Instruments

Aoud

In Persian the word "bat" means duck, while "bar" is the duck's breast. Lute is one of the most ancient Iranian instruments. It is called "roud" by the Persians and Arabs call it "oud". Some believe that lute has either come from Hairah to the west of the Euphrates river near Mada'en, the education center of the Sassanid princes, or from a city known as "Bab".

It has also been referred to by many other names including "oud", "mozhar", "motar" and "keran". Lute is considered to be of Persian origin and playing it has been quite common in Iran since the ancient times. Once the Iranian lute was taken to Saudi Arabia, the Arabs, likewise, started making it from wood and called it "oud".

Its bowel is very large and pear-shaped. It has an extremely short handle, so that the cords mainly extend along its bowel. It has 10 cords or five pairs of cord and is played with a plectrum. A chicken or peacock feather serves as plectrum. Lute produces a dull, soft and melancholy tone.

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Barbat

One of the branches of guitar is called Barbados or harper. With the advent and growth of Islam this genuine Iranian musical instrument traveled around the world and is being now used from China up to Italy.

Statues unearthed from Shush and dating back to 1500 years ago as well as those excavated in Haft Tappeh are proof of the genuine Iranian origin of this ancient instrument.

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Tar

Iranians consider the tar the "sultan of instruments." Its present form was developed in 18th century and has been the choice of Persian classical masters since. It has a double-bowl body of mulberry or walnut wood with a lambskin face. The fingerboard has 28 frets and the three double strings are played with a plectrum.

The long and narrow neck has a flat fingerboard running level to the membrane and ends in an elaborate box with nine wooden pegs of different dimensions, adding to the decorative effect. It has three courses of double "singing" strings (each pair tuned in unison: the first two courses in plain steel, the third in wound copper), that are tuned in fourths (C, G, C) plus one "flying" bass string (wound in copper and tuned in G (an octave lower than the singing middle course) that runs outside the fingerboard and passes over an extension of the nut.

There are also two pairs of shorter sympathetic strings that run under the bass and over two small copper bridges about midway the upper side of the fingerboard: their tuning is variable according to the piece to be played and with the performer's tastes: (the tuning is somewhat imprecise also because both strings of the same pair are tightened by the same peg).

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Qeychak / Qichak

It is one of the ancient Iranian classical instruments. The oldest sample instrument still remaining is comprised of a dual box and the surface of the lower one is covered by a hide. The produced tune is first transferred from the lower box to the upper one, from where it is broadcast through two wide openings.

This part of the instrument is very interesting from the scientific point of view, since a second box has been added on its surface in order to amplify the tune. This makes the instrument much richer in producing a great variety of tunes. It has 4-6 cords, which similar to conventional Kamancheh, have been extended on a wooden box.

It is played by a bow of particular shape, while the musician simultaneously creates the desired tune by plucking the cords by his/her left hand. The instrument's box is made of berry- or walnut wood.

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Rebab

The word rebab (robAb) is an Arabic term that can be translated as bowed string instrument. Dating back at least to the 8th century, the Rebab has been closely associated with Islamic culture and is thought to be the earliest ancestor of the contemporary violin.

While its roots are in Persia, the rebab's influence has reached as far east as Indonesia and west to regions of Europe and Africa. Its diffusion is closely tied to the growth of the Islamic world and the development of extensive trade routes after the 10th century.

As part of the generic 'lute' family, there are two basic types of rebab: wooden fiddles with pear-shaped or elongated bodies, and spiked fiddles, named for the extension or spike on the bottom of the instrument on which it stands when played. Generally, both styles have 2 or 3 gut or other strings.

Spike-fiddle rebabs used in the Javanese gamelan are made from wood, or sometimes from a hollowed, half coconut shell covered with hide. This body is attached to a long, narrow wooden neck which has no frets; instead, the fingers of your left hand become moveable bridges. These instruments ornament the melodic line, creating a dialogue with the singers.

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Dotar

The dotar ( meaning ``two strings'' in Persian), is an excellent instrument coming from a family of long-necked lutes and can be found throughout Central Asia, the Middle East and North East of China. Its ancestor is probably the "tanbur of Khorasan" as depicted by Al Farabi (10th century) in his essay Kitab~Al-Musiqi Al-Kabir.

In Iran, the dotar is played mainly in the northern and eastern parts of Khorasan as well as among the Turkmen of Gorgan and Gonabad. The instrument is the same but its dimensions and the number of its ligatures differ slightly from region to region. Two types of wood are used in the production of the dotar. The pear-shaped body is carved out of a single block of mulberry wood. Apricot or walnut wood is used to make its neck. It has two steel strings, which in the past were made of silk or animal .

The dotar is tuned in fourth or fifth intervals. The frets, made from animal intestines in the past, are nowadays fabricated from nylon or steel which have the advantage of being more resilient and less expensive. They are placed in chromatic progression.

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Setar

Setar r is one of the Iranian plectrum-type string instruments, which is plucked by the player's forefinger's nail. Sehtar or Setouyeh is a three-cord instrument, which was converted into a four-cord instrument under the reign of the Qajars. It is, in general, an ancient and gnostic instrument usually played at the gathering of dervishes most often held at Khaneqahs (monasteries or houses of dervishes), which makes the listener feel high.

In view of its special vocal features, Sehtar is known as the instrument appealing to the listener's heart and the Iranian musical instrument ranking second among Iranian musicians. It is simpler than other instruments both in appearance and the method of playing. Its low tune, compactness and tenderness are the main reason for its great appeal in the course of the past centuries. It is made in various types and sizes including large, small, flat and zir-abai.

Tars are made in two methods: Turkish (in many pieces) and scraped kasdani (in one piece). Sehtar is generally made from berry wood, while at some occasions that of pear or walnut tree might be used as well. Its bowel is a pear-shaped semi-sphere, while its thin and delicate handle is tenderer than that of other instruments.

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Shourangiz

Shourangiz is one of Ustad Ganbarimehr’s innovations. It is a combination of animal skin and wood for the sound board which has been applied to Tar, Tanbour and Barbat. The main character of this combination is ofcourse the volume and mellowness of the instrument sound.
The skin that is used in this instrument is much thicker than the skin on Tar and that makes it less vulnerable to climate changes.

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Kamancheh

The kamānche or kamāncha (Persian: کمانچه ) is a Persian bowed string instrument related to the bowed rebab, the historical ancestor of the kamancheh and also to the bowed lira of the Byzantine Empire, ancestor of the European violin family. The strings are played with a variable-tension bow: the word "kamancheh" means "little bow" in Persian (kæman, bow, and -cheh, diminutive). It is widely used in the classical music of Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan,Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, with slight variations in the structure of the instrument.

Traditionally kamanchehs had three silk strings, but modern ones have four metal ones. Kamanchehs may have highly ornate inlays and fancy carved ivorytuning pegs. The body has a long upper neck and a lower bowl-shaped resonating chamber made from a gourd or wood, usually covered with a membrane, made from the skin of a lamb, goat or sometimes fish, on which the bridge is set. From the bottom protrudes a spike to support the kamancheh while it is being played, hence in English the instrument is sometimes called the spiked fiddle. It is played sitting down held like a cello though it is about the length of a viola. The end-pin can rest on the knee or thigh while seated in a chair.

Famous Iranian kamancheh players include Ali-Asghar Bahari, Ardeshir Kamkar, Saeed Farajpouri, and Kayhan Kalhor. Famous Azeri kamancheh player isHabil Aliev.

The Turkish and Armenian kemenche or kemençe is a bowed string instrument with a very similar or identical name—but it differs significantly in structure and sound from the Persian kamancheh. Other bowed string instruments akin to the kamancheh, yet differing more than slightly from it, include thekemenche of the Pontic Greeks of the black Sea, the old Russian Gudok, the Persian Ghaychak, and the Kazakh Kobyz.

Persian traditional classical music also uses the ordinary violin with Persian tuning. The kamancheh and the ordinary violin are tuned in the same way and have the same range but different timbres due to their differing sound boxes.

A kamancheh is depicted on the reverse of the Azerbaijani 1 qəpik coin minted since 2006 and on the obverse of the Azerbaijani 1 manat banknote issued since 2006.

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