“A few nights of Oud”: An interview with Master Hossein Behroozinia
Oud (Barbat) is a reminder of the name of masters and musicians such as Abdol-Vahab Shahidi, Mansur Nariman and Hossein Behroozinia. Master Hossein Behroozinia entered the Conservatory of Tehran and started playing Tar at the age of ten. He began taking oud lessons as his second musical instrument, from Master Nariman at the age of fourteen. At the age of eighteen he graduated from conservatory of Tehran with a degree in oud (Barbat) playing. Then he started teaching at the center for preservation and propagation of traditional music and tried to revive the Persian style of oud (Barbat) playing. He is now one of the main members of ‘Dastan’, a traditional Persian music ensemble and has been collaborating with Iranian and multinational orchestras. We had the chance to have a sit and talk with Behroozinia.
FP: "A few nights of oud" started with your honorary performance. You attended the concerts all three nights, what do you think about the importance of the concerts?
MHB: At a time when economic benefits and commercial aspects of the music industry are considerable, this cultural movement which was conducted under the direction of Mr. Afshin Masoomi is very valuable and appreciated. It was my wish to see this very blessed event and I attended all the three nights. I’m glad that the condition provided for oud players to perform in several styles on these consecutive nights. This musical instrument has found its audience today. However, when I was taking oud lessons, musical instruments such as Tar, Santoor, and Kamancheh were played in different styles. But, the sound of oud, was mostly heard in Arabic songs. And the Iranian style was less likely to play. However it was just master Nariman who was teaching the oud at the conservatory.
FP: How do you evaluate the performance of three-nights of oud?
MHB: The musical technique of each of the musicians was impressive, but I doubt we have developed a new style in the Persian oud. While the Arabic style of oud playing was still heard in a lot of the performances. It is true that the oud has extended over a vast geographic area from Iran, Turkey, Arabia and even some European regions, and has found it’s unique musical character in each region, but since the three nights of oud was an Iranian concert with Iranian musicians, it was my expectation to hear an Iranian repertoire not Arabic one. But there was an audio mess in some of the performances as a number of Persian and Arab pieces that might not fit in a category were played regardless of their connectivity or relationship to each other. Or some of the Persian melodies were played in Arabic style. It definitely depends on the musician’s taste but is not my favorite. Generally speaking, regardless of the differences in playing techniques, in my opinion, the women musicians shined on the stage. In terms of musical design and narration, ideas and technique, their performances were far more prominent.
FP: Describe your works before and after immigration to Canada?
MHB: My first album named ‘Barbat’. This work was an effort to play the oud in an Iranian style. In fact this musical instrument was forgotten in Iran and Iranians were familiar with the sound of oud by listening to Arabic music. That’s why I decided to make a change in Iranian’s listening habits.
In “The mountain” a collection of folklore pieces was played with oud, Daf and Tombak. It was my goal that oud be heard in Iranian folkloric melodis. Shorush recording company confirmed it as one of the bestselling instrumental albums that is still releasing after thirty years in Iran.
“Yadestan” was collection of Iranian traditional songs (Tasanif). The next work is an improvisation of oud, drum and setar. In the album which is called ‘Vajd’ or midnight sun, in the same song, for the first time I used sixteen beat rhythm in Iranian music. The album “from stone to diamond” won ‘just plain folks’ award’s second place in Middle Eastern category.
‘In the realm of solitude’ is another album. This work is an improvisation of oud (Barbat) on a recorded and released percussion album of Behnam Masoomi. In fact it was my idea to follow varied rhythm of the percussion and accompany rhythm with my improvisation, while generally melody is primary to rhythm.
My latest album; ‘dar- Aramesh’ is trio of Barbat, Santoor and Ney. It will be released in a few months. By avoiding showing off musical skills and controlling dynamics, nuances and musical expression, we tried to create a relaxing and meditating musical content.
FP: Thank you for taking the time to speak with Fresh pulp magazine.