25 August 2010

The Komodo Dragon Show goes dark this week, returning to the airwaves on September 1st with music from Kurdistan

Meanwhile, take a gander at the design of the limited edition silk screened Komodo Dragon Show T-shirt featuring the broadcast’s namesake, the world’s largest living lizard. You’ll likely not want to wear it in the torrid zones.

T-shirt orders will be accepted starting in September. Proceeds will be donated to the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees (IRQR).

18 August 2010

There's more Persian classical music in the air this Wednesday.

Set #1 - 8:00am - 9:00am

1. Suite de Qatâr (rec. 1970)
Ostad Elahi - tanbur [long-necked lute]
Ostad Elahi: Cascade: L'art du luth oriental tanbûr
Le chant du monde, 2741150
("... the intimate Qatâr mode of classical Persian music ..." In other words, this needs concentrated and introspective listening from you for it not to sound like random strumming.

Above, Elahi's youngest son performs his father's works on the tanbur. And while you're at it, check out Harry Freedman on the informed listener.)

Set #2 - 9:00am - 10:00am

2. Dastgâh-e Mâhûr

3. Avâz-e Afshâri

4. Avâz-e Esfahân

5. Dastgâh-e Mâhûr

Tracks 2-5 (rec. 1994)
Sima Bina - voice, Hossein 'Omoumi - ney [reed flute], Madjid Derakhshâni - tar [long-necked lute], Madjid Khaladj - tombak [goblet drum]
Sima Bina: Persian Classical Music
Nimbus Records, NI 5391
(Grossly oversimplifying, the typical form is a suite of instrumental and vocal compositions drawn from a repertoire of melodies grouped into dastgâhs, or modes. "The vocalist plays an important part in the ensemble, for he/she conveys the word and the poetry...." which is drawn from the ancient masterpieces of Persian lyric poetry.)

Set #3 - 10:00am - 11:00am

6. Avâz-e Afshâri

7. Dastâgh-e Mâhur

Tracks 6-7 (rec. 1988)
Shâhrâm Nâzeri - voice, Dariush Talâ'i - setar [long-necked lute], Bijan Kâmkâr - tombak & daf [frame drum]
Iran: Les maîtres de la musique traditionelle Vol.3
Ocora, C 560026
(Shâhrâm Nâzeri: "... I mix popular Kurd music with [Persian classical music]: it gives it a burst of energy that tends to attract a much younger public to traditional music..." He seems to have the same problem as Western symphony orchestras.)

11 August 2010

It's not entirely clear whether this fatwah http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/aug/02/iran-supreme-leader-music-islam is against Justin Bieber only, or extends to all manifestations of the artform, including military marches. Curiously, this page http://www.salamiran.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=165&Itemid=251 is extant on the website of the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa. The Minister of Information shall hear of this! Heads will roll!

Set #1 - 8:00am - 9:00am

(I know next to nothing about Persian classical music; my "comments" will be extensively quoted from the booklet notes. I will learn along with you, Listener.)

1. The Saga of the Rising Sun

2. Come with Me

Tracks 1-2 (rec. 1997)
Kayhan Kalhor - kamancheh [spike fiddle], Shujaat Hussain Khan - sitar & voice, Swapan Chaudhuri - tabla
Ghazal: Lost Songs of the Silk Road: Persian & Indian Improvisations
Shanachie, 64096

3. Avâz-e Dashty (rec. 2008)
Mehdi Fallah - voice; Chakavak Ensemble: Reza Manbachi - composer, arranger, artistic director, tar [long-necked lute], setar [
long-necked lute] & shoorangiz [long-necked lute]; Amaan Mehrabian - santur [hammered dulcimer]; Mohsen Biglari - ney [reed flute]; Parisa Ferdosian - bass tar; Arsalan Alizadeh - barbat [oud, i.e. Arab-style lute]; Amir Manbachi - tombak [goblet drum] & percussion
Chakavak Ensemble: The Journey of Love
Global Heritage Music Production, AC001
(A suite of four compositions in the Dashty mode.)

Set #2 - 9:00am - 10:00am

4. Improvisation à 6 temps
Djamchid Chemirani - tombak

5. Dastgâh-e Segah
Madjid Kiani - santur,
Djamchid Chemirani - tombak

6. Dastgâh-e Shur
Daryoush Tala'i - tar
, Djamchid Chemirani - tombak
("... modes such as Segah [and] Shur ... bring about a state of calm and concentration....")

Tracks 4-6 (rec. 1976-79)
Musique iranienne
Harmonia mundi, HMA 190391

Set #3- 10:00am - 11:00am

7. Improvisations in
Avâz-e Esfahân (rec. 2000)
Hossein Alizâdeh - tar,
Madjid Khaladj - tombak
Iran: Les maîtres de l'improvisation
Buda Records, 1986082

("... Esfahân evoke[s] love and separation.")

04 August 2010

The first show of the month is less doctrinaire.

Set #1 - 8:00am - 9:30am

1. Ravi Shankar: Transmigration Macabre (1973)
Ravi Shankar - sitar
C-Five Records, C5CD 596
(Score by Ravi Shankar for film in the cat-wife genre such as favoured by Edgar Allan Poe. Disorienting psychedelic ride, though Shankar is on record as rejecting the expansion of consciousness via pharmaceuticals. For an insight into Shankar's composing process see the scoring session included as an extra on the BBC's Alice in Wonderland DVD. I get more hits from that psychedelic graphic than all other search terms combined.)

2. John Tavener: Lalishri (2006)
Nicola Benedetti - violin, Andrew Litton - conductor, London Philharmonic Orchestra
Deutsche Grammophon, 476 619-8

3. Michael Nyman, Rajan Misra & Sajan Misra: Three Ways of Describing Rain (2002)
Rajan Misra & Sajan Misra - voice, Michael Nyman - conductor, Michael Nyman Band
Sangam: Michael Nyman Meets Indian Masters
Warner Classics, 49551

Set #2 - 9:30am - 11:00am

4. Kaminari: Triangle (2003)
Kaminari: Yoshito Yamano - sitar, guitar, bass, synthesizer, drum patterns & percussion; Chie Yamano - didjeridoo, voice
Kaminari, n.n.
(A whole hour of ambient sitar and didjeridoo duo: You can do dat on da college radio.)

5. Ragamalika (Medley of Ragas)
Ananda - voice, Jana Starling - clarinet, K. S. Mani - violin, Anand Bala - mrdangam [double-sided drum]
Ananda: Treasures
Tantra, TSMV9701
(Our weekly raga guide, beginning with South Indian Shankarabharanam, which happens to share its interval structure with the Western major scale. N.B Ananda starts singing on the third degree of the scale.

Note how the mood changes from carefree to tense round about 2:24 as D and B are flattened and E and A jettisoned, turning the composition into the pentatonic ragam Revathi (C Db F G Bb). Fortunately for us Ananda sings the note names: Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa (same as Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do), which facilitates following along.

At 4:35-ish the mood brightens thanks to the sudden introduction of a major 3rd above tonic C. It's the pentatonic ragam Valachi, C E G A Bb (called Kalavati in North India). Do you recognize that? It's your typical boogie woogie bass line:

Then at 6:50-ish....)