Developments in Iranian Music Since Qajar Era (I)

At the end of the Qajar era and as Iran entered the power transition period, known as the constitutional era, the Iranian music went through a lot of changes. These changes gained momentum as the students and followers of Ali Naqi Vaziri’s entered the musical scene. These changes greatly influenced designs of instruments, playing methods, singing, composing, etc.
The evolution of Iranian instruments
Tar: Tar is the most important Iranian instrument and the specialized instrument of Shahnazi family, who were the most important narrator of the Radif. Tar used to have 5 strings up until the time of Gholam Hossein Darvish and most likely musicians held it on their chest for playing. Gholam Hossein Darvish, however, held the instrument on his right lap and copying Setar’s 4th string (Hengam string) added another string to it which was always plucked together with the bass string.
Vaziri’s time (who learned to play Tar under Darvish Khan), increased Tar’s range by adding three quatertones frets to the end of the fingerboard. Therefore, the design of the three-octave tar was completed. Today, however, three-octave tar is seldom made. In mid-Qajar era, tar’s silk strings were replaced with metal strings; up to now steel and bronze are used for tar strings.
Setar: Setar was designed copying Tanbur. Approximately 150 years ago, setar’s strings were increased from three four by Mushtaq Ali Shah who was one of dervishes and instrumentalists from Kerman. This fourth string is placed next to the second sting and is plucked together with the bass string. This string is called Mushtaq or Hengam (octave). Setar has not gone through many changes in the contemporary era. Only a few setar makers made three-octave instruments which are not common to use yet. In mid-Qajar era, setar’s silk strings were also replaced with steel and bronze strings.
Oud: Oud has been forgotten in Iran for many years until the Second Pahlavi period when it gradually made its way to the stage in solo performances and Iranian instruments orchestras. Later, Ebrahim Ghanbari Mehr introduced a design of oud which featured a longer fingerboard and a smaller bowl compared to Arabic ouds. Ghanbari Mehr entitled the instrument Barbat which was the oud’s old name in Iran.
Qanun: Like Oud, Qanun was not played in Iran for many years, until the second Pahlavi period when the instrument was gradually recognized as a national Iranian instrument. Qanun was originally made and played exactly like Arabic qanuns; however, little by little Ebrahim Ghanbari Mehr changed the pattern and the mechanism of the bowl and the covering skin. Later on his design became popular among Iranian qanun-makers.

translated by Mahboube Khalvati

Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *
*
*
Your email is never shared.

Lilly Afshar, Iranian Guitar Legend, passed away

The text you are reading is about Hamed Fathi, a guitarist and one of Lilly Afshar’s students, which was previously published on the Persian website HarmonyTalk.com:

Mohammad Esmaili passes away

Master Mohammad Ismaili, a prominent musician and renowned tombak player, passed away on August 13, 2023, after battling an illness in the ICU of Rasoul Akram Hospital. His funeral will take place on Thursday, August 17, at 10 am in front of Vahdat Hall, and he will be laid to rest in the Artists’ Section of Behesht Zahra Cemetery.

From Past Days…

Three singers in one larynx

Sima Bina (b. 1945) is a unique singer among the singers of Golha radio programmes which were broadcast on Iranian National Radio for 23 years from 1956 to 1979. She received her first lessons in music from her father who was a poet, a musician and the most important supporter of Sima’s cultural activities.

“I Will Never Perform Just for Women!”: Golnoush Khaleghi Passes Away in Exile

Golnoush Khaleghi, first Persian woman conductor and daughter of legendary composer Rouhollah Khaleghi, passed away on February 14. She was 80. Golnoush Khaleghi was the conductor of the NIRT (National Iranian Radio & Television) Choir in the 1970s. Shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution Ms. Khaleghi moved to the United States and founded the Rouhollah…
Read More »

Polyphony in Iranian Music (II)

With regard to each polyphonic form, only one specific and distinguished example is analyzed. These polyphonic forms are as follows:

Henry Cowell: “Persian Set”

Persian Set: Four Movements for chamber orchestra: Moderato; Allegretto; Lento; Rondo

Henry Cowell, one of the most innovative American composers of the 20th century, was born in 1897. Cowell and his wife visited Iran in 1956 and stayed there the whole winter, upon the invitation by the Iranian Royal Family, when he composed his album “Persian Set” in four movements for chamber orchestra. His composition is expressive of the characteristic quality of the Persian or the Iranian music.

Farhad Poupel’s piece, Road to Bach, performed at Suntory Hall

On June 19, 2021 , young Iranian composer and pianist, Farhad Poupel’s piece, Road to Bach, was performed at the prestigious Suntory Hall by the great Japanese pianist, Kotaro Fukuma. The piece was commissioned by Kotaro Fukuma to have its world premiere in Suntory Hall during a concert by the same name.

Gholam Reza Khan Minbashian: a pioneer in Iranian music (II)

Gholamreza Khan Minbashian taught courses such as organology, orchestration of military music and harmony based on the books which were translated from French into Persian with the help of Aliakbar Mozayyan-o-Dolleh (1846-1932).

Ali Rahbari’s collaboration with Naxos as a Composer

Concertino for Violin and Orchestra entitled Nohe Khan was composed by Ali (Alexander) Rahbari while he was studying music in Vienna in 1972. This piece was composed having in mind the Ashoura events and inspired by the music which is used during the Ashoura ceremonies. The piece was first performed and recorded by Bijan Khadem…
Read More »

The Role of Arts in Development of Societies

Mr. Mohsen Ghanebasiri, author and critic in the field of economy, culture and arts, as the next speaker, highlighted the role of arts, specially the music, in development of societies: “As far as the individual upbringing is concerned, a newborn baby is absolutely dependent. The relation between the baby and the parents is based on orders. There is lots of relativity in these orders; therefore, they are political orders. In the economy, however, the relations are mutual and based on common logic; hence, the formation of the concepts of democracy and individuality.

Principles of Violin Playing (VIII)

1.5.1.3.sometimes, a player, due to different reasons, may decisively want to play continuously two notes with a half-step by means of the same finger, in such a case, it’s necessary to open the interior curve of the finger like a spring. Naturally coming back, the curve of finger should be closed and the finger should become curved shape again (see paragraph 3.1.2.1).

Shaahin Mohajeri Wins UnTwelve Composition Competition

UnTwelve Non-profit Organization announced the results of its 2014/2015 composition competition on January 28, 2015. Shaahin Mohajeri, an Iranian Tonbak player, microtonalist, acoustician and composer, was awarded the second prize for his piece “Castle of Babak.”