energy with music. This is not a ballad that Hafez and Sadi Rumi’s Diwan open and read from, this is a percussion. Previously, the percussionist of our orchestra sang Hafez’s ghazal with several rhythms and did not claim to make music. The correct procedure is that first the composer creates the melody, then communicates with the poet and the lyricist, and the lyricist sings the song with the effect of a new feeling. This is the reality of ballad writing.
And that’s why today’s songs don’t last and spread by word of mouth like they did in the past?
Yes… in the old days there was friendship between poets and composers and this was an important factor in the immortality of these works. Today’s songwriters imitate the golden age of music, but they can’t give life to what they should and those words. They try and want to do it, but the result is cold and they don’t like it. The feeling at that time was something else. Now I am at an age where I don’t have jealousy or confrontation, but today’s work does not suit my heart nor the hearts of the people.
You have implemented various programs in Isfahan. How did you feel about being in this city and among its people?
I was in Isfahan in January last year and a good concert was held. Isfahanis are art lovers and understand art. If they offer, I will come to Isfahan willingly. It is not right for me to go for a license and think about renting a hall. If the system is correct, invite the professors to come to the square to perform.