Persisk instrument @ 17 September 2006 10:57 PM
2006/3/1 kamancheh

Derived from the Persian words kaman, 'bow' or 'arc', and cheh, 'little' is an ancient spiked fiddle which is ancestor to most modern European and Asian bowed instruments. It can now be found throughout the area stretching from North Africa to China. The instrument's name varies from region to region (e.g. kamange, saz-e Keshmiri, joze, ghiczak), as does its shape (it can be spherical or cylindrical and have an open or closed back).

The Iranian classical kamancheh has a spherical shape, its bridge resting on the surface of a soundbox covered by a membrane of animal skin. The soundbox has no standard size and can be made entirely from one piece of wood or from many ribs. Its rounded body, made from different kinds of wood (e.g. mulberry, walnut, oak, or maple), has a spike on bottom to support the instrument.

The kamancheh's four metal strings are generally tuned in fourths or fifths. The instrument is held vertically and the bow, made of horsehair, moves horizontally, with the performer rotating the instrument when he or she moves from one string to another.

2006/2/28 Sornay / Surna / Zurna / Zurla (oboe)

It is commonly played almost across the country in accompaniment to kettledrum and timbale in special traditional occasions. For instance, in Kurdestan, western Iran, the demise of people is announced by playing sorna along with kettledrum. Once the public is gathered around the grave of the deceased person, some verses pointing to the unstable material life are sung in accompaniment to the exciting tunes played by sorna and tambourine. Then to rise the spirit of the participants and to divert their attention from the sad event the musicians switch to fast tempos. In northern Iran the instrument is played in accompaniment to some special sports events including tightrope walking. Also a special tune is commonly played by sorna during a wrestling game.

2006/2/28 Balaban (Narmeh-ney)

Also called Duduk by the Armenians. It is one of the tongues wind instruments marked by its high potential of producing exciting melodies. Today, it is commonly played by the Kurds in western Iran and the Turks in northwestern Iran, which is usually accompanied by tambourine. The instrument is made either from wood or bone and its body is covered by a total of seven holes.

2006/3/2 Qeychak / Qichak

It is one of the ancient Iranian classical instruments. The oldest sample instrument still remaining is comprised of a dual box and the surface of the lower one is covered by a hide. The produced tune is first transferred from the lower box to the upper one, from where it is broadcast through two wide openings. This part of the instrument is very interesting from the scientific point of view, since a second box has been added on its surface in order to amplify the tune. This makes the instrument much richer in producing a great variety of tunes. It has 4-6 cords, which similar to conventional Kamancheh, have been extended on a wooden box. It is played by a bow of particular shape, while the musician simultaneously creates the desired tune by plucking the cords by his/her left hand. The instrument's box is made of berry wood.

2006/2/28 DAF / Daff

Daf is the large Persian frame drum, is used in Khangah (temple of dervishes) during the zekr (spiritual chanting) ritual. Its Pahlavi (pre-Islamic Persian language) name is Dap and Daf is the arabicized version of Dap. Many Persian poets have alluded to the Daf in their works; perhaps the most famous one is Molana Jalal-al-Din Rumi. It has become very popular these days and is now integrated into other styles of Persian music. Indeed, the Daf is becoming more popular around the world.

The antiquity of daf, with the Pahlavi name dap, goes to pre-Islamic ages. Persian literature shows us the importance of this Persian frame drum in Persian Sufi music. Daf was considered a spiritual drum played in khanghahs of Iran, particularly Kurdistan. It should be mentioned that similar frame drums with similar names are played in some other countries such as daf in India, tef in Turkey, duf in Arabic countries and dap in Uyghuristan of China. Thanks to some famous daf players, daf integrated into Persian art music and it became the second national drum of Iran. The chief national drum of Iran is tonbak (the Persian goblet drum). Today daf is used in all genres of music in Iran and in this article I will give a brief description of different daf-s used in different genres of Iranian (Persian) music.

2006/2/28 Barbat / Oud / Ud / Lute

In Persian the word "bat" means duck, while "bar" is the duck's breast. Lute is one of the most ancient Iranian instruments. It is called "roud" by the Persians and Arabs call it "oud". Some believe that lute has either come from Hairah to the west of the Euphrates river near Mada'en, the education center of the Sassanid princes, or from a city known as "Bab". It has also been referred to by many other names including "oud", "mozhar", "motar" and "keran". Lute is considered to be of Persian origin and playing it has been quite common in Iran since the ancient times. Once the Iranian lute was taken to Saudi Arabia, the Arabs, likewise, started making it from wood and called it "oud". Its bowel is very large and pear-shaped. It has an extremely short handle, so that the cords mainly extend along its bowel. It has 10 cords or five pairs of cord and is played by a plectrum. A chicken or peacock feather serves as plectrum. Lute produces a dull, soft and melancholy tone.
One of the branches of guitar is called Barbados or harper. With the advent and growth of Islam this genuine Iranian musical instrument traveled around the world and is being now used from China up to Italy. Statues unearthed from Shush and dating back to 1500 years ago as well as those excavated in Haft Tappeh are proof of the genuine Iranian origin of this ancient instrum

2006/2/28 Tombak

It is the chief percussion instrument of Persian classical music. It is a one-headed drum carved from a single piece of wood. It is placed under the player's arm and held in-between the fingers of his two hands. Its body is made from wood, ceramic or light metals. But wood is the most convenient material. Tombak is comprised of various sections including the hide, a big mouth and a small one. It is the only percussion instrument in the world that might be played by making full use of all the fingers of both hands. It became known as Tombak during the reign of the Sassanids. It is placed horizontally on the player's leg and is played by two hands in a special way. The tune played by Tombak has no definite pitch, but as far as its playing technique is concerned, it is one of the most advanced instruments which its structure contains hide.

2006/2/28 Dohol /Davul

It is a big drum covered by a piece of goat hide. It is usually played in accompaniment to sorna in the villages, agricultural areas and plains and is made in various sizes. Its greater version is commonly played in Baluchestan. Dohol is played by a rather long wooden or osseous rod on one side, while on the other side tunes are produced by plucking the instrument with a few small bones tied to the fingers of the player's other hand. The dohols played in southern Iran are cylindrical in shape and their two bases are covered by goat hide. Dohols commonly played in Fars province (Fasa) are different in form and quite similar to the western instrument known as timpani. Its body is metallic and made from copper, while its goat hide is fastened by leather band.

Dohol /Davul:
A Davul is a large double-skin drum. It varies in sizes. One side is made of goat skin, the other side is made of sheep skin. The thin skinned is hit with a light wooden stick or twig, and the thick side is hit with a tokmak(a heavy stick used to play bass sounds). The Davul is generally played outdoors accompanied by a Zurna.

2006/2/28 Setar

Setar is one of the Iranian plectrum-type string instruments, which is plucked by the player's forefinger's nail. Sehtar or Setouyeh is a three-cord instrument, which was converted into a four-cord instrument under the reign of the Qajars. It is, in general, an ancient and gnostic instrument usually played at the gathering of dervishes most often held at Khaneqahs (monasteries or houses of dervishes), which makes the listener feel high. In view of its special vocal features, Sehtar is known as the instrument appealing to the listener's heart and the Iranian musical instrument ranking second among Iranian musicians. It is simpler than other instruments both in appearance and the method of playing. Its low tune, compactness and tenderness are the main reason for its great appeal in the course of the past centuries. It is made in various types and sizes including large, small, flat and zir-abai. Tars are made in two methods: Turkish (in many pieces) and scraped kasdani (in one piece). Sehtar is generally made from berry wood, while at some occasions that of pear or walnut tree might be used as well. Its bowel is a pear-shaped semi-sphere, while its thin and delicate handle is tenderer than that of other instruments.

2006/2/28 santur

The santur is a persian three-octave wooden-hammered dulcimer with seventy-two strings(standard santour) which are arranged on adjustable tuning pegs in eighteen quadruple sets, nine (bronze) in the low register, and nine (steel) in the middle register. The Santur can be made from various kinds of wood (walnut, rosewood, betel palm, etc.) depending on the desired sound quality. The front and the back of the instrument are connected by soundposts whose positions play an important role in the sound quality of the instrument. Although the santur is very old, it was neither depicted in miniatures, nor presented in any other medium until the nineteenth century.


The santur is a struck zither in the form of a shallow, regular trapezoidal box. There are several sound posts inside the box, and two small rosettes on the top panel which help to amplify the sound. The santur has 72 strings, arranged in groups of four, i.e. each of four closely spaced strings are tuned to the same pitch. Each group of four strings is supported by a small,movable, wooden bridge; the bridges are positioned to give the instrument a range of three octaves.


A Persian zither-type stringed instrument played with two delicate wooden mallets. There are 72 strings over two sets of 9 bridges on each side producing 27 diatonic tones, a little over 3 octaves. By The Art of Persian Music


Santur (Dulcimer)
The strings are tuned diatonically in groups of three so each neighboring three strings will have the same pitch. The number of strings vary between sixty-three and eighty four. A santur with sixty three strings has twenty one pitches to play on. Santur is one of the most popular instruments of Iranian music. The dulcimer, qanun, and zither are related.


Abstract: Dulcimer (Santour) is an Iranian musical instrument which for the first time was recorded in Assyrian and Babylonian stone inscriptions in 669 B.S. Santour was christened dulcimer in English literature since 1400 A.D. and nowadays more than 10 types of persian,Iraqi, Egyptian, Indian and Turkish dulcimers and are made and played in other countries.

Dulcimer was considered an Ilamite musical instrument in Iran in the past because they owned two types of harps and flute and an instrument that resembled the dulcimer. The Ilamite interest in dulcimer can be noted from stone inscriptions in Izeh. Dulcimer has been named with various appellations during the Iranian history. At times it was called Qanoon (in other words the Qanoon and dulcimer were called under a single appellation) whereas beside the fact that they were both string and beating instruments, they had many differences in appearance and in method of playing.

Santour or dulcimer is a string instrument and played by beating in the Iranian music with very ancient history. The first time that dulcimer made its appearance in the ancient times was in Assyrian and Babylonian inscriptions in the year 699 before Christ. In some ancient texts the invention of dulcimer is attributed to Farabi but considering the names of musical instruments being used during the Sassanian period as related by Masoodi in which dulcimer is also listed, this attribution does not appear to be logical.

The term Santour has been recorded by different spellings in various sources such as Sontour, or Santir (Arabic) or Santour(san=100,tour=string). In the beginning of the middle ages the Santour became popular and was renamed according to the tribal and linguistic behaviors. As of 1400 A.D. Santour was christened dulcimer (or dalcimer) in the English literature.

The Oxford Companion to Music says in 1660 A.D. Pepy registered the dulcimer and reported that its sound was heard many years in Britain and in London streets or in dramatic plays. According to that report Hungarian, Romanian or Bohemian gypsy dulcimer players used to play different types of dulcimers.

Meanwhile in the English translation of the Music of the Bible a dulcimer known as Yangkin which is a Chinese manufactured instrument has been portrayed. This dulcimer resembles the present day dulcimer with slight differences. Meanwhile its German name is reported to be Hack Bret. Fabrication of piano was inspired by dulcimer. The dulcimer was gradually changed into the original piano and after a series of modifications it emerged into the present shape. Nowadays more than ten types of Santours or dulcimers such as persian,Iraqi, Indian, Egyptian and Turkish Santours are played in other countries.


2006/2/28 ghanoon

The ghanoon is the Persian zither. It is a flat trapezoidal wooden box, with twenty-four strings in triple fastened at its rectangular side on one end and to pegs on the oblique side on the other. The player to make slight changes in pitch manipulates small levels lying below each course of strings. The strings are plucked with two horn plectra, one on each index finger.

2006/2/28 Tar
TAR (Plucked Lute):

Tar is one of the most ancient classical Iranian string instruments known for its highly original and traditional characteristics. It has six cords and is played by a metal plectrum or horn. The body, which is the instrument's main bowel, is usually made in two wooden pieces (of walnut or Indian berry trees). The handle is made separately and then connected to the bowel. The word "tar" was originally obtained from the Sanskrit word "tarah". It was made for the very first time with four cords, while the number was then increased to five and eventually to six. Its plectrum is either made from metal or a tough horn. Besides the conventional tars, two other types, alto (outar) and soprano, have also been made recently. It should be noted that tar is one of the most complete musical instruments.


Iranians consider the tar the "sultan of instruments." Its present form was developed in 18th century and has been the choice of Persian classical masters since. It has a double-bowl body of mulberry wood with a lambskin face. The fingerboard has 28 frets and the three double strings are played with a plectrum.


The long and narrow neck has a flat fingerboard running level to the membrane and ends in an elaborate box with nine wooden pegs of different dimensions, adding to the decorative effect. It has three courses of double ";singing"strings (each pair tuned in unison: the first two courses in plain steel, the third in wound copper), that are tuned in fourths (C, G, C) plus one ";flying"bass string (wound in copper and tuned in G (an octave lower than the singing middle course) that runs outside the fingerboard and passes over an extension of the nut. There are also two pairs of shorter sympathetic strings that run under the bass and over two small copper bridges about midway the upper side of the fingerboard: their tuning is variable according to the piece to be played and with the performer's tastes: (the tuning is somewhat imprecise also because both strings of the same pair are tightened by the same peg).

2006/2/28 Dammam

The Damam [damAm] is one of the most famous percussion instruments in the south of Iran particularly in Booshehr [buSehr] used in most of the ceremonies of that region.

The bowl of the Damam has a cylindrical construction covered by skin on both sides and fastened by straps and ropes on the sides.

In general the Damam is held on the ground and played by both hands, but sometimes it is suspended from the neck with straps during performances.

Although this instrument is particular to the south of Iran, and one can find instances of it in India as well as certain Arabic and African countries.


A large drum in one piece, this instrument is covered with goatskin, which is secured by a cord, made from the fibers of a date palm knotted seven times. Dammam is played with a wooden stick and/or with the hand. In the South of Iran it is played in religious ceremonies and stored in Mosques.

2006/2/28 Tanbur
Tanbur / Tanbour / Tanboor / Tambour:

The Tanbur, in the East refers to a category of popular lutes of various sizes, proportions, and sounds, with the common characteristic that their necks are longer than their bodies. The sober tones of the instrument have something immaterial, abstract, and almost ascetic about them, predisposing the tanbur to a serious and celestial kind of music. The tanbur was among the instruments played at the Court of the Sassanides in the 5th and 6th centuries, and would later be used by some Kurdish groups to accompany the chants and dances of their spiritual gatherings. For more information on the tanbur, including its repertoire, history, typology, and playing technique, please see “The Spirit of Sounds: The Unique Art of Ostad Elahi,”

by Prof. Jean During (Cornwall Books 2003).


Tanbur / Tanbour:

Tanbour is one of the few old musical instruments which its history goes back to 6000 years ago. It has been clearly alluded to in four ancient Iranian treatises called "The Asiran Tree", "Bondhesh Encyclopedia", "Karnameh Ardeshir Babakan", and "Khosro Ghobadian and Ridak", which are all among authentic texts related to the Pahlavi era of ancient Iran. There are also detailed explanations of it in such books belonging to the Islamic era as "Moravej-ol-Mazhab" by Masoudii, "Ehsa-ol-Oloum" by Farabi, "The Great Music" by Farabi, "Mafatih-ol-Oloum" by Kharazmi, "Daneshnameh Aalaii" by Avicenna, "Maghased-ol-Alha" by Abd-ol-Ghader Maraghi, and others. Farabi believes that the music comes in three types: enlivening, impressing, and dreamful and considers the music accompanied by song as the most superior sort of music. In his book called "The Great Music", he names two types of Tanbour: Khorasani Tanbour and Baghdadi Tanbour. The music played with Tanbour is a special one. The intervals, rhythm and the quality of tunes are such that makes believe that the music of Tanbour has remained from the ancient Iranian ones. Researchers have found many of the missing links of dealing with the ancient music of Iran and the world. One can find denomination reasons for the names Farabi has put on types of music. The types of Tanbour music are as follows: 1- "Kalaam" or "Haghaani" (meaning Godly): Kalaams are compositions with wide rhythms, whose number amounts to 72 "Maghaam"s. One is not allowed to play Kalaams in any place or any company but in "Jam Khaaneh"s. 2- Chamber Maghaams (fitted for parties): Certain ones of them are called "Houreh". 3- Virtual (figurative) Maghaams: This type of music is lower than the two previous ones in rank and value as well as in antiquity. Names of some of Tanbour melodies: Type 1 in Kalaam: "Tanemiri", "Rejian Dalahoo", "Babanaghousi" and etc. Type 2 in chamber Maghams: "sahari", "Majnouni", "Sartarz", "saroukhani", "Tarzerostam", "gharibi", "Hejrani", "Ghatar", "Gol va Darreh", and etc. Type 3 in virtual Maghams: "Jeloshahi", "Khan Amiri", "Savar Savar", "Jenkera", "Samaa" and etc.

Tanbur / Tanbour:

The tanbur is the ancestor to most long-necked, plucked stringed instruments. Its pear shaped belly is normally carved out of one piece of mulberry wood with a long neck and fourteen gut frets. Some modern tanburs are made of bent ribs of mulberry wood. The sound board, 3-4 millimeters thick, is also made of mulberry wood which has numerous small holes for better resonance.

The tanbur has a unique playing technique by which the strings are strummed with the fingers of the right hand to produce a very full and even tremolo called shorr (literally meaning the pouring of water). This technique along with various kinds of plucking, usually with the index and pinky fingers, enables the musicians to produce different effects and various rhythmic accentuations which imitate the natural sounds of their environment such as a running stream, a water fall, a bird chirping or a horses' gallop, all translated into musical rhythms and sounds.

The ancient tanbur used to have two silk or in some instances gut strings tuned in 4th or 5th, similar to the dotar (meaning two stringed), its close relative widely used in Eastern Iran. It has also been regarded as the tanbur of Khorasan in literary texts. Although these two instruments share a similar history and are basically the same, they have developed their own repertoires, playing techniques and functions. According to the master instrument maker Ustad Mehdi Kamalian the name tanbur is taken from the word tandur or tanur, meaning clay oven, as early instrument makers dried tree trunks chosen to carve the belly in tanours for several hours in order to perfect the sound. Gradually the instrument took on the name tanbur. The present tanbur has three strings and covers the range of one octave and two notes. The lower pair of strings, made of steel, are tuned in unison normally anywhere from a (flat) to (b) and are fingered together functioning as the melody strings. The top string made of copper or brass, slightly thicker, tuned in lower fourth or fifth, functions as a sympathetic string with occasional fingering by the thumb.

The tanbur has always been considered a sacred instrument associated with the Kurdish Sufi music of Western Iran and it is believed that its repertoire is based on ancient Persian music. Up until the last fifty years this instrument was used only during djamm gatherings (devotional or liturgic ceremonies) of the Ahle-Haqq (the people of truth), followers of a particular Sufi order.

By Keyhan Kalhor


Tanbur / Tanbour:

Tanbour is the oldest and most genuine Iranian musical instrument and nowadays nearly half of the people around the world are acquainted with this ancient Iranian instrument and are using it in different parts of the world under different names. This ancient instrument with its heavenly and ravishing sound is used in many countries specially in China, Iran, Turkey, Iraq, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) such as Azarbaijan and Armenia and other countries. It is specially revered by native Iranians who during their collective or individual prayers use the tanbur to commune with God and believe it helps them to approach the Almighty. From ancient times the tanbur was played in Iran and specially in western regions, Khorasan province and Persian Gulf and Lorestan suburbs as well as Kaneqahs (hermitages) for praise of God and prayers. We shall first of all refer to the historical evolution of Tanbur by Husseinali Mallah, the well known research in his Dictionary of Musical Instruments; Mehdi Setayeshgar in his Glossary of Iranian Music; and Alireza Feizbashipour, a researcher and player of tanbur. Then we will zoom on the method of election of the wood for the tanbur and its fabrication.


Tanbur / Tanbour:

Is the oldest and most genuine Iranian musical instrument and nowadays nearly half of the people around the world are acquainted with this ancient Iranian instrument and are using it in different parts of the world under different names.

This ancient instrument with is heavenly and ravishing sound is used in many countries specially in China, Iran, Turkey, Iraq, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) such as Azarbaijan and Armenia and other countries. It is specially revered by native Iranians who during their collective or individual prayers use the guitar to commune with God and believe it helps them to approach the Almighty.

From ancient times the guitar was played in Iran and specially in western regions, Khorassan province and Persian Gulf and Lorestan suburbs as well as Kaneqahs (hermitages) for praise of God and prayers.

We shall first of all refer to the historical evolution of Tanbour by Husseinali Mallah, the well known research in his Dictionary of Musical Instruments; Mehdi Setayeshgar in his Glossary of Iranian Music; and Alireza Feizbashipour, a researcher and player of guitar. Then we will zoom on the method of election of the wood for the guitar and its fabrication.

Tanbour, as described in dictionary of musical instruments by Husseinali Mallah Tanbour, is a branch of Iranian family of musical instruments. After providing a brief history about the guitar Mallah says: "When this sound compartment of the Tanbour gradually became elliptical in shape one end of the oval instrument was lengthened and narrowed little by little and when it was called harper or aggaloch that its handle had grown longer and the resounding bowl of the instrument had grown bigger. This meant the invention of a new family of Tanbour. It has been called by different names in various regions including Tanbour in Iran."

In the opinion of Farmer with the spread of the Islamic religion around the world the impact of this Iranian musical instrument spread in every corner and even in such remote regions where Islam had failed to penetrate i.e., to shores of the Atlantic Ocean in the west, to Siberia in the north and to confines of India and islands located in the eastern wing of India.

Tanbour known as Tanboureh in Iran's neighboring countries gradually arrived in China and changed its name into Tanpoula. In Greece it was called Tampouras. >From Greece the guitar traveled to Albania and was renamed Tamoura. In Russia it was christened Dumbra and in Siberia and Mongolia they called it Dumbra or Dumbereh. However during the Byzantine empire they called it Pandora and other European tribes became acquainted with that instrument through Byzantine. The instrument is popular in Turkey and India as well.

In Reyman musical dictionary, reference is made to Tanbour (p. 1319): "Making of tambourine was an Iranian and Arab art and the instrument is from the family of aggaloch." Reyman believes that the instrument was called Tambouri in India which undoubtedly was the same Iranian Tanbour. In Italy it is called Tamburo and in Caucasus it is named Tampour. The Armenians also call it Tambour.

The Graw Musical Dictionary says the term tambourine was changed into different appellation in the difficult dialects of various nations. The Encyclopedia Britannica says Tanbour is a long-necked lute played under various names from the Balkans to Northwest Asia. Closely resembling the ancient Greek pandoura and the long lutes of ancient Egypt and Babylon, it has a deep, pear-shaped body, a fretted neck, and 2 to 10 double courses of metal strings fastened with front and side tuning pegs without a pegbox.

The Tanbour has remained popular since medieval times. Its derivatives include the Greek buzuki, the Romanian tamburitza, and the Indian sitar and tambura.

Tanboura is an instrument invented in the East from the family of the aggaloch with a long handle and two or three strings which is played by the fingers. The most ancient trace of this instrument were the images discovered in Bani Yunos and Keyvan hills, in Mosul. From these images one can deduce that these instruments closely resembled the present guitar. They held a very long and thin handle with a delicate bowl with a proper covering.

Statutes unearthed in Shush belong to 1500 years B.C. and those discovered at Haft Tappeh display the antiquity of the instrument.

Jule Rouyaneh writes: Farabi, a writer of the tenth century A.D., has carefully described the musical instruments of his time such as aggaloch, guitar, Khorassani Tanbour and Shirazi tanbour and has given a precise account of the method of employment of fingers on the strings by numbering the fingers. Among tambourine those used in Baghdad and Damascus had different divisions of notes.

In Zax, which is a complete dictionary of musical instrument, it is said: The Persian, Kurdish and Hebrew guitar resembles the egg with a long handle and in fact the guitar fabrication was the first step by mankind to develop and refine such instruments. As a whole one can study the changes in the outside appearance of the tanbour from the Assyrian age to present time. Nowadays guitar belongs to a large mass of human community.

Etymological root of Tanbour was pandora Tanbour is called by different nominations in various parts of Iran such as Khorassani Tanbour, Mizani Tanbour or Baghdadi, Turkish or Shervanian Tanbour. But records says the tanbour had the following classification in ancient times: It is a string instrument It was played by finger nails of three right hand fingers At the beginning it possessed only a single string It was divided into two types; one type was covered by a curtain and the other was without any covering In appearance it resembled double string (Chagour) It had surely a receiver and a bridge In his Glossary of Musical Terms, volume 1, Mehdi Setayeshgar thus describes the tanbour: Tanbour is a string instrument set to a long handle and a bowl and is played by beating of fingers.

Tanbour has existed in different periods of history and was the most popular string plectrum instrument. Formerly a pear-like tanbour prevailed in Iran and Syria; then it traveled to Turkey and Greece and from there to the West.

Nowadays one can sea different models of native tanbour with longer handles or bigger bowls or much more curved than the Setar (three string guitar) which possesses two, three or four strings with octave spaces divided into scales.

Tanbour is played by hand which points to the close relation between the tanbour and double string guitar like Iranian instrument. Tanbour is used in the assembly of tanbour players, athletes and dervishes by reciting religious verses. Ibne Khordad has referred to singing by tanbour in Rey, Tabrestan and Deylam, says Setayeshgar. He says Farabi has described Mizani or Baghdadi tanbours and their method of tuning. These possess two strings and were famous as Turkish tanbours. He has also described the Shervanian tanbour and the images in Nineva. He has described the Baghdadi, Turkish, Khorassani, double string, Shervanian, Tambourak, Tamouraki, Moroccan, Mongolian and Tanbireh or guitars and their methods of use.

In his expertise research of music Alireza Feizbashipour is speaking about tanbour and the people west of Iran.

"Based on beliefs and documents as well as examination of various musicians and the different types of tanbours used by the Kurdish tribe and people west of Iran, one can conclude that this tanbour was the same ancient Iranian tanbour or guitar which has been referred in ancient books and images as well as in literary texts. He refers to each of the following tanbours and their method of use:

1. Baghdadi, Turkish, Khorassani, double string, Shervanian, Tambourak, Tanbouraki, Moroccan, Mongolian, Tanbireh. In his masterly and expertise research about Iranian music, Alireza Feizbashipour says based on the beliefs and existing records and examination of music and the different ranks among the Kurdish tribe and the folk living west of Iran, one can conclude that tanbour was a derivation of the same ancient tanbour which has been spoken in ancient books, images or literary texts.

He mentions Barieh, Tarze Rostam, Majnooni and Jongara ranks as the ancient ranks which were transferred from ancient times to the present times from generation to generation. He seems to have mistaken Barieh rank with Barbod rank.

The difference between the ranks (Dastans) in that tanbour nearly resembles the interval between 12 notes Dastans known as Fors (introduced by Farabi). He says two models of tanbours were popular in Kermanshah in the Gouran and Safeh regions, and it was popularly played in the Safeh region among Alavians and the mountain skirts of Zagros and the elders and leaders of these regions were completely familiar with the instrument.

The tanbour is equipped with two basic tuning instruments which if used in a scientific manner in one of the turning knobs the base wire is symmetrical with the fifth interval known as Chiereh and in the other the base wire harmonious with the fourth interval known as Dang. Both these tuning knobs bear their own specific names and the names attributed to two specific ranks in the tanbour. The first interval or the base wire tuning knot forms the Sheir Amiri interval with the fourth interval. The second tuning knob which links the base wire to the fifth Vakhan is known as Kook Tarz and they are always called with these appellations. In different regions other names are given such as Borz and Tarz and Haft Dassan (Haft Dastan) and Panj Dassan (panj dastan).

Borz is the same Sheikh Amir tuning and Haft Dastan and Tarz is the tarz tuning knob called Panj Dastan. One must note that these ancient ranks for tanbour were mostly used by Tarz tuning knobs and is far ancient. Commenting on the musical notes played by tanbour Feizbashipour says, the tanbour music is specific and exceptionally melodious compared to other music in Kermanshah. The specific features of that music such as the interval, weight and the cadence of the lay is such which leads us to believe that the tanbour music is a genuine ancient Iranian music to the extent that a careful examination of such music can shed light on certain features of old Iranian music.

It must be noted that beside conducting music in ranks the tanbour is played in two other forms as well. One of them is used for elegies extemporaneous plays on the basis of the tanbour ranks and the other is to play pieces composed by outstanding masters of music. After group music became popular such type of tanbour playing has increased but regretfully many such pieces are unrelated to tanbour music and are void of cultural or artistic value for the tanbour or guitar.

Playing Tanbour and popular plectrums The player of tanbour sits on his two knees of squats on the ground and places the bows on his leg so that the facing stands vertical. On the other he places the handle in little forward and high and the right hand embraces nearly the back and face of the bow and plays the instrument by beating the strings by his hand.

The plectrums The most important and beautiful plectrum in tanbour is called Shor or Shaneh which is sometimes changed to Tarz by some tribes. Shor means serial and consecutive. In the Shor plectrum four fingers stand tangent on against the face and he repeats his beating from bottom to top on the strings. Of course some players resort to their thumb and play with five fingers. In this plectrum the edge of the fingers is used obliquely from the base and it produces beautiful sounds like the fall of rain or waterfall. The speed of the plectrum can be controlled by the players. Pas Shoryar is another plectrum for the tanbour which is played by four fingers unlike Shor. To play one must stretch his four fingers on the strings from top to bottom. Separated Tak Variz and two Taks, etc. are other types of plectrums for tanbour. Here we will refer to two ranks in tanbour as suggested by Alireza Feizbashipour.

Flower and earth Flower and earth are two valuable and ancient ranks specially used by tanbour which is a singing musical instrument and echoes the pain and suffering from the bottom of the heart or the loss of a dear relative. Flower and earth in Uramani Kurdish language means flower in the earth, flower fallen on the earth and dead flower buried in the earth.

This rank was played and is still played as elegy to mourn the departure of a beloved one. During mourning ceremonies or burial of their dead this tribe use a tanbour accompanied by a solo singer or group singers. Flower and earth is one of the branches of elegy played by tanbour or the Iranian guitar, but being a theoretical rank it is not used in the above mentioned ceremonies. In mourning ceremonies two dialectic ranks of the tanbour known as Fani Fani is used. Flower and earth is mostly sung by natives of Hozeh Gouran or Karand. Its rhythm is produced by seven plectrums which is called Sepa (three steps or tripod) in Kurdish language.

Seyed Vali Husseini Gahvareyi and Seyed Ghaem Afzali Shah Ebrahimi are well known players of the flower and earth ranks. Tarze Rostam Tarze Rostam (like Rostam) is another ancient tanbour rank. It is a beautiful and meaningful epic song and echoes human thoughts which appeals to Farvehar (the holy spirit of the dead) or the angels of salvation to remove oppression. Here Rostam is a benevolent knight who is believed to be a player of tanbour himself and a pioneer among all lovers. In this melody they call on Rostam to chain and jail the evil Div (Satan) and to rescue and protect Iran from degradation.

This rank is specifically used in Gouran and played by Kouk Borz. Of important players of such pieces one might refer to Seyed Mahmood Alavi and Seyed Vali Husseini and Taher Yarveissi, his able student. In the past a man called Birkhan Zardehi used to play this rank in an excellent manner.

Text by Iran Heritage


The word Rebab [robAb] is an Arabic term that can be translated as bowed string instrument. Dating back at least to the 8th century, the Rebab has been closely associated with Islamic culture and is thought to be the earliest ancestor of the contemporary violin.

While its roots are in Persia, the Rebab's influence has reached as far east as Indonesia and west to regions of Europe and Africa. Its diffusion is closely tied to the growth of the Islamic world and the development of extensive trade routes after the 10th century.

As part of the generic 'lute' family, there are two basic types of Rebab: wooden fiddles with pear-shaped or elongated bodies, and spiked fiddles, named for the extension or spike on the bottom of the instrument on which it stands when played. Generally, both styles have 2 or 3 gut or other strings.

Spike-fiddle Rebabs used in the Javanese gamelan are made from wood, or sometimes from a hollowed, half coconut shell covered with hide. This body is attached to a long, narrow wooden neck which has no frets; instead, the fingers of your left hand become moveable bridges. These instruments ornament the melodic line, creating a dialogue with the singers.

2006/2/27 Ney

The Ney, which is probably the oldest pitched instrument known to man, is an oblique rim blown reed flute with five finger holes in front and one thumb hole in the back. One of the principle instruments of Traditional Persian Music, the ney has a range of two and a half octaves. The upper end is covered by a short brass cylinder which is anchored in the tiny space between the upper incisives of the player. Sound is produced when a stream of air is directed by the tongue toward the opening of the instrument. In this way, sound is produced behind the upper teeth, inside the mouth, which gives the ney a distinct timbre than that of the sound produced by the lips on the outside of the mouth.

2006/2/27 dotar

he dotar ( meaning ``two strings'' in Persian), is an excellent instrument coming from a family of long-necked lutes and can be found throughout Central Asia, the Middle East and North East of China. Its ancestor is probably the "tanbur of Khorasan" as depicted by Al Farabi (10th century) in his essay Kitab~Al-Musiqi Al-Kabir.

In Iran, the dotar is played mainly in the northern and eastern parts of Khorasan as well as among the Turkmen of Gorgan and Gonabad. The instrument is the same but its dimensions and the number of its ligatures differ slightly from region to region. Two types of wood are used in the production of the dotar. The pear-shaped body is carved out of a single block of mulberry wood. Apricot or walnut wood is used to make its neck. It has two steel strings, which in the past were made of silk or animal .

The dotar is tuned in fourth or fifth intervals. The frets, made from animal intestines in the past, are nowadays fabricated from nylon or steel which have the advantage of being more resilient and less expensive. They are placed in chromatic progression.

The technique for playing the dotar consists of plucking the strings without a plectrum, following a descending and an ascending movement which involves the index and often several other fingers. The music is ornamented by the rapid repetition of notes (tremolo). Often, in order to fortify the fingers, they are soaked in henna.

2006/2/27 Ney-Anban

Ney-Anban is manufactured from goatskin, especially tanned, to which a double reed pipe and mouthpiece are attached with the other end being merely tied together. The performer blows into the mouthpiece, and plays the melody on the double reed pipe, which has six holes for finger placement. In the South of Iran the Ney–Anban is played not only at weddings, but also at funeral services. In earlier times, people were not allowed to play Ney-Anban with Dammam.

2006/2/27 Udu

Fascinated by the possibilities and the various pitches of the usual Udu, Behnam Samani, a master in Persian percussion, created a new form, which still keeps the soft round harmonious bass tones yet opens the way to new inspiration and experience.

Based on the African Udu-Drum from Nigeria the Zarbang-Udu contains a very large dynamic range of sound, having two side holes (or one) and a membrane of natural skin placed in between them (beside it). This way the membrane and the hole/s can be played with one or two hands at the same time.

Depending on the finger-technique the sound of Conga, Tombak, Darbukka or even Indian Tabla come alive, besides a kaleidoscope of humming, smacking, and plocking tones – challenging creativity!

2006/2/27 naghara

The term “naghara” is the Sindhi form of the Arabic naqqarah. The rounded section of the naghara is made of baked clay, while the flat side consists of treated skin which is fastened around the rim with string which is tightened over the back of the bowl.This percussion instruments is often played in pairs, where one naghara will produce low pitch beats called nar (the male) and the other for the high pitch bcats (the female). The instruments are beaten with short wooden sticks bent outward at the upper ends, called damka.

2006/2/25 benju

the benju, a small oblong zither with a typewriter-like keyboard, derived from the spinet and dulcimer. Baluchi people doubled its size (to one metre in length), improved it, and created a playing technique which both wonderfully reproduces the finesse of professional music, and at the same time, allows a rhythmic drone similar to the tanburag. Its bright timbre matches quite well with that of the sorud, and some pieces even sound better on the benju than they do on any other instrument. This metamorphosis is mainly due to the work of Jom’e Surizehi.

The main string of the benju is double. On either side of it, accompaniment strings have been placed as follows: (C-G) / C C / (G-C) - in relative pitches. Its tessitura spans over two octaves and one tone; the chromatic scale is obtained from a keyboard with twenty five to thirty two round keys. Best used as a solo instrument, the benju also suits singing, but is rarely used in epic pieces.

2006/2/27 tabla

The tabla is a widely popular South Asian percussion instrument used in the classical, popular and religious music of the northern Indian subcontinent. The history of this instrument is at times the subject of heated debate. The most common historical account credits the 13th century Persian poet Amir Khusrau as having invented the instrument. However, none of his own writings on music mention the drum (nor the string instrument sitar). Another common historical narrative portrays the tabla as being thousands of years old, yet this is mere conjecture, based on slipshod interpretations of iconography. Reliable historical evidence places the invention of this instrument in the 18th century. the tabla was only used by the sikhs in and around the world.

The instrument consists of a pair of hand drums of contrasting sizes and timbres. The term tabla is derived from an Arabic word which means "drum", and this attests to its status as a product resulting from the fusion of musical elements from indigenous Hindu and Central Asian Muslim cultures that began in the late 16th century. The black spot found on each of the drums that make up the set of tablas, called Syahi, is made of a mixture of flour, water and iron filings. Traditionally, it was applied and removed many times but it is now permanently attached

2006/2/24 Chogur

Eight-stringed Tanbur also known as Chogur, Saz or Baglama "Instrument Of Lovers"

2006/2/22 Dozaleh

Dozaleh [dozAle] is one of the old folk wind instruments of Iran which is used in mirth celebrations.

Abu Nasr Farabi had called it Mezmarol-Mosana or Mozdavadg [mozdavej] (married!).

Dozaleh has a sound like Neyanban [neianbAn] (bagpipe), but to some extend more clear and lower.

It is played in Khorasan [xorAsAn], Kermanshah [KermAnSAh], and mostly in Kurdistan. In some different dialects it is called Zanbooreh [zanbureh].