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Scholars study swell of underground music in Iran

Source: Mehr News Agency

The increase in the number of Iranian hip-hop bands working underground was discussed during a meeting organized by the Center for Strategic Research of the Expediency Council on Monday.

Sair Band
(photo source:

Masud Kowsari, Afshin Davarpanah and several other scholars gave lectures during the meeting.

Kowsari believes that the lack of liveliness in common music of the Iranian society is one of the factors compelling the youth to show interest in hip-hop music.

"Instead of producing vivacity in the society, the common music encourages lethargy," he said.

For example, he pointed to "Morning Bird" ("Morgh-e Sahar"), a song which has a high standing in historical memory of the Iranians. First performances of the song date back to about 80 years ago. However, it was later performed by several vocalists including Mohammadreza Shajarian.

"The song complains about society, drumming sadness and lethargy into the people," he added.

He said that the dual approach of the government to music is one of the factors promoting the Iranian teens' inclination to hip-hop.

The element of music is never separable from the youth. There are people in the government doing everything to protect the element in Iran and on the other hand, there are those doing their best to eliminate it from society, he explained.

Kowsari said that the underground music productions carry social, political and cultural criticism. "Due to their amorphous styles and patterns, underground music productions are dangerous," he added.

Davarpanah believes that many bands have to work underground due to restrictions on recording imposed by officials.

"In proportion to the severity of conditions imposed upon bands for granting recording licenses, their inclination to work underground increases," he added.

In addition, he said that the social and political changes, the youthful demographics of the population and development of the Internet are influential in the increase in the number of underground music bands.

Music bands, except for a number of traditional ensembles, were banned in Iran after the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979. The ban continued until the end of the 1980s. However, first singers and then pop bands emerged a few years later.

All singers and bands must obtain a working license from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. They also have to receive the ministry's approval for each song or album.

Few of the musical pieces done by the many pop, rock, rap and hip-hop bands established over the past decades have received permission for release.

In addition, the founders of the bands are mostly teenagers and young adults, who do not have sufficient tolerance to deal with the official bureaucracy to obtain the necessary approval for releasing their works.
As a result, they prefer to work underground, producing whatever they desire!

These underground recordings can easily be downloaded from their websites or weblogs, which have mushroomed over the past few years.

Websites are blocked every day by Iranian officials. However, other websites are set up shortly afterwards.

"No One Knows about Persian Cats" by Kurdish Iranian filmmaker Bahman Qobadi gives a perfect image of the hurdles facing underground bands in Tehran.

... Payvand News - 12/02/10 ... --

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