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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Illustration Beluch Dance at Sibi


There

is no actual end to a Persian melody, which terminates with the exhaustion of the singer, or abruptly by the sign of the hearers who get tired of it. The musicians every now and then join in the chorus and repeat the refrain.

Tenor solo songs by boys are much appreciated, and these, too, are very plaintive with frequent scales in them and certain notes held long at the end of each bar where the chorus join in. These sustained notes have modulations in them with infinitesimal fractions of tones. Ululations with long, nasal, interminable notes and capricious variations at the fancy of the singer, but based on some popular theme are also much liked by Persians.

More than in anything else, however, the Persian, like the Beluch, delights in tremulous notes, of which he makes ample use in his melodies.

The rhythm of Persian and Beluch music is much alike, although as far as instrumental execution goes the Persian surpasses the Beluch, having a greater variety in his orchestra and the instruments being more perfectly constructed.

The _Santurie_, for instance, a kind of zither, with eighteen sets of three strings each, is a most harmonious instrument from which beautiful effects can be obtained by the player.

The _thar_> a sort of guitar, has four keys and is played with a plectrum, and the _Kermanche_, _Cynthour_,

_Tchogor_, _the Tchaminioho_--the latter, a circular instrument covered by a skin, with one metal and two gut strings, on a long metal stand, is played with a bow;--the _dumbuk_ (drum), with only one skin pasted round its single aperture, the lower part being solid; the flute pure and proper, with five apertures on one side and one on the other, on which very low clear notes are obtained, and a pretty tremolo,--and other instruments of minor importance, are all employed in Persia.

The Persians are masters at playing the drum. Most marvellous effects are obtained by them. They hold the drum on the left leg with the left arm resting on it, and tap it with the tips of their fingers round its edge. For broader notes it is struck with the palm of the hand. Soft, gentle notes as well as the rumbling sound in good time with the air they accompany, are extracted from the instrument, so fast in its vibrations as to produce a continuous sound that one would never believe came from a drum.

[Illustration: Beluch Dance (at Sibi.)]

Metallic castanets are used both by the Persian and Beluch in the dancing, and it is usually the dancers--one or more boys--who play them.

Many of the songs and melodies I heard in Persia reminded me very forcibly of Spanish melodies, which, like these, are undoubtedly of Arab origin.

Whatever fault one may find with Persian or Beluch music, one cannot say that the performers do not play with an immense deal of feeling and _entrain_--a quality (the primary one, to my mind,) in music often lacking in musicians nearer home, but never in Orientals.

The dancing, both Persian and Beluch, is not so interesting. It is usually executed by effeminate long-haired boys generally dressed in a long pleated coat with a tight belt, and wearing a number of metal bells attached to the ankles. The Persian is probably the more lascivious of the two in his movements, and, having begun by throwing his long shock of hair backwards twirls round gracefully enough, keeping good time with the music. This is merely a feat of endurance, resembling the dancing or spinning dervishes of Egypt, and generally ends by the dancer suddenly squatting down upon the floor with his flowing gown fully expanded in a circle around him. The skill of the dancer is shown most in successive dances, such as the slow progression by merely twisting the feet to right and left, occasionally varied by raising one foot directly above the other, then throwing the head far back and the body in a strained curve, with arms raised fluttering like a flying bird, while the song to which he dances imitates a nightingale.


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