Reza Vali's Approach toward Polyphony and its Comparison with Modern Calligraphy Approaches (Case Study: Calligraphy No. 13)

Document Type : Research Article


1 Ph.D. Candidate in Comparative Analytical History of Art, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran.

2 Faculty Member, Associate Professor, Fine Arts Campus, University of Tehran, Iran.


Problem statement: The relationship between visual and musical elements is always controversial. Music and visual arts formally impact each other, but illustrating the impact in any aspect requires a technical examination of the musical piece and the visual arts' craft.
Objectives: This essay seeks to find a relationship between the title of the work “Calligraphy” and the technical aspects of Reza Vali's polyphony. The  main question of the study is what is Vali's approach to the use of materials, and how modern calligraphy and the present piece are connected?
Research method: This study uses Jan LaRue's model to answers the question. This model includes A) Sound: timbre, orchestration, and tuning system; B) Harmony: Vertical organization of sounds, chord structure, and harmonic progressions; C) Melody: Pitch organization in the horizontal direction that the listener perceives as a whole. In the melody category, factors such as melodic contour and modal features can also be considered; D) Rhythm: Organization of duration and meter; and E) Growth: Factors that shape the form of a piece, such as the contrast among sections and the development process.
Conclusion: By technically examining the work, it can be concluded that the composer’s main idea is “developing traditional elements and combining them with modern art”. He has developed traditional polyphonic techniques, such as “Javab-e Avaz” and the drone tone technique, and combined them with modern art by applying their common features. This process is similar to Asian calligraphic works rooted in the traditions of Toaman, Motaeaes, and Golzar calligraphic styles. Modern and traditional calligraphy tend to use old calligraphy techniques in their works. The reflection of the composer's thought can be found in the cover of Vali’s Calligraphy Album, which is taken from a modern and calligraphic work by Nasrullah Afjeh.


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