"Night Silence Desert" is a treasure - pure heaven to listen to. The exquisite spiritual beauty and true loving instrumental/vocal mastery of this work is a collector's item - one of the best in Persian music. For me, it reflects the timeless grace and delight of Persian art and culture. I can easily listen to this CD again and again.
Slinky, sensuous, sinuous, weaving back and forth like a cobra about to strike, this music has an eerie, enthralling quality to it unlike anything in Western music. It calls out to you like a muezzin from his tall tower, urging you to stop what you're doing and commune with the Self beyond the self. The kamancheh is an instrument with a broad range of sound, evocative and enchanting. According to Wikipedia, "Traditionally kamanchehs had three silk strings, but modern ones have four metal ones. Kamanchehs may have highly ornate inlays and fancy carved ivory tuning pegs. The body has a long upper neck and a lower bowl-shaped resonating chamber made from a gourd or wood, usually covered with a membrane, made from the skin of a lamb, goat or sometimes fish, on which the bridge is set." I got this CD 3 days ago (from Amazon, of course) and I just keep playing it while I try to work, but it's hard to work when such lovely music is wafting through the room! This is my third CD from Iran, and I must say, I've become very attached to Iranian music now.
... besides threats and diatribes. Study its history and you'll soon realize that ancient Persia has almost as good a claim to be the "cradle of Western civilization" as Hellenic Greece. Iran has a 'deep' and continuous cultural tradition rivaled only by China. Persia was and Iran is, whether friend or foe, the pivot of the Middle East. Conquered in turn by Alexander and his Macedonians, by the Arab armies of Islam, and economically in modern times by the Anglo/American alliance, in the first two cases Iran/Persia was able to turn the tables and establish cultural equality with the Alexandrian Hellenes and cultural hegemony over the Arabs.
A part of Iran's great culture is a musical tradition of sophistication and variety, from the folk musicians of rural Khorastan to the 'classical' musicians of he royal courts and then the urban centers. Kayhan Kalhor is a contemporary musician/composer, a Kurd trained in the classical Persian tradition of 'radif', but dedicated to reinvigorating Iranian music by blending the rural folk and urban sophisticate. Kalhor's own instrument is the kamancheh, the so-called spike-fiddle. For this CD of his own compositions, Kalhor has recruited skilled players of most of the instruments of Iran - the dotar (long-necked lute), the ghoosmeh (double-reed flute), barbat (oud), santar (hammered dulcimer), nay (notch-blown flute), setar (sitar), tar (another plucked lute), and various drums. Even more boldly, he combines his own distinct compositional style with the singing of Khorasani Mohammed Reza Shajarian, the acclaimed master of the classical Persian vocal repertoire.
One of the hall marks of Persian music is its basic scale, featuring a 'flat' second. (Imagine a Western scale in which the DO is F-sharp and the RE is G-natural.) This flat second is subject to all kinds of bending and shading in microtones, and in fact microtonal intervals are what make Persian/Arabic music sound distinctive to western ears.
The moods of this performance flow subtly from suppressed passion to exuberance, with never a pause for any mere relaxation. The desert at night has certainly been a determining ambience in the history of Persia. I promise you'll hear it in the music of Kalhan Kalhor.