ATHENS DAY 6

Pub­lished on November 22, 2017
Esti­mate 4 minutes read­ing

The pho­tog­ra­phy team went in the ear­ly morn­ing to search for Athens for the per­fect sto­ry in a pho­to. That left us at home to work out the post­ings for the last few days, and to antic­i­pate the arrival of Ziad and Hussein.

Ziad Al Abdul­lah, or Ali for short, is a pro­fes­sion­al Oud play­er and music edu­ca­tor from Syr­ia. Today would be the first time that we would hear him play. He set down to work with Damien and the Note­flight pro­gram. It was his first time hear­ing the song Amali.” He seemed to under­stand the song as soon as hear­ing it. You would play the melody, and he would fol­low the notes instan­ta­neous­ly with com­plete accu­ra­cy, and whats more, he knew the names of the notes he was play­ing by ear, a skill that’s known as per­fect pitch.” We went over the song time and again, and soon we were all com­fort­able with his accom­pa­ni­ment. We moved on to oth­er songs.

ATHENS DAY 6

More musi­cal friends came over to play. Shayan T, a gui­tarist from Iran, had a dif­fer­ent artis­tic per­spec­tive than the oth­er musi­cians we had encoun­tered. To be a play­er of met­al or rock music in Iran is almost like being an activist. In Iran music is heav­i­ly cen­sored, and alter­na­tive” music, such as heavy met­al, is a crime. Expres­sion there has become very politi­cised. Art and music in Iran are only accept­ed if they are for the gov­ern­ment ben­e­fit. If they are seen hav­ing a mes­sage or view­point with­in that expres­sion that is a threat” to gov­ern­ment con­trol, they are sub­ject to cen­sor­ship. Shayan told us that once he was out in the street with a friend when they were assault­ed by a police­man, who arrest­ed his friend on the spot for hav­ing a Heavy met­al band t‑shirt. The police­man called him a Satanist” and said that he drinks blood.” He spent sev­er­al days in jail because of that. Oth­er peo­ple have died because of their musi­cal per­spec­tives. It’s almost as if they would rather hang peo­ple than keep them in prison, per­haps to save space. If you can­not serve the gov­ern­ment, you are trapped, yet at the same time, you don’t belong. Rock, met­al, and punk music in Iran have become a sym­bol of eman­ci­pa­tion. What you want from music becomes what you want to be.

ATHENS DAY 6

We moved out into the night and played all along the way. We played in the metro, we played as we walked. We stopped to give a spe­cial per­for­mance to the delight­ful young daugh­ter of a fruit vendor.

ATHENS DAY 6

Peo­ple stopped to dance with us. We arrived at La Platafor­ma.” La Platafor­ma is an inde­pen­dent music stu­dio and com­mu­ni­ty space where they have reg­u­lar jam ses­sions. Jam ses­sions are a great way to con­nect with musi­cians and to devel­op new cre­ative move­ment in an open set­ting. We played a wide vari­ety of song, clas­si­cal Ara­bic, Russ­ian folk songs, punk rock music, and our own musi­cal con­coc­tions. We spoke of new direc­tions, and places we had been, and most of all we got to know each other.