Kamancheh - An Iranian instrument with lovely tones
ID : N-3802 Date : 2018/12/24 - 15:31
(Persia Digest) - Kamancheh is an Iranian musical instrument which is also played across the Orient. Kamancheh is called robab (an Arabic name) in the Arabic-language music book “Al-Kabir” written by Farabi who has referred to kamancheh as an Iranian musical instrument.
It is portrayed in one of the paintings at Isfahan’s Chehel Sotoun Palace. The painting shows a ceremony in the presence of Shah Abbas Safavid and a number of musicians playing the kamancheh, ney, ghanoun, daf and another instrument similar to the tar.
In the Safavid and Qajar eras, Kamancheh was one of the main musical instruments of Iran’s original classical music.
It belongs to the family of string instruments and is defined in the Persian Encyclopedia of Music as: “Kamancheh is a stringed instrument from ancient iran and is indeed the developed version of robab. The bow with which the kamancheh is played is called kamaneh the same as archet in French for playing the violin.”
The instrument has a hollow circular body usually made of the wood of a berry tree in two rural and urban forms and is used by many Iranian tribes including the Lor, Mazandarani, Kurd, Turkman, Kormanji and Bakhtiary.
Kamancheh had three strings in the past; but after the European violin was introduced to Iran, another string was added to it and the strings of this European instrument were then used for the Iranian kamancheh. Today, the instrument still has four strings.
Kamancheh has a gentle nasal sound and is one of the most powerful musical instruments on which various beautiful melodies can be played with its different positions. It is used not only in Iran’s modal (Dastgahi) music but also melodic (Maqami) music.
Many factors influence the melodies of a kamancheh including the type of its wood and strings, skin thickness, and its shape and size.
It is worth noting that the art of crafting and playing with kamancheh was registered by Iran and Azerbaijan at UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2017.
One of the well-known Kamancheh players is Kayhan Kalhor. But Ali-Asghar Bahari is one of the most prominent players of Kamancheh who greatly contributed this Iranian musical instrument.
Bahari was 18 when he accompanied Ebrahim Khan-e Mansouri in concerts and became a famous kamancheh player.
When the violin and piano arrived in Iran from Europe, they replaced the two Iranian instruments of santour and kamancheh. As such, Bahari had to put his kamancheh to one side and start playing the violin.
However, after he began his work with Radio Iran, he once more brought the then isolated and almost forgotten kamancheh to the public eye and added to the lovers of the Iranian musical instrument day by day.
Bahari was an exception in kamancheh playing so that one of the glories of the Iranian classical music was created on the international arena when he performed at Delavil Hall Paris in 1967.