Persian military band music

The eighteenth century would have sounded rather different if composers had employed Persian instead of Turkish music:

Xenophon and others report: “In battles, Iranians played certain sounds that made the enemy fearful and escape, such as the sound of stones falling from the mountain or the sound of a waterfall or the horrible sound of the flood or the howl of terrible beasts of prey.”

These sounds were recorded on paper and were taught to the soldiers. In his book “Alfehrest”, Ibn-e-Nadim has recorded 380 such sounds and Massoudi has recorded 160 sounds. During the Sassanid period, in the fifth century AD, Barbud employed 30 sounds for music. Naturally, he should have recorded his inspirations and performed them for his audience, since if he did not, he could not play them again.

Farabi had two books about music that had been missing previously. One of the books, recently discovered, is called “Iqaa” (which means beats in music) and the other is called “Ahsae Iqaa” (counting the beats). Both of these works have been translated into Persian and parts of these books have appeared in the Central Asian and Caucasus Magazine (scientific publication no. 2 of the Foreign Ministry). Farabi said some fashion of note writing was popular in the old Iranian art and the rest was invented by himself. Farabi was puzzled as to why the origin of music was attributed to Greece when all indications showed that this branch of art had its roots in Persia.

Farabi recorded all the musical pieces of his period and described the ancient note recording method in Iran. About 2,000 musical works and melodies and relics of that period have been passed on to us including pieces from Barbud, Armove and Maraghi. Of course, some pieces from great musicians, who lack any historic significance, were found in Farabi’s books. These musical notes could be performed and played at present.

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