The Stephen Blum Collection of Music from Iranian Khorāsān at Harvard University: Original Ethnographic Sound Recordings
The sound recordings in this collection provide examples of the musical culture of the region of Khorāsān, in the northeast of Iran.
- 1968 - 2006
Language of Materials
Materials are in Persian [Farsi], Khorasani Turkish [Torki], and Kurmanji Kurdish.
Conditions Governing Access
Extent1 collection (Sound recordings: 54 audio tape reels (acetate, recorded at 7-1/2 or 3-1/4 ips); 22 analog audio cassettes; 2 books)
The audio reels in the collection resulted from ethnomusicological fieldwork conducted in the northern part of Iranian Khorāsān in the years of 1968-1969 and 1972. There are 54 audio reel tapes, on 5-inch and 3½-inch reels, containing about 50 hours of recording. The main emphasis is on sung poetry in three languages – Persian [Farsi], Khorasani Turkish [Torki], and Kurmanji Kurdish. This finding aid arranges the material according to the types of performer active in the cities of Mashhad and Bojnurd, followed by recordings made in nine villages.
The analog audio cassettes consist largely of conversations, with occasional performances. The cassettes comprise the 1995 and 2006 portion of the collection content.
The main types of performer are the subject of Blum’s Ph.D. dissertation, “Musics in Contact: the Cultivation of Oral Repertoires in Meshhed, Iran,” supervised by Professor Bruno Nettl and completed in 1972 for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Musicology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The dissertation is summarized and slightly extended in Blum’s article, “Changing Roles of Performers in Meshhed and Bojnurd, Iran,” in Eight Urban Musical Cultures, ed. Bruno Nettl (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1978, pp. 19-95). Several of the recordings are discussed in some of Blum’s other publications (see Bibliography and Discography, which lists published versions of individual items and is available in a separate file).
The musical genres most prevalent in the collection are: chārbeiti; ghazal; ghazal khwāni; Shāhnāmah khwāni; qesseh; dastgāh; pandiyāt; dobeiti; dāstān; mosibat; tarānah Mahalli; gharibi; sarhaddi, and naqqāli, among others.
Some of the most frequently played musical instruments in this collection are: dotār; ney; qoshma; sornā; kamānche; Caucasian tār; Iranian tār, and Zarb-e Zurkhāneh.
Frequently referenced works are: Sabz parī va Zard parī; Shāhnāmah; Chahārdah afsānah az afsānahhā-yi rūstāʾī-i Īrān [available at Harvard Harvard College Library]; Haftṣad tarānih az tarānihhāy-i rūstāʾī-i Irān [available at Harvard]; Ṭūfān al-bukāʾ [available at Harvard College Library]; Kanz al-masa’ib.
The collection also includes notebooks and printed collections of verses intended for singing, along with a street guide to the city of Mashhad.
The spoken word content in the audio collection presents recitations, conversations and interviews.
Note to Users:
For the purpose of this finding aid, the transliterations for subject and index terms and proper names have been standardized according to the OCLC authority file, when found. Turkic alphabet characters for Kurmanji Kurdish and Khorasani Turkish have been retained.
Occasionally there are discrepancies between the spelling and dates indicated in the finding aid and on the streaming audio banner. The authoritative dates are those indicated in the finding aid proper.
As of September 2010, all 54 audiotape reels have been digitally preserved and are represented within this finding aid. Digitization of the 22 analog audio cassettes with conversations is anticipated in the near future.
A book with maps of Mashhad, Rahnumā-yi shahr-i Mashhad-i Tūs shāmil gūsheh (Aleph 12562801), is also housed with the collection.
Biographical and Historical Note
After completing his dissertation fieldwork in the summer of 1969, Professor Stephen Blum taught first at Western Illinois University (1969-73) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1973-77). From 1977 to 1987 he was the founding director of an M.F.A. program in “Musicology of Contemporary Cultures” at York University in Toronto. Since 1987, he has taught at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center, where he initiated a concentration in ethnomusicology. Following the Revolution of 1979, Dr. Blum was unable to return to Iran until 1995, when he donated copies of his earlier recordings to the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, and made additional recordings in Khorāsān as well as in the city of Qazvin, northwest of Tehran. He began to make more frequent visits in 2006, and remains in close contact with Iranian students and colleagues. He is collaborating with Dr. Ameneh Youssefzadeh on a series of critical editions of narratives (dāstān) in Khorasani Turkish, and in 2007 the Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art began to issue compact discs drawn from his recordings.
This collection holds the originally recorded fieldwork on audio reels. Copies are held by the University of Illinois Archives of Ethnomusicology [Collections 61 and 67], the Archive of Revolutionary Song maintained by the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, and the Ethnomusicology Archive of the City University of New York Graduate Center [Collections 89-034-F, 89-039-F and 93-009-F].
- Series 1. Performers in the Cities
- ___Subseries 1: The Naqqāl
- ___Subseries 2: The Morshed
- ___Subseries 3: The Bakhshī
- ___Subseries 4: The Luti and the Motreb
- ___Subseries 5: Itinerants
- ___Subseries 6: Instrumentalists
- ___Subseries 7: Miscellaneous Singers and Storytellers
- Series 2. Performance in Villages
- ___Subseries 1: Village of Gheibi
- ___Subseries 2: Village of Āb Kuh
- ___Subseries 3: Villages of Golestān and Hesār
- ___Subseries 4: Village of Qorqī
- ___Subseries 5: Village of Permei
- ___Subseries 6: Villages of Zoshk and Shandiz
- ___Subseries 7: Village of Kharv Oliā
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was given to the Harvard Music Library, Archive of World Music in 2006.
Processed by: Donna Morales Guerra, in consultation with Stephen Blum.
Finding aid encoded by: Donna Morales Guerra
- The Stephen Blum Collection of Music from Iranian Khorāsān at Harvard University: original ethnographic sound recordings, 1968-2006. A Finding Aid
- Archive of World Music, Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, Harvard College Library
- Language of description
- EAD ID
Part of the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library Repository
The Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library is the primary repository of musical materials at Harvard. The Music Library’s collecting mission is to serve music teaching and research programs in the Music Department and throughout the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. In addition, it supports the musical needs of the broader Harvard community as well as an international scholarly constituency. We collect books, musical scores, serial titles, sound recordings and video formats, microforms, and rare and archival materials that support research in a wide variety of musical disciplines including historical musicology, music theory, ethnomusicology, composition, and historically informed performance practice, as well as interdisciplinary areas related to music. The special collections include archival collections from the 19th, 20th and 21st century.
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