Saeed Farajpouri is among the greatest performers of the Iranian Kamanche (Spike Fiddle). For this performance he is joined by Doctor Amir Koushkani, who is a researcher and master performer of the Iranian Tar (Long-necked lute) along with Hamin Honari on the Tombak (Goblet drum). These musicians come together to present Iranian music in a manner that is faithful to the style of music which would have been presented during the Qajar Dynasty of Iran (1789-1920).
Access to the concert is free, but donations are greatly appreciated. Concert will remain online one year from premiere date.
This concert is generously supported by Melody Mason & Joe Gilling, Tony & Margie Knox, and an anonymous donor
This concert is part of EMV’s new series, Passports: Early Music from Around the World
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Concert will remain online one year from premiere date.
Pishdaramad¹ in the Mode of Dashti
Chahar Mezrab² (Instrumental) in the Mode of Dashti
Tar and Kamanche Improvisation
Tasnif³ Ghadimi (Old Song)
Tar and Kamanche Improvisation in the Mode of Isfahan
Chahar Mezrab (Instrumental) in the Mode of Isfahan
Tar and Kamanche Improvisation in the Mode of Isfahan 2
Ali Akbar Khan Shahnazi
Tasnif in the mode of Isfahan
Reng⁴ in the mode Isfahan
¹Pishdaramad – a slow rhythmic piece that acts as a kind of overture to a concert
²Chahar Mezrab – A fast instrumental piece (Usually in 6/8 time signature)
³Tasnif – A rhythmic song performed with a singer usually based on poetry from a classic poet such as Hafez or Rumi
⁴Reng – A light rhythmic piece which is usually performed at the end of a concert
During the Qajar period of Iran, a significant effort was made by the royal courts to codify music into a system called the Radif which will not only preserve folk and traditional melodies but also act as a means to educate and disseminate Iranian music to future generations. Both Farajpouri and Koushkani have devoted their lives to the understanding of the Radif and have studied with masters whose lineages come directly from the early court musicians. Their extensive knowledge of the Radif grants them the ability to create live improvisations centered around their shared understanding of this system which is over a century old and contains melodies and songs which are even older.
The aim of this program was to create a set of music that would be a good representation of music from the Qajar period. However, many difficulties arise in achieving this goal. Firstly, few recordings from that period were ever created. Secondly, music notation was relatively new to Iran and musical weren’t seldom transcribed until later in the 19th century. Finally, Persian music from that era was heavily centered around the art of improvisation rather than performing compositions. As a result, it is difficult to recreate a piece of music from that period, let alone an entire concert. We approached this daunting task by seeking to perform pieces which were composed by master musicians who descend from notable music figures from that era. These musicians were central to preserving the classical traditions of Iran and their works help provide us with a window to witness our musical past.
For example, the first piece is a Pishdaramad (a musical introduction to a concert like an overture) which was written by Reza Mahjubi. Mahjubi was a notable composer from the early twentieth century and his compositions are still considered standards in the Persian classical repertoire. He comes from a lineage of musicians from the Qajar period. Therefore, it is safe to assume his pieces would still represent a dynasty that was already in its twilight at the time which he was born. The same reasoning would hold true for the other composers in this program.
The concert also features two instrumental forms called “Chahar Mezrabs” which were written by Jalil Shahnaz. Shahnaz is one of the most recognizable masters of the Persian Tar. He is among the great musicians from the city of Isfahan and his style is considered to be a great representation of the classical styles of Persian Music. (A Chahar Mezrab is a form of rhythmic piece usually in a 6/8 time signature and often uses a simultaneous rhythmic combination of three against two.)
The other composers in the program, Sheida, Akbar Khan Shahnazi, and Darvish Khan all come from lineages which could be linked directly to the Qajar courts. As a result, we feel that this concert will allow the listener to not only travel to a different place, but also a different time when Iran (Persia) was still not heavily influenced by the western world.
The instruments used in this performance are the three principal instruments used at the time. They are Tar, Kamanche and Tombak. The Tar is a 6-string lute which became the principal stringed instrument at the time of the Qajar Iran. The body is a double-bowl shape carved from mulberry wood and has a thin membrane of stretched lamb-skin covering the top. It is plucked with a brass plectrum.
The Kamanche is a bowed string instrument which is played throughout Iran and neighbouring regions. It is traditionally carved out of walnut wood and has a thin membrane over the sound box. Finally, The Tombak is the main percussion instrument used in Iranian traditional music. It is a goblet drum carved out of a single piece of walnut wood and covered with a membrane which is made of camel or calf skin. The Tombak has a rich palette of techniques which can be used to accompany and also interact with the melodic instruments.
Saeed Farajpouri, kamancheh
Saeed Farajpouri, was born on February 20th, 1961 in Sanadaj, Iran. He is a composer, performer and an instructor of a classical Iranian instrument called Kamancheh or Spike Fiddle.
He started learning music at age 9 under Maestro Hassan Kamkar, and then learned the Iranian music repertoire (Radif) under Maestro Mohammad Reza Lotfi and the ensemble performance under the instruction of maestro Hossein Alizadeh.
He has performed with ensembles such as: Shayda, Aref, Aava, Paivar and Dastan.
Farajpoori has instructed Kamancheh at Chavosh Music Center, Music Conservatory of Tehran, and several universities and art institutes inside and outside Iran. He is a recipient of Iran’s highest art honor award.
Saeed collaborated with Maestro Mohammad Reza Shajarian for more than three decades performing at many concerts inside and outside Iran and in albums such as Shab e Vasl, Ahang e Vafa, Rosvai e Del, Dastan, Aaram e jaan, Aaseman e Eshgh, and Del Shodegan.
He also has several solo recordings such as: Kamancheh Album, Segah Homayoon, and Kurdish folklore music. In Kurdish music, he has produced the following albums such as: Awaat, Zamaneh, in memory of S. Ali Asghar Kurdestani.
Amir Koushkani, tar
He has recently published a two-volume study on the “Persian Avaz” in collaboration with Master Mohammad Reza Shajarian and Professor Robert Simms.
Hamin Honari, tombak
Hamin Honari is an Iranian-Canadian hand drummer who has specialized on the Persian hand drums Tombak & Daf. He has focused on adapting his drumming style and technique to accommodate many different genres of music. He has performed with the Dastan Ensemble, one of Iran’s most well-known Persian classical music ensembles and has accompanied many amazing musicians and singers such as Salar Aghili, Parissa, Hossein Omoumi, Hossein Behroozinia, Saeed Farajpouri, and Itamar Erez. Hamin has been teaching for over 10 years and is working on creating his own courses for Tombak and Daf.