classical music / Events / iran / Music

The Sound of The Kamancheh

If sorrow raises armies to shed the blood of lovers,
I’ll join with the wine bearer so we can overthrow them.
With a sweet string at hand, play a sweet song, my friend,
so we can clap and sing a song and lose our heads in dancing.

      Hafiz (Ghani-Qazvini, no 374)

This February thrice Grammy Award nominee Kayhan Khalor will be back in London to perform an intimate concert at The Cockpit Theatre on the 12th. Khalor is a much respected musician who has played with large orchestras and solo all over the world. A creative composer, he has at times borrowed from blues,  jazz and improvised avant garde genres with confidence.

With sitar (see below), or with Turkish baglama, tonbak (drum) or on its own the kamancheh (Persian spiked fiddle) is the humble sound of a mighty heart. Hearing Kayhan  Khalor talk, in his measured yet direct manner, it is easy to see that his character is ideally suited to this compelling instrument. Used in both folk and classical music it is said to sound like the violin but tighter, even ‘more nasal’. The kamancheh sounds deeper than the violin, possibly because Western music tends to love the higher end of the scale, whereas the lower register, the common ground of Middle Eastern compositions, sounds more regal, less frantic. The kamancheh is an ancient instrument form the Middle East, held like vertically like a cello and the size of the viola.

Kamancheh on the Azerbaijani 1 manat banknote since 2006.

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