The Structure of Kurdistan Daf (III)

Mohammad Tarighat

Fatemeh Alimohammadi

There are different definitions for the structure and sound of Daf from other aspects rooted in mythical and holy-oriented beliefs. Pahlavan says the following regarding this matter:

“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).

Also, Mohammad Reza Darvishi in his book entitled “Encyclopedia of Music”, quoted from Ahmad Tusi, Mohammad Tusi’s son, in Sama and Fotovvat, interprets Daf in relation to playing it and to Daf player: “The circle of Daf refers to the circle of the universe and the skin stretched on Daf, refers to the absolute existence and the beat on Daf, refers to the entry of divine inspirations from depths of hidden into the absolute existence and Daf player individual, is a reference to the position of truth, through which the people’s soul are placed in the trap of love” (Darvishi, 2016: 396).

It is believed that Daf player extends his two hands to the sky in a state of prayer and supplication, so it is necessary to be recited with a mystical and prayerful slogan. Daf is never placed on the ground by the skin and this act is considered insulting the position of this instrument and indirectly to religious beliefs (Naqib Sardasht, 2007: 300). If Daf skin is torn during the ceremony, mystics say that the Daf has been “martyred”. If the skin is prepared from Haram* animals, it is Haram to bring it to the monastery. At the end of ceremony, the Daf is kissed and hung on the wall; with the special Daf of this ceremony, frivolous and farcical melodies are never performed because it is considered a sin by the mystics. Also, these Dafs are not entrusted to persons who are not authorized to maintain it (Nasrollahpour, 1999: 78).

According to the mystics, Daf is a symbol of monastery; Daf rings, indicate number of disciples and thumb index, is the entrance of monastery. Thumb index is in a semicircular and concave form and when one holds the Daf, completes this concavity and forms a link between himself and the Daf. The Center of Daf is considered as a symbol of God (Ahmadi, 2019: 11).

Other ceremonies in which Daf and Daf playing have great value can be called “Mowludi khani”, “welcoming and accompanying the religious scholars and mystics”, and “welcoming pilgrims”. In following, a brief explanation will be given about Mowludi and Mowludi khani.

The month of Rabi al-Aval is known among the Kurds as Mowlud month which Mowludi khani in description of the Prophet (PBUH) is the most basic program of this month. Ebrahim Moradi believes: “The Kurds believe that holding Mowludi khani ceremonies in their home, increases their livelihood and keeps pain and misery away from family members” (Moradi, 2020: 51).

The role of Daf and Daf playing in Iranian music is of special importance in three forms “solo”, “accompaniment”, and “group playing”.



*Haram” means forbidden and anti-halal. In religious terms is something that is forbidden by God and doing it is considered a sin.

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Celebrating 20 Years of Harmony Talk’s Journey: Resilience, Evolution, Honoring the Legacy and Navigating Future Growth

In a momentous celebration of two decades, the “Arasbaran Cultural Center” was the stage for the 20th anniversary of “Harmony Talk”, an online journal that has become a cornerstone in the music community. Sadjad Pourghanad, the editor-in-chief, delivered a speech that resonated with gratitude and vision.

HarmonyTalk Journal’s Twentieth Anniversary Celebration

On the 10th of Khordad, 1403 (equivalent to May 30, 2024), the twentieth anniversary celebration of the online journal “HarmonyTalk” took place at the Ersbārān Cultural Center. The event garnered such interest from enthusiasts that the venue was completely filled.

From Past Days…

Tehran Flute Choir Established

Tehran Flute Choir was established in 1394 (late 2015) by Firouzeh Navai. Tehran Flute Choir, Iran’s first largest flute choir, recruited its members mostly from young talented flutists of Iranian Flute Association. Featuring piccolo, flute, alto flute and bass flute, Tehran Flute Choir, directed by Firouzeh Navai, premiered under the batons of Saeed Taghadosi on January 7-8, 2016 at Roudaki Hall in Tehran.

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.

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.

Prominent Iranian Musicologist Passes Away in Vienna

Khosrow Djafarzadeh, musicologist and architect, who was also one of the main authors of HarmonyTalk journal passed away on 15 July 2019.

Principles of Violin Playing (II)

Since for playing violin, it’s necessary that the player’s palms and fingers be inclined toward the fingerboard, therefore, the player, while bringing up his hand, should turn it toward the fingerboard.

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.

Quality Decline in Regional Music Festivals

Regional music festivals are organized to, firstly, introduce the music of different regions and, secondly, to support its performers. Regional music festivals are held in large cities for various reasons, including the availability of financial and executive facilities and the presence of an audience. However, the organization of these festivals has always been one of the challenging issues of ethnomusicology. The reason is that the presence of regional music performers in large cities places them in a context other than the context they would normally perform in their homes; consequently this change in situation leads to changes in the quality of their performance.

Principles of Violin Playing (VII) Regarding the great linear distance and the unusual distance between the first and forth fingers, the first finger while playing the doubles of ninth and tenth interval, can be twisted in the knuckle area and the point mentioned in paragraph in relation to the way first finger is placed indicating that the first joint of this finger in back of hand must be in line with the direction of forearm and left hand is not true here.

New Technique for Playing Classical Guitar (II)

When the author was working on the piece “Playing Love” by Ennio Morricone (from the legend of 1900), he realized a failure of the Lip Technique. Needing to play a chord in the 14th position of the guitar and in order to complete the harmony, it is necessary to play a harmonic note on the 7th or 5th position; it was not possible to touch the string to play this harmonic note, because the Lip Technique is used for getting the notes and not to touch the string and producing harmonic notes. Naturally, the only possible way to touch the string was to use the nose at the required position and playing the note with the right hand, and this was the best option the author found to how to play such harmonic notes, and where the Nose Technique was generated.

Behzad Abdi’s opera Rumi was physically released by Naxos

Composing a traditional Iranian opera using the Iranian modal system, dastgāh, has always been my dream. I first approached this by composing an opera called Ashura followed by the operas Rumi and Hafez. I believe that in order to attract an international audience for Iranian opera, it is essential to fuse dastgāh with Western classical forms.