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Iranian silk strung harp revived

TEHRAN, Feb. 17 (Mehr News Agency) -- Tehrani artist Siamak Mehrdad has renewed the practice of using silk strings for the Iranian harp, a tradition which had been set aside for about 150 years.

Harps had commonly been strung with silk from the Sassanid period up until the Qajar era in Iran and silk was also used for harps during the Baroque period in Europe. However with the development of metal strings the custom of using silk was set aside.

Mehrdad spent nine years twisting silk threads to make a set of harp strings.

"Silk harp strings have become obsolete due do the great length of time and difficulty involved in their production," he told the Persian service of CHN on Sunday.

According to Mehrdad, only two dotar players in the northern Khorasan region use such types of strings, which also have been produced using traditional primitive methods.

"Silk strings have a soft sound and are more in harmony with other Iranian instruments played in various parts of Iran," he explained.

"However, metal strings are far more commonly used due to their low price. Sometimes, unfortunately, even strands of telephone wire are being used by local musicians in various regions of Iran," Mehrdad added.

Medhrdad has also spent 15 years improving Iran's primitive harp and believes that he has managed to eradicate flaws in its design.

"The technique used in playing the Iranian harp differs only slightly from that used for other varieties of harps," Mehrdad noted.

"The Iranian harp is smaller than other types and it must be rested on the musician's lap whilst being played," he explained.

Mehrdad was awarded for redesigning the instrument during the 18th Fajr International Music Festival held in Tehran in early January.

... Payvand News - 02/17/08 ... --

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