A review of folk music in Iran (3)
Music of the southern coast of Iran
Some music traditions of Persian Gulf and Oman sea coasts have got very close relations with Persian classical music and others are influenced by the African music. The latter exerts its influence through African people residing in the region since a few centuries ago. The vast region is divided into two provinces, “Bushehr” and “Hormozgan”, with the former having exceptional music diversity.
The most important vocal music of Bushehr is “Sharveh” related closely to “avaz-e-Dashti” in Persian classical music. This free metered song is comparable to those sung on quatrains in Khorasani music. In fact a common feature of Iranian music culture is the free metered songs with quatrains as their words. Assuming different shapes and forms in different regions, these are usually regarded as amongst the most prestigious musical genres. Bushehr is the main province for Sharveh-khani; however, it is as well prevalent in Hormozgan. The gatherings devoted to Sharveh-khani are those with weighty ceremonies with singers favored mostly by the people. The gathering could last for several hours, and in case attended by several singers each sings in turn.
“Yazleh-khani” is the opposite of Sharveh-khani and includes singing light and short songs, comparable to Balouchi “Sut”. Yazlehs are performed in wedding and circumcision ceremonies in responsorial mode, and like similar songs in Iranian music, are performed in a continuous way. These are especially popular amongst younger generation.
In addition to Yazleh-khani, there exists also Khayyam-khani accompanied by frame drums (dayereh) with the lyrics, some of them by “Omar Khayyam” to light melodies and joyous rhythms. This is again a singing practice devoted to merry making and weddings. Bushehr dance music is performed on “ney-anban” (local bagpipe), dayereh, “tombak” and “Dammam”, instead of “sorna” and “dohol”. These are group dances in which the players themselves occasionally participate.
Southern coasts of Iranian plateau, especially Bushehr, have got a rich religious ritual and music. “Nowhe-khani”, “sineh-zani”, and “ta’zieh” in mourning ceremonies of “MOharram”, the anniversary of Imam Hossayn’s martyrdom, are probably more pompously organized in this region than in other parts of Iran. The percussion groups are led by a nowheh-khan who sings a sorrowful mourning music to the rhythm of which members beat the chests with hands and respond to him. The ceremony begins by music of Dammam. Each ensemble comprises of a few Dammams and cymbals, and one “buq” (local horn).
In this region the ceremonies for possession are more diversified than those of Balouchestan. Belief in supra-natural phenomena is more common amongst the black inhabitant people. Whereas in Balouchestan there is only one supra-natural creature, namely “Guat”, here we confront with different creatures generally known as “Baad”. Baads are in numerous categories, but one can classified them in to general categories: Muslem and Pagan baads. Muslim baads are more or less harmless, but pagan baads are extremely dangerous and are able to kill their victims, if the ceremony organized for satisfied them is not efficient. There are three kinds of baads: “Zaar”, “Nowban” and “Mashayekh”. Mashayekh are actually the spirits of the past saints and are Muslims. Nowban is also Muslim but the most dangerous baads are Zaars, and all are pagan.
The principal issues in this type of music are similar to those in Guati music of Balouchestan, but music instruments used in Zaar and Mashayekh ceremonies are solely from percussion family and there are not melodic instruments. Vocals have Swahili lyrics, however in these regions nobody speaks in Swahili. The leader is called “Baba Zaar” or “Mama Zaar”, and the instruments used are double-headed dohol, and “daf”. In Nowban a unique instrument, “tambire-ye Nowban” is also used.