Tag Archives: Faramarz Payvar

فرامرز پایورMaster Farāmarz Pāyvar -SANTUR

Luigi Pesce, Mosque of Qom, Iran, c

“ I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.” – Hafez


(Born in  Tehran, 1932). Persian  santur player and composer. He comes from a musical family and for six years, from the age of 17, studied the santur with Abolhasan Sabā, followed by further training with other masters of Persian traditional music. Pāyvar has combined a career as a virtuoso performer and composer with scholarship which has yielded a number of significant publications. They include original compositions as well as arrangements and books on the technique of santur. His recordings, published both in Persia and abroad, are numerous. They encompass recordings of some of the dastgāhs with the inclusion of all known guڑes, also shorter renditions of dastgāhs, original compositions and ensemble pieces written or arranged by him. He has travelled widely and is known internationally for his many concerts and recordings.

Pāyvar has a thorough knowledge of the radif of Persian traditional music. He has advanced the technique of santur playing to levels not attained by any other santur player. His performances of any given dastgān generally display exceptional agility and smoothness of hammer action on the santur, use of a wide range of sound, and the interpolation of difficult and lengthy composed èahārmesrābs. On the other hand, his performance style is peppered with features of western virtuoso displays such as rapid scale movements, arpeggio patterns and passages in parallel thirds, all of which are essentially alien to Persian music.



Master Faramarz Payvar

Dastgah Shur
Dastgah Homayoun
Dastgah Segah
Zarb solo
Dastgah Chahargah


Payvar [Faramarz] (1932) Composer, santour player, born in Tehran. He knew Radif. His father was Ali Payvar [he was Painter and he was play Setar and Santour]. Payvar studied Music in Darolfonoun School. However, he studied English languagein Cambridge University at 1341 (1962).

His teachers were Abol Hassan Saba [6’th years], Abdollah Davami and Nour Ali Broumand [Sing Radif], Hussein Dehlavi and Melik Aslanian [Harmony and Counter Point] and Hussein Tehrani. He published
many book for Santour. He conducted Farhang-Honar Ensemble at 1345 (1966). He published Davami’s Radif and Roknoddin’ssongs.

He recorded many Cassettes, Disc, and CD with Hussein Tehrani, Ali Asghar Bahari, MohammadEsmaeili, Houshang Zarif, Hassan Nahid and … He has many students, including Saeid Sabet, Pejman Azarmina and …
« Faramarz Payvar is a well-known name in Iran for he is the most prominent santur virtuoso and his touch has created the most beautiful sounds of the cascade-like glissandi on the instrument, all of them products of a highly cultivated mind. He was born in 1932 in Tehran. His father was a professor of French language and also a keen and productive painter. His grandfather,
Mosavvar-od-Doleh was the court painter in Qajar period; Some of his paintings are kept in royal palaces of Iran. Both could play violin and santur and was in close relationship with some masters of the day. Faramarz Payvar began his musical studies at the age of 17 with Abolhasan Saba and completed radif in 6 years. So prominent was his development, that he accompanied his
master in several occasions. Their collaboration has been recorded and is made available for music-lovers. He completed his primary and high schools in Asjodi School and in Dar-ol-Fonun. In 1952 he began his military service and after that was employed by the Ministry of Finance and Economy. After Saba’s death, Payvar continued his studies with Ostad Davami, Ostad Ma’rufi and Ostad Borumand by surveying and learning radifs of Darvish Khan, Aqa Hoseyn-Qoli and Mirza Abdollah and
perfected and completed his musical knowledge. In this period he compiled and transcribed the great legacy of Persian music,thus preserved it for the ages to come.

The most important works that he collected are: Volcal Radif of Persian Music accordingto the version of Abdollah Davami Anthology of old Tasnifs; Works of Sheyda, Aref, Sama’ Hozur… Works of Darvish Khan andRokneddin Mokhtari. Payvar also studied composition with Ostad Dehlavi and Emanuel Melik-Aslanian. He began his career as aperforming artist – playing santur – in 1955, and arranged solo recitals as well as duos with Abolhasan Saba and Hoseyn Tehrani
for radio broadcasting.

After National Television was founded, Payvar managed to perform live programs which turned out to be of high importance in making people get familiar to Persian music. In 1963 he went to England to study English in Cambridge University. During the 3 years of language studies, he could also give santur recitals and lectures on Persian music in Cambridge and London Colleges. After returning from England, he performed remarkably in Shiraz Art Festival with numerous musicians
and other masters of Persian music. In 1967 Rudaki Hall was founded and the peak of his career began. He performed many pieces by past masters and accompanied great vocalists of the day in concerts held in newly founded place. In
1968 he was transferred to the Ministry of Education and retired in 1976.” (Source : Mahoor.com)


Faramarz_Payvar_Hossein Therani

Zarbe Osoul
Chaharmezrab Shour az Saba
Mahouro Delkash & Chaharmezrab
Ghet`e Ferdows
Renge Tork az Darvishkhan


[sadouri, santûr, sant’ur, santuri, sintir, tsintsila].

Dulcimer of the Middle East, south-eastern Europe and South and East Asia. It is used in Iran, Iraq, India, Kashmir, Turkey, Greece, Armenia, China and Tibet.

The prototype of the instrument may be seen in a harp, carried horizontally and struck with two sticks, found in iconographical documents of the ancient Babylonian (1600–911 bce) and neo-Assyrian (911–612 bce) eras. In the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), the santir appears among the instruments in the orchestra of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Chaldea (604–562 bce). Certain Arab sources mention its use during the Sassanian era (226–641 ce). In the 11th century the instrument was known to Spanish Muslims and, in the 14th, Ibn Khaldûn mentioned its use by Arabs in North Africa. In the 16th century the Egyptians made a distinction between the qânûn and the santûr; Villoteau (Description de l’Egypte, Paris, 1809–28) referred to the santûr as marginal in Egypt itself, though the instrument was most definitely used at that time in Iraq.

In Iran the santur consists of a trapeziform case made of walnut wood, approximately 90 cm wide at the broad end, 35 cm wide at the narrow end and 6 cm deep. The sides form an angle of 45° to the wider end. The strings are fixed to hitch-pins along the left-hand side and wound round metal wrest-pins on the right by means of which they are tuned with a tuning-key. Each quadruple set of strings rests on a movable bridge of hardwood (kharak). These bridges are aligned almost parallel with the sides of the case. The right-hand rank corresponds to the bass strings and that on the left to the treble strings. In the centre of the santur the low-pitched strings on the right cross the high-pitched strings on the left.

The left-hand strings can be played on either side of the bridges. In this way three different courses of strings are available: the lowest-sounding on the right, a second series, sounding an octave higher, left of centre, and the highest-sounding series, giving the third octave, on the left. There are nine (or sometimes 11) quadruple strings on either side so that, with 18 groups of strings, 27 different notes can be played. The bass strings are of brass and the trebles of steel. The first series of strings has a range of e’–f”, the second e”–f”’ and the third e”’–f””. The tuning can be readily modified by adjusting the position of the bridges.

The santur is played by striking the strings with two light hammers (mezrâb) held in three fingers of each hand. The hammers do not rebound and the tremolo is controlled solely by a rapid alternating movement of the right and left wrists. Tradition calls for a delicate and precise tone-quality which is obtained only with light hammers of hardwood, and some players stick felt to the ends of the hammers to soften the impact; others have obtained the same result by laying a piece of cloth on the strings. During the second half of the 20th century the Iranian santur virtuoso Farâmarz Pâyvar wrote several books on performance techniques.

The contemporary Iraqi santûr consists of a trapeziform soundbox made from two boards of wood joined together by splints of varying height; hardwoods such as walnut, bitter orange, white beech or apricot may be used. It is approximately 80 to 90 cm wide at the broad end, 31 to 41 cm wide at the narrow end and 7 to 12 cm deep, though when an instrument is made to accompany a specific singer, the size of the soundbox may be changed to accommodate the register of the singer’s voice.

The Iraqi santûr generally has 23 (recently 25) courses of strings (triple, quadruple and rarely quintuple) tuned in unison. There is no damping mechanism, so the sound of the struck melody notes is accompanied by the sympathetic vibrations of the other strings. Strings were traditionally metallic and varied in thickness, treble ones being of steel and those for the lower octaves of bronze. Bronze has now been replaced by nylon, either used by itself or alternating with brass or steel wire. Each group of strings rests on a movable hardwood bridge with a circular base in the shape of a bobbin. The bridges are placed so that the strings are divided into three sections, giving the fundamental note and two higher octaves. The santûr is played with two light sticks held in three fingers of each hand (see illustration); the ends of the sticks are usually covered with cloth to soften their impact on the strings.

Unlike its modern counterpart, the ancient Persian santûr has fixed bridges, which make it impossible to tune the notes during performance; only a number of basic modes may be played and transposed by three or more degrees on any one instrument. The ancient santûr is still played in Iraq. The santûr has a range of more than three octaves from g to a”’.

In South Asia, the santûr was restricted until recently to Kashmir, with its strong Persian culture. The construction of the Kashmiri santûr is similar to that of its Iranian counterpart (though smaller, deeper, and held on the player’s lap), but the tuning differs. Its 100 strings are tuned to nine scalar degrees to the octave (whole tones plus a flat 3rd and 7th) and the range is over one-and-a-half octaves. 12 degrees have two quadruple courses (one of steel, struck with the sticks, and one of brass, resonating sympathetically); the 13th has only a steel course.

In Iran the santur is an important instrument in the traditional orchestra, with the same repertory as the târ and setâr (lutes). It is also used in motrebi (music for entertainment), but never in folk music. In Iraq the santûr is part of the classicalshâlghî al baghdâdî (‘Baghdad ensemble’) along with the jûza (four-string spike fiddle), the daff zinjârî (frame drum with cymbalets), the tabl (single-headed drum) and the naqqâra (double kettledrum). The principal role of the shâlghî is to accompany classical singing (maqâm ‘irâqî) in teahouses, private homes and concerts. In the Caucasus, the sant’ur or santuri (which may have from 13 to 26 courses from triple to quintuple) is used mainly in the sazandar and ashugh (folk poet-singers) ensembles. In Greece its equivalent, the sadouri, is used in small folk ensembles.

The Kashmiri santûr is the leading instrument of the religious art-music ensemble sûfyâna kalâm (‘Sufic utterance’). Together with the setâr (long lute), dukrâ (drums) and (formerly) the sâz-î-kâshmîr (spike fiddle), it accompanies kalâm songs in a repertory of over 50 modes, some with Indian râga names, some Middle Eastern. It was introduced into Hindustani râga music by Shiv Kumar Sharma, who has become the instrument’s most famous exponent. Fixed-pitch chordophones were not formerly prominent in Indian court music because of the stylistic importance of voice-derived portamento (mir), but Sharma introduced a virtuoso stick-technique which re-creates the sound of vocal portamento through timing and tremolo. Since then the instrument has enjoyed growing popularity. It does not have a fixed tuning system but is re-tuned from piece to piece to a scale in the râga system, in three octave registers.

H.G. Farmer: ‘The Music of Ancient Mesopotamia’, ‘The Music of Islam’, NOHM, i (1957), 228–54, 421–77

M.H. al Ridjab: Al maqâmal-‘irâqî [The Iraqi maqâm] (Baghdad, 1961)

N. Caron and D. Safvate: Iran: traditions musicales (Paris, 1966)

S.A. Rashid: Târîkh al-âlât al-mûsîqîyya fî-l-‘irâq al-qadîm [History of musical instruments in ancient Iraq] (Beirut, 1970)

B.C. Deva: Musical Instruments of India (Calcutta, 1978)

S.Q. Hassan: Les instruments de musique en Irak et leur rôle dans la société traditionelle (Paris, 1980)

J. During: La musique iranienne: tradition et evolution (Paris, 1984)

N. Tremoulhac: ‘‘غd, santur, naqqara’, Journal of the Académie Musicologique du Forez, France, i (1984), 44–9

J. Pacholczyk: Sûfyâna mûsîqî: the Classical Music of Kashmir (Berlin, 1996)



Veteran Iranian composer and Santour player Faramarz Payvar has passed away at the age of 77 in the capital city of Tehran.

Payvar, one of the country’s prominent composers, died on Wednesday morning after struggling with brain damage for a long time.

Faramarz Payvar started learning music at the age of 17 under the tutorship of great Iranian master Abol-Hasan Saba.

His achievements in traditional Persian music and playing the Santour brought him great fame, leading to his co-operations with the Iranian Department of Art and Culture in 1954.

Payvar founded the ‘Art and Culture Orchestra’, which included such renowned figures as Hossein Tehrani, Khatere Parvaneh, Houshang Zarif, Mohammad-Reza Shajarian, Rahmatollah Badiee and Abdol-Vahab Shahidi.

He also played the Setar and published a book on Tar and Setar in 1996.

After getting a scholarship from Iran’s National Music Conservatory, Payvar majored in English Language at Cambridge University and was graduated in 1965.

Payvar, who was also studying Western music at the Royal Academy of Music in London, ended his life as a master composer of Persian music.

The veteran artist amazed music lovers by his performances in every corner of the world. His world tours took him to countries like the US, Germany, the UK, Sweden, France, Japan, Italy, Malaysia, and Russia.


Farâmarz Pâyvar and his place in Iranian music

LAP Lambert Academic Publishing ( 2010-05-21 )

This book describes the contribution of an eminent Iranian musician and composer, Ostâd Farâmarz Pâyvar, to the performance practice of contemporary Iranian classical music. It argues that Pâyvar was responsible for the rehabilitation of the Iranian hammered dulcimer or santûr within the Iranian classical repertoire, developing and refining its playing techniques and repertoire and transmitting his innovative and sophisticated ideas about the performance of Iranian classical music through his pedagogical practice and publications. A brief biography of Pâyvar, emphasising his musical lineage and heritage and his influence on subsequent generations of musicians, is also included. The thesis is in part a personal tribute to Pâyvar, who was the teacher and musical mentor of the writer.

Book Details:




Book language:English
By (author) :Qmars Piraglu

Number of pages:160
Published on:2010-05-21

see also :


http://books.google.de/books/about/Far%C4%81marz_P%C4%                81yvar_and_His_Place_in_Irani.html?id=3gOxNQAACAAJ&redir_esc=y







Kharanaq old city, Iran

The Art of The Persian Santur

Faramarz Payvar – Santur




The santūr 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 santur 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 santur, the instrument that today we know as the santur is absent from Persian music history until the nineteenth century. However, a very similar instrument called the qānūn existed in the Iranian plateau for centuries. Farabi (Persian philosopher and musician of the tenth century) in his famous book, al-Musiqi al-Kabir, portrayed the qānūn. Also, this instrument is seen in the paintings and miniatures of the Chehelsotun building (sixteenth century). This point should be made here that the santur is similar with the qānūn only in shape. The santūr is played by special-shaped picks (mezrab) whereas the qānūn is played by the fingernails. The santūr did not exist at least in the urban music until the middle of the Safavid era. Later, the santūr appears in the miniatures of this era. Most historians believe that the origin of the santūr is Iran. This instrument with little differences in shape and name is seen throughout the world. In China, this instrument is called the yangqin, in the west it is called the hammered dulcimer, and it exists with different names in the other parts of the world.


The santūr is a trapezoid-shaped box whose longest side (the side which is in front of the player) in the regular ones is 90 cm. The shortest side (the side which is on the opposite side of the longest side) is 35 cm. The other two sides which are diagonal are 38 cm and the height of this instrument is from 6 to10 cm. The santūr is often made of walnut, mulberry, cypress, boxwood, rosewood, and betel palm. There are several sound posts inside the box, and two small rosettes on the top panel which help to amplify the sound. The santūr has seventy two strings. These strings are made of two different materials and are in two different colors. The yellow strings (the low-pitched strings) are made of brass and the white strings (high-pitched strings) are made of steel. Up to the twenty century when metal strings did not exist, the strings were made of silk. The strings are arranged in groups of four, i.e. each of four closely spaced strings are tuned to the same pitch, and if they are not exactly in the same pitch, they will produce cacophonous sound. 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. Two rows of nine articles called “kharak” (totally eighteen kharaks) divide the santur into three positions and each lead four unison strings to the right and left side of the instrument. The santūr with the two rows of nine kharak is called “nine kharak santūr”. There are santūrs with eleven or twelve kharks as well, but they are not prevalent. The distance between each kharak from the left raw to the left side of the santūr is called “posht-e kharak” (behind the kharak). The tuning of the santūr is done by turning its strings by an especial spanner. Like the tuning of the piano, the tuning of the santūr is difficult. The santūr is played with the special-shaped picks called mezrab which are held between the index and middle fingers. In the past, the picks were heavier and without felt. Now most picks are lighter and have some felt. As a result, the picks with felt let the player to increase his playing speed and do more maneuver. On the other hand, the pick without felt which are heaver produce stronger sound and are able to do some detailed ornaments peculiar to Persian music. Today, both kinds of the picks are used. The santūr with nine articles or sometimes called the Sol (G)-tuned santūr is the most popular one. Most notations of Persian classical music are written for this kind of santūr. Another version of this santūr which is smaller in size and higher in pitch is known as the La (A) – tuned santūr. In comparison with other Persian instruments, the santūr has some limitations. As a result, the santūr player cannot play the various modes of Persian music with one system of tuning, and he or she should retune the instrument for playing the different modes. Sometimes, the player has to change the kharaks’ locations for retuning the strings, which in turn may result in the different pitches of the paired strings. In general, tuning of the santūr is very difficult. The player should always be aware of all the seventy two strings which are very sensitive and can go out of tune by humidity or any change in temperature. Therefore, many skilled santūr players are sometimes unhappy with the sound quality of their instruments. Habib Soma’i, an undisputed master of the santūr once said; “The tuning of the santūr made me old”.


The first recoding of the santur in Iran belongs to Mohammad Sadeq Khan from the Qājār period. After him, the playing of some santur players, such as Ali Akbar Shahi, Hassan Khan, and Habib Soma’i was recorded. Abol-Hassan Sabâ was another famous santūr player who is considered as the leading figure of the modern movement of playing the santūr. Unfortunately, there is no recording of him. But, we can figure out about his style from his students and those who followed his style. Hussein Malek, Dariush Saqafi, Reza Shafian, Faramarz Payvar and his student, Saeed Sabet are some santur players who followed Saba’s style. Some santūr players like Mansur Sarami, Reza Varzandeh, and Majid Najahi chose their own style of playing and produced unique sounds which were not heard before. In the new era, the style of playing the santūr was confronted with different experiences which has roots in traditions from one side and was related to new innovations from another side. The leading figures of this movement are Parviz Meshkatian and Pashang Kamkar. On the other hand, the traditionalist movement was shaped under the leadership of Majid Kiani who tried to revive the playing style of the past generations specially that of Habib Soma’i. In this style, the player seats on the floor and the santur is little higher than him and will be located in front of him. Also, in this style, the picks do not have felt. On the other hand, the modernist will seat on the chair and put their santūrs on a table and their picks have felt. The santūr is more popular among Iranian women than other instruments. Because of this fact there are many skilled santūr players among women. Arfa Atra’i, Azar Hashemi, and Susan Aslani are among the well-known female santūr players.

Family Instruments

As mentioned, the santūr has some limitations especially with its tuning system and is not capable of performing different modes of Persian music without retuning. To solve this problem, in 1961 two new santūrs were invented under Hussein Dehlavi’s suggestions and advice. One was a chromatic santūr with seven more kharaks (total of 16) and the other one was the bass santūr. The chromatic santūr is little bit bigger than the regular santūr. Also, in the chromatic santūr the strings are arranged in three instead of four. The advantage of this new santūr is that the player can do modulation and play different Persian modes without retuning the instrument. But, the chromatic santūr has some disadvantages as well. First, because of the extra kharaks, its playing is more difficult than the regular santūr. Second, the resonance of those strings which are not used in a particular mode can still be heard; as a result, the whole sound quality of the instrument will be affected. Because of theses unwanted harmonies created by the extra strings and kharaks, the chromatic santūr is usually used in the orchestra or larger ensembles so that its undesired harmonies can be covered by other sounds and not heard that much. In general, the chromatic santūr has not been a successful invention so far in the history of Persia music. But, the other invented santūr, the bass santūr has been accepted much warmer by the Iranian musicians. Probably, the reason is that the bass santūr is not very different from the regular santūr since it is just the regular santur with bass sound. Also, it does not create the problems which the chromatic one does in terms of undesired harmonies and tones.

(c) By The “Simorq”(Simorgh) project.