Mohammad Reza Shajarian and Parviz Meshkatian: Bīdād

Written by Daniel Reza Sabzghabaei


In category: Song of the Day

Published December 19, 2018

The third song this week is the long-form cycle Bīdād (بیداد) “Injustice” by Persian music master vocalist and instrumentalist Mohammad Reza Shajarian (محمدرضا شجریان), and the late Persian composer and santour (a Persian hammered dulcimer) virtuso Parviz Meshkatian (پرویز مشکاتیان).

Bidād sets the poetry of two ancient Persian poetic legends: Saa’dī (سعدی) from the 7th century and Hafez (حافظ) from the 8th century. Shajarian and Meshkatian drew from these two poetic wellsprings, extremely well-known in Iran, and crafted a set of interwoven texts which speak of paradise destroyed and consumed with chaos and strife, reflecting on the political upheaval and displeasure during this time period (1980s) within Iran. The coup against the Shāh of Iran, heavily backed by foreign powers, the ensuing revolution which led to the rise of the Islamic regime and the oppression of many within Iran, including a number of artists, and the bloody Iran-Iraq war were all melding the psyche of Iranians at this time: although the Iranian people were free from a monarch, a myriad of new forms of Injustice were on the rise.

As an obelisk against oppression and a lament for freedom and equality, Bīdād stands strongly today; however, it is also a major work within the Persian modal “dastgāh” (دستگاه) and singing “āvāz” (آواز) traditions, helping to both further interest in traditional Iranian music and bring it into the future. The first half of the cycle is entirely in dastgāh Homāyūn and its related gūsheh-hā (patterns), with the second half fluctuating between dastgāh Homāyūn and Shūr.  The raw and intense nature of Shajarian’s captivating voice freezes you like a statue, his frequent outpourings of lush and piercing ornamentation, called tahrīr (تحریر), cast a web of sinuous mourning for a land once beloved. Meshkatian’s equally intricate santour figurations wrap the listener in a labyrinth of dense ivy and briar which the rest of the band of Persian music masters enclose us all within–no air escapes this place. Bīdād demands your attention.

Sad hezārān gol shekaft-o
sad hezārān gol shekaft-o bāng-e marqī bar-nakhāst
Hundreds of thousands of flowers blossomed and
 Hundreds of thousands of blooming flowers are not blooming”

In 2009, during the protests over the results of the presidential election which saw Mahmoud Ahmadinejad retain his seat, Ahmadienjad referred to protesters as, “dust and trash.” Later, in an interview with BBC Persian, Shajarian said of this, “[I am] the voice of dust and trash and [I] will always remain the voice of dust and trash.” Please enjoy Mohammad Shajarian’s and Parviz Meshkatian’s Bīdād; excerpt below, cycle in its bereft entirety here.

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Daniel Reza Sabzghabaei (دانیال رضا سبزقبایی) (ASCAP) is a composer and vocalist whose work aims to emphasize the malleability of time and how we experience it, not just in the concert hall but in everyday life as well. His music has been performed and commissioned by organizations including: Hong Kong’s Intimacy of Creativity Festival, Beth Morrison Projects, [Switch~ Ensemble], the New York Festival of Song, Contemporaneous, Utah’s Moab Music Festival, Minnesota’s VocalEssence, Dallas’ Voices of Change, Seattle’s The Esoterics, and the Busan Choral Festival. Daniel is currently a doctoral student and Sage Fellow at Cornell University.


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