Impact of Persian music on flamenco music


Impact of Persian music on Flamenco music

The structural similarity of Persian tar and Flamenco guitar

A Note by Dr. Peyman Nasehpour

In this short note we like to mention the impact of Persian music on flamenco music. It is famous that the musician, "Zaryab", Persian style, also spelled as Zyriab, Zorab,  Kurdish style, Ziryab, Arabic style (some name him as Abolhasan Ali Ebn Nafe) immigrated to Cordoba in Spain and established a music school and conveyed the music that he learnt from his master, Eshaq Museli. And since the music that his master gave was the music strongly affected by Persian music, we can imagine why we can discuss the impact of Persian music on Flamenco music.

Etymology of Zaryab
Zaryab is the combination of the two words "zar" (Persian word, literally means gold) and "yab" (comes from the Persian verb "yaftan", literally means to find) and therefore "zaryab" literally means gold-finder.
Point: Some believe that he was entitled as ziryab, an Arabic word that is the name of a special bird, but this cannot true in my opinion.
Originality of Zaryab
While some believe that he is African, possibly a Zang of Tanzania, some researchers believe that he is a Persian Kurd.
Zaryab's Immigration
It is said that Zaryab immigrated from Baghdad of Iraq to Syria, sometime after the death of Caliph Al-Amin, then to Tunisia and then Andalusia because of the invitation of Hakim, Umayyad prince.
The signs of the impact of Persian music on Flamenco music:
If one listens to Flamenco music can easily feel the similarity of flamenco vocal music with Persian music.
Etymology of guitar: the word guitar seems to be the combination of the two words "guit" that may have its origin in the word "sangeet" that in sanskrit, it means music and dance, and the "tar" that means chord and string in Persian. Actually many instruments in Persia (Iran) and India and other places related to Persian culture contain the word "tar" such as Persian tar, Persian setar, Persian dotar, Indian sitar, Indian ektar and so on.
The antiquity of these long-necked instruments goes back to at least 2000-1500 BC. Note that one can see the shape of these instruments in some statues found in Susa of Iran, kept in National Museum of Iran.
The structure of guitar is quite similar to Persian tar and the big hole on the sound-box of the guitar shows the influence of Persian ud or barbat (Persian lute). Therefore one may consider guitar as the fusion of the two instruments Persian ud and Persian tar.

Tar is a plucked stringed instrument (a long-necked lute) that is played in Iran (Persia), Caucasian countries (like Azerbaijan, Armenia and so on) and central Asia (like Tajikistan). It exists in two forms now, the Persian (that is named Tar-e-Shiraaz or Irani) and Caucasian (that is named Tar-e-Ghafghaaz). The Persian tar is carved from a block of mulberry wood and has a deep, curved body with two bulges shaped like a figure 8. The upper surface is shaped like two hearts of different sizes, joined at the points. The sound box consists of two parts. The small part is called Naghaareh and the large part is called Kaasseh (that means bowl (sound box)). The sound box is covered with lambskin. On the lower skin, a horn bridge supports six metal strings in three courses. The long fingerboard has twenty-two to twenty-eight movable gut frets. The strings are plucked with a brass plectrum coated on one side in wax. Its range is about two and a half octaves.