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Iranian lifestyle

All about an Iranian intangible heritage

Music, literature, poem and all in all arts are working as an artistic chain in Iranian culture.It happens to some extend that some musical instruments and songs are nationally registered or as an Iranian intangible heritage. One of these instruments is Kamanche in Persian or fiddle in English. Here is a short note about an Iranian musical instrument. Iranian intangible heritage

The history of fiddle in Iran 

The oldest signs of the Kamanche instrument in Iran, dating back to the fourth century (950 AD), can be found in the paintings of al-Kabir’s book Abu Nasr Farabi. In his book, he described this instrument, which has only two wires, as Robab. Robab is in fact the Arabic name of a fiddle. Turkic speakers call it “Iklig”, and in Turkmenistan they call it “Qaychak” or “Qadgik”.

Kamanche has been one of the main musical instruments of Iranian urban music during the Safavid period. One of the paintings of Chehelsotun’s Isfahan mansion in the House of Bessam Shah Abbas shows a fiddle player alongside instruments such as straw, law, dash and cymbals similar to tar.

The Kamanche was one of the main instruments in the Qajar court. In addition, from the distant past, various forms of this instrument are found in almost all native Iranian cultures. Among them one can mention the Turkmen, Mazandaran, Azarbaijan, Lori, Kermani and Bakhtiari fights. The first recorded sound of Kamancheh was performed in the early twentieth century, the most spectacular sound of that era, the sound of Kamanche Safdar Khan, Bagher Khan Ramshgar and Hossein Khan Ismaelzadeh.

Iranian intangible heritage
Iranian intangible heritage

Top musician

The oldest musician is Kamanche, a French guitarist who has seen his play with Tar Agha Ali Akbar Farahani around 1235 solar year (1856 AD).

Among the most prominent Iranian archers are Hussein Khan Esmaeilzadeh, Aliasghar Bahari, Mojtaba Mirzadeh, Kayhan Kalhor and Ardeshir Kamkar.

Keyhan Kalhor

Kayhan Kalhor (born December 3, 1342 in Tehran) is a composer and musician of Kurdish language in Iran. His favorite instrument is Kayhan Kalhor, along with Kamanche, Tonbour, sitar and Shahkaman.
Kayhan Kalhor has been nominated for a Grammy prize whit the albums of “bi to be sar nemishavad”, “faryad”, “baran” and “faratar az naghsheye joghrafiya” which he has been featured as a composer and musician. In the 58th Grammy Award ceremony, Kayhan Kalhor, along with the group of the Silk Road led by Uwema won the Best Music Award.

 Features of kamanche

Kamanche is one of the Iranian musical instruments and music of the Middle East. This instrument, in addition to the abdomen, handle and head, at the bottom of the lower leg, has a base which stands on the ground or knee of the musician.

This instrument is one of the tensile string instruments. Modern cellar has 4 wires. Kamanche had only three wires in the old days, and after the violin came to Iran, it was added to imitation of that fourth wire.

In the last few decades, new instruments have been created using western string instruments. And it has opened their doors to Iranian urban music. Among them, it is possible to make all kinds of Alto skeletons and Bass Bowl, all sounding more bump than ordinary fiddle.

The bowl of this instrument is made in spherical shape in two ways. The old method known as a piece, is shaved from the trunk of a tree and then emptied into it. The weight of this type of bowl is a bit heavy and makes the folding of the bowl somewhat difficult. As a result, their sound is not very desirable. In different cultures such as Southeast Asia, bowls are made of metal, coconut and pumpkin.

Iranian intangible heritage
Iranian intangible heritage

How it looks like in its new method?

But in the new method, using a bow tie and sticking it together, a bowl of spherical shape of the fiddle is made. The wood used is usually from the berry tree, and sometimes from other trees such as walnut, pine and pebbles. This kind of fiddle is usually more comfortable, and because the bowl is lightweight, it’s easier to play.

There is another type of cane with a conical bowl, whose specimens are commonly found in native Iranian music. These instruments are famously known as “back” fights, and are mostly played in western Iran in the provinces of Lorestan and Chaharmahal va Bakhtiari. The open-air fights, which are famous for the Kamanche Larry, have a loud sound, and because they have a light bowl, it’s easier to run pieces that require a fast folding of the fiddle. Larry’s flasks were three wires up to the beginning of this century, but they were gradually converted to chalcedony. Playing of Kamanche was recorded as an Iranian intangible heritage of the UNESCO Organization on December 2017

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