Popular Music and Archives (Iran)

I was originally born in Tehran, Iran. Since moving to England at a very young age I have gone back and visited Iran numerous times. During each visit I learnt a lot about culture and the Iranian lifestyle. In a strict islamic country such as Iran, it is hard to be creative without breaking a law here and there. There are so many different laws that restrict the sense of creativity amongst artists. If you aspire to become a vocalist, you really need to pick your lyrics carefully. If you try and lash out with harsh words about the tough islamic rules or the president, your life could be in danger. Therefore, it is generally well known that most parents and families try and push their children towards becoming Doctors or Engineers, an occupation where you would make lots of money with minimal risk of being in danger from the government.

Despite this lifestyle and mindset, There are still numerous artists and musicians that have made their mark and paved the way for future Iranian prospects. On the artistic side, popular graffiti artists known as Icy & Sot are famously known amongst Iranians and others around the world. They gained their stardom from graffiti-ing iconic yet controversial paintings on federal buildings and monuments. Sending strong messages against dictatorship and inequality. As far as the Iranian government were concerned, Icy & Sot were criminals. However they managed to escape the country before any punishment was brought upon them.

Traditional Iranian music is probably the most respected genre in Iran. However, due to western influences, the more popular genres being released on the TV channels and radio stations are more electronic based and are more appealing to the younger generation. With that being said, there aren’t a lot of museums or other physical places you can go and visit in Iran to get an understanding of the now-popular electronic based music. Although, there are places to visit in Tehran that will portray the history of traditional Iranian instruments and the music they made with them. The ‘Music Museum’ is a popular destination in Tajrish Square that holds various historic instruments as well as instruments that have been more recently developed. Alongside the artefacts, you can also listen to melody samples played in the past by artists, as soon as recording equipment were introduced.

I believe that rap music is extremely popular in Iran and has been for the past 5 or so years. The rap genre heavily grew due to one group of rappers named ‘ZedBazi’. I think the reason for the sudden exposure of this group is due to them saying what the public is thinking. These rappers talked about politics, the police, the educational system and much more. As you can imagine, the government wanted to lock them away and throw away the key. When you have that kind of reputation, it is extremely difficult to have shops sell your albums without the police raiding in and smashing it into smithereens. So the main way they released their music was through the internet. In such a country that has limited internet access, it is extremely hard to load up websites that may contain explicit content or that have been influenced by the west. So even through the internet they struggled to get their music out to the public, but their persistence paid off in the end.  Due to understandable fear from their government, they eventually moved to the USA. Where they still produced music, but were now out of danger from the government. Once they moved to America they grew even more and developed a bigger fan base.

To conclude, the more historically traditional era of popular music can be easily accessed physically. However, for the more modern popular genres, your best chance is looking at online archives, and even then i do not believe there are specific websites that will specialise in that area.

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