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Payvand's Iran News ...

A View on Folkloric Music of Mazandaran

Source: Hayate No

Ritual songs and music of Mazandaran too, like other kinds of music rooted in history, culture and native beliefs are an expression of the sufferings, pains, beauties, joys and sorrows of this land.

With the passage of time the whispers expressing the memories of the men and women, sorrow and joy, epics and heroic stories, love and passion, the shepherds' songs and…has assumed a rhythmical framework and finally it has created a rich collection of folkloric music of this area. A collection rich both in terms of variation and content. According to Jamshid Gholizadeh, the music specialist, the folkloric music of this state includes the music of songs, ritual and instrumental music.

In song music, rhythm has almost no role and each form of music has its own cultural substructure, the most prevalent of which are 'catouli', 'Kaleh haal', 'touri or amiri', 'najma', 'sanam' and 'charvadari'.

'Catouli' is a song surviving chest to chest, associating the memories of Mazandarani men and women. A group of musicologists consider catouli as a kind of instrumental music too, and attribute it to a town in the eastern part of Mazandaran (present Golestan) called Aliabad Catoul.

Others believe that this song is sung when people take their catouli cow to the meadows to graze and that is why it is called catouli.

Catouli cow is a domestic cow and villagers' cherish it because of the large volume of milk it produces. This cow is usually kept in the people's dwelling place and they take it to graze only to the neighboring living areas while other cows are taken to woods and meadows to graze.

Overture of catouli song is quite similar to that of Kurd Bayat, Dashti and Abuata (different musical keys of Iranian music).

This song was usually sung while walking and working and that is why the words jan, jana, hey, and/or aye are utilized in order to take a fresh breath. This habit is still common among the artists.

The modal intervals of catouli song is always the same and they are only different in sense of intonation and composition and are related to those of the songs played in dashti and shour. It should be noted that catouli is usually played by 'lelah va' (local pipe) and sometimes with sorna (a kind of oboe).

Kaleh haal or kal haal or Leili's lover is a form of local song in dastgah (key) of shour performed voluntarily at the end of catouli.

Regarding the origin of this name (kaleh haal), some people believe that Mazandarani housewives used to sing this song while cooking using a kaleh (a form of hand made oven). Others believe that it is called kale haal (short present) because it is a rather short song.

The song of amiri called also touri or tabari in old times, although the name is associated with Mazandaran (tabari means a person from tabarestan which was the old name of Mazandaran), but it was called as such (amiri) because the song was usually sung accompanied with the long poems of the famous poet of Mazandaran, Amir Paazvari. Amiri is a song covering the two dastgahs (keys) of dashti and shour; and its tonal amplitude does not go beyond a hengam (octave).

Najma, another Mazandarani song, is in fact a love story attributed to Najmedin or Najma, a prince from Fars area who falls in love with a Mazandarani girl, Ranaa. The melody of najma is played in dastgah (key) of shour and from a musical point of view it is under the influence of music of central area of Iran, and even in some parts it gets close to the music of Fars and some parts of Khorasan.

Najma is in fact a national Iranian story, and wherever used it has been adapted to the culture of the corresponding region. The song of najma, like amiri is devoid of rhythm and is performed in dastgah of shour.

Sanam is sometimes called haghani as they have many common musical characteristics, except in the expression of melody, where in the former the singer begins the song with the word of sanam, and in the case of haghani, with the word al'lah.

Charvadari, another song music of Mazandaran used by charvadars and it is the story of the complicated life of these people. Charvadars, were hawkers in ancient Mazandaran who took their commodities such as rice, wheat, cereals, coal and charcoal with their cattle to nearby towns and instead brought back tea, naphtha, sugar and other necessary commodities to their own area. The song music is a reflection of their life and usually sang by them. Its melody has 6/8 rhythm.

Charvadars traveled sometimes on foot and sometimes on horse and it is thought that in the latter case, the act of trotting introduced accents to the melody giving a rhythmic form to it and then they sang this same rhythmic melody when travelling on foot.

Another part of the music of this area is made up of compositions called by the different names of rizmaghoum or kija jan (dear girl) that consist of epical tansnifs (a form of ballad or aria) also called sout or sourt khoni.

The closest sout or sourt to our time is sourt moshti related to some 50 years ago. Moshti was a gunman from the village of poulour who was a rebel fighting against Reza Shah Pahlavi (the founder of the last Iranian dynasty before the Islamic Revolution) and for this reason was considered as one of the heroes of the story of sourt.

Some people believe that this melody is related to the village of sourt near today's Kiasar in the vicinity of the city of Sari.

Due to it historical roots, sourt khoni recounts the social and epical struggles of people of Mazandaran. Some of the native artists believe that sout is derived from the word soroud (chant) and sourt is in fact a form of idealistic music influenced by the music of kija jans.

Agh nanah is another Mazandarani song, sang in different forms. Some believe that the theme of this song is the story of a man who falls in love with a rich girl called agh nanah, but could not marry her because he already had a wife. Another group of specialists believes that agh nanah (literary grand mother from the father side) was the oldest person of the family and this melody is a description of her. Its origin goes back to some 50 years ago and it is performed in dastgah of shour.

The melody of Taleb or taleba is usually accompanied with some poems that recount the story of the torments of a sister being away from her brother (Taleb). Taleb ia young man who has been driven away from home by his stepmother and finally dies far from home.

Ritual music of Mazandaran consists of norouz khani, chavoush khani, mouri or mouyeh, navajesh or navazesh.

Norouz khani is among the oldest melodies and the proper time for its performance is the period starting from two weeks before the new year (norouz) to about two weeks after it. It is usually performed in dastgah of segah and sometimes in shour and chargah.

Chavoush khani is inspired by the national music and music of other regions and its content is an interpretation of Iranian religious rituals after Islam. In the past it was performed during the pilgrimage to holy places.

Mouri (lamentation) a ritualistic song is performed after the death of a dear person by the relatives usually women. It has a very sorrowful content and we way say that it is a kind of elegy often sang by two or three relatives of the dead person one after another.

Navazesh (caress) or navajesh is performed when one is away from one's children or some close relatives. Sometimes mothers sing it for their youngest child as an act of caressing.

Instrumental shepherd music performed by lelah va (pipe) is the second part of ceremonial music performed by naghareh (timbale) or sorna (oboe). The shepherd music played by lelah va consists of catouli, gharibi, mishi haal, donbaleh mishi haal, kija karchaal, zaari, kamar sari, doukhtar amou jan jelodari, abas khani and sama haal.

Gharibi is one form of shepherd music played in dastgah of shour and whenever shepherds feel homesick.

Mishi haal, is a melody for sheep and is very exciting for them. It is the story of winter when snow covers the meadows and fields and the sheep have remove the snow in order to graze the grass beneath it. This is called dast kan in the local dialect and it helps the sheep to find their food in this cold snowy weather. Mishis haal is in dastgah of shour.

Donbaleh mishi haal is played after mishi haal and usually when the act of grazing ends, i.e. it is played by the shepherds while returning to the village. The sheep after grazing and by hearing this song realize that it is the time to go back to the barn. This song too, is played in dastgah of shour.

Kija karchaal or karchaal is a melody describing the girls sitting behind karchaal (the instrument for weaving carpet) weaving carpet. It is played in shoushtari, bidad homayoun with 4/4 rhythm.

Jelodari is a melody played by loutis that is musicians playing in wedding ceremonies or while taking the bride to bath or on the way back and also when taking the bride to the bridegroom's house. It is played by sorna (oboe) and naghareh (timbale). It is not known how this melody has found its way to shepherd music. However it was originally played in the dastgah of segah, but at present it is played in shour.

The melody of abas khani belongs to ritual music, invented by the instrument lelah va it then appeared under shepherd music. It is inspired by one of the most prominent ceremonies of tazieh khani (a form of passion or miracle music), i.e. tazieh of hazrat abas. This melody is played by lelah va and it is thought that because of the popularity of the above tazieh it is expressed by the language of the instrument too. It is performed in the dastgah of shour.

Samaa haal, a dance melody is played in the dastgah of segah and with leleh va, sorna and naghareh. The last two instruments are usually used when this melody is played at wedding ceremonies. Some people believe that samaa haal was performed during harvest in the fields and farmers used to dance and celebrate with it.

The melody of zaari (lamentation) is played in segah and is based on a tragedy. It is performed quite slowly, in 4/4 rhythm.

Kamar sari meaning middle of the rocks in Mazandarani dialect is played in dastgah shour and at the time when the sheep are grazing in the green meadows, ruminating newly grown, fresh grass. Meanwhile the shepherd sits on the middle (kamar) of a rock playing this melody with lelah. Kamar sari is divided into two parts, first and second kamar sari. The first is performed in dastgah of dashti (oshagh) and the second kamar sari is played in shour.

Dokhtar amou jan (dear cousin) is the name of a melody played in shour with 6/8 rhythm.

Pishnamazi or pishnavazi is an instrumental melody without an accompanying song. It is played before the onset of the wedding ceremony so that people would know that the ceremony would be beginning soon.

According to another belief the melody is played a day before the wedding, before the evening prayer in the house of the bride or the bridegroom and that is why it is called pishnamazi (before the prayer).

The musical instruments of Mazandaran include, lelah va (local pipe), gharneh, dotar, naghareh, sorna, ghamish, kamancheh, tasht, laak and das dayereh.

Translator's Note: The main reason for keeping Persian terms is that they have no exact equivalent in English.

-- Translated for by Roya Monajem,


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