Detail, Lawa’ih (Effulgences of Light), Mir ‘Ali, d. 1556; Nawwab Durmish Khan, Safavid period (ca. 1521-1525); opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper (origin: possibly Herat, Iran). Purchase, Smithsonian Unrestricted Trust Funds, Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program, and Dr. Arthur M. Sackler. S1986.38
Khonyâ-ye Bâstâni Irâni-خنيای باستانی ایرانی–
A brief introduction to the ancient music of the Persian Empire
The term “Khonyâ-ye Bâstâni Irâni” is a post-Achaemenian term. Parsi (Persian ) is a language that was spoken at court along with Pahlavi, the official language of the Sassanid Empire (224-642 A.D.). So the word for music during Sassanid rule and in pure Persian today, is actually “Khonya.” Though the origins of Iran’s modal music remain vague, research has revealed more than was previously known. Barbod the Great of the 7th Century (A.D.), a court musician of the Sassanid Empire, created the first ever musical system in the Middle East, known as the “Royal Khosravani,” dedicated to the king Khosrow (Chosroes). Many of the current names of the modes used in Iranian Classical Music, “Dastgahs ,” have survived from that time by an oral tradition, though many of the modes and melodies have disappeared, probably because of Arab invaders who viewed music as immoral behavior.
Iranian Classical Music relies on improvisation and composition and is based on a series of modal scales and tunes which must be memorized. Apprentices and masters (ostad) have a traditional relationship which has declined during the 20th century as music education moved to universities and conservatoires. A repertoire of more than two hundreed series (radif) are each divided into short melodies called gusheh, which are themselves divided into twelve Dastgah . Each Gusheh and Dastgah has an individual name. A typical performance consists of a “pishdaramad” (pre-introduction or more appropriately prelude), “daramad” (introduction), “tasnif” (song), “Chahar Mezrab” (rhythmic), “reng” (dance), and a chosen number of “gusheh” (melodic movements). A performance forms a sort of suite. The “gusheh” and “daramad” are non-metric and rhythm-free, while the “tasnif,” “pishdaramad,” “reng” and “chaharmezrab” are rhythmic. Unconventionally, these parts may be varied or omitted. Toward the end of the Safavid Empire (1502-1736), more complex movements in 10, 14, and 16 beats stopped being performed. In fact in the early stages of the Qajar Dynasty, the Usul , rhythmic cycles,
were replaced by a meter based on the Ghazal and the Maqam system of classification was altered to the Radif system which is used to this day. Today, rhythmic pieces are performed in beats of 2 to 7 with some exceptions. Many melodies and modes are related to the maqams of Turkish and Arabic music :it must be made clear that the Arabs, upon their invasion of the Persian Empire, declared the lands they had conquered as their “Islamic World.” Though most Arab rulers prohibited musical activity, others ordered Persian musicians to write compositions for the courts of the Caliphate. Books written by Iranian musicologists, such as Farabi’s “Kitab al-Musighi al Kabir,” have influenced the music cultures throughout the Islamic World. Iranian music has influenced the music of various countries greatly since the Sassanian times, which provides a reason why melodies within the classical music of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Egypt bear the names of some Iranian modes.
The Classical music is vocal based. The vocalist plays a crucial role: she or he decides what mood to express and which Dastgah relates to that mood. The vocalist is also responsible, in many cases, for choosing the poems to be sung. If the performance requires a singer, the singer is accompanied by at least one wind or string instrument, and at least one type of percussion. There could be an ensemble of instruments, though the primary vocalist must maintain hers or his role. At times, the musicians may accompany the singer by singing along several verses. Traditionally, music is performed while seated on finely decorated cusions and rugs. Candles are sometimes lit. The group of musicians and the vocalist decide on which Dastgahs and which of their gushehs to perform, depending on the mood of a certain time or situation.
Before the Arab invasion, the melodies in which recitals from the “Avesta,” the sacred book of the Mazdean religion of Prophet Zoroaster were chanted or sung, were fited into modes. The website You can see links before reply which used to be a site for those interested in Zoroastrianism, had information on this find. But the site is not functional now. The term “gah” has two meanings: in the Pahlavi language, it means both “gath” (a prayer from the Avesta) and also “time.” Musicians, today, tend to attribute the meaning of “gah” strictly to “time” or “place” in regards to movements on an instrument. The modes “yekgah, dogah, segah chahargah, panjgah, sheshgah, and haftgah” were used to recite gaths one through seven. Recently, it was discovered that the mode “rast” (lit. truth) was used while singing stories of truthful acts or people and “shekasteh” (lit. broken) was used in telling stories of evil doers. The mode “homayoun” was used while reciting morning prayers. Most of these modes, except probably for “sheshgah” and “haftgah” still exist in the system today. However, it is virtually impossible to know how the music sounded during that era. So while the names of the modes can be traced to antiquity, no conclusion can be reached on the similarities of their sounds. After the Sassanian era, it is obvious that newer melodies were created in various different periods, probably through hundreds of years. When Islam became the dominant religion of Iran, rulers decided to either ban music or to later discourage people from the recital of Mazdean prayers in those modes. Classical music was performed strictly in court up until the 20th century. It was performed in secret during the rule of Islamic extremists of medieval era.
Iranian Classical Music continues to function as a spiritual tool as it has throughout its history, and much less of a recreational activity. Compositions can vary immensely from start to finish, usually alternating between low, contemplative pieces and athletic displays of musicianship called tahrir . The incorporation of religious texts as lyrics were replaced by lyrics largely written by Medieval, Sufi poets especially Hafez and Jalal-e Din Rumi
Instruments used in Persian classical music include the bowed spike-fiddle kamancheh , the goblet drum tombak , the end-blown flute ney , the frame drum daf , the long-necked lutes tar , setar , tanbur , dotar , and the dulcimer santur . Harps, “chang[s],” were a very important part of music up until the middle of the Safavid Empire. They were probably replaced because of tuning problems or replaced by the qanun (zither)and later the piano which was introduced by the West during the Safavid Dynasty of Iran. Many, if not most, of these instruments originated in Iran. Perhaps the most loved string instrument is the tar . Tar players are regurlarly chosen to function as the primary string instrument in a performance. The setar is also loved for its delicacy and is the favorite among Mystic musicians. Some instruments like the sorna, neyanban, dohol, naghareh, and others, are not used in the classical repertoire but are used in Iranian Folk music. The ghazhak (ghaychak), a type of fiddle, is being re-introduced to the Classical field after many years of exclusion. The instruments used in the Classical field are also used in Iranian Folk Music.
Iranian Musical Instruments String Instruments (Sāzhāy-e Zehī) Bowed instruments:Ghazhak | Kamāncheh | Robāb Plucked instruments:Barbat | Chang | Dotār | Qānūn | Robāb | Sallāneh | Sāz | Setār | Tanbūr | Tār | Ūd Struck instruments:Santur Woodwind instruments (Sāzhāy-e Bādī) :Exposed:Darāy | Sornā | Karnay End-blown:Haft Band | Nāy (Ney) | Sheypur Percussion instrument (Sāzhāy-e Kūbeheyī/Zarbī) Auxiliary Percussion:Daf | Dohol | Dāvūl | Dāyereh Zangī | Naqāreh | Tonbak (Dombak) | Kūs
A brief history of musical development in Iran
Achaemenian dynasty (550-331 BC). The writing of Herodotus and Xenophon suggests that music played an important role in court life and religious rituals during this period. However, little else is known about musical activity in the Persian Empire.
Sassanian Dynasty (AD 226-642). Exalted status was conferred to court musicians. Barbod, the most famous of these court musicians, reportedly conceived a musical system consisting of seven royal modes, thirty derivative modes, and three-hundred sixty melodies. This was the oldest Middle Eastern musical system of which some traces still exist. Its enduring heritage is the names given to some dastgahs in the modern system of Persian music.
Arab Invasion (AD 643-750). Musical activity was suppressed during this period.
Abbasid dynasty (AD 750-1258). This increasingly secular dynasty reestablished music at the courts, and Iranian musicians were scattered throughout the Muslim world. Abu Nasr Farabi, whose Kitab al-musiqi al-kabir laid the foundations of the musical tradition of the core Muslim world, for example worked at the royal court in Baghdad. Abu Ali Sina, Safiaddin Ormavi, who codified the mode into twelve divisions with six melodies also lived at this time.
Social power for the next few centuries was dominated by Shiite clerics who frowned on musical expression, and were responsible for its suppression. The imperial courts of the Safavid and Qajar dynasties did patronize the arts, however, maintaining a faint link to the traditions of the past. The modern dastgah system, a codification and reorganisation of the old modes, dates back to the late Qajar dynasty.
The Pahlavi Dynasty brought with it an intense push towards westernisation. In response to this pressure, and in a misdirected effort to “raise” Persian music to the level of Western music, two theories on the intervals and scales of Persian music were proposed in the twentieth century:
The 24 quarter tone scale
This conception of Persian music was published by Ali Naqi Vaziri in his Musiqi-ye Nazari. He proposed this reformulation to fascilitate the composition of polyphonic pieces in a system which was traditionally monophonic. His efforts also brought about the notation of microtonal raising and lowering of pitches.
The 22 tone scale
A 22 tone scale was proposed by Mehdi Barkesli. This system is grounded in the origininal theories of the Abassid dynasty theoreticians, Farabi and Ormavi.
After extensive laboratory studies of the Persian musical repertoire, Hormoz Farhat has come to the conclusion that the notion of scale or octave is entirely foreign to Persian musical performance, being no more than an artificial construct imposed on the system to make it agree with certain Western notions of what is essential to the concept of music. Mr. Farhat insists that the more important concept in this music is that of the mayeh or melodic type. These are melodic formulas through which the music is articulated, and they transcend the notions of octaves or scales.
Characteristics of the music
The following characteristics are shared between Iranian and other Central Asian music:
The music is mainly monophonic, with each instrument in an ensemble following one melodic scheme.
The music is based upon a modal system; with each mode engenderring different melodic types, called gushehs in Farsi. The execution of the melodic types are left up to the musician.
The use of microtones divides the scales into more than twelve semi-tones.
A priority is given to ornamentation.
There are a number of substantial pauses in each piece.
The following are characteristics which distinguish Persian music from other Central Asian music:
Melodies are concentrated on a relatively narrow register.
Melodic movement occurs by conjunct steps.
Emphasis is on cadence, symmetry, and motivic repetition at different pitches.
Rhythmic patterns are kept simple.
The tempo is often rapid, and the ornamentation is dense.
Vocal parts are often decorated with Tahrir, a vocal ornamentation similar to yodeling. Also, Iranian music is unique in the Middle Eastern tradition in that the different melodic phrases, or gushes are supposed to model the rhythmic stamp and melodic pattern of poetry.
The Dastgah System
Like other Middle Eastern music, the music of Iran is modal in nature. Initially (before the Qajar dynasty) each of the major modes had an associated formula for melodic invention (mayeh). The mayeh included rules for cadences, a heirarchy of tones, and acceptable melodic patterns. Using the mayeh as a guideline, the musician was expected to improvise within a single mode for the duration of the performance, much as is done with Indian raga.
Gradually, this method became cumbersome for the musicians and for the listeners. As a result, during the Qajar dynasty, the old modes and mayehs were restructured and the dastgah system was developed. The modes were replaced by the twelve dastgahs. Each dastagah has an associated eight note scale, and each tone in the scale has a special significance, with one note being designated the analogue of the tonic in Western diatonic music. The dastgah also has its own repertory of melodies, each of which is called a gushe. A gushe is actually a melodic type which usually spans only four or five tones, and serves as a model for improvisation. Generally the gushe are played in an order which fills the lower, middle, and upper portions of the dastgah scale. Aside from that, the order and mode of each gushe may not have a logical relationship to that of the dastgah itself. The different gusheh are bond together by melodic fragments known as foruds, which inevitably resolve to the finalis of the dastgah. Within each dastgah are also encoded the rules for achieving that resolution. The initial gusheh in a dastgah is called the daramad, and it lends its name to the dastgah. Thus the dastgah-e-Shur is that dastgah which has the modal melody Shur as its daramad.
Note that the scale does not span an octave per se, as it is bound by a b semi-flat on its lower end and by a b-flat on the upper end . Also, the 5th above finalis is played as an A during ascending melodic movement, while it is lowerred by a microtone in descending melodies. The bracketted whole notes show the tetrachord within which the main melodic activity takes place. Melodic movement is strictly diatonic, and leaps larger than a perfect 4th are not made within a phrase. The 2nd below finalis is the aqaz, or the point from which improvisation is initiated.
Two formulae for the daramad of Sur are presented below. Again, these formulae serve only as the basis for improvisation, and many dastgah-e Sur pieces have two daramads, one based on each formula.
There are several prescribed routes to a forud in Sur. The finalis may be approched from (a) the 2nd below, (b) the 3rd then 2nd below, (c) the 2nd above, or (d) the 4th above. Again these rules serve as the basis of improvisation and the foruds may therefore vary in length and type from performer to performer.
The gushehs of dastgah-e Sur are: Salmak, Molla Nazi, Golriz, Bozorg, Xara, Qajar, Ozzal, Sahnaz, Qarace, Hoseyni, Bayat-e Kord, and Gereyli. The order of gushes within a dastgah is not fixed, and some gushes may be omitted altogether. The melodic formula of Salmak is presented below:
Gusheh Salmak from Asheq’i peidast in Classical Music of Iran, Smithsonian Folkways 40039. CD #869
Finally, the combiantion of all pieces that make up the repertory of Persian music is called the radif (row). Thus, the radif of Persian music contains the twelve dastgahs: Shur, Abu Ata, Dashti, Bayat-e Tork, Afshari, Segah,Chahargah, Homayun, Bayat-e Esfahan, Nava, Mahur, andRrast, with all of their constituent gushehs.
There are three instrumental forms and one vocal form in Persian music. The instrumental forms are pishdaramad, cheharmezrab, and reng. Pishdaramad was invented by a great master of the tar, Darvish Khan, and was inteded as a prelude to the daramad of a dastgah. It may be in duple, triple, or quadruple time, and it draws its melody from some of the important gushehs of the piece. Cheharmezrab is a solo piece, mostly with a fast tempo, and is usually based on the melody immediately preceding it. The third instrumental form is the reng, which is a simple dance piece that is usually played at the conclusion of the dastgah.
The vocal form is called tasnif. It has a design similar to the pishdaramad, and is usually placed immediately before the reng.
* During, Jean. The Art of Persian Music. Washington D. C.: Mage Publishers, 1991.
* Farhat, Hormoz, The dastgah Concept in Persian Music. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1990
* Safvate, Dariouche. Nelly Caron. Iran, Les Traditions Musicales. Corra: Buchet/Chastle. 1966
(Exerpts Courtesy by Ali Zomorodi)
Poetry and Music
In many ways all Persian art work springs from and works toward the reunification of man with God. The Persian belief in the ability of the arts, and music in particular, to effect the soul is seen in ancient myths pertaining to the creation of the world and humankind. It is believed that the sound of the heavenly orbs and creation resonates through living beings, and that Adam’s soul was tempted to enter his body by the music that angles created therein sama. Furthermore, Sufis for example believe that their music reflects the first words of God which elicited such ecstasy when Adam first heard them. Lastly, it is said (by the sage, Ikhwan-al-safa) that the musical system revealed to Pythagoras was meant to allow the recreation of the music of the heavenly orbs by mankind. Thus, the soul, creation, and music are intertwined.
The ultimate goal of Sufi aesthetics, is, of course, the attainment of hal, an ethereal status of the soul which can not be described by words. I can only say that it is the slight alleviation of the angst ridden yearning of the soul for a return to its place of birth, a reunification with the celestial body.
Also inherent in the aesthetics is the belief that ours is but an imperfect reflection of the archetypal world consisting of the most unfathomably perfect reality. Music, poetry, and the related forms of poetic expression, illumination and calligraphy are in themselves and in their aims, a means of catching a glimpse of this perfection.
There are thus many spiritual relationships between music and poetry. Many formal relationships also exist between the two modes of expression. For example, poems are composed of self-sufficient double-verses (beyts), while dastgahs are composed of more or less autonomous gushes. Also, as Hafez once said, “Writing poetry is like stringing random pearls”, meaning that the particular beyts, though they may shed some light on the meaning of the poem, are really not essential or sequentially specific to its essence. That is to say, the meaning of the poem would remain intact if some of the beyts were altogether omitted, or if their order were reversed. Likewise, the essence of the dastgah is the daramad, with the gushes serving an almost secondary, and unessential function. Nonetheless, just as one cannot mix random gushes together to obtain a viable dastgah, the beyts must be treated in a careful and precise manner to make for a meaningful development. Indeed, very few are well versed, talented, or presumptuous enough to take many liberties with the poetic and musical repertoire. Furthermore, in both forms, the artist resorts to a well established repertoire of devices for expanding and ornamenting ideas. Lastly, the rhythmic pattern of poetry, underlies many of the commonly used musical rhythms, and commonly used musical rhythms have served as the foundation for many a poem.
There are also many parallels between music and Persian calligraphy. Most obviously, they are both expressions of the word, of the great poetic tradition of Iran. Both in calligraphy and in the performance of a dastgah, the artist treats the underlying structure (the verse in the former, the gusheh in the latter) in a manner which individualistically yet faithfully conveys the essence of the underlying form. In both arts, ornamentation is a major tool for achieving these individualistic effects. There are two ways of ornamenting verses in calligraphy. Likewise there are two distinct types of ornamentation in music.
La musique classique iranienne (Khonyâ-ye Bâstâni Irâni)
Ces derniers jours, un nouveau docteur Folamour entretient la douce menace de faire siffler les bombes sur une autre région de grande culture, et à l’inestimable patrimoine archéologique. Oubliant ou feignant d’oublier que l’Iran, comme son voisin arabe, l’Irak, a accueilli sur son territoire, et à l’aube de son histoire, le berceau de la civilisation assyro-babylonienne. Oui, Suse, ville ancienne du sud-ouest de l’Iran est l’une des plus anciennes agglomérations connues à mériter le titre de ville. Fondée vers 4000 avant J.-C., Suse, capitale de l’Empire Elamite, était la ville voisine et rivale de Babylone. La Mésopotamie entre le Tigre et l’Euphrate, Sumer, la cité d’Ur, la région même où fut inventée l’écriture… ça peut évoquer quelques souvenirs de cours d’histoire de collège.
Il est certainement nécessaire de rappeler que la Perse, carrefour entre l’Asie, et le Moyen-Orient fut, à l’époque du Moyen-Âge chrétien et jusqu’au XVIe siècle, un intense foyer où prospérèrent les Sciences, les Lettres et les Arts, devançant et instruisant l’Europe, grâce aux travaux érudits de mathématiciens, de philosophes et de poètes… tels que al-Khuwārizmī (783-825), Al-Biruni (973-1048), Avicenne (980-1037)…
Quelques données sur l’Iran :
Superficie : 1 650 000 km2 (superficie de la France : 675 000 m2)
Population : 68 700 000 habitants
Capitale : Téhéran
Langue : Perse (langue indo-européenne)
Sur l’histoire de la musique classique iranienne
« Aucun témoignage tangible ne nous est parvenu sur l’art musical des premières civilisations installées sur le plateau iranien. L’empire perse des Achéménides (550 à 331 avant J.-C.) avec toute sa grandeur et sa gloire [dont témoignent les ruines de Persépolis], ne nous a laissé que très peu d’éléments susceptibles de révéler le contenu de sa vie musicale. Hérodote mentionne les rituels religieux des Zoroastriens, qui comportaient des hymnes chantés. Xénophon, dans son Cyropedia parle des musiques martiales et cérémonielles de l’Empire.
Les premiers documents qui nous renseignent véritablement sur la musique persane datent de la période des Sassanides (226-652 après J.-C.) […] Des musiciens de cette période, les noms de Ramtin, Bamshad, Nakisa, Azad, Sarkash et Barbod nous sont restés. On attribue [à ce dernier] l’invention du système musical comprenant sept structures modales connues sous le nom de « modes royaux » (khosrovani), trente modes dérivés (lahn) et trois cent soixante mélodies (dastan) qui correspondent apparemment avec le nombre de jours dans la semaine, le mois, l’année du calendrier sassanide.
La conquête de l’empire perse par les Arabes se situa vers le milieu du septième siècle. Après l’avènement de la dynastie Abbassi (de 750 à 1258) le siège du Califat fut transféré de Damas à Bagdad (anciennement territoire perse). A partir de ce moment, les musiciens et les savants perses jouèrent un rôle déterminant dans la formation et le développement de la culture islamique orientale. […] Nombreux sont les musicologues et les théoriciens de la musique qui nous ont laissé d’importants ouvrages, […] les plus importants Abu Nasr Farabi (872-950), Abu Ali Ebne Sina (980-1037), Safia Armavi (mort en 1257), Qotbaddin Shirazi (mort en 1310), Abdalgader Maraqui (mort en 1434) ont abondamment écrit sur la théorie et les aspects acoustiques et esthétiques de la musique. Depuis la seizième siècle […] rien de substantiel n’a été écrit. Jusqu’à ce jour, […] la musique persane est avant tout un art d’exécution et d’interprétation.
Traditionnellement, l’ensemble du système musical persan, le radif, comporte douze principes : sept dastgah (structures modales fondamentales) et cinq avaz (modes dérivés) Chaque dastgah et avaz comporte plusieurs gushé. Chaque gushé représente un schéma mélodique à partir duquel le musicien peut improviser. Ainsi donc le répertoire modal bien que relativement limité permet de diversifier à l’infini la manifestation musicale proprement dite.[…] »(Texte de Hormoz Farhat)
Les instruments de la musique classique iranienne
On distingue trois familles d’instruments de la musique classique iranienne : les cordes, les percussions et les vents.
Les instruments à cordes
Ud est le nom arabe de l’ancien instrument persan barbat. C’est un luth avec de neuf à onze cordes.
Dôtar (ou dutar), luth à long manche et à deux cordes. La vidéo montre des musiciens turkmènes. Le Turkménistan est situé au Nord de l’Iran. L’instrument est également joué chez les Uyghurs, région de la Chine de l’Ouest.
Kamantché, vièle à quatre cordes
Munis Sharifov, Azeri Kamanche
Santour, cithare trapézoïdale où soixante-douze cordes métalliques fixes (4 par note) sonte endues sur deux rangées de neuf petits chevalets. On accorde l’instrument au moyen d’une clef agissant sur les 72 chevilles. Le musicien frappe les cordes avec de fines baguettes de noyer ou de buis appelées mezrab (plectes).
Ardavan Kamkar, santour solo
Sétâr, instrument à cordes pincées, c’est un luth à quatre cordes de la famille du tanbur. In consiste en une caisse de résonance ronde et bombée, en bois de mûrier, d’un long manche en noyer. On pince les cordes avec l’ongle de l’index droit, utilisé en guise de plectre.
Hossein Alizâdeh, sétâr avec Dariush Zargari, tombak
Tanbur, très ancien luth à long col droit, a dû connaître plusieurs variantes. Le tanbur de Khorassân avait deux cordes. Aujourd’hui il a tantôt deux cordes, tantôt trois, et on le joue sans plectre avec les droits de la main droite.
Aliakbar Moradi, tanbur solo
Târ, appartient à la famille des luths. Sa caisse de résonance à double renflement est en bois de mûrier, et la formede sa table évoque deux coeurs réunis par les pointes. Cette table est en peau d’agneau. Le long manche st pourvu de ving-cinq ligatures en boyau et de six cordes dont deux doubles. On en joue avec un plectre est un luth à six cordes. La chaude couleur sonore de l’instrument se marie particulièrement bien avec le zarb
Sahba Motallebi, târ solo
Daf, grand tambour sur cadre à membrane unique. L’intérieur de son cadre porte de nombreux anneaux qui résonnetnlosqu’on frappe la peau ou que l’on secour le tambour. Outre ses attaches avec la musique populaire kurde, le daf est un instrument très lié à la musique des confréries soufi des derviches.
Mirfarsad Malekniya, Kambiz Mohitafi, daf
Zarb, est le principal instrument de percussion de la musique savante persane. Ce tambour calice d’une seule pièce en bois est recouvert d’une peau de chèvre. Au XIIIe siècle, le grand poète mystique Djalâl-ud-Dîn Rûmî écrivait : “O Dieu, donne au musicien des doigts de sucre et pour le zarb, une mai de fer!” “Zarb” est un mot arabe qui signifie “frappe” et les Persans lui donnèrent l’acception de “rythme”, de “temps”, de “tempo”. Ce tambour est également appelé “Tombak” en raison des deux coups désignés par les syllabes “Tom” et “Bak”, mais ce terme est deven péjoratif.
Keyvan Chemirani, zarb solo
Les instruments à vent
Ney (ou nay), flûte en roseau, originaire d’Asie centrale, dont les plus anciennes formes datent de -3000 ans. Son nom persan signifie roseau
Kees van den Doel, ney solo
Discographie disponible à la médiathèque de Dole
Parvin Javdan and Zohred Bayat, chant ; with Avaye Doost Ensemble : “Rozaneh : introducing poems from Rumi, Aragui and Sayeh”, Erato, 2001
Rozaneh – en persan signifie « “rayon de lumière”, “espoir” – est interprété par un groupe exclusivement composé de femmes. Parvin Javdan et Zohreh Bayat chantent des solos et duos, composés ou improvisés sur de la musique iranienne traditionnelle ou contemporaine, tout en s’inscrivant dans la tradition soufie. Les textes sont tirés de l’œuvre de poètes tels que Sayeh, Rumi et Aragui. Cet album débute par une pièce en dastgâh Isfahan (l’un des modes de la musique iranienne). Après quoi compositions et improvisations se succèdent en dastgâh Shür et Nava pour renouer enfin avec le dastgâh Isfahan. Ce voyage cyclique qui symbolise le retour auprès de l’être cher, nous fait entendre la parole de deux grands mystiques : Molavi (plus connu en Europe sous le noom de al-Rümï) et Fakhedin Aragui, poète soufidu XIIIe siècle. Tous deux évoquent les expériences mystiques qui vont de la nostalgie née de la séparation d’avec l’être aimé, à la joie extatique de l’union avec cet être.
Shahram Nazeri, chant ; Ali Reza Faiz Bashi Pour, tanbur, tambour ; Hafez Nazeri, daf, dohol “Mythical chant ”, Buda Musique, 2001
Cet enregistrement de Shahram Nazeri, une des plus grandes voix de la musique classique perse, est dédié à la culture kurde ; Les compositions de Ali Reza Faiz Bashi Pour et de Shahram Nazeri sont le fruit de quatre années de recherches vouées à la poésie et aux mélodies issues de la traditions orale du Kurdistan. Shahram Nazeri est né au Kurdistan iranien, dans une famille de musiciens. Sa faille étant d’origine kurde, il est très tôt sensibilisé à cette culture à laquelle il est attaché. Aujourd’hui, Shahram Nazeri est devenu un grand chanteur contemporain en Iran, il est souvent sollicité pour des concerts à travers le monde.
Djamchid, Keyvan et Bijan Chemirani : “ Trio de zarb ”, Al Sur, Média 7, 1998
Les Chemirani, père et fils ont puisé dans les rythmes traditionnels et dans ceux issus des poésies mystiques des XIe et XIIe siècles. Les rythmes et la poésie persane sont intimement liés. Sous forme de dialogue ou de discours croisés le paysage sonore se renouvelle sans cesse, passant de séquences graves et profondes à l’unisson à d’intenses polyrythmies, explorant les multiples possibilités mélodiques et timbrales de l’instrument.
Hossein Alizâdeh, târ, tanbur et sétâr ; Afsâneh Rassâ’i, chant ; Madjib Khaladj, tombak et daf “Musique iranienne : Sâz-é nô”, Buda Records, 1997. Enr à Paris en 1997
Hossein Alizâneh est né en 1951 à Téhéran. A l’issue de 25 années d’activité et de création, il est reconnu aujourd’hui comme l’un des pionniers les plus marquants de lamusique traditionnelle iranienne. Afsâneh Rassâ’i est une chanteurse iranienne avec un timbre de voix pur et sans effet se rattachant à une école authentique.
Sussan Deyhim “Madman of god : divine love songs of the persian sufi masters” CramWorld, 2000
« Cette collection de mélodies classiques empruntées au répertoire persan est basé sur la poésie de Rümi, Hafez et d’autres écrivains Soufis du 11e au 19e siècle. Ces pièces sont connues aussi bien par mes grands parents que par les jeunes de ma génération, elles représentent les chansons d’amour de la musique classique persane. » (SD). Née à Téhéran, Sussan Deyhim a commencé sa carrière comme danseuse dans la compagnie nationale de Ballet perse, puis dans la compagnie de Maurice Béjart, le ballet du 20ème siècle. Elle s’installe à New York en 1980, où elle mène une carrière à multiples facettes embrassant la musique, le théâtre, la danse, le multimédia, en collaborant vec des artistes majeurs de l’art contemporain.
Iran : Bardes du Khorassan : “Chants et luth dotâr ”, Ocora, Harmonia Mundi, 1998. Enr. en 1997. Texte de Ameneh Youssefzadeh
Le Khorassan est une région située au Nord-Est de l’Iran. Région stratégique, elle constitue une forteresse naturelle au cœur de l’Asie Centrale, en même temps qu’elle forme un couloir de communication entre les steppes et les contrées civilisées et peuplées du Proche-Orient. C’est par cette porte géographique que les Turcs (XIe s) puis Mongols (XIIIe s)entrèrent en Perse Les bardes appelés Bakhshsi sont des musiciens professionnels qui se produisent en groupe lors de réjouissances et de danses villageoises
Dariush Talâ’i, târ, setâr ; Mohammad Musavi, ney ; Kiâni Iran : Les maîtres de la musique traditionnelle . volume 1″ Ocora : Harmonia Mundi, 1991. -Enr. à Téhéran en 1979. Texte Jean During
Djamchid Chemirani, zarb ; Madjid Kiani, santour ; Daryoush Tala’i, tar “ Musique iranienne ” Harmonia Mundi, 1977. – Texte du livret de Nelly Caron.
La musique iranienne, parvenue jusqu’à nous à travers la tradition orale, est avant tout une expression de sentiments, d’émotions, de “mouvements d’âme”. Tantôt non mesurée, comme les récitatifs, tantôt très rythmée, elle fait alterner un caractère méditatif, voir une nostalgie de l’Absolu ….] C’est une musique monodique, modale, heptatonique, non tempérée, où les ornements et l’improvisation jouent un rôle important. Elle est basée sur douze systèmes modaux, les Avâz, dont sept sont particulièrement importants : les Dastgâh.
Le bibliothécaires musicaux de la Médiathèque du Grand Dole
jeudi 20 septembre 2007
Muzica antica Persana
Muzica antica Persana a cunoscut doua perioade distincte, prima pre-islamica cunoscuta drept Khonyâ-ye Bâstâni Irâni si a doua dupa islamizarea Iranului cunoscuta sub numele Mousiqi-e aseel. Nu pot sa vorbesc despre muzica persana fara cateva date extrem de superficiale despre istoria si religia persana antica. Persanii de azi, adica iranieni sunt urmasi unui mare popor care a stapanit odata intregul Orient Mijlociu, sudul Europei si au ajuns pana la Dunare. Contrar perceptiei generale ei nu sunt arabi si nici macar semiti. Persani sunt prima hegemonie Indo-Europeana (majora, a exista o alta insa mult mai minora si de scurta durata, cea a Hititilor) in Orientul Mijlociu. Etnogeneza persana contine doua elemente, cea nordica care este reprezentata printr-o migratie din India-Pakistan, si cea sudica reprezentata de Elamiti, un al doilea component al natiuni iraniene de astazi. Persanii joaca un rol primordial in religia Israelita si Crestina. Dupa cucerirea imperiului neo-Asirian (vezi postarea despre Aşurbanipal), marele rege Persan Kuruš-Cyrus I-Cirus I, le-a permis evreilor sa se intorca acasa si sa-si construiasca noul Templu in Ierusalim. Intoarcerea Evreilor la Ierusalim impreuna cu scrierile sfinte care au fost partial redactate in acest timp, inseamna (de-iure) si inceputurile proto-Crestinismului (Cartea lui Daniel). Evreii au adus cu ei un nou element de baza astazi in teologia Judeo-Crestina, “judecata-de apoi”; angeologia (ingeri si diavoli), dualismul religios, etc. Influenta Zoroastriana asupra teologiei Judeo-Crestine a fost enorma, mult mai mare decat doresc uni sa o recunoasca. Colac peste pupaza, cum zice inteleptul popular roman, de vreo zece ani circula zvonul unor manuscrise vechi gasite pe valea Khaburului (locul de rezidenta major al diasporei ebraice) care indica clar ca Zarathustra (Zoroaster) si un mare profet Evreu ar fi fost aceasi persoana, si ca evrei sunt si de fapt initiatori zoroastrismului, fosta secta Ebraica in diaspora. Deoarece in zilele noastre, Ahemdinajah si Bibi Netaniahu au un chef nebun sa se bombardeze reciproc, sper ca voi avea sansa in sa mai apuc confirmarea sau infirmare acestor zvonuri. Muzica antica Persana este de fapt muzica sacra Zoroastrian. Aceasta religie are accente muzicale extrem de pronuntate, muzica fiind o parte integrala din riualul religios. Urmele acestei muzici rituale sunt extrem de vechi. Imperiul Elamit (3,500-644 i.Hr.) unul din cele doua elemente ale etnogenezei persane a cunoscut muzica sacra si inperioada ante-zoroastriana. Principalul instrument muzical persan (pina in zilele noastre) un fel de luta sau cobza, pe numele barabat (in muzica islamica se numeste – oud) dateaza de pe atunci. Muzica Elamita considerata proto-Persana era dedicata zeului Mitra, zeul principal in mitologia indo-europena (probabil un fel de stamos a lui Zamolxis, care este dupa parerea mea un fel de sincrezie intre Mitra si fenicianul Okhon). Transformarea lui Mitra in Amesha Spenta (cele sase scantei divine) si in Ahura Mazda, divinitatea suprema a zoroastrismului. Despre cartea sfanta a zoroastrismului, Avesta veti putea citi astazi pe Bibliophyle o mica relatare analitica. Trebuie de precizat inainte de a trece mai departe la muzica, ca Mithraismul din secolele 1 – 4 d.Hr., principal adversar al Crestinismului primar in Imperiul Roman, NU este identic cu Mitraismul antic despre care vorbim in aceasta postare.
Instrumentele muzicale ale muzice antice persane sunt: (1) kamanceh, care produce sunete asemanatoare unei violine; (2) tombak, un fel de tobita care este deobicei tinuta intre picioare intr-o pozitie de sedere orientala, percutia fiind executata cu palma deschisa sau cu degetele rasfirate; (3) ney, un fele de fluier facut din trstie sau bambus suptire cu patru orificii; (4) daf, un fel de tamburina; (5) santur, tambalul cunoscut noua care a ajuns in Balcani de triburile Tiganesti care au emigrat prin aceste regiuni; (6) tanbūr, un fel de balalaica, pastrat in forma lui initiala in muzica balcanica (in limba bulgara se numeste tambura.) care-si are originea in Sumerul antic (numele lui in sumerian a fost PAN-DUR) si este probabil cel mai vechi instrument de coarde din istoria omeniri care si-a pastrat forma si etimologia; (7) barbat, un fel de cobza (vezi mai sus).
Compozitia persana clasica era bazata pe improviztii memorate de muzicieni templelor sau ai curti regale. Maestri muzicieni ai muzicie sacre, denumiti ostad (= maestru) aveau un statut egal preotilor si mai inalt decat al feudalilor, egal cu cel al capetenilor militare. Repertoriul pe care il cunoastem astazi era bazat pe unitati melodice numite gusheh, clasificate in 12 dastgah-uri, fiecare gusheh si dastgah aveau un nume. Fiecare piesa era compusa din: (1) pishdaramad, pre-indroducere, la acordarea instrumentelor si incalzirea vocala; (2) daramad introducere, care deobicei povestea si povesta libretului; (3) avaz, o portiune instrumentala care trebuia sa arate virtuozitatea orchestrei; (4) tasnif, o combinatie intre muzica orchestrala si muzica corala care canta interpreta imnuri sacre inchinate divinitati; (5) chaharmezrab, o muzica ritmica care era de fapt apogeul ritualului cand admosfera era plina de arome de smirna si alte parfumuri ritale (134 de substante diferite)si insfasit, (6) reng (melodia de inchidere a slujbei, executata de un cor de soprane insotite numai de instrumente de coarda, sopranele erau de sex masculin).
In aceasta perioada pre-Islamica rugaciunile Avestane erau cantate intrun mod numit “gah” coresounzator fiecarei rugaciuni (psalm daca doriti, corespondentul biblic), numita “gath”
Tot ce stim noi despre aceasta muzica (si stim enorm de mult) o stim datorita marelui medic, filozof, poet, scriitor si muzician musulman-Persan Al-Farabi in carte lui nemuritoare (de care ma voi ocupa in 3 postari, viitoare), numita in original Kitab al-Musiqa al-Kabir, tradusa gresit in occident sub titlul Marea Cartea a Muzicii, cand de fapt traducerea arhaica insemna “Cartea Muzicii Minunate”
Materialul in majoritatea lui pentru aceasta postare a fost pus la dispozitia cititorilor de Professor Emeritus Martin Fourman, care a fost ridicat de mine la rangul de Professor Angelicus. Materialul istoric si religios redactat de mine, majoritar din carti si articole publicate de mine.
Cateva melodii recente care incearca un fel de neo-clasicism persan
(Courtesy of THEOPHYLE)
Khonyâ-ye Bâstâni Irâni
A brief mention of Iranian language should be made here. Prior to the Arab invasion of Iran (Persia), that is before 636A.D, Iranian languages were nearly pure Iranian and consisted of no Arabic words whatsoever. Even though Parsi (the oficial Persian language) does contain Arabic words, the words are not understood by Arabs. Parsi is not a branch of Arabic. The term “Khonyâ-ye Bâstâni” is the purely Iranian transliteration of what would translate into “Ancient Iranian Music,” that is to say, Iranian Classical Music. This Iranian term is well-understood today, but it is rarely used when compared to the more frequently used Arabic term, “Musiqi-e assil,” which would translate to about the same. Through excavated evidence, such as statuettes recovered in Susa, it can be fairly stated that music in Iran can be traced back to the days of the Elamite Empire (2,500-644B.C). Understandably, little is known of the music during this period except for the fact that various instruments, such as guitars, lutes, and flutes were created and played. Instruments, such as the “Barbat,” are said to have originated in this period, probably around 800B.C.
During the Achaemenid Empire, that infamous “Persian Empire,” it was stated by Heredotus that music played an important role, especially in court. He mentions that music was crucial to religious ceremonies in worshiping the God, Mithra, whom was later to be accepted a “Daeva,” a false God or devil, as well as several other idols, after the religion of Prophet Zoroaster became more and more accepted.
The term “Khonyâ-ye Bâstâni Irâni” is a post-Achaemenian term. Parsi (Persian) is a language that was spoken at court along with Pahlavi, the official language of the Sassanid Empire (224-642A.D.) and consists of most of the same words and the same grammar as Pahlavi. So the word for music during Sassanid rule and in pure Parsi today, is actually “Khonya.” Though the origins of Iran’s modal music remain vague, research has revealed more than was previously known. The court musician of the Sassanid Empire, Barbod the Great, created the first ever musical system in the Middle East, known as the “Royal Khosravani,” dedicated to the king Khosrow (Chosroes). Many of the current names of the modes used in Iranian Classical Music, “Dastgahs,” have survived from that time by an oral tradition, though many of the modes and melodies have disappeared, probably because of Arab invaders who viewed music as immoral behavior.
Iranian Classical Music is improvised and is based on a series of modal scales and tunes which must be memorized. Apprentices and masters (ostad) have a traditional relationship which has declined during the 20th century as music education moved to universities and conservatoires. A repertoire of more than two hundreed series (radif) are each divided into short melodies called gusheh, which are themselves divided into twelve Dastgah. Each Gusheh and Dastgah has an individual name. Many melodies and modes are related to the maqams of Turkish and Arabic music:it must be made clear that the Arabs, upon their invasion of the Persian Empire, declared the lands they had conquered as their “Islamic World.” Though most Arab rulers prohibited musical activity, others ordered Persian musicians to write compositions in the form of a book which was called, in Arabic, “Kitab al Musiqi al Kabir,” meaning The Great Book of Music. It is for this reason that melodies within the classical musics of Turkey, Syria, and Egypt bare some names of Iranian scales and modes.
The Classical music is vocal based. The vocalist plays a crucial role: she or he decides what mood to express and which Dastgah relates to that mood. The vocalist is also responsable, in many cases, for choosing the poems to be sung. If the performance requires a singer, the singer is accompanied by at least one wind or string instrument, and at least one type of percussion. There could be an ensemble of instruments, though the primary vocalist must maintain hers or his role. At times, the musicians may accompany the singer by singing along several verses. Traditionally, music is performed while seated on finely decorated cusions and rugs. Candles are sometimes lit. The group of musicians and the vocalist decide on which Dastgahs and which of their gushehs to perform, depending on the mood of a certain time or situation.
Before the Arab invasion, the melodies in which recitals from the “Avesta,” the sacred book of the Mazdean religion of Prophet Zoroaster(world’s first Prophet of Monotheistic religion) were chanted or sung, were fited into those modes (visit for more details on this). When Islam became the dominant religion of Iran, rulers decided to either ban music or to later discourage people to abandon the recital of Mazdean prayers in those modes. Music was performed strictly in court up until the 20th century. It was performed in secret during the rule of Islamic extremists of medieval era. It is important to say that a few movements are probably not ancient, but very old.
However, Iranian Classical Music continues to function as a spiritual tool as it has throughout its history, and much less of a recreational activity. Compositions can vary immensely from start to finish, usually alternating between low, contemplative pieces and athletic displays of musicianship called tahrir. The incorporation of religious texts as lyrics were replaced by lyrics largely written by medieval poets, especially Hafez and Jalal-e Din Rumi.
Instruments used in Persian classical music include the bowed spike-fiddle kamancheh, the goblet drum tombak, the end-blown flute ney, the frame drum daf, the long-necked lutes tar, setar, tambur, dotar, and the dulcimer santur. Harps, “chang[s],” were a very important part of music up until the middle of the Safavid Empire (1502-1736). They were most-likely replaced by the piano which was introduced by the West during the Safavid Dynasty of Iran. Many, if not most, of these instruments inspired the creation of instruments of other Middle Eastern Countries. Perhaps the most loved string instrument is the tar. Tar players are highly chosen to function as the primary string instrument in a performance. The setar is also very loved for its delicacy and is the favorite among Mystic musicians. Some instruments like the sorna, neyanban, dohol, gheichak, and others, are no longer used in the Classical repertoire as they were during the Sassanid era yet they have maintained their place in Iranian Folk Music, another ancient tradition. The instruments used in the Classical field are also used in Iranian Folk Music.
Impact of Persian Music on Other Cultures and Vice Versa
An Article by Maestro Nasrollah Nasehpoor
In order to examine Persian music, that of the neighboring countries should first be tackled, since the states which have either impressed our music or have been influenced by it have either been part of Iran in ancient times or just adjacent to it. Besides the relation between the neighboring countries, given that Iran was located in-between the east and west, the frequent crossings of various tribes left its impressions on Persian culture. The two issues needs to be examined closely. Though a thorough discussion of the issues in question won’t be possible here, but I will do my best to show such a mutual impact as far as possible.
Persian culture is one of the world’s most ancient. Given that no remarkable information and documents are available on its ancient era, nonetheless, on the basis of the existing evidences one might realize the existence of an integrated music in the ancient Persia. The oldest document is a cylindrical stamp dating back to the 5th millennium BC, which has been unearthed at Choghamish near Dezful city. It shows the world’s most ancient music ensemble, which is consisted of a harpist and a drummer.
On the other hand, Persian music might have been influenced by the Indian music, which might be linked to the music of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan. This is, nonetheless, nothing new and its evident sample is Abu Reyhan Birouni’s book titled “Mal ol-Hind”.
The impression left on Persian music by the Indian music since ancient times is quite evident from the common Aryan traditional music, among which the one with the well-known story about the Indian gypsies might be the most famous. It is said that Bahram Gour requested his father-in-law, who was India’s monarch, to send 12,000 musicians to Iran in order to entertain the Iranian nation by playing Indian music. The consequent impression left on Persian music has been talked about to some extent. The existence of such Indian musical instruments as “van” and “darai” in Iran marks the traces of Indian music. Besides coming across musical pieces such as Ramkali in Abu-Ata, Denasari in Homayoun, Rak-e-Abdollah, Rak-e-Hindi, Rak-e-Kashmir in Mahour and Rast-Panjgah are samples of such an impression. It should be clarified that Ramkali and Denasari are Indian Ragas (modes). Besides Rak is the Arabic version of Rag, which is somehow related to the Persian word Rang (color). The impression of Iranian music on the Indian music is still more evident, which is contributed to the presence of Iranian musicians specially Amir Khosro Dehlavi, the Indian Persian-speaking poet and the famous singer and musician at Akbar Shah’s court. Indian music of today is based on two styles known as Hindustani and Karnatic Sangeet. Hindustani style commonly played in northern India appeared under the impression of Iranian music. The Indian singing styles including Qavali, Ghazal, Tarana and so on are all rooted in Persian music. The Indian sitar is taken after the Persian setar, which has undergone some changes to produce the melodies suitable for Indian music. According to the latest research, the Indian “tabla” is rooted in three instruments including the Iranian “naghareh”, the Iranian/Indian “doholak” and the Indian “pakhavaj”. On the other hand the presence of the Iranian and Arabic words such as “saz” (instrument), “mezrab” (plectrum) denotes such an impression. Unfortunately, further elaboration in this respect would divert our attention from the original issue.
Given that China played a decisive role in the cultural and musical exchange, it should be mentioned as well. Several Iranian instruments, which were taken to China, were influenced by some characteristics of the Chinese music. For instance, the Chinese instrument known as “suona” is rooted in the “sorna” (Persian oboe) and is related to some extent to the “shahnay” (Indian oboe). Another such example is the Iranian “barbat” (Persian lute) that was taken to China and became known as “pipa”, which should have later been taken to Japan and the Japanese called it “biwa”. Another instrument quite resembling the Persian “tonbak” (goblet-shaped drum) called “shuhai-gata-katamen-taiko” is also commonly played in Japan, while the instrument played in Sistan-Baluchistan province of Iran, known as “binjo” is probably of Japanese origin.
It is interesting to note, however, that the culture of Uyghur Turks has been greatly impressed by the Persian culture and the presence of such Persian instruments as “tar”, “khoshtar”, “dap”, etc. is the best evidence. Uyghuri music is based on modal style and is comprised of 12 modes, which should be rooted in the well-known Iranian 12-modal.
Given that we already surveyed the common music of eastern Iran, let’s tackle that of western Iran. According to the surveys conducted so far by unknown researchers, it has been revealed that the Greek music is originally rooted in the Orient. Likewise, the Turkish music has so much in common with Persian music that they might hardly be considered independent from one another. Therefore, the Persian music should be taken as one of the basics of the Turkish music. For instance, the Greek goblet drum known as “toubeleki” which is from the same family as the Turkish instrument called “dumbelek”, should have been rooted in the Persian goblet drum known as “dombak”. “Dombalak” is a Pahlavi (middle Persian language) name which is a converted form of “dombak”. It should be noted, however, that once the Islamic Civilization prevailed, the use of Greek texts in theoretical music became common, which might be taken as the theoretical impression of the Greek music on the theoretical music of the world of Islam.
But what is more important is to discuss the music of Arabic-speaking countries. Everything that is related to the Islamic civilization has been attributed by some biased historians to the Arabs on the mere ground that they have been written in Arabic, while the share of Persians have either been ignored or rendered quite pale. The Islamic civilization is known to have been quite common in the world of Islam over 9th-11th centuries owing mostly to the committed attempts of the Iranian scholars. It should be mentioned that what is known today as the Arab music is rooted in the music of Mesopotamia, Egypt and Persia.
Once the governments ruling Assyria and Babylonia collapsed in the 6th century BC, the Mesopotamian and Persian civilizations were combined to form a single much richer civilization.
The Egyptian music is also impressed by Persian music. The presence of Persian instruments such as kamancheh (spike fiddle) and santoor (hammered dulcimer) as well as various Persian musical modes including chahargah, sehgah, Isfahan, Nahavand, souznak, rast, basteh-negar, souz-e del in the Egyptian music is the best evidence to this end. Besides the instrument known as hammered dulcimer, is also commonly played in China, India, Iraq, Hungary, Romania and Germany.
The western musical instruments are mostly rooted in or taken after the oriental ones. Almost all European instruments were taken to Europe by Muslims from Asia through the southeast of Byzantine and northern Africa in the Middle Ages. The Persian “barbat” known as “Al-oud” among the Arab states was called lute once it arrived in Europe. Later on, it underwent changes and was converted into guitar and mandolin. It should be clarified, however, that guitar is not quite unlike the Persian stringed instrument known as tar (literally means string) and that the occurrence of the word “tar” in guitar is not accidental.
It is already evident that the basics of piano should be looked for in dulcimer and that the Turkish and Arabic “sornas” have also been derived from similar Persian instruments. It should be noted that even the percussion instruments have mostly been taken to the West from the Orient. The French word “tabor” is proved to have been derived from the Persian word “tabireh”. “Tabor” was an instrument which was played in Europe in the Middle Ages. Besides the history of the western music shows that kettledrum known as “naker” is the father of its present version known as timpani. Naker is derived from the word “naghareh” which was taken to Europe through the Ottoman martial music. All types of frame and goblet drums are rooted in the Middle East. For instance, the north African instrument called “bendayer” also referred to as “bendir” is of the same root as the Persian frame drum known as “dayereh” which was taken to Spain and Portugal by Muslims, whence it was taken to Brazil and became known as “pandeiro”.
Let’s now survey the impression left on the Persian music by the western music over the recent two centuries. It can be definitely said that such an impression dates back to the Qajar era. Under the rule of Fathali Shah Qajar, once Iran’s ruling system and army was introduced to the new European system and the army was equipped with cannons and guns, the martial musical instruments – mainly played in naghareh-khanehs (special centers where naghreh were played) – were also replaced. Since then the naghareh-khanehs were replaced by new martial musical arrangements. In-between the two world wars, when Iran and the Tsarian Russia were apparently in good terms, the ambassador plenipotentiary representing the Russian government heading a delegation arrived in Tehran via Tabriz. A 30-member orchestra accompanying the visiting delegation performed tunes in Tabriz for the crown prince Abbas Mirza and for Fathali Shah who resided in Soltaniyeh, Zanjan for an indefinite period of time. Once Abbas Mirza heard the played tunes, he became inquisitive about their instruments and after getting enough information about them, he decided to form an orchestra of martial music according to the new style. This was the very time when the Persian music got impressed by the western music. Then a new department was added to Darol-Fonoun School, where modern martial music was to be taught in order to train experts of martial music. A music master called Loumer was employed. In 1918, a music school was established at the proposal of General Gholam-Reza Minbashiyan.
The book called “Western Theoretical Music” was translated into Persian for the first time ever by Mirza Ali Khan-e Naqqash-Bashi, known as Mozayanoddoleh, who used to teach French and painting at Darol-Fonoun. It was published at the school’s printing house. Piano was brought into Iran under the rule of Fathali Shah. Mohammad Sadeq Khan Sorour ol-Molk, the well-known santoor player, tuned it in accordance with Persian intervals for the very first time.
Violin is also one of the European instruments, which became common in Iran under the reign of Nassereddin Shah after the establishment of Darol-Fonoun. Then it was adopted by orchestras of Iran and taking it as a model, a fourth cord was added to the Persian spike fiddle, the kamancheh.
It should be noted, however, that Persian music gradually became more and more impressed by the western music, so that its traces are evident even in the most traditional type of today Persian music. The most significant cases of such impression might be summarized as follows:
- Devised forms of the late Qajar era such as “pish-daramad” (overture), etc.
- Singing and playing styles
- Various styles of performing in ensemble
- Imitation of western styles including martial music, waltz, polka, etc.
- Chamber and Symphonic orchestras
- Opera and ballet groups
- Music schools and western teaching methods
- Writing music and notes
- Survey and research on music
Since elaborating on all the above is out of question, some of the cases will just be briefly pointed out. At the music courses proposed by Salar Moazzez besides martial music, other branches of western music were also taught. Thus civil trainees were also attracted to the said music school.
In 1923 the Master-Course Music School was established under the supervision of Ali-Naqi Vaziri, who was trained on Persian music by Iranian masters. He also studied western music in Germany. Under the impression of western educational music books, Vaziri complied and published in Berlin his book on playing both European and Persian music with ‘tar’. He compiled a musical theory on the Persian music with a western outlook on the basis of which, for instance, the 24-part scale might be redesigned. Such a theory was earlier brought up and proposed for the oriental music by Michael Moshaqeh, the Arab mathematician. He meant to moderate the intervals of Persian music similar to the 12-part western scale so that they would correspond to rules of harmony.
As concerns formation of orchestras, one might recall the orchestra of Okhovvat Society, which was the first orchestra of Persian instruments formed under the impression of western music. The orchestra included such western instruments as violin and piano, which eventually led to the establishment of the orchestra of Vaziri’s music school.
The idea of initiating opera in Iran might have occurred to the mind of some Iranian artists around 70-80 years ago. In the outset of the constitution era, when stage performances became common, the idea of musical dramas also popped into the minds of the artists. As a matter of fact, the idea of operas and operettas was introduced by the Caucasian musicians residing in Iran. One may actually talk about writing harmonized melodies on the basis of Persian music.
The brief reference made above calls for multilateral survey in order to further introduce the connection of Persian music with the cultures of other states. Fortunately, dialogue among civilizations can assist researchers across the world, once the principles and the nations’ votes are respected.
This is an English version of the following article:
Nasrollah Nasehpoor, Impact of Persian Music on Other Cultures and Vice Versa, Art of Music — Cultural, Art & Social (Monthly), pp 4-6 (Vol. 37) Sep, 2002.)