03 February 2010

Radio Free Gumbo: Persian Diversion for a Winter's Night

That Darvish Khan, he played a mean tar.

Not gui-tar. Just 'tar'. Its an unusual-sounding instrument (unusual for someone brought up on Western guitar music) but I find it oddly fitting for the night. As I write this I am sequestered in my apartment, full belly and warm feet, and serenaded by the off-the-wall tunes on Radio Darvish.

Radio Darvish, in case you don't know, is a listener-supported webcast featuring traditional Persian music. I discovered it recently through the magic of iTunes radio, finally got around to investigating that particular segment of of my iPod list. The station is named after one Darvish Khan, a early 20th-century Iranian rockstar analog who was a master of the 'tar'. Apparently he was a master of the style, and even died in somewhat of a rockstar fashion. His carriage got T-boned by a new-fangled "automobile" back in 1926, supposedly the first Iranian ever to die in a car accident. I guess Darvish is like, the Cliff Burton of Persian trad music.

The winter has its hooks in hard. It is times like this that I look everywhere possible for something, anything to bridge the gaps between chores and activities that occupy my mind. Early in the day, I had ventured out to take some pictures. It was cold, as cold as the proverbial brass simian 'nards, but I was determined to get OUT. I ventured over to a favored riverine state park, camera in hand and toque on head. I was just getting into a good groove when it started to snow, enough so that I reckoned I couldn't stay out very long. Especially since my fingertips were in agony from the chill. So reluctantly I gave up and went home, whereupon it started snowing harder.

No more outdoorsy stuff for me. I'll stay in and watch it fall.

A side effect of shutting in is boredom. Monumental boredom. Television doesn't hold my interest for very long, and lately I haven't been in a reading mood. So it is mostly music that gets my attention. That and cooking.

This night, it was off to Persia, and my monthly allotment of 'tar' solos. It may seem strange, I know, but it did the trick. The walls moved a little further away, breathing became a little easier, and my knowledge of traditional Persian musical instruments increased exponentially. Score!

So tell me, what is your favorite traditional music utensil, Persian or otherwise?


  1. I'm a bit of a 'wooden spoon and saucepan' type of chap. We should start a utensil band.

  2. As you know, I have an attention and focus problem when it comes to music... really no discernment at all. Just something to lift me. Now off to check out that Persian stuff...

  3. Persian, I love it...and classical Indian: flute and other ancient instruments.

    If you're cooking a lot, check out my Dhaba! post tonight Irish...about 3pm your time it should be up....yummmmmmmmm :)))

  4. I have no preferences on type, style, or instruments. I even like accordions and polkas. I tap my feet and hum along with elevator music (Mantovani playing Desolation Row or A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall) at times. Of course, I grew up listening to the American electric and acoustic guitar, country to rock to folk to acid rock to jazz to fusion to new wave and new age. And zithers and sitars and Hawaiian guitars. And jug bands. And symphonic orchestras playing Bach and Brahms and Tchaikovsky. To Gregorian Chants and a capella solos.

    I have no favorites except whatever is playing, and being played, at the moment.

  5. "So tell me, what is your favorite traditional music utensil, Persian or otherwise?"

    I've always enjoyed the music of the sackbut, a Renaissance instrument. It has a strange, haunting, elegiac tone.

    At least, I think it does. I've never actually heard the instrument played; I just get a kick out of the name. :-)

  6. I like last.fm - it has brought me a dose of my current favorite artists and I so neglect keeping up with musical artists that I doubt I would have become aware of their presence any other way.

    But for a valentine's treat, we are going to hear Mercury Baroque perform the music from Romeo and Juliet. Heavenly.

  7. I can say with honesty, that I have never been bored in my life.
    But, I have been stir-crazy. (to that I say crank the tunes and DANCE...it burns off the excess energy...and warms your frozen 'nads).
    It snowed here (I'm east coast) last night--again. And they're calling for a lot more on Fri/Sat. I am looking forward to warmer days and green things sprouting. In the meantime, coffee loaded with Baileys is delightful and toasty while perusing garden catlogs. And infinitely better than Snookie accepting the key to some loser's basement. Gack.

    As for music, I just so happened to post on that very topic this morning. Interesting, that.
    Favorite instrument? Hmmmm...the nasal whistle?


  8. Must admit, I found your "labels" for this post most amusing. (chuckle) Music is....auditory emotion. It transports me. From one country to another, one mood...the level of intensity, passion...even frivolity. Persian...makes me want lamb...and rice. Did you dream? What did the music make you feel?

  9. I play a mean bodhran. Unfortunately I don't get much of a chance to do so. But I love me some Celtic sound!

  10. As long as it sounds good, it doesn't matter what instrument. I really like blues. So a coke bottle slide is okay by me.


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