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Madjid Khaladj: daf, tombak, zang-e saringoshti, dohol
Morteza Esmaili: didgeridoo, jew's harp
The Ghaderi dervishes of Iranian Kurdistan and the Aborigines of Australia are literary a world apart, or more precisely, half a world.
The daf, an emblematic frame drum used in dervish and suffi ceremonies, is known and distinguished for its dozens of suspended metal rings on the inside face of its frame. The rings brush and strike against the drum’s skin as the performer moves the drum in controlled motions while playing on the face of the drum with his hands. The unique sounds from this feature along with the repetitive rhythms performed in religious ceremonies add to the mystical aura.
In the dervish fraternities of Kurdistan, as in many Sufi gatherings special zekrs, or sacred mantras, are repeated in chants that have the power to concentrate and then unleash spiritual energy. The repetition of the zekr accompanied by the daf, reverberate in a rhythmic dance, leading to exhilaration in psycho-spiritual parts of the body (e.g. viscera, neck, head). Such dynamic and vivacious motions often lead to ecstasy and sometimes to trance.
Similar types of rituals take place in Indigenous Australia, carried by the didgeridoo, a very long hollow tube, ending in a trumpet-like opening, characterized by a fascinating and enigmatic sound. Played with circular breathing, the sounds produced by this instrument symbolize the "Original Mother." According to legend, Aborigine songs and melodies come from the spirits and supernatural powers released into the earth by their ancestors, and thus, most of the lyrics have sacred connotations.
The association of these two traditional instruments, and their respective origins, opened the door to an exploration and elaboration of the ground these two cultures share. Madjid Khaladj and Morteza Esmaili allow a hereto-unimagined musical space to unfold in an atmosphere spiritually uplifting beyond a complement of their individual worlds.
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.
The didgeridoo, originally played by Aborigines from Northern Australia, is a natural trumpet, with a long straight body. It is usually made from a branch of a eucalyptus tree, hollowed out by termites. The bark is removed and the ends are trimmed. The method of playing the didgeridoo involves circular breathing and vibrating lips. It is usually between 1 and 1.5 meters and is sometimes decorated with totemic icons and paintings in red ochre or clay.
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.
Called Zanburak in Iran, the instrument is a lamellophone, which is in the category of plucked idiophones: it consists of a flexible metal or bamboo tongue or reed attached to a frame. The tongue/reed is placed in the performer's mouth and plucked with the finger to produce a note. The frame is held against the performer's teeth or lips, using the jaw and mouth as a resonator, greatly increasing the volume of the instrument. The note thus produced is constant in pitch, though by changing the shape of his or her mouth and the amount of air contained in it the performer can cause different overtones to sound and thus create melodies.
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.
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.
This is a special type of large diameter brass cymbals, played by striking a pair together.
Born in Ghazvin, Iran in 1962, Madjid Khaladj began studying the tombak at age seven. As a traditional musician and skilled pedagogue in several instruments, he is unanimously recognized as a master of Iranian percussions. Highly active internationally, he has perfomed in festivals, concerts, and conferences around the world. He has produced recordings, and art movie soundtracks (with Ry cooder and Lisa Gerrard), and has appeared in radio and television broadcasts.
In 1984, he was invited to teach Iranian percussions at the Center for Middle Eastern Music Studies at the Institute of Musicology of Paris- Sorbonne, then under the direction of Yehudi Menuhin. Using this opportunity, he has introduced many western musicians to Iranian music. In 1996, he founded the Ecole de Tombak in Paris (Center for Iranian Percussion Study). Since 1998, he has also been teaching at the State Academy of Music in Basel, Switzerland (Musik Akademie der Stadt Basel in Switzerland).
Madjid Khaladj constantly investigates the vast possibilities in improvising within the Persian musical system, and beyond. The unequalled beauty of his style, his mastery of rhythms and the brilliance of his spontaneous creations not only place him in the top ranks next to great classical Persian music masters, but also distinguish him as a major figure in world percussion.
Some of Khaladj's most noted works are: Anthology of Iranian Rhythms, Vol. I (1997) & Vol. II (1999), Iranian Percussions (2000), DVD of Tombak (2005), Nafas/ Iranian Art Percussion (2006) and the numerous recordings with masters such as Hossein Alizadeh, Hossein Omoumi, Dariush Talai, M.R. Lotfi and M.R. Shajarian.
Born in 1964 in Teheran (Iran), he plays Jews harp since he was 8 years old.
With 16 years old, he started to travel all over the world looking for harmonic sounds and traditional & sacred music. During this trip, he came across lots of people and music. In 1992, he was introduced to Didgeridoo where he found what he was looking for: the same harmony as Jews Harp.
From 1992 to 1995, Morteza lived in Japan where he tested the mix between electronic sounds and Jews Harp.
From 1995, he became more and more interested in Sufi music; having been back to his mother country, Iran, and then to Turkey to meet Sufi communities.
In February 1999, he went to Australia to study the story and sound of Didgeridoo where he was adopted by Ramangini Aboriginal community (Arnhem Land). He played with them around the fire in the bush. His foster father, Banbuma Georges, named him Kodjo.
In the same year, he came back to France where he founded the ‘Harmonic Fusion’ Association in order to organize meetings among artists throughout the world. The main one was a concert with different traditional musics and instruments such as Sufi from Turkey and Sudan, Iranian drums, Jews Harp & Didgeridoo (John Wright, Madjid Khaladj, Kudsi Erguner, Sir el Khatm, and Morteza Esmaili).
Morteza, versatile musician, took part in several world music events with Australian Aboriginal singers and dancers such as Wayne ‘Jowandi’ Barker, Stanley Marando, Baven Yunupingu... and recorded with some French bands like Aston Villa, Alain Brunet et Manhu Roche. Convinced by the therapeutic effect of music and sound, he concentrates his efforts on this research. He succeeds to create a traditional music using his instruments as well as modern music by the original tracks and the mix of instruments from various origins.
Zarb, Tombak, Tonbak