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The sound of wind, the collision of tree leaves with each other, the sound of birds, the sound of sea waves, waterfalls and etc. It was the first sound of music that man knew before history – before he had a script and a language. By imitating nature, he repeated his connection with nature. By blowing on the hollows or bones of animals, the hollow on trunks of trees or the shells of sea creatures made louder sounds that were a means of alerting, communicating, or instilling fear in the hearts of the enemy and the animals.
Patterns on prehistoric pottery in different parts of Iran indicates the existence of ritual ceremonies in which the instrument is also seen. In the pictures left in the carvings, dishes and etc, from Achaemenid and Sassanid period, the importance of music and musicians as well as the existence of religious, martial and festive music is clearly evident. In this Period Instruments such as Rubab, Tanboor, Sorna, Ney, Daf, etc have been common.
Iranian instruments can be divided into four categories in terms of the type and form of sound production:
- Persian String Instruments: In this Instruments Sound is created by the vibration of string, such as Persian Tar, Persian Dutar, Persian Setar, Oud, Tanboor, Rubab, Kamancheh, etc.
- Persian Woodwind Instruments: were one of the first man-made musical instruments to blow a cone, leaf, or even animal horns to produce a loud and horny sound such as Flute, Ney,
Persian Tar, belonged to Persian String Instruments group that played with Mezrab. Tar is common in Iran and some other parts of the Middle East, such as Tajikistan, the Republic of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and other parts of the Caucasus, for playing the traditional music of these countries and regions.
In the past, Iranian Tar had five strings. Gholam Hossein Darvish or Darvish Khan added a sixth string that is still used.
The Bowl of Iranian Tar is made of old mulberry wood stump, and older wood made a better sound due to the dryness of the warp. Fret made of sheep intestines and neck made of walnut wood. The shape of bowl is like two hearts stuck together and from the back it looks like a sitting human.
A setar, also spelled and romanized as setaar or setâr, is an Iranian musical instrument. It is a member of the lute family. It is played with the index finger of the right hand. The range of the setar spans more than two and a half octaves. Setar Instrument place in the same family and is near to Dutar & Tanboor and is these days is near to Tar. Playing Setar in Iran has many fans and mostly use for solo music.
Persian Setar has always been of interest to Sufis due to its unique sound and delicate sound.
The Setar instrument has two parts, a bowl and a Neck. The Setar bowl is structurally similar to the bowl of Oud or Tanboor, but smaller and pear-shaped and usually made of mulberry or walnut wood. Neck length is 40 to 48 cm.
Persian Tanbur or Tanboor is an Instruments with long neck and pear-shaped bowl that is usually made of mulberry wood. Its Bowl made in two forms, one-piece bowl which has been common since ancient times and several pieces (wickers) that have been made in imitation of Setar bowl in recent decades. The length of this instrument is between 70 to 80 cm and it has three strings. In ancient times, according to Farabi, one or two main strings were used, which is now common in the form of three strings.
Tanbur Instrument is one of the oldest instruments in Iran that has a mystical aspect. The bowl and its plate are made of mulberry wood and its Neck is made of walnut wood. Archaeologists have found that the Tanboor instrument has 6,000 years old and one of the most important historical documents is a statue near the tomb of Daniel the Prophet (PBUH) in Susa.
The Dutar is a traditional long-necked two-stringed lute found in Iran and Central Asia. Its name comes from the Persian word for “two strings”, دوتار do tār, although the Herati dutar of Afghanistan has fourteen strings. Dutar has a history of several thousand years and is mostly played in northern regions of Iran such as Khorasan and Mazandaran.
The North Khorasan Dutar has pear-shaped bowls and relatively long Neck with two strings. The length of the neck is about 60 cm and the whole instrument is about 1 meter. The pear-shaped part of Dutar instrument is made of Mulberry tree wood and its neck is made of apricot or walnut wood.
Persian Kamancheh (Kamanche or Kamancha) is a highly esteemed instrument of Persian music. It captures the listeners with its moving sound. Persian Kamancheh is used for light music (motrebi) and it is the only bowed string instrument in the classical tradition of Iran. It produces a soft, beautiful timbre and due to their technical possibilities, they can be used as a solo and also an ensemble instrument. Kamancheh is a spike fiddle with a solid bowl made of walnut or maple. There are four strings on it, namely E, A, D and G.
The first historical signs about the Kamancheh were seen in the book Al-Kabir Music by Abu Nasr al-Farabi in the fourth century AH. The Kamancheh was one of the main instruments of Iranian music during the Safavid and Qajar eras. The first recorded sound of the Kamancheh dates back to the early twentieth century
The santur, is a hammered dulcimer of Iranian or Mesopotamian origins. The santoor for the first time appears in the Moruj al-Zahab, a history book written by Abol Hassan Ali Ibn Hussein Masudi (tenth century). He mentions the santoor when talking about Persian music and its various instruments during the Sassanid Empire. Also, the santur is mentioned by the famous Persian poet, Manuchehri (eleventh century). Although Abdol Qader Maraqe’i (a great Persian Musician of the thirteenth century) in his writings introduces an instrument called the yatufan which is very similar to the santoor, the instrument that today we know as the santur is absent from Persian music history until the nineteenth century. Santur has a trapezoidal shape and made of wood and played by two wooden hammer. It has many strings and the common form which is 9 Kharak has 72 strings.
The tombak or tonbak, is an Iranian goblet drum. In the past, the body of the Tonbak was made of wood, pottery and sometimes metal, but today mostly only wood is used to make the tonbak that made in one piece. The tombak is normally positioned diagonally across the torso while the player uses one or more fingers and/or the palm of the hand on the drumhead, often near the drumhead’s edge. Tonbak is placed in percussion instruments, which is also known as Zarb among some. The history of Tonbak goes back to pre-Islamic times with the Pahlavi letters of Dembelek, and according to Dr. Moin Dembelek is a modified form of the same name. According to some old Iranian musicians such as Farabi, Tonbak is the birthplace of western Iran.
Daf instrument that commonly known as Persian Daf or Iranian Daf, is a large frame drum from the Middle East. It is commonly used in Armenia, Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan and also in Greece. It can spell as Daf, Daff, Deff, Duff. The frame is made of wood and covered with a lot of metal rings attached around it. The membrane of a daf is mostly made of animal skin, like a goat, horse, and cow but in modern versions, synthetic materials are also in use. In Pre-Islamic times, the Daf was present in Iranian and Kurdish music, so that the traces of its rhythms are still present in Kurdish music, but with the advent of Islam, this instrument closed for survival in the monasteries and prayers of Kurdistan and for more than 13 centuries in the monasteries of Kurdistan. It became the companion of the dervishes of Kurdistan and was mixed with their dhikr and sky, so that the dhikrs in each position are accompanied by their own rhythm in the daf, and in other words, each dhikr has its place, which are called Daf maqams.
The ney is one of the oldest instruments in the world. In Persia itself there are various kinds of the ney in different regions which have different names like the ney, ney labak, shemshal, toy kik, ney labi, laleh, and others. The word “nay” in Persia has been always the reminder of all kinds of wind instruments. For example, in the old writings, we always encounter terms like sornay, karnay, marnay, donay, siyah nay, narme nay,shah nay, and….which are all considered as the members of the ney family.
There are abundant documents about the instruments related to the ney family in Persia. Farabi a famouse Persian scientist in his book “Musiqi al-Kabir” discusses the different neys prevalent in his time. Some of the neys Farabi referred to had mouthpiece and some like the present ney did not. In comparison with other Persian instruments, the ney has an especial status in Persian culture.
Ney-anbān, is a type of bagpipe which is popular in southern Iran, especially around Bushehr. The term ney-anban literally means “bag pipe”, but more specifically can refer to a type of droneless double-chantered bagpipes played in Southern Iran. The structure of the main body of the Nayanban is the same as the Nay-e jofti which is attached to a tank of air. This tank is made of a goatskin and provides the player with the needed air for blowing. The Neyanban is usually played in the happy occasions. The Neyanban with a little difference in shape also exists in Europe especially in Scotland where it is known as bagpipe.
Ney Anban allows the musician to store the air needed to play in a bag or barn, thus producing an uninterrupted sound. Ney-Nay Anban is a native instrument that is often played at weddings and banquets. This instrument is the most famous musical instrument in southern Iran. Instrument that has a special position in Bushehr, Khuzestan, Hormozgan and Kerman provinces.
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