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Persian Art Percussion
tombak, daf, dayré, zang-e saringôshti, dohôl,
tombak-e zurkhâneh, senj, zang, zanguleh, âyineh’pil
"It is one and a just one, it is all abundance and an abundant one, highest and dearest. Its path beckons and unity lies in motion with open eyes. Each breath revives - life when drawn, spirit when released." (Prose of Sa'adi, 13th.C.E)
A sophisticated taut bond has evolved between Persian music and poetry since the thirteenth century. It is through the weaves of this bond that tones and rhythms flow from one realm to the other, where rhythms are determined by the transformation of the syllabic weights of verses through an ancient rhythmic compositional system, called atannin.
The mystical substance along with the lexical relations in a poem or a piece of prose awaken numerous parallel emotions deep in our consciousness; powerful writings unfold into mystical emotions.
Thus, the poem chosen for a musical composition is the essential spring from which the music’s tones and rhythms flow. As emotions metamorphosed by man into words, the syllabic intonations of poems generate the rhythmic emotion of the music while in an onomatopic reversal, the sounds of words breath life into the emotions: dynamic, spiritual, meditative... by these exchanges, we transcend into a universe of rhythms where all is connected and held together by the ‘infinite breath’.
This recording represents a mere drop from the unlimited spring of possible explorations of Persian poetry. As it flows, it carries us through a vast garden, vibrant with color of flowers and ebullient with their fragrances.
This is the main percussion instrument of Persian art music. Its challis shaped body is made of a turned and hollowed-out walnut or mulberry tree trunk with a goatskin stretched across the wide end of the resonator. (Heard on tracks 1,2,7,10).
Much appreciated and developed by the dervishes for use in spiritual performances, the daf is a frame drum that has its origins in the Middle East and Central Asia. In addition to its size, it is different from its closest kin by the chains metal rings that are suspended within the frame (Heard on tracks 3,6,9 and 10).
The name literally means circle. It is a Persian frame drum that is smaller than the daf (Heard on track 8).
Brass cymbals pairs attached onto the thumb and the middle finger of each hand. Mainly employed to stress the dance, one finds them particularly omni-present on figurine dancers in Persian miniature paintings of the beginning of the last century (Heard on tracks 4 and 6).
A large cylindrical double-ended drum, the dohol is played with two special drumsticks. One is a thick wooden one, bowed close to the end, called Changaal, and the other one, called Deyrak, is a much thinner one. (heard on tracks 6 and 10).
This instrument is a large tombak formed in pottery rather than wood. It is slightly conical in form and is played in zurkhâneh, the traditional persian gymnasium where orchestrated rythmic exercises and mystical peotry are combined to provide a transcendence experience. (Heard on tracks 5 and 10).
This is a special type of large diameter brass cymbals, played by striking a pair together. (heard on track 10).
Bell, a much smaller version of the European cowbell, it rings at higher notes. (Heard on track 10).
This is a small spherical bell, put on the neck of the heard in villages and at the same time used around the ankle and the wrist in folk dances, especially in India and Central Iran. (Heard on track 10).
This may be called a Persian “Gong”. It is a large metallic drum of ancient origins. (Heard on track 10).
Prose and Poems:
Sa’adi,13th.C.E (1. Nafas / Infinite Breath)
Aref-e Ghazvini, 20th.C.E (3. Ekhtiyaar-e del / Swaying Disires)
Haafez,14th.C.E (7. Saaghi / The Cup Bearer & 9. Jahaan-e faani / Our Ephemeral Realm)
© Madjid Khaladj / Bâ Music Records
Review by nsabba (Brookline, MA):
Madjid Khaladj's percussion work give voice to the stretched skin on daf, drum, and dayereh in ways that are abstractions of the human voice in the way that earthen vases and pots are abstractions of human existence for Khayyam. I became familiar with this amazing artist only a year ago, and can't stop spreading the pleasure I've derived from listening to him.
Actually I heard his tombak* during a 1994 performance of the Paris based Mostagh group, was truly taken by it but didn't realize who it was until I got this CD last year. The true measure of percussionists in Iran has been Hossein Tehrani, who in the fifties and sixties raised the level of the tombak to that of a solo instrument. He showed everyone the capability of the percussion to suggest implied melodies and absent voices which it would have accompanied were they present in a give piece. Madjid Khaladj makes these abstracted suggestions come alive, especially on the daf, the larger of the three main stretch skinned percussive instruments of Iran...
You will be pleased with the broad appeal of this artist. He uses persian instruments, but in his hand, they speak universal passages.
Zarb, Tombak, Tonbak, Daf, Dayreh, Zang, Dohol