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Kurdish Music

Kurdish Music refers to music performed in Kurdish language.

Historically, Kurdish Music has very ancient roots that go back to the Hurrian period of Kurdish history. The Hurrians - the ancestors of the modern Kurds - were an ancient people that inhabited present-day Kurdistan and established several kingdoms before their aryanization by the coming Medes. A Hurrian tablet dating back to the 13th century B.C. was discovered in Ugaret; it contains in its upper portion the text of a Hurrian hymn. In the lower portion, it contains a series of numbers and technical terms that have been interpreted as a score rendering the tune to which the hymn would have been sung. This is then the earliest known musical score in history. Interestingly, the meqam in which the hymn was composed corresponds with the modern meqam "Kurd".

Kurdish musicians had a great role in the musical life of the Islamic caliphate. Ziryab was one among the absolutely greatest musicians in the Islamic era. He brought the Middle Eastern musical tradition to Muslim Spain and trained local musicians in his style. He also invented many maqams and musical forms and improved the design of the 'ûd. Ibrahim Mûsili and Is'haq Mûsili were considered among the greatest musicians of the Abbasid court. They wrote several first-rate works on local Iranic and Mesopotamian styles. Musicologists like Safi al-Din Ûrmawi - the founder of the systematist school of music (Wright 1978) - and Muhammad al-Khatib Arbîlî who wrote some of the most seminal works on Middle Eastern musicology.

Traditionally, there are three types of Kurdish Classical performers - storytellers (çîrokbêj), minstrels (stranbêj) and bards (dengbêj). There was no specific music related to the Kurdish princely courts, and instead, music performed in night gatherings (şevbihêrk) is considered classical. Several musical forms are found in this genre. Many songs are epic in nature, such as the popular Lawiks which are heroic ballads recounting the tales of Kurdish heroes such as Saladin. Heyrans are love ballads usually expressing the melancholy of separation and unfulfilled love. Lawje is a form of religious music and Payizoks are songs performed specifically in autumn. Love songs, dance music, wedding and other celebratory songs (dîlok/narînk and bend), erotic poetry and work songs are also popular.

Kurdish Musician
Another style of singing that originated as practice to recite religious hymns in both Zoroastrian and Islamic Sufi faiths is Siya Cheman. This style is practiced mostly in the mountainous subregion of Hewraman in the Hewrami dialect. However, some modern artists, have adopted the style and blended it with other Kurdish music. Siya Cheman can also be classified as çîrokbêj because it is often used to for storytelling.

Musical instruments include the tembûr (tembûr, saz), biziq (bozuk), qernête (Duduk) and bilûr (Kaval) in northern and western Kurdistan, şimşal (long flute), cûzele, kemençe and def (frame drum) in the south and east. Zirne (wooden shawm) and dahol (drum) are found in all parts of Kurdistan.

The most frequently used song form has two verses with ten syllable lines. Kurdish songs (stran or goranî) are characterized by their simple melodies, with a range of only four or five notes. [source : Kurdish Music]

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