THE INSTRUMENTS


The kamancheh (derived from the Persian words kaman, 'bow' or 'arc', and cheh, 'little') is an ancient spiked fiddle which is ancestor to most modern European and Asian bowed instruments. It can now be found throughout the area stretching from North Africa to China. The instrument's name varies from region to region (e.g. kamange, saz-e Keshmiri, joze, ghiczak), as does its shape (it can be spherical or cylindrical and have an open or closed back).

The Iranian classical kamancheh has a spherical shape, its bridge resting on the surface of a soundbox covered by a membrane of animal skin. The soundbox has no standard size and can be made entirely from one piece of wood or from many ribs. Its rounded body, made from different kinds of wood (e.g. mulberry, walnut, oak, or maple), has a spike on bottom to support the instrument. The kamancheh's four metal strings are generally tuned in fourths or fifths. The instrument is held vertically and the bow, made of horsehair, moves horizontally, with the performer rotating the instrument when he or she moves from one string to another.





The santur
is a trapezoid-shaped hammered zither, which is struck with light wooden hammers. Originating in Persia, it has traveled the world from North Africa to Spain, throughout Eastern Europe, and to China, Korea and Japan.

The santur has seventy-two strings which are arranged on adjustable tuning pegs in eighteen sets of four. The strings are made of bronze (9 in the low register) and steel (9 in the middle register). Each set of four strings creates one single tone. There are a total of 27 tones available covering approximately three octaves. The body of the santur is usually made of walnut but can be made of various types of wood depending on the desired sound.

The santur is played with two very fine wooden hammers, sometimes covered with felt, and held with 3-4 fingers. In contrast to the playing technique of the similar Turkish or Indian instruments, where heavy hammers create tremolo by "falling" on the strings, with the Persian santur, tremolo is created and directed by the musicians wrist.



The tombak is a goblet-shaped drum carved from solid mulberry wood and covered at the wide end with lamb or goat skin. It is held horizontally and played with both hands. The finger technique is extremely elaborate and consists of rolling and snapping the fingers in various ways which allow for a great variety of sounds.




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