Kurdish Folk Music

Kurdish band Nishtiman performed their second album "Kobane" Toronto, Canada, Sep. 29, 2017. The band unites musicians from the different Kurdish communities of Iraqi Kurdistan Iran, and Turkey.

Kur­dish band Nish­ti­man per­formed their sec­ond album “Kobane” Toronto, Canada, Sep. 29, 2017. The band unites musi­cians from the dif­fer­ent Kur­dish com­mu­ni­ties of Iraqi Kur­dis­tan Iran, and Turkey.

For a pedi­gree of musi­cal con­ti­nu­ity, you can’t beat Kur­dis­tan. The old­est known nota­tion of music dates from the ancient Hur­rian king­dom, in the sec­ond mil­le­nium BC. Two sacred hymns recov­ered by archae­ol­o­gists from that ancient civ­i­liza­tion, located in the heart of today’s Kur­dis­tan, are in the same mode and bear a vis­i­ble kin­ship to the Kur­dish folk music of today. The mod­ern Kur­dish folk move­ment is frag­mented: vari­ant scenes in Iraqi Kur­dis­tan, Iran, Syria, or Turkey, as well as a Kur­dish dias­pora in Europe and North Amer­ica. In Turkey, singing in the Kur­dish lan­guage was against the law, pun­ished by impris­on­ment and phys­i­cal abuse, until very recently. In Iran, how­ever, it thrived, and in newly self-governing Kur­dis­tan, I’m sure it must be under­go­ing quite a renais­sance. Other than a few stray pieces on gen­eral col­lec­tions of mid­dle east­ern music, the only record­ings I have are one by instru­men­tal­ists Tah­moures and Sohrab Pour­naz­eri, with accom­pa­ny­ing vocals by Rojan, enti­tled sim­ply Kur­dish Folk Music, and a cd called Kur­dish Dances fea­tur­ing Moham­mad Bhamani on dozak and sornâ, ‘Abdol­lâh Nabi­ol­lâhi on dobol, and vocals by ‘Abdol­lâh Qor­bâni. But I heard a mar­velous live con­cert last year, at the Agha Khan Museum in Toronto. The first thing that strikes the lis­tener is the music’s acces­si­bil­ity. The melodies are catchy and upbeat, and not buried in the micro­tonal intri­c­as­ies and melisma that makes it hard for out­siders to fol­low mid­dle east­ern music. You could eas­ily party to this music, in a mod­ern disco, though it is purely traditional.

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