Veteran Kurdish harpist Tara Jaff laments that the harp has been neglected in Persian music.
The Iranian harp was used in Persian music until 17th century but unfortunately, it gradually sank into oblivion and was replaced by other string instruments like tar, and setar which are easier to play, Jaff mentioned during the master class she held at the House of Music.
“Tuning the Iranian harp was a difficult task and Iranian musicians prefer other instruments since they are lighter and portable,” she said.
“The depictions of the arched harp in ancient inscriptions paintings inspired me to learn this musical instrument,” she added.
Grand Persian poets including Hafez, Rumi, and Ferdowsi pointed to harp in their poetry as well, she said.
After that, Jaff unveiled harps made by the Iranian expert Abdollah Abbasi saying that “It is very important that Abbasi has begun to make the harp again since it encourages the use of this instrument in Persian music.”
“I hope I can serve Persian music by making the Iranian harp and pave the way for resuming the use of this instrument in Iranian music performances,” Abbasi said during the event.
Afterward, Tara Jaff played a few musical selections on harps made by Abbasi for the audience and scholar Mahdieh Elahi-Qomsheii spoke about music and its place in life.
Then Jaff explained about different techniques of playing the harp and about her own method of playing this string instrument.
“I employ the eastern method of playing, particularly techniques used in Persian and Kurdish music to play the harp in order to make it more relevant in Iranian music,” she said.
She said that she looked at the fingers of the Iranian and Eastern players while they were playing string instruments in order to understand how they pluck the strings.
“In playing the harp, I have benefited greatly from my knowledge of techniques for playing qanun and tanbur,” she said.
Accompanying Fardin Lahurpur on ney and Somayyeh Abbasi on tonbak, Tara Jaff has recently recorded an album in Tehran which will be released in the near future.