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  • 1/9/2011

Impact of Iranian Music on other Cultures and Vice Versa

Part 1


By: Nasrollah Nassehpour

In order to examine Iranian music, that of the neighboring countries should first be tackled. Since the states which have either impressed our music or have been influenced by it have either been part of Iran in ancient times or just adjacent to it. Besides the relation between the neighboring countries, given that Iran was located in-between the east and west, the frequent crossings of various tribes left its impressions on Iran's culture. The two issues needs to be examined closely. Though a thorough discussion of the issues in question won't be possible here, but I will do my best to show such a mutual impact as far as possible.

Iran's culture is one of the world's most ancient. Given that no remarkable information and documents are available on its ancient era, nonetheless, on the basis of the existing evidences one might realize the existence of an integrated music in the ancient Iran. The oldest document is a cylindrical stamp dating back to the 5th millennium BC, which has been unearthed at Choghamish near Dezful. It shows the world's most ancient music ensemble, which is consisted of a hrapist and a drummer.

On the other hand, Iranian music might have been influenced by the Indian music, which might be linked to the music of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

 This is, nonetheless, nothing new and its evident sample is Abu Reiahn Birouni's book titled "Mal ol-Hind".

The impression left on Iranian music by the Indian music since ancient times is quite evident from the common Aryan traditional music, among which the one with the well-known story about the Indian gypsies might be the most famous. It is said that Bahram Gour requested his father-in-law, who was India's monarch, to send 12,000 musicians to Iran in order to entertain the Iranian nation by playing Indian music. The consequent impression left on Iran's music has been talked about to some extent. The existence of such Indian musical instruments as "van" and "drai" in Iran marks the traces of Indian music. Besides coming across musical graces such as Ramkli in Abu-Ata, Denasari in Homayoun, Abdullah Rock, Indian Rock, Kashmiri Rock in Mahour and Rast-Panjgah are samples of such an impression. It should be clarified that Ramkli and Denasari are Indian Ragas (modes). Besides Rock is the Arabic version of Rag, which is somehow related to the Persian word Rang (color). The impression of Iranian music on the Indian music is still more evident, which is contributed to the presence of Iranian musicians specially Amir Khosrow Dehlavi, the Indian Persian-speaking poet and the famous singer and musician at Akbar Shah's court. Indian music of today is based on two styles known as Hindustani and Karnatic. Sangeet Hindustani style commonly played in northern India appeared under the impression of Iranian music. The Indian singing styles including Qavali, lyrical, melodious and fanciful are all rooted in Iranian music. The Indian sitar is taken after the Iranian tar, which has undergone some changes to produce more complicated melodies. According to the latest research, the Indian "tabla" is rooted in three instruments including the Iranian "naghareh" (timbal), the Iranian/Indian "dehlak" and the Indian "pakhavaj". On the other hand the presence of the Iranian and Arabic words such as "saz" (instrument), "mezrab" (plectrum) denote such an impression. Unfortunately, further elaboration in this respect would divert our attention from the original issue.

Given that China played a decisive role in the cultural and musical exchange, it should be mentioned as well. Several Iranian instruments, which were taken to China, were influenced by some characteristics of the Chinese music. For instance, the Chinese instrument known as "suona" is rooted in the Iranian "sorna" (oboe) and is related to some extent to the Indian "shahna". Another such example is the Iranian "barbat" that was taken to China and became known as "pipa", which should have later been taken to Japan. The Japanese called it "biwa". Another instrument quite resembling the Iranian "tonbak" (tambourine) called "shohai-gata-kataman-taiko" is also commonly played in Japan, while the instrument played in Iran's Sistan and Baluchestan province, known as "binjo" is originally Japanese.

to be countinued ...

Source: iranchamber.com

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