Why an Iranian song turned into a protest anthem – rts.ch
The song “Baraye”, composed by musician Shervin Hajipour from tweets, has become a protest song in support of the current Iranian protests. From now on, it is part of the long line of pieces that social struggles have reappropriated.
Friday, October 28 in Buenos Aires, Coldplay invited Franco-Iranian actress and singer Golshifteh Farahani to sing “Baraye” on stage. Iranian-American singer Rana Mansour also performed it during The Voice finale in Germany.
Chanted in protest and taken up by groups and public figures, Shervin Hajipour’s piece has turned into a protest anthem, synonymous with freedom.
And that was the goal. The singer has compiled protest messages that have been circulating on social media since protests began in Iran.
>> “Baraye”, by Shervin Hajipour:
Like many protest songs, the song “Baraye” brings together and creates a feeling of cohesion around one or more common struggles. Armelle Gaulier, associate researcher at the Laboratoire Les Afriques dans le monde in Bordeaux and specialist in the links between music and politics, explains that music has a political strike force.
“If the music cannot be reprehensible in itself, it makes it possible to diffuse, to carry symbolically struggles and messages which can be disturbing for certain political regimes,” she deciphers in La Matinale. A piece of music always has several levels of listening, she adds. “In any case, we are touching here on a means of emancipation through art.”
The strength of music is that you cannot force it.
Music as a power of resistance
Social movements are generally accompanied by music, explains Armelle Gaulier. According to her, the strength of music, “is that you can’t force it”. She adds that its impact is all the stronger when a song, like “Baraye”, is taken up and re-adapted.
For Lilian Mathieu, teacher-researcher at the CNRS and the Max-Weber Center, the civil rights movement in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s is a classic example. “The music, and especially the songs, played a big role in the constitution of the group which collectively protests, in a feeling of belonging”, he recalls.
Another example: jazz, which includes texts against apartheid. Or the immutable song of Italian revolt “Bella Ciao”, often taken up in workers’ observations, or more recently in feminist struggles in Switzerland.
>> To rediscover:
Even if a piece is written in a committed and political way, as Shervin Hajipour did, it is not certain that it will resonate. “Sometimes there are songs that are thought of as harmless, but which could be taken up in particular socio-political contexts and become real standard-bearers for protest”, specifies researcher Armelle Gaulier.
In other circumstances, a piece sometimes escapes the artist who created it. Lilian Mathieu illustrates this case with “We don’t loose anything”, by the group HK & Les Saltimbanks, taken up by the demonstrations against the marriage of same-sex couples in France – very far from the political values shared by the musicians.
Radio subject: Pauline Rappaz
Web adaptation by Raphaël Dubois