Naghghareh: Kettledrums of Iran
|Copyright © 2002 by Peyman Nasehpour|
Persian large-sized kettledrums are called Kus. Many poets have mentioned the word Kus in their works. It is a pair of drums made of clay, wood or metal in the form of a hemispherical kettle, with skin stretched over the mouth of it. Kus was played with leather or wood drumsticks (The leather drumstick was called Daval). Kus usually was carried on horseback, camelback or elephantback. It was played in many occasions such as festivals, wars, decamping and so on.
It was the accompaniment of the Karnay (Persian trumpet or horn). Particularly the Persian epic poets Ferdosi and Nezami have mentioned Kus and Karnay when describing the battlefields. Many Persian paintings (miniatures) show the presence and importance of the Kus and Karnay in the battlefields. There were applied to encourage the army. The antiquity of the Kus and Karnay reaches the Achaemenid period (533-330 B.C.).
After Islam the word Naghghareh has been used for small-sized kettledrums of the world of Islam. It seems that the word Naghghareh comes from the Arabic verb Naghr that means to strike and to beat (Today in Turkey Naghghareh is called Nakkare).
A few poets have mentioned the name Naghghareh such as Molana Rumi. There is a Persian popular poem that mentions the Naghghareh:
The bride has not Tonban [long, loose skirt formerly worn by women]!
The bridegroom has gone to fetch one
May he come back healthy
Dambel-e-Dimbo or Zimbil-i-Zimbo is the sound made by a drum (compare with Rub-a-Dub in English). This is a very important poem because the rhythm of the verses calls to mind the rhythm of 'chahar-chubeh' of Mazandarani regional, which is played by Desarkutan.
Different names such as Gavorga, Kaseh, Khom, Naghghareh and many similar names have been applied for the kettledrums. For more information about these names please refer to the Encyclopedia of Persian Percussion Instruments.
Naghghareh can be found in different sizes in different regions of Iran:
Naghareh-ye-Shomal (northern naghareh)
One of them is Naghghareh-ye-Shomal that is played in the North of Iran. Its native name in Mazandaran province of Iran is Desarkutan. Desarkutan is in fact a pair of small drums. The body of drums is made of clay. Their structure is like a bowl. One drum is larger than the other. The large one is called bam and the smaller one is called zil. It should be mentioned here that bam and zil respectively mean bass and treble. The diameter of the bam is about 22 centimeters and the diameter of the zil is about 16 centimeters. Two drums are covered by cow's skin, though in the past the skin of boar was used. The skin is tightened on the drums by bands to be made of cow hide. The drums are played with two wooden drumsticks. The length of the drumsticks is from 25 to 27 centimeters. The thicker drumstick is used to play on the larger drum. The diameter of the drumsticks is from 1 to 1.5 centimeter.
Serna (Mazandarani oboe, same as Persian Sorna) is accompanied by one or two Desarkutans. These instruments are played in festive ceremonies such as wedding ceremonies, sport ceremonies and so on. Desarkutan is not used as a solo instrument.
It is really wonderful that we have the same situation in India. Naghghareh can be found in India and its native name is Nagada or Nagara. Nagara of India is a pair of drums. These are the kettledrums of old 'naubat' (traditional ensemble of nine instruments). They are played with sticks. Today this instrument is usually used to accompany the shehnai (Indian oboe). Shehnai is an indispensable component of any North Indian wedding (shadi).
Indian Tabla and Persian Naghghareh
As the excellent study of tabla by Rebecca Stewart (The Tabla in Perspective. Unpublished thesis, UCLA, 1974) has suggested tabla was most likely a hybrid resulting from experiments with existing drums such as pakhawaj, dholak, and naqqara. The origins of tabla repertoire and technique may be found in all three and in physical structure there are also elements of all three: for example, the smaller pakhawaj head for the dayan, the naqqara kettledrum for the bayan, and the flexible use of the bass of the dholak. A Brief Introduction to Tabla and Indian Tals has more information about tabla.
|Peyman Nasehpour is a percussionist and performer living in Iran who plays the percussion instruments of Persian art music; the tonbak, ghaval, and daf. Peyman is a passionate and dedicated educator and promoter of Persian art music and itís instruments to the rest of the world. To learn more about Peyman please visit his web site Peyman and his Tonbak.
You may also find a wealth of information on Persian drums already published by Peyman at DrumDojo.com.
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