Interview with Peyman Nasehpour, Iranian Percussionist (Tonbak, Ghaval and Daf Player)
By Azita Mohammadi
A) Peyman, most of your performances are in the form of tonbak recital, while tonbak is considered as an accompaniment?
P) After the effort of outstanding tonbak players such as Ostad Hussein Tehrani and Ostad Nasser Farhangfar, tonbak has shared in instrumental music more than the past and this can be considered an advance in the art of tonbak playing. As you know tonbak before Ostad Tehrani was metronome! Since tonbak players have not given enough solo performances, even now tonbak is considered as an accompaniment. In my opinion tonbak as a chief percussion skinned instrument of Persian art music, is the most suitable instrument for expressing the rhythmical characters of Persian art music and tonbak recital is the best method for this subject.
A) Do you work on any other percussion instruments?
P) Yes, I work on ghaval (Azerbaijani frame drum), daf (Kurdish frame drum) and Indian tabla.
A) But why Indian tabla?
P) Tabla is the chief percussion instrument of North Indian music (Hindustani sangeet). It is about forty years that tabla has been popularized in the world. This is due to great tabla players such as Ustad Alla Rakha (accompaniment of Pandit Ravi Shankar) and his son, Ustad Zakir Hussain. Indian music is rich in rhythm. I try to gain the experiences of Indian percussionists.
A) How much has the research on Indian music influenced your tonbak playing?
P) First of all there is a relationship among Persian and Indian culture and their sub-cultures that it is called Indo-Persian culture. Also there is a special characteristic in Indian music that it is called mathematical complexity of rhythm (tal). I have tried to apply it in some of my tonbak solo performances.
A) What is your style in the art of tonbak playing?
P) Since I have been one of the students of Ostad Farhangfar, so his style has had a great influence on my style of tonbak playing.
A) What should somebody do if he wants to be a good tonbak player?
P) He should have a good tonbak. Never buy a mashghi (low-level) instrument! He should have a good teacher too. He should listen, practice and research.
A) Research about what?
P) Many things: 1. Tonbak performances of great tonbak players (cassette, video, CD, book) 2. Rhythms of Persian regional music 3. Ancient music of zourkhaneh 4. Rhythms of other countries esp. neighbors 5. Old Persian rhythms (Igha') and so on.
A) Please explain a little about Igha'?
P) Igha' was the second important topic of music in the past. It has been discussed in Persian, Arabic and Turkish manuscripts. The rhythms have been notated by Atanin method (Persian onomatopoeia system) e.g. tanan tanan tananan tan (the cycle of Kereshmeh). These rhythms can be found in today Middle Eastern Music.
A) What is today notation?
P) Today notation comes from West. We have two systems: 1. One-lined system 2. Three-Lined system. Three-lined system has been used in the famous book of Ostad Tehrani, named Amouzesh-e-Tombak. One-lined system has been used in the book of Ostad Amir Nasser Eftetah. This book has been published by the effort of Mr. Fereydoun Helmi and some other people.
A) Which system is better?
P) Every system that is able to notate the rhythms of tonbak is good but one-lined system is much better, because it is written, read, taught and learnt easier. Anyway today everybody should know the both.
A) What is your view about the future of art of tonbak playing?
P) I'm hopeful!
A) Thank you Peyman.
P) You're welcome Azita.