Touraj is the result of a newly garnished perception of music that arose in the society of Iran during the 60s and 70s of the 20th century
Driven by the development of modern society through economic and sociological developments in 20th century, Iran’s artistic society found a new taste and accepted a wide range and variety of genres swerving through all the different artistic forms and outlets.
Along with this massive rise of modernity came an introduction to European and American arts, resulting in the eventual development of Iranian pop music in the 60s.
Only 15 years of age, Touraj Shabankhani’s career sprung to life in 1964 as the guitarist and singer of the band “Chevaliers” that he and a few friends had formed. They mainly performed songs of European beat bands in clubs and public concert spaces in and around Tehran. Touraj eventually went on to briefly study at the Music department of National Television of Iran, where he assembled a higher knowledge of composition, leading to his first compositions at the age of 19. The titles “Adamak” and “Parvaneye Man”, composed by Touraj, but sung by the novice singer Fereydoun Foroughi for a movie titled “Adamak” (dir.: Khosorow Haritash, 1971) were quite successful and led Foroughi into mainstream popularity.
Persian poetry is the most vital form of art within the Iranian cultural heritage, and Touraj was no stranger to this. Holding dear the aesthetics of lyrics and their values, he tried to fit them in his work as thoroughly as possible. He used a broad spectrum of sources, taking inspiration from classical poems written by Hafez in the 14th century to the most cutting-edge contemporary works of the likes of Ardalan Sarfaraz and Farhad Sheibani.
While traditional songwriting within Iranian culture is mostly based on composing melodies and processing melodic words into well-known forms of classical Persian poetry, Touraj chose a different approach. As one of the few composers of the “New season of Persian Song” he wrote songs that would keep the words, structure and theme of the original poem but would tie in the words with his melodic excellence. Simply said, Touraj was one of the few composers who practiced designing melodies based on lyrics.
Touraj dived into the world of composing and writing for others. Apart from Foroughi he worked for Persian artists like Ebi, Sattar, Neli, Marjan and Beti, that have been critically acclaimed and are still culturally and musically relevant after half a century.
At the same time, though, Touraj began performing several of his own compositions in his own voice, which had both an indigenous color with roots in the traditional music of Iran and a European inspired style of performance. These performances seemed to him the most accurate and relevant manifestation of his ideas – the coherence between composition, melody and words created a harmonic unison –, impossible to achieve when working with other singers.
This collection is a refined and remastered version of Touraj’s songs performed between 1973 and 1978. Recorded on ¼ inch reels, some of the works were originally released on Vinyl and some on cassette, in cooperation with a variety of different labels. However, the works have never been published collectively. All the songs were arranged and orchestrated by Eric Arconte, a French Musician who worked in Iran during the 1960s and 70s. Arconte went on to become one of the most important music arrangers in Persian pop music in the 1970s.
Touraj’s work is now considered to be one of the most prolific and influential works within Iranian pop music of the 1970s, a decade of blooming artistic expression all over Iran. Persian music from the 70s has now reached a notable status in the history and cultural studies of Iran, and Touraj’s songs are continuously finding a place within the hearts of young Iranian generations.