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Master Musicians Unveil Percussion Instruments

Master Musicians Unveil Percussion InstrumentsMaster Musicians Unveil Percussion Instruments

New generations of two percussion instruments were unveiled Saturday evening at Milad Tower in Tehran.

The instruments are designed by two renowned musicians: vocalist and player of daf, tonbak, tar and rubab Bijan Kamkar, 67, member of Kamkars ensemble; and percussionist and composer Homayoun Nassiri, 36, leader of Darkoub band, according to musiceiranian.ir, a local music news website.

One of the instruments is an evolved version of daf, this large Middle Eastern frame drum. The other, called ‘domdom,’ is in fact an improved make of an instrument introduced in 2000 by composer and percussionist Habib Meftah Bushehri, 40.

The instruments carry the ‘HaPa’ brand  -- a joint project by the instrument producing workshop of Padouk and percussionist Pejamn Haddadi.

At the unveiling ceremony several instruments were available for enthusiasts to try their hands on. Attendants were mostly students from the Kamkar and Nassiri schools.

  Tuning Challenge

Kamkar explained the improvements made in the HaPa model of daf. “From the very first day I played daf, I found its large membrane troublesome; it became taut or loose depending on the weather. While recording a piece, by the time I was to replay a part, very often the daf was out of tune. I had to warm the daf or make it cold to make it looser or tenser. Sometimes it was easier to play the piece from the beginning. There were times when I played one piece 10 times.”

One of the major problems in playing daf, Kamkar said, was “our desperate situation in controlling the tenseness of its membrane. I always wanted to have a daf with plastic membrane but the sound quality uncompromised.”

The other problem with daf is its considerable weight, Kamkar added. After he joined Padouk workshop, they made 10 different models of daf before the master finally approved the make.

“The weight of the present model is between 650 to 700 grams. As for its tenseness, we turned it into a tunable instrument. It is the best daf one can get these days.”

The same problem of tuning was true with domdom. As Nassiri explained, the membrane of the instrument was attached to a series of cords, and no one  could adjust the cords.

“I was among those who had a hard time tuning the instrument. I always called a musician from Bushehr to help me pull the cords. No matter what, domdom loosened after a while. I discussed the problem with Mohsen Farmani (founder of Padouk workshop).”

Nassiri and Farmani came up with the idea of a winding gear as the solution. Now domdom can be tuned like many other similar instruments.

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