Part of memoirs of Seyed Hamid Shahangian

Revolution in Music Office

Selected by Faezeh Sasanikhah
Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan


One of my most important problems in the Music Office was the group of people who worked in the area of the music of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). Most of them neither knew much about the revolution nor believed in it. On the other hand, they were not very hopeful that the revolution would last! They thought that we could not last and that we would eventually give up. They did not cooperate with me with this idea. They were waiting for the day to finally come and as they say, I will go where I should be!

This wish caused me trouble. In general, in order to produce a good artistic, there must be professional people, and artistic thinking and expertise are needed. The non-cooperation of IRIB music employees means that I was empty-handed in this field. I wish my problem was only that. In those days, music from outside IRIB was under a lot of pressure. On the one hand, there was pressure from seminaries who said that music should be shut down and that it is not possible to continue like this. The influence of the leftists, especially the members of the People's Mojahedin Khalq organization, in IRIB had worsened the situation! This unblessed influence was more especially in audio production.

They were trying to push the system towards their own desires. Sometimes in IRIB Music department, songss were produced in which deviations were seen. For example, a song had been composed with this poem:

If God gives me a chance, one day

I will take revenge of freedom on the reactionaries

On the other hand, it wouldn't be a problem if they were only produced, the problem was that these songs were broadcasted from IRIB after the production! It is very interesting that these same people said in the streets that these bearded people, these mullahs are reactionaries! That is, these songs were broadcasted from IRIB, and at the same time they introduced us as reactionaries and said that one day they will take revenge on us!

Music producers, ranging from composers and musicians to singers did not have their hearts with the revolution except a small group of people. A few people behaved so-so to see what would happen. This small group could not meet the widespread need of the post-revolution society for healthy music. In those days, we thought that the pre-revolution music was not healthy enough and new musical works should be created. Of course, verbal music was almost known. The speech of those days for us was naturally different from the pre-revolution one, but when there was no speech, we thought that everything had the shape of former regime, and maybe we were not wrong too much. After all, people had memories with them. We couldn't say that nothing would happen if we broadcast the same songs, but on the other hand, we had problems producing healthy music. Composers did not make songs and singers did not sing. They said that it is not clear that the revolution will last! Why should we come and spoil ourselves for them?!

I remember that I used some management tricks in that situation so that there may be a change in that process. Until that day, a tight and closed group as employees of the music and production office came for two or three hours a day, practiced and left. They did not produce anything. They did not allow any new faces to enter their limited group. I tried really hard to break this atmosphere.

These efforts were made in two fields. One was that when I saw that no one was making anything, I started working and made it myself. When I was producing, they had to perform after all. When they were performing, something was produced against their will as they did not want anything to be produced. Moreover, some of them said to themselves, what is the use of our sanctions? We don't work, he works by himself and takes the money for the works, it is better to go to work and get money ourselves. Slowly, a number of them came forward in this way.

I used another trick for some of them. I called four of these men who were older than the others; the late Hossein Yousef Zamani[1] and his brother, the late Hassan Yousef Zamani[2] and the late Reza Qoli Maleki and another one whose name I do not remember. They were actually the old men of that group. I told them: "I am ashamed when I see you get up every day, take an instrument in your hand, come here and sit down, play an instrument and leave. You are the assets of this country. In my opinion, it is not necessary that you come and go this way every day. I will give you your salaries, you can come whenever you want."

I had a purpose in making this proposal. One of my goals was that if they don't come, we can replace them with some young people and bring new blood into the team. These young people could not be composers. Finally, they could be musicians, only if we could choose new people well. I made another suggestion to these older men. I told them we ask you to make a song with all the experience you have. In order to encourage them. I said, "If you make a song and it is approved by the council, I'll pay you for two songs. If you make two, I will pay you for three." In fact, I motivated them not to come to work, to get paid, and to get extra for their compositions; but just make songs.

I wanted them to change the type of work and this happened. They went and sat in their houses. We replaced them with young people who also composed songs. Gradually, the production cycle started and continued. They made songs, and revolutionary poets wrote poems for the songs. I was sure that if things go well, the situation would get better.

I don't remember the names of the new people I brought to replace the old ones. I only remember Saeed Zarinkhi and another one named Ali Agha. This gentleman plays the oboe. Oboe was an instrument that Mr. Reza Gholi Maleki used to play. Both Yusef Zamanis used to play the violin. I brought two young violinists, both of whom were very good. Meanwhile, I brought many young people into the Music Office and the way of working changed. The experienced ones started working little by little and produced good works.


Source: Rshidi, Ruhollah, Barkhizid (rise up): Oral Memoirs of Seyed Hamid Shahangian, Tehran, Rah-e Yar, 1397 (2018), pp. 12-145.


[1] Hossein Yousef Zamani was born in 1312 (1933) in Sanandaj. He was a composer and musician. He passed away in Dey 1392 (December 2013) in Tehran.

[2] Hasan Yousef Zamani the brother of Hossein Yousef Zamani was born in 1310 (1931) in Sanandaj. He was a composer and musician and an orchestra leader. He passed away in Mordad 1388 (July 2009) in Canada.

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