Document Type



A unique feature of many contemporary Iranian artistic and musical expressions is their firm grounding in indigenous cultural traditions. Composers often reveal a strong involvement with Iran’s diverse traditions, in relation to a clear awareness of the country’s cultural role in the global cultural and political context. This can be witnessed in titles of works, poems chosen as lyrics or inspiration, and the music itself. Non-Iranian musicians performing new music which makes use of indigenous Iranian elements possibly face challenges or problems. Two works performed by Ensemble HaftCraft on March 19, 2017 in Brussels present relevant issues and results: Hommage à Abolhasan Saba by Idin Samimi-Mofakham (2012) and Masnavi by Ali Radman (2011; 2017). The first piece, for violin and cello, has been performed (in an identical version) by Iranian, Central-Asian, European, and American duos. The second piece, originally for orchestra, singers, and Iranian instruments (and as such performed in Tehran and Shiraz), was played in Antwerp and Brussels in a new version for string quartet, bassoon, and solo voice. This paper identifies and discusses problems regarding the exact performance of microtonal intervals and other idiomatic details, and reveals aspects of the process and results of the negotiation between the Iranian composition and conception of the second piece and its European performers and creation. General strategies for composers and performers to address cultural differences and to enhance intercultural understanding are outlined.