Sacred Tanbur Maqaam Music

MAGHAM - It is a highly complex art form that weds classical poetry and musical improvisation in specific local modes. Magham is a modal system. Unlike Western modes, "magham" modes are associated not only with scales but with an orally transmitted collection of melodies and melodic fragments that performers use in the course of improvisation. Magham is a compound composition of many parts. The choice of a particular magham and a style of performance fits a specific event. The dramatic unfolding in performance is typically associated with increasing intensity and rising pitches, and a form of poetic-musical communication between performers and initiated listeners.

In 2003, UNESCO recognized magham as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. While fragile, intangible cultural heritage is an important factor in maintaining cultural diversity in the face of growing globalization. An understanding of the intangible cultural heritage of different communities helps with intercultural dialogue, and encourages mutual respect for other ways of life.

These maghams are considered to be the oldest and best well preserved & most sacred songs of Iran, denied to un-initiated listeners for centuries these maghams are meditative improvisational blends & collection of pre-Islamic Yarsan religious music, thought to be one of the most ancient, deep-rooted musical traditions in the world. The tanbur has always been considered a sacred instrument associated with the Kurdish Sufi music of Western Iran.

Shirzad Sharif & his tanbur teacher Ostad Hamid Reza Heidari at class learning the Sacred Maghams through the traditional oral heart to heart transmission method.