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Iran, Music From The Persian Gulf

Music of the world

The old Indian Ocean trade route once went from Africa to the coasts of Yemen and from the Oman Sultanate to Iran, then carried on eastwards as far as the Indian province of Gujarat. Its crossroads was the island of Zanzibar, off the coast of present-day Tanzania. Starting in the 9th century, slave trade was introduced into a predominantly Islamic world. This forced encounter between Africa and the Muslim Orient was to give rise to a true African-Islamist syncretism in the same way as took place with Catholicism in the Caribbean. The various songs, dances and ceremonies deriving from rituals and traditions originating in animist black Africa bear witness to a culture or resistance in reaction against the tragedy of slavery. A native of Bushehr —a former village of fishermen turned into a port town, which faces the Arabian desert— Saeid Shanbehzadeh is one of the rare artists who still champion, with passion and conviction, a somewhat marginal tradition in modern-day Iran. Besides the ney-dofti double flute, he dextrously plays the ney-e-anbânbagpipes, which can be found in different makes amongst the black Islamised brotherhoods of the Persian Gulf. It is called jirba in Bahrein and “Iranian bagpipe” in the Kuwait island of Faylakah. Saied Shanbehzadeh sees himself, first and foremost, as the bearer of a knowledge and for him the will to pass on a heritage predominates the idea of musical fusion. His passion is in the tradition. Moreover, it is his son Naghib who accompanies him, on the tombak (zarb) and various traditional percussion from Southern Iran.