Additional (Text) Material from the Workshops


Sakina: The method I chose for my workshop was based on a preview of the differences created by the geopolitical situation and the fragmentation of Kurdistan. It was important for the participants to have a general knowledge of the fragmentation in this geography and its impact on Kurdish music. Then, together with my friend Mahan Mirarab with whom I prepared the presentation, we gave practical examples of reflecting on musical interactions in Kurdish, Arabic and Persian music. Mahan also gave very important practical examples and information on microtonality in Kurdish music. I have set out from the knowledge that I have gained from my own practical experiences. Due to its fragmentation, Kurdish geography naturally experiences a great variety of intercultural exchanges. Of course, there is a resistance to the monoculturalism created by mechanisms of repression. This happens mainly through music. But natural and voluntary interactions of languages, melodies and cultures are also inevitable. My colleague Mahan Mirarab gave important lectures on these topics. The practical presentation on the authorities contained very important data on this topic




Listening Exercise 1 : while walking to the park (5-8 Minutes walk)

We’ll walk slowly and silently (without talking) from the classroom to the park. During this walk, we’ll try to be aware of the sounds. Without taking notes, we’ll try to remember the sounds around us.

Once we arrive at the park, in a quiet place, the group can connect to the Zoom meeting. Only one connection should be enough at this point, as long as I’m able to listen to the group and they’re able to listen to me (maybe a Bluetooth speaker could help). Once connected, we’ll try to:

      make a list of sounds we’ve been listening to, trying to make a list as long as possible. One by one, each participant will say one sound, until we have said all the sounds.

−> It is interesting to see how many different sounds we’ve been able to collect in only a few minutes. We could think about itas possible noises or on the contrary as so many options of sonic material (and a very sonorous place).

      in this list, define the sounds which are the closest and the ones which are the farthest. Try to group the sounds in different sound layers (close, mid, far).

      In this list, define the sounds which are the loudest and the ones which are the quietest (in termsofthesoundproducedbythe elements, independently from the distance/placeofthe listener). Think in terms of sound levels.



Listening Exercise 2 : immobile (standing or sitting) in a chosen place in the park (5min) Erasing the boundaries between music and sound

We’ll split in groups of 6 people, each group should be able to connect to the Zoom session with 1 phone per group. Each participant finds a place to stay (standing or sitting) for 5 minutes, with their eyes closed (I will announce the beginning and the end of the 5 minutes listening, through Zoom). During those 5 minutes, we’ll try to listen to the sounds around us as sonic material, without relating them to their sources. We can make an analogy with an orchestra and think we are now in a specific concert, with a symphonic orchestra for example (choir, strings, winds, percussion instruments… etc.) and maybe sometimes a soloist.

After the listening we’ll try to:

    describe each sonic material, one by one (each participant can describe one sound) without mentioning the name of the thing producing the sound (nor describing it) but focusing on thesound itself, with their own words and references (high, bass, medium frequencies / loud or quiet / where in the space, immobile or moving / repetitive, constant, only appearing once…etc.).

      we’ll start with the sounds part of the “orchestra” and then the “soloist” sounds.

Listening Exercise 3 : in group of 2 people, in movement, during 5 min x 2

We’ll make groups of 2 people, in which one person (the “composer”) will guide the other (the “listener”) with the hand. The listener has the eyes closed; if necessary, you can use a piece of cloth to keep them closed, or an eye mask (or sleep mask) if available. The composer will take the listener with their hand and propose that they should listen to the sounds around them, during a slow walk in the park. The listener will try to remember the 2 previous exercises, and the way he/she is perceiving the sounds around. In this exercise, as in the previous ones, we don’t talk and try to be silent to be aware of the sounds around us. If the composer feels more as a “performer” he can of course produce some sounds by himself too, interacting with the elements on site.

After 5 minutes (we can use a timer on the phone) the listener opens his eyes and he becomes the composer while the other becomes the listener, with his/her eyes closed. We’ll try not to share experiences at this point, and to come back to the classroom all together.


Back in the classroom, with the whole group, we share our experiences:

    How was our listening experience, compared to the 2 previous listening experiences? What was different? What was similar?

   Was there some narrative or evolution in the listening experience? It could be from the external / sonicelementsfromthe place, or / and from our general feeling and the way we “trust” the composer. Hearing can’t be closed (unlike sight) because we should always be able to listen for possible “danger”. Maybe during this exercise we’ve been more aware about this instinctive hearing.

    Does the exercise affect other senses? If so, does this other senseaffect the listeningtoo? We could think for example of touch and howwecanfeelthespacethroughourfootsteps. Can we listen with our whole body?


Blume: Presentation (keynote) download as pdf


Kislal: During the last ten years, while consulting lots of artists or collectives, I realize that there is an ongoing uncertainty in working processes, that artists are sensitive to the changes of “norms” in our métier. There are lots of questions in their minds but also a sense of shame in asking questions which may not be professional, which may be seen as a weakness in their “expert” stature. But every new day, we are learning lots of new perspectives which were not in focus, confronted with triggers which we even never thought about till now. So when I was asked to give a workshop in the context of transculturality in art, as an expert who should give a workshop, I decided to come to this safe space with lots of questions; these distill to the idea that questioning the situation is the new “norm”. So the starting point of my workshop was “me, questioning the art, the art institutions, the situation now, interventions and the developments after the interventions. 


Maria Do Mar: Decisive criteria are, on the one hand, the target group and the knowledge accepted there, and on the other hand, the time frame. I had actually planned a much more interactive format, but the space didn't allow for that, so I spontaneously adapted the format. It would have been better to focus more on the students' experience, but that would have required a space were people can walk and come together in small groups. Postcolonial theory highlights the interconnectedness of history and powerful mainstream narratives. It is important to illustrate this by examples from postcolonial contexts. 


Golnar Shayar: What do we mean when we say Iranian music? How much do we know about the sonic identity of a country so vast and diverse whose history dates back to thousands of years?

Where does this sonic identity stand in our contemporary times and in international consciousness? Are we able to understand its history and living truth based on the one-word (one genre) model we have in the west to describe the sonic identities of similar countries such as Iran? The term “World Music” is usually related to any kind of music whose identity stands at a distance from the traditions of European music. One can even argue that the European folklore sometimes enters this one-word category because of the social and economic distance it represents in relations to so-called “intellectual music” or “art music”. One can also argue that the rise of music as an industry, originating from the Anglo-Saxon and American and Afro-American music cultures, also creates a dominating pole in how the “music of others” or “World music” is defined now a days. 


The purpose of this workshop was to talk about music of Iran with a different language and understanding than the “one word” system. The aim was to demonstrate, by example, the many different layers of identity music represents in the region we know as Iran. By taking Iran as an example, we aimed to talk about the diversity of music in the rest of the world from another perspective and angle. 


We asked questions such as: How does music reflects the social class and hierarchies, economic and political and even sexual aspects of our identities. How do musicians find their identity in these different kinds of music and react to them? How do their bodies behave in those different spaces where different kinds of music are being created or reproduced? 


Since the time was limited, I decided to focus on the different types of music produced in Tehran from pre-revolution to post revolution. We watched some examples, mostly as video files, and discussed the differences and similarities of each video to understand where they belonged and what they represent. In other words, what their functionality was/is.


We then discussed how we could talk about music of countries whose cultural identity has not yet been fully explored in the higher musical education system in Europe and in its music industry. We also discussed how music theory in the West has become an exclusive cultural practice and how we can diversify its knowledge domain. We took the example of intonation as one of the most fundamental aspects of music based on which the music theory can develop. Our approach was practical and we tried to sing the microtones in between the half tones of the equal tempered tuning system. Our reference was the microtones used in Iranian classical repertoire and theory. 

Our discussion then took us to the concept of cultural appropriation. The main question was how to approach marginalised music and cultures without exploiting them and appropriating them. Since the topic of “cultural appropriation vs. cultural exchange” is a vast area of its own, we could not really get into it in depth due to our time limitation. I highly recommend that the topic be discussed in future opportunities. 


Below I include some examples we watched and discussed in the course of the workshop:


·       Roo Houzi (Morteza Ahmadi) - Tehran Folk Musik - ضربی‌خوانی

·       Laleh Zar - Tehran Folk Music

·       Old Iranian Tasnif (Songs) 

·       Pop music: 

-        West-influenced 

-        Folklore Pop 

-        Cabaret & entertainment music

·       Religious & Ceremonial music

·       Traditional/Classical Repertoire

-        Tasnif infused with European classical Arrangements/Compositions

-        Traditionalists in Classical Iranian Music

-        Folklore music (From all corners of Iran with all the different ethnicities. For example: Arabic, Turkish, Kurdish, Lori, Balouchi, Torkman, Gilaki, Mazandarani, Boushehri, etc.)