The Iranian Student Association (IRSA) was established in 2011 and became an official Auburn University student organization in 2012. Since then, members have been actively performing in its events. In 2014, IRSA’s music group started collaborating with the Auburn University Cultural Music Society. Group members are Bahareh Ramezanpour (daf), Hamid Ghaednia (santur), Vahid Mirkhani (piano), Oguz Toragay (tar), Mike Watkins (oud), Samuel Price (percussion), and Rasika Ramesh (percussion). Bahareh and Hamid are students at Auburn in mechanical engineering, Vahid is in physics, Oguz is in industrial engineering, Samuel is in international studies, Rasika is in forestry, and Mike is employed with the university in technology.
The group has invited two Iranian guests to perform. Forouzandeh Peyvandi performs on the dotar, and Fariba Tehrani sings. As music enthusiasts, Forouzandeh and Fariba have been amateur vocalists for decades.
The daf is a circular frame made of hardwood and covered with either a deerskin or a goatskin. The santur is a hammered dulcimer with 72 strings on a trapezoid framework. The tar is a long-necked waisted instrument with 6 strings. The oud is a pear-shaped stringed instrument with 11 or 12 strings.
The dotar is a two-stringed, long-necked lute whose performance lessons have survived by practice only. In other words, there is no written music available for the dotar. It is important in the eastern part of Iran and bears the love stories, war stories, and songs about old myths.
THE MUSIC’S HISTORY
Iranian traditional music goes back through several millennia into prehistory, when the legendary King Jamshid is credited with the “invention” of music. It can be considered as the basis of much of the Near Eastern traditional music as well. Many of the names of the notes and modes in the Arabic and Turkish music traditions are of ancient Persian origin.
With the rise of the Safavids in the 16th century, music became frowned upon, causing the transformation of ensembles into private solo performances. The music and its culture, the folkloric blues and the numerous stories were transferred from one generation to another merely through words and private sessions. This decline only began to be reversed in the 19th century after the emergence of the Qajar dynasty.
Persian music is vocally based, and the vocalist plays central role. The start of the traditional Persian song can be immensely different compared to the end of the song. It usually alternates between low, contemplative pieces and athletic displays of musicianship called Tahrir. (Ref: Persian traditional music,Wikipedia; Farhat, H. (1990) The Dastgāh Concept in Persian Music, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.)
OPENING FOR PERSIAN MUSIC
Made up of Dan Mackowski (guitars), Patrick McCurry (woodwinds), and Jason DeBlanc (basses), Cullars Improvisational Rotation is a jazz trio with a southern sensibility: thoughtful, ambient, and adventurous.
The group will start at 5:00 pm to open for the Persian music group. Hear audio at soundcloud.com/cullarsfield
The name comes from Auburn University’s Cullars Rotation experiment, the oldest soil fertility study in the South. The group’s members embrace the roots of jazz, taking risks to make something new through delicately rehearsed arrangements of standards, originals, hymns and improvisations.