Iranian Traditional Music

Several historically enriched musical modes flow to form the Middle Eastern musical structure, amongst which the Iranian has a high theoretical and practical standing. This musical system which was not separated from the Arabic/Ottoman system, started to gain its unique characteristics since around the 14th century A.D.

The generally monophonic and sometimes homophonic  texture leads to a very intrinsic and delicate style of melodies in this musical system which are strongly distinguished and perceived by fine grace notes, several divisions of semi and quarter tones, elaborate rhythmic development and its unique transitions and modulations.

 

Singing Poems

Iranian traditional music is to some extent inseparable from the Persian poem. within the passage of time many mystical concepts from traditions practiced in this region have greatly influenced Persian poems and Iranian music, such that even a certain musical genre called the Khanghahi exists, which is played in Khangahs, were mystic dance (Sama’) and customs are still practiced.

 

Prominent Instruments

There are of course many different kinds of instruments in different parts of Iran but the most prominent which are nationally played and taught are:

The Tar, which is a plucked instrument with a long neck and a double belly acting as a resonance box.

Kamanche, which is a bowed instrument in resembles a violin, except that in the Kamanche the instrument is balanced by the left hand upon the player's knee and stands on a thin rod, and its resonance box is smaller in comparison to a violin and rounded, and also at its top, beneath the strings, there's a tightly drawn sheep skin which acts as an auxiliary resonator.

The Nei, which is a wind instrument and its most interesting characteristic is that its lower octave sounds completely different to the two higher ones, as if two completely different instruments are in play.

The Zarb, this percussive instrument is the most evolved one in its kind throughout the world. Unlike most percussion, and more than all, different effects and figures are played on it by the palm, fingers, knuckles and the nails, either separately or in combination.

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