DEFC new doc “Diaphragm” spotlights history of music recording in Iran
Art and Experience: The Documentary and Experimental Film Center (DEFC) has completed a new documentary project named “Diaphragm” that chronicles the history of music recording in Iran from the Qajar era to the Pahlavi period.
Javad Vatani is the director of the documentary that studies the advent of equipment for recording music on gramophone records and the social, cultural and economic effects of the industry in Iran.
Vatani said that he first planned to make a documentary with his friend Ali Abolkheirian who is a private collector of gramophone records, but due to the significance of music and records in the country, he decided to do a review of the history of music recording in Iran.
“With the arrival of the photograph and gramophone machines in the country, recording began and Iranian traditional music was recorded on gramophone records, and the performances of many great musicians, who presented the various methods of singing in the Iranian dastgahs over the past 100 years, were also recorded,” Vatani said.
The word dastgah in the Persian language means “system”, as well as “equipment”. The suffix “-gah” signifies a place of doing something. Here, dastgah is used in two different significations: First, the totality of melodies of a certain musical system, e.g. dastgah-e Shur consists of Shur, Abuata, Bayat-e Tork, Afshari, Dashti and their related gushehs. Second, the word refers to the frets on a stringed instrument. Dast means “hand”, hence dastgah literally denotes “the place of the hand”.
Vatani further noted, “Producing documentaries based on history and research has always been with difficulty because of the lack of access to resources, however, one cannot deny its attraction and beauty in discovering new things.”
Vatani is also the director of “Vars”, a documentary about Veresk Bridge, an over 80-year-old bridge in northern Iran, which played a key role during World War II as it was used by the Allies to deliver aid to the Soviets in their fight against Hitler.