Persian Tar

Persian Music

Persian Tar

 

Persian Tar

Persian Tar is a string or stringed instrument. In these musical instruments a stretched vibrating string produces the initial sound. They are called Chordophones as well. The word "Târ" means string. Persian Tar is also called as "Târ-e Shirâz", the Tar from Shiraz. Persian Tar is a plucked string instrument,so it means that a plectrum is used to pluck or strum the instrument. Persian Tar is a fretted string instrument, thus the instrument has frets that have been tied on the neck.

 

Impressions from Iran
Video clips of Iran with Persian Tar performance
Play the Video!

 

Persian Tar Strings

Persian Tar has three courses made up of two metal strings each. The two strings in the first course (the first and second string from down to up) are named the "White Strings", are tuned in unison and made of steel. The two strings in the second course (the third and fourth string from down to up) are named the "Yellow Strings", are tuned in unison and made of Bronze or Phosphor-Bronze. The two strings in the third course (the fifth and sixth string from down to up) have different names and are tuned in an octave or to different tones. The thiner string of the third course is named the "Drone String" and made of steel and the thicker string of the third course is named the "Bass String" and made of Bronze or Phosphor-Bronze. Persian Tar strings are used in different thicknesse or gauges. These gauges are chosen in thousandths of a meter. Here I am going to suggest you some gauges for Persian Tar strings. You can use 0.18 mm or 0.20 mm for the white and drone strings, 0.20 mm or 0.22 mm for the yellow strings and 0.35 or 0.40 for the bass string.

 

Persian Tar Strings

 

Persian Tar Frets

Pressing a string against a fret determines the strings' vibrating length and therefore its resultant pitch. Persian Tar frets are mostly made of gut, embedded around the neck and located at the points that are determined according to the ears of the musicians. Every fret consists of 3 or 4 threads according to the tradition. The frets are moveable, because we need sometimes to move the frets to get a new arrange of frets. Frets worn down from heavy use can be replaced. The number of Persian Tar frets can be between 22 and 28. I show you in the following picture the frets of my Persian Tar in an Octave. The frets between whole tone and half tone frets representing the micro tones. Some Persian Tar players and makers use frets made of nylon or metal.

 

Persian Tar Frets

 

Persian Tar Tuning

How to tune the Persian Tar?

The tonal center or the base tone of the starting piece of any "Dastgâh" has a great role in tuning the Persian Tar. We are going to assume that the white strings are tuned in "c". Most of the times the yellow strings are tuned in "g". I am going to call the drone and bass strings as tuning strings, because the tuning of these strings change with choosing a new Dastgah or with playing the same Dastgah from a different base tone. I am going to present here the traditional tunings of Persian Tar. Please pay attention to the order of strings: from left to right white strings (1st, 2nd), yellow strings (3rd, 4th), drone string (5th) and bass stirng (6th). Please consider that the yellow strings are tuned lower than the white strings, the sign "1/4flat" means quarter tone flat and the accidentals are used only to show the intended fret.

 

Persian Tar Pegs

Persian Tar Pegs

 

Persian Tar Tunings

Dastgah Mahur

base tone white strings yellow strings drone string bass string
C C G C C

Dastgah Rast Panjgah

base tone white strings yellow strings drone string bass string
F C F C C

Dastgah Shur

base tone white strings yellow strings drone string bass string
G C G C F

Dastgah Nava

base tone white strings yellow strings drone string bass string
G C G D D

Dastgah Homayun

base tone white strings yellow strings drone string bass string
G C G D D

Dastgah Chahargah

base tone white strings yellow strings drone string bass string
C C G C C

Dastgah Segah

base tone white strings yellow strings drone string bass string
A
1/4FLAT
C G A
1/4FLAT
F

Avaz Esfahan

base tone white strings yellow strings drone string bass string
G C G D D

Avaz Tork

base tone white strings yellow strings drone string bass string
B
FLAT
C G B
FLAT
F

Avaz Afshari

base tone white strings yellow strings drone string bass string
C C G C F

Avaz Abuata

base tone white strings yellow strings drone string bass string
C C G C F

Avaz Dashti

base tone white strings yellow strings drone string bass string
D C G C F

 

Persian Tar Players

Introduction

Here I am going to introduce only some Persian Tar virtuosi. It includes some important lines about their musical life, a picture and an audio sample. I hope that these informations are going to be helpful, for the Persian Tar lovers, who want to develop their skillfulness in playing the Persian Tar.

 

Persian Tar

Mirza Hosseyn Qoli

Mirza Hosseyn Qoli (circa 1851-1915), the Persian Tar virtuoso, was the son of Ali Akbar Farahani, the legendary Persian Tar player. He arranged for the Persian Tar, his own interpretation of persian art music repertoire. This musical arrangement shows his Persian Tar playing skillfulness and his deep artistic impression. His son Ali Acbar Xan Shahnazi played this treasure in a most beautiful way with some changes according to his own taste of music.

Persian Tar Solo
Dastgah: Shur
Play!

 

Mirza Hosseyn Qoli's interpretation of Persian music principal repertoire (Radif) - The Recording

 

Persian Tar

Darvish Xan

Darvish Xan (Qolam Hosseyn Darvish 1872-1926) was a Composer, Persian Tar and Setar player. He was the talented pupil of two Persian Art Music masters, Mirza Hosseyn Qoli (Persian Tar) and Mirza Abdollah (Setar). He went to London and Tbilisi for recording some works of Persian art music. He was one of the first musicians, who developed the music form, Pish Daramad in Persian music. He developed his own interpretation of persian music repertoire.

Persian Tar Solo
Dastgah: Homayun
Play!

 

Persian Tar

Ali Akbar Shahnazi

Maestro Shahnazi (1897-1985) was a Persian Tar player and composer. He composed his own persian art music repertpire (Radif), included different rhythmic-metric forms as well. He taught for circa 60 years his father's and his own Persian art music repertoire and educated many Persian Tar players. He recorded his father's interpretation of Persian music instrumental repertoire (Radif) in 1962, which is in my opinion maybe the most beautiful recorded principal Persian music repertoire.

Persian Tar Solo
Dastgah: Esfahan
Play!

 

Mirza Hosseyn Qoli's interpretation of Persian music principal repertoire (Radif) - The Transcription

 

Persian Tar

Morteza Neydavud

Maestro Neydavud (1900-1990) was a Persian Tar player and composer. He composed different musical forms like Pish Daramad, Reng and Tasnif (song). Tasnif Morqe Sahar is one of his well known works. His father(Bala Xan) was a Tonbak player. He became familiar with Qamar and discovered her talent as a singer, so he educated her and after that he played and recorded with her several great musical works and Qamar became the most famous female singer of thoses days. Morteza Xan established his own music school and named it Darvish in honor of his master Darvish Xan. He was always grateful and honored because of recording his intrepretation of Persian music repertoire for Persian Tar. He immigrated to the United States of America some months after the revolution (1979) in Iran. He had a special musical expression and articulation, that some people named this as Jewish style. There is no research about this term, but the similar way of playing has been seen by players, who were Jewish as well like Yahya Xan Zarpanje and Soleyman Xan Ruhafza. Please pay attention that these Jewish players have chosen musical family names.

Persian Tar Solo
Dastgah: Dashti
Play!

 

Persian Tar

Abdolhosseyn Shahnazi

Abdolhosseyn Xan Shahnazi (1905?-1949) was a Persian Tar player, Mirza Hosseyn Qoli's son and the younger brother of Ali Acbar Xan Shahnazi. He was a child as his father, Mirza Hosseyn Qoli passed away, because of that he learned the Persian Tar and the Persian basic instrumental repertoire, Radif, from his elder brother, Ali Acbar Xan Shahnazi. His style of playing according to his recordings is influenced by Ali Acbar Xan Shahnazi's style, but you can hear clearly and obviously in his playing his own taste of music and creativity. It is said that he changed his style of playing into a new one, that the next generation of Persian Tar players like Maestro Jalil Shahnaz and others were influenced by his playing. Unfortunately there are no recordings of his new playing style, so that we can have an image or idea about it.

Persian Tar Solo
Dastgah: Segah
Play!

 

Persian Tar

Yahya Zarpanje

Yahya Xan Zarpanje (1897-1932) learned the Persian Tar from Mirza Hosseyn Qoli and Darvish Xan. He comes from a musical family. His father was a song (Tasnif) singer and Dayere (Persian frame drum) player. He was famous as an tireless and persistent Persian Tar practiser. You can discover in his playing as well as in Morteza Xan Neydavud's playing, the special style or taste of playing, which is famous as the Jewish way of playing.

Persian Tar Solo
Dastgah: Mahur
Play!

 

Persian Tar

Farhad Arjangi

Maestro Farhad Arjangi (1939-1961) comes from a family with well-known painters in different generatins. He started learning the Persian Tar with the age of 7 under Ali Acbar Xan Shahnazi. He notated Mirza Hosseyn Qoli's and Ali Acbar Xan Shahnazi's instrumental repertoire (Radif) for Persian Tar with high degree of precision. He started to teach at the National Music School when he was only 18. It is a great pity that Farhad, a great musician and Persian Tar virtuoso died at a young age.

Persian Tar Solo
Dastgah: Chahargah
Play!

 

Persian Tar

Rare videos of his Persian Tar Performance
Dastgah: Abu'ata
✦ Videos ✦

 

Persian Tar

Mohammad Reza Lotfi

Maestro M.R. Lotfi (1964–2014), the Persian Tar player, Setar player and composer. He established the "Sheyda" ensemble and was the ensemble director and soloist. He performed in the Shiraz Festival of Arts. He established with Hushang Ebtehaj (poet) the "Chavosh" cultural centre.

Persian Tar & TonbaK Duet
Dastgah: Segah
TonbaK: Nasser Farhangfar
Play!

 

Musical Reading
Everlasting Moment
Poet & Poetry Reding: Ehsan Tabari
Persian Tar: M.R. Lotfi
Play!

 

Here I am going to introduce two more similar Persian Tar & Tonbak duets
Persian Tar: Parham Nassehpoor & TonbaK: Peyman N.

Persian Tar

 

Dastgah: Chahargah
Play!

 

Dastgah: Segah
Play!

 

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