petak, 2. studenoga 2012.

Dariush Dolat-Shahi - Electronic Music, Tar and Sehtar (1985)

Dariush je iransko-američki muzičar koji svira na instrumentu koji se zove tar. Ukratko - napravio je jedan on najčudesnijih albuma (folk)elektroničke muzike.

Streaming ovdje.

This post-revolution Iranian album from 1985 is so ahead of its time, so completely off on its own sonically and stylistically - that you'd be forgiven for thinking it were a hoax. In reality it's one of the most sought-after and exceptional records from the Smithsonian Folkways catalogue, here brought back to life in this facsimile edition put together by the Dead Cert imprint - housed in a hand-assembled replica sleeve with a vinyl cut at D&M** For all intents and purposes, Iranian-American composer Dariush Dolat-Shahi's 'Electronic Music, Tar and Sehtar' is one of the most incredible electronic records we've ever heard. Until now, it's been the preserve of a small handful of collectors who rightly hold it in huge regard and close to their chests. A syncretic traversal of Iranian folk music and modular synth strafing radio-phonic, musique concrète, neo-tanktrik and sound design disciplines, it simply sounds quite unlike anything out there (if you know better, please, please share!) and has had us, and everyone who's heard it, utterly enraptured. OK, there may be some precedents in the work of electronic music pioneer Ilhan Mimaroglu, and it has undoubtedly directly or indirectly inspired music that has come since (Keith Fullerton Whitman's 'Variations For Oud & Synthesizer', for instance)', but we're sure you'll agree that the elements have rarely gelled so fluidly, phantastically psychedelic as this, before or since. It's possible to trace that combination of traditional and contemporary styles, mixed with a liberating sense of freedom and abstract expression, to the composer's history; from early enrolment in Shah-sponsored music schools and conservatories he was awarded scholarship for further studies in Holland, and when the revolution arrived in Iran he would permanently leave for the world famous Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center in the late '70s, all priming Dariush's tastes and skills for these recordings made during the mid '80s, late at night in the university studios with the permission of Professor Ussachevsky. It's testament to its enduring magic that listening back now for the umpteenth time we're still bewildered and vividly transported as we were the first time, lost to its roil of tangled timbres and etheric dynamism, keeling to the metallic lushness of the strings and rendered mindblown at the synchronised sweeps of modular synth and simulated environs. It's a genuine wonder of the electronic music world, and an essential listen, by anyones standards. - boomkat

• 3rd release from this archival vinyl series brought to you by Pre-Cert Home Entertainment and Finders Keepers
• Facsimile/Reproduction of a Smithsonian Folkways classic.
• Incredible 1985 recording of Iranian folk music mixed with modular electronics, tape manipulation and field recordings
• This is one of the most sought-after, influential and hard to find recordings in the Smithsonian Folkways catalogue, original copies change hands for a small fortune.
• Housed in a deluxe hand-made Smithsonian-style oversized outer with wraparound print
• Cut at D&M Berlin, Limited to 1000 copies
This release will undoubtedly be met by the same deep breaths that have been shared by the small group of collectors who, over the past few years, have held original copies of this rare Folkways release in such high regard. 
In simple terms this LP is the kind of record you wished existed while nothing really came close to the mark. Respectfully and subtly combining traditional Persian instrumentation, Modular synth exercises, field recordings and tape manipulation  - this debut release from 1985 by Dariush Dolat Shahi bridges multiple cultural and stylistic voids and vindicates the vinyl buying market’s recent disparate interests in bygone Eastern experimental rock music, radio-phonic experiments, musique concrete, sound design, neo-tantric meditational records and other early accidental acidic electro murmurs. 
For those who enjoyed the recently re-contextualised music of Ilaiyaraaja and Charanjit Singh while holding tight to the legacy of Pierre Schaeffer, Daphne Oram and the recently passed ilhan mimaroglu and harbour penchants for all things drone, teutonic, electronic, demonic and euphoric this record has just changed all your plans for the weekend. A perfect primer for the aforementioned labels and a proud indication of what to expect from this eternally studious camp in 2013. -

Iranian-American composer Dariush Dolat-Shahi’s music occupies a unique and timeless place among the countless albums from the last half-century that mixed acoustic performances with electronic manipulations. Dolat-Shahi stands above his peers as a master of both crafts, able to weave together lush melodies from his tar, a traditional Persian lute, and spacey analog synth lines – which sound like they could have been recorded anytime between the sixties and now – into a complete whole that doesn’t feel stuck in one genre or time period. His 1985 album, Electronic Music, Tar and Sehtar, is the pinnacle of his achievements and easily one of the most interesting world music (is it even fair to call it that?) albums of all time. Electronic Music’s core is composed of sparse tar and sehtar – another variety of Persian lute – pieces upon which Dolat-Shahi heaps bleeps, bloops, and squawks of electronic noise, along withe the odd frog or bird, until the two distinct parts become so intertwined you wonder why the idea of Persian classical music run through a wash of moog noise ever sounded so odd in the first place. Dolat-Shahi has done a remarkable thing by taking the two great outsider sounds of world and experimental electronic music and combining them into a album that is more listenable and engaging than either could have been on their ow. - 
 Dr. Winston O'Boogie

Dariush Dolat-Shahi


From a Conversation with Dariush Dolat-shahi

Dariush Dolat-shahi is an Iranian-American composer and instrumentalist on the tar, the traditional Persian lute. His compositions include electronic and instrumental music as well as music for traditional Persian instruments.
This text is based on conversations with Dariush Dolat-shahi that took place on December 8 and 19, 2005.

Musical education

I was born in Tehran in 1947. Although my father was interested in music, neither of my parents knew anything about it. My mom was interested in poetry and writing. For what reason I do not know, they put me in a musical academy when I was 10 years old. It took a while, but I gradually got into it and I now feel grateful that they did that. At the beginning, my father thought that he would put me there for a couple years to try and see what would happen. But, as it turned out, I was happy and he was happy, so I stayed there. There was no pressure for me to study anything other than music, even though many other parents wanted their children to study law or medicine. We had regular courses in music theory and harmony and everybody had to play piano. In addition to that, you have to play one or two Persian instruments and study both Western and Persian music history and theory. This was in the late 1950s. Persian classical music was considered to be the main music. Even popular music was greatly influenced by traditional Persian music.
I went to study at Tehran Conservatory. This was at the time of the first of the Persepolis Festivals, which started in 1967, something with which the Conservatory was involved. In those first years at the Conservatory, the teaching quality and training in Western music was very high. There were a number of teachers from the West. But in 1975-1976, people who knew better began to return to their original countries, knowing that the coming political conflicts were beginning to happen. Then the revolution came and that was the end of the whole thing.
I graduated from college in 1968. I then joined to the music department of the Army, where I conducted the band. Then I got a scholarship from the Amsterdam Conservatory of Music. I left for Amsterdam in 1970.

First work in electronic music

My first exposure to electronic music came when I was a student in Holland. In Iran, I had been part of a group of four people who used to get together and listen to music by Schoenberg, Berg, Ligeti ... but not specific electronic compositions. If I had heard any electronic music before being in Holland, I don't remember that it had any significance to me. But before I moved to Holland, I created my first piece for tape and string quartet or chamber string ensemble, which was kind of an introduction to electronic music for me. I had a Groendig, a small, heavy, 50-pound German tape recorder. I recorded on one channel and then played it back while recording on the other. It was really a test with sounds, but not a real composition.

Festval of Arts in Persepolis / Shiraz

Starting in 1967, the Iranian government television network created an annual arts festival. They sponsored all of the commissions and festivals. It was basically the queen's idea, the shah's wife, an architect who had studied in France. She was the major force behind these annual festivals. The queen used to regularly come to the festival and formally open it. I also remember that all government officers had to buy modern art. The annual festivals were a major source of information for us about what was happening musically outside Iran. Works were commissioned from Karlheinz Stockhausen, John Cage, and Iannis Xenakis, and choreographers Maurice Bejart and Merce Cunningham. There were a lot of pieces for live orchestra and tape. Every year, I waited for the event to happen. I received my own first commission when I was nineteen years old. One of my works was played at the 1976 festival, a year before the festivals ended.

Study abroad towards a proposed Iranian studio

The government sent me on a very specific mission to learn electronic music. They gave me a scholarship to go to Columbia. I was supposed to do my studies and finish my degree and work at a newly proposed arts center. They were planning to open a very large electronic music center at the television station in Tehran, in which they wanted me to play a role that was never clearly defined. The idea for this studio had a lot of support, since a lot of electronic music was performed at the festivals. They wanted to have a major center of their own. I knew that composer and architect Iannis Xenakis had been invited two times to the Shiraz Festival and that he was asked to draft plans.
I studied composition at the Conservatory with Ton de Leeuw. But I studied electronic music with Gottfried Michael Koenig at the Institute of Sonology in Utrecht. Studying in Utrecht wasn't what I expected. I thought that I would immediately begin composing. But you first had to study acoustics, which didn't interest me. I don't have a scientific mind. Eventually when we finally began working with sound, I became more interested. I was there nearly four years.
In 1974, I returned to Tehran. I felt the need, though, to continue my education, since I didn't think that I had I learned enough. And so I contacted Columbia University, where I was interested in studying. I knew some of the works by Milton Babbitt and Vladimir Ussachevsky. I asked the Iranian government to give me another scholarship and they did. While I waited nine months for my scholarship to be approved, I taught composition at Tehran University. The political situation was growing difficult. Islamic political demonstrations started in 1975 and 1976, especially at Tehran University. However, no one could have predicted the extent to which this would go. Things were beginning to percolate before I left.

New York and Columbia-Princeton

First, when I arrived in 1975, I studied with Dr. Hubert S. Howe, Jr., at Queens College. He was the director of the electronic music studio. I first met him at a concert in Amsterdam. I didn't know who he was. I told him that I was planning to come to the United States. He told me that if I ever came, call him. Queens College was a helpful experience. I studied with him for about nine months. I was doing practices and exercises, small pieces. Being there was very much the opposite of Utrecht. There were a lot of keyboards on which you could just sit down and play music.
I began my studies at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center in 1976. At Columbia, there was a wide range people in terms of personalities and teaching approaches. I composed my first really solid piece there in 1976. I had a commission from the festival in Iran, a work for chamber string orchestra and electronics, and I did the electronic tape at Columbia. Every year we had a three-day group of electronic music concerts at Columbia. I usually had a piece performed. In addition to that, there were concerts organized by other organizations and played at different places in New York City.
My most important teachers at Columbia were Vladimir Ussachevsky and Mario Davidovsky. Also Alice Shields and Pril Smiley. Ussachevsky was such a great man. He had so much energy and such a great mind. I really enjoyed him as my teacher and friend. I went to his place in Vermont on a few occasions. And also his wife was such a gentle soul and they were a nice couple. He was a very intellectual, charming and warm with a very deep sense of things. I had a very good spiritual connection with him. I understood him and he understood me. We had a good conversation every time. I enjoyed his presence. I think that I studied composition with Davidovsky. He was very critical and very intellectual. Everything had another layer behind it when you talked with him. Alice Shields and Pril Smiley were also wonderful people. I had an especially wonderful understanding with Alice. She was a good composer and always available to answer any questions.
Also important to me was Bźlent Arel, after he left Columbia and was at SUNY Stony Brook. Arel was a very interesting man. Every time he gave you advice, he would jokingly ask for a dollar. He was constantly making jokes. He was a handy man, experimenting with sounds and letting you do it yourself.
The year before the revolution, the television network commissioned Ussachevsky and he was supposed to go over there. He was supposed to write something for electronics and chamber orchestra. But a few months before his scheduled departure, the Shah left the country. The commission had been paid in part. They had also invited the chairman of the Columbia University music department, Chou Wen-Chung, to visit Iran and we went together. It was in the late 1970s, I'm not sure which year. He stayed for a week or so. Among the things they spoke about was a plan to create a division within the Columbia University art department for Persian studies, art of the past and present. They also spoke about establishing studies related to modern music and electronic music. They were going to get major funding from the Iranian government.
I finished my Ph.D in 1981. I continued to use the studio for a few years. I just asked Ussachevksy if I could use it and he said yes. I was mostly going there at 10 pm and working all night. I don't know if I asked Davidovsky. I wonder if Arel was still there. I also used the studio at SUNY at Stony Brook. My connection with Stony Brook was through Bźlent Arel, who directed their electronic music studio. Stony Brook invited me to play some of my electronic music at school concerts. I was giving concerts at Carnegie Hall and lectures on Persian music and also working as art director at Galaxy Music, doing art work for album covers. I had a more informal art background, but I took courses in graphic art. I had always done collages and small paintings at home. I still do. I left New York in 1987. I contacted Ussachevsky and talked to him a few years before he died. I read about his death in the New York Times. I lost track of Arel. When I moved to Portland, I lost most of my connections in New York.

After the Iranian revolution

One reason that I got professionally involved in art was that at the beginning of the Islamic revolution in Iran, my scholarship was cut off by the new government. It put me in a financially unstable situation. All of my dreams were all ruined, so I decided to learn more about art and I took some courses. That told me what kind of government it was going to be. My family gradually left and now there is no one there.
I am in touch with some of my old musician and poet friends in Iran. It seems that they have adapted to the new conditions. Those who did only traditional music had no option but to stay. Somehow they have learned to do their own things and the government doesn't interfere. The government tried to close the music school, but they decided to keep it open and separate men from women. It's a very dark place. Ironically, because of that, music actually became more popular and everybody learned to play an instrument. Lots of small private schools opened and everybody now plays an instrument. Their policies had a reverse effect.

His current life and musical aesthetics

After moving to the West Coast, I taught composition at the University of Portland and at a few other universities and colleges, for a few years. Now, 70% of my time is devoted to composing and 30% is performing or recording. I have also written a few pieces for orchestra, especially for dance. I haven't had many live performances of my compositions. I don't know if orchestras want to invest much money in an unknown composer. I am still doing electronic music, now with computer. I have two keyboards, including my Kurzweil K2500, and Digital Performer. I'm pretty busy with that. I've been working recently on another dance piece.
My performances of music for tar and setar are a combination of traditional and contemporary. I wouldn't call it classical Persian music. My recent performances are more influenced by not only Western, but many different types of music, from Indian, jazz, Latin ... My performances don't even sound Persian now. But this eclectic approach is not new for me. Back in 1981, after I graduated from Columbia, I composed a series of works for tar, setar and electronics. While the instrumental pieces that I did at that point remained in line with the abstract, serial Columbia style, the electronic music equipment allowed me to express another part of myself. Working mostly on my own, I became involved in a more expressionist style. I let it out.

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