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The Music Medicine of Iran

I've always loved Persian music for its spiritual depth, its subtlety, openness and grace. One of its most defining characteristics is its refined improvisational language, a practice originating in a mind-set that is in many ways the opposite of the rigid dogmatism that has been oppressing Iranian culture for the past four decades.

The psychological prerequisites for musical improvisation and spiritual contemplation are very similar. It is essentially a state of openness and deep listening, of receptivity and not-knowing, all of which are qualities that are absent in the mind-set of dogma and absolutism.

Every step in musical improvisation is a step into the unknown. It is a language of seeking and fluidity, of openness and dialogue, and in that sense musical improvisation works as an antidote for the rigidity of dogmatism. Where dogmatism is blind, brutal and close-minded, the art of improvisation of Persian music offers spiritual vision, subtlety and openness.

In cultures where truth is oppressed, music is sometimes able to find a way to bypass the oppressor and continue its expression of truth and beauty. Lacking the specificity of words, music has a way of slipping through the censors cramped grasp and deliver its message in full, unperceived by the oppressor who, terrified of life, no longer has the ears to truly hear.

In spite of the oppression and censorship of musicians in Iran, there is a rich and ancient musical culture that never really stopped flowing, a lifeline of truth and beauty that went underground and was able to express and transmit the living truth of its people through the abstract language of music.

Music as pure sound, as vibration, doesn't refer to anything outside of itself, it is totally abstract and nonetheless, or maybe because of its abstraction, able to communicate the deeper truth of our being. In music we hear our freedom, untouched by the conditions of the world, we hear our essence reflected back to us, the beauty and courage of our heart.

In gratitude to all musicians in Iran and around the globe for keeping this transmission of truth, freedom and beauty alive.


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