The Structure of Kurdistan Daf (II)


Mohammad Tarighat

Fatemeh Alimohammadi

With its simple physical structure and captivating sound, the Daf never belonged to a particular culture or location, and every nation had different usages for this instrument considering their dominant customs and traditions. Daf’s position had always been different among the tribes; some use it as the main instrument in joyous occasions and ceremonies, some use it as a war instrument, and others for ritualistic-religious ceremonies (Khaktinat, 2003: 25).  

Nowadays, there are circular structures with different names worldwide in Africa, Native America, China, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Arab states of the Persian Gulf, and others.

The Lexical Meaning of Daf

The word Daf is derived from “Taf” which means “hitting” or “beating.” This word is pronounced as “Dob” in the Sumerian language. It entered the Akkadian language from Sumerian and turned into “Dopo” or “Topo”; then it entered the Aramic language and turned into “Dop”; and changed to “Dof” or “Daf” in Arabic (Tohidi, 1996: 30).  

Circular instruments such as Daf are instruments for joyous or exciting ceremonies, capable of creating extremely tremendous excitement in human’s heart, contradictory to their simple creating and playing process. There are different names for Daf in Iran, from Daf and Dayereh to “Charkh,” “Gharbal,” “Araboneh,” “Tar,” “Dire,” “Dap,” “Ghaval,” and etc. (Pahlavan, 2013: 7). Also, Hushang Javid, the Persian anthropology and folk music researcher, believes “Dap,” “Bater,” “Dob,” “Dayereh,” and “Taborak” are the Persian names of Daf in different centuries while “Regh,” “Bandir,” “Mazhar,” “Terial,” and others are its names in the musical culture of the Arab world (Mogharab Samadi, 2007: 77).

Ahmad Khaktinat has also had multiple references to different Daf names:  

“During the third and fourth millennium, Apada was common among the Sumerians and later named Dop. Arabaneh is a type of Daf that  hazelnut-shaped bells are used instead of rings. Talban, Jalajal, and Jaljal are other names of Daf in different regions” (Khaktinat, 2003: 16).

Nagib Sardasht states the following Daf names regarding the Kurdish Hanbaneh Borineh: “Daf in the Kurdish language is known as Dahf, Dahfeh, Dahfak, Aarabaneh, andArabaneh (Nagib Sardasht, 2005: 295).

The Position and Role of Daf in the View of Daf Players

Daf is the most irreplaceable instrument in Tekyehs3 and mystics used in three aspects in their Sama ceremonies: first for its prophetic permission, second for its non-melodic nature, and third for its considerable help in the hypnotic course from the consciousness to the unconsciousness and the mystic realm (Mohammadi, 1999: 10).

Music of Daf is the prosperity of every Sama / Daf targets wounds and oppression

They say if one touches the Daf / It inflicts a wound of honor upon his heart (Rumi)

Daf has a high position among the Kurdish regions of Iran with special sanctity. The people of these regions see Dafs in a particular light of divinity, and this instrument has epic, martial, mystical, and even medical aspects for them. The mystical aspect dominates the others for them. Dafs are widely used in Monasteries and are known as one of the most fundamental mystical instruments.

Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *
Your email is never shared.

The Structure of Kurdistan Daf (IV)

Researcher: Mohammad Tarighat Translator: Fatemeh Alimohammadi Daf Structure The Structure of Daf in different cities of Iran has a great variety in terms of dimensions, components and even appearance; some of which are as follows: – Square Daf, on which the skin was stretched either on one or both sides, with strings installed inside it…
Read More »

The Structure of Kurdistan Daf (III)

“Our ancestors believe powerful blows upon the Daf scatters evil spirits of disease and distress to create a clean and holy space filled with health and prosperity. Adding tools to Daf increases this instrument’s purification, spreading, and summoning powers of evil forces and goddesses. Daf was mostly depicted by red, color of blood, in ancient times or sometimes it was depicted with green, the color of plants and nature. There were probably some mysterious designs painted upon the wooden body and frames of these instruments just like today” (Pahlavan, 2013: 44).

From Past Days…

Principles of Violin Playing (IX)

4.3.1. To practice playing of doubles of notes involving two different fingers, each note is played at separate bows with slow tempo, each note is played perfectly regarding its bass and tenor sounds and then the considered double is played at another bow while considering the resulted sound of the double.

Rare documents of Tehran Opera Company published in Europe

The year 2020 marks the 10th anniversary of Evlin Baghcheban’s death. She played a crucial role to promote opera and choral music in Persia (Iran). Born to an Assyrian-French family in Turkey, she studied singing and piano at the Ankara State Conservatory. In 1950 Evlin married the Persian composer and fellow student Samin Baghcheban and moved to Tehran.

A year without Mohsen Ghanebasiri

The year 1396 (21 March 2017-20 March 2018) was the most sorrowful year for HarmonyTalk journal. One month after holding HarmonyTalk’s 13th establishment anniversary in Mohsen Ghanebasiri’s house in Tehran in April 2017, he untimely passed away. Mohsen Ghanebasiri was the prominent HarmonyTalk author.

A Look at Ali Tajvidi’s Manifold Musical Activities (II)

Tajvidi thought of studying harmony and orchestration with Houshang Ostvar (who was eight years younger than him) at a time when he had gained a reputation among musicians. His humbleness, making him willing to kneel before the scholars at any age and position, became the key to his scientific success. After this period, Tajvidi made some of his works polyphonic, the most prominent of which is “Burn” set to a poem by Abdullah Ulfat. However, his ability to make his works polyphonic was not so great to make him self-sufficient; so he depended on musicians such as Farhad Fakhreddini, Fereydoun Naseri, Kambiz Roshanravan, Fereydoun Shahbazian and Morteza Hananeh for the arrangement of his compositions.

Is the Iranian National Anthem a Copy? (I)

The alleged similarity between the Iranian and South Korean National Anthems has been a matter of discussion among musicians in Iran for several years. Earlier in 2021, the issue was taken to the media again with not only claims that the anthem is very similar to another song but also the suggestion that its musical content should draw more on the Iranian national music. Some even went to the extent to suggest replacing it with the song “O, Iran” composed by the late Rouhollah Khaleghi. Before delving more into the main issue, it would not go amiss to consider some technical characteristics of the song “O, Iran” composed in 1944.

History’s Impact on Evaluating a Work of Art

With this description, we have automatically included a criterion called “History”, Until we know the time of the creation of a work of art, we cannot judge whether it has been easy to create or not. Suppose that, in a historical study, we find a musical work that is similar in compositional techniques (including form, melody, context, and orchestration) to a minor work of the nineteenth century; however, our research proves that, this work dates back to 200 years prior to that date. Can we still consider this work insignificant? Definitely not! So this is where the first use of history-based judgment comes into play.

Hossein Aslani passed away!

Hossein Aslani, Iranian pianist residing in the US, passed away due to cancer in late January 2020. His last musical activity was an article written for Harmony Talk entitled “Iran amidst musical struggle” in 2016, his memoir entitled “I Play You Again” in the same year and his album “Symbolic Emotion” published by Arganoun Publications in 2014. Here is a brief biography of Hossein Aslani according to his own website:

A few steps on the “Road to Bach”

The world of music has unparalleled respect for Bach. Bach is considered the spiritual father of classical music; Bach’s great position is due not only to his great achievements in the fields of harmony, counterpoint, and compositional sciences but also to his respect for and adherence to the artistic principles of classical music. In the history of classical music, it is recorded that Bach walked about fifty kilometers to listen to the music played by the great German organist Dieterich Buxtehude, and this is the path that every idealistic classical music student should walk.

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 »

From the Last Instrumentalist to the First Composer (II)

Rouhollah Khaleghi was the master of composing beautiful melodies. He was the premier of the course of history which was first established by Ali Naghi Vaziri and which improved the Iranian music from simply a gathering music to the classical music of the country. First efforts to compose independent and instrumental music can be also traced in Khaleghi’s works.