28 July, 2013

Art and Music of the Middle East

This article considers the emerging genre of ‘underground rock’ music in Iran; so-called because its proponents rehearse and perform in underground or other soundproof spaces to avoid detection by the Iranian authorities. Although rock music itself is not illegal, the unsupervised gathering of young men and women that it encourages is against Iranian law. Thus the Iranian underground rock scene is often considered to be subervise and anti-regime.

Through a focus on the film No-one Knows About Persian Cats by Bahman Ghobadi, this article examines how Western cultural commentators are beginning to react to this new Iranian music scene. It considers how underground rock music is conceived against the backdrop of discourses of orientalism that find a precedent in other forms of art and music from this region such as Iranian art cinema and world music. Finally it suggests implications for future ethnographic fieldwork in this area.

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