- Kurdish music is monophonic and modal (maqam in Kurdish). It is also heterophonic because multiple instruments with varying pitch, range, color, and ornamentation capabilities are used to play the same melody. Kurdish music also uses all the maqams and dastgahs of the traditional music of Iran. Musical instruments include the saz, bozuk, Duduk, and Kaval in Turkish and Syrian Kurdistan; and the long flute and frame drum in Iraqi and Iranian Kurdistan. Wooden shawms, drums, and ouds are found throughout Kurdistan. Storytellers, minstrels, and bards have been the traditional types of classical music performers.Kurdish music is replete with stories of romance and unrequited love and is said to fall within two basic forms: the aforementioned maqam system, where improvisation plays an important role and gorani, songs based on a set of simple melodies having distinct and structured rhythms with a range of only four or five notes. In pre-Islamic times, the religious and spiritual goranis were used by the Kurds in their worship rituals of Ahura Mazda, the wise and supreme god of Zoroastrianism. During the Islamic era, new goranis have been developed for worship of God and paying respect to sacred figures. Dervish performances are examples. Festive goranis with their strong and exciting rhythms are used for marriage, circumcision, or holiday celebrations. They can be accompanied by dancing and clapping. There are also goranis for children, women, and funerals.The pehizok, or autumn songs, were sung by young nomadic men and women during their descent from the mountains. The dilok is a dance song sung to the accompaniment of drum and flutes, while the belite is sung at student circle dances. The berdolavi are sung by young women at the spinning wheel, and the lori are cradle songs. Military goranis have moving rhythms and are frequently used with poems that produce nationalistic sentiments. In modern times the Kurdish march Ey Raqip in effect has become the Kurdish national anthem, indeed used as such not only by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) but also the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).Historically, Zeryab was one of the greatest Kurdish musicians. He carried the Middle Eastern musical tradition to Muslim Spain and also composed many maqams. Ibrahim Musili and Ishaq Musili were considered among the most famous musicians of the Abbasid court. Sari al-Din Urmawi, the founder of the systematist school of music, and Muhammad al-Khatib Arbili, who produced some of the most basic works in Middle Eastern musicology, were two other famous Kurdish musicians.In modern times, of course, Kurdish songs were usually banned, especially in Turkey. Nevertheless, an underground market always existed. Some singers performed in Turkish, while others fled abroad. Sivan Perwer is perhaps the most famous Kurdish musician of all time. His music concentrates mainly on political and nationalist themes as well as classical and folk music. Ibrahim Tatlises too is a very popular folk singer. Nizammetin Aric (also known as Feqiye Teyra) is yet another important Kurdish musician from Turkey. He is a master in performing Kurdish classical and folk music. Other noted musicians from Turkey include Kazo, Ali Baran, Birader, and Beyto-can. Koma Amed, Koma Denge Azadi, Carnewa, and Agire Jiyan are famous Kurdish groups from Turkey. Metin and Kemal Kahraman, Ahmet Aslan Jan, and Mikail Aslan should also be mentioned.In Iran, the Kurdish language was not as censored but was still closely watched for political improprieties. The sacred sufi music of the Ahl-i Haqq sect with its 72 meqams is believed to be one of the most authentic musical traditions in the world. Famous Kurdish Iranian musicians of the past century include Hasan Zirak, Muhammad Mamle, Abbas Kamandi, Aziz Shahrokh, Hesen Derzi, Shehen Talabani, Say Heme Sefayi, Usman Hewrami, Nasir Rezazi, Ali Akbar Moradi, and Mazhar Xaliqi. Female singers include the sisters Marziye and Leila Fariqi, who is known for performing Western popular songs. The Kamkars (Koma Kamkaran) is a leading Kurdish ensemble internationally known for their performance of Kurdish folk music. Said Ali Asghar Kordestani, Shahram Nazeri, Kayhan Kalhor, Mohammad Jalil Andalibi, Mojtaba Mirzadeh, and Jamshid Andalibi are Kurds who also have been influential in classical Persian music.Famous Kurdish singers in Iraq include Ali Merdan, Erdewan Zaxoli, Tehsin Taha, Anwer Karadaghi, Karim Kaban, Eyaz Yusif, Isa Berwari, Kawis Axa, and Shamal Sayib. Zakaria Abdulla has been called the Kurdish King of Pop. Aras Ibrahim, a violinist, founded the Martyr Karzan's music group, which recorded revolutionary songs in the mountains controlled by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) during the 1980s.Several famous Kurdish musicians also came from Syria, including Gerabete Xaco and Murade Kine (Miradko), two great performers of classical stranbej. Seid Yusif, Mihemed Sexo, Aram Tigran, the brothers Mehmud Eziz and Mihemed Eli Sakir, Faris Bave Firas, Bangin (Hikmet Cemil), Mico Kendes, Ehmede Cep, Ciwan Haco, Seyda, Nizar, Nuhat, and Adnan Babe Heco should also be mentioned. Saber Meho is a Kurdish singer from Lebanon.
Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. Michael M. Gunter.
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