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Composed Rhythms of Ostad Nasser Farhangfar

Composed Rhythms of Ostad Nasser Farhangfar

Peyman Nasehpour © 2002


Tonbak (a kind of goblet drum) is the chief percussion skinned instrument of Persia. Great masters of tonbak, especially Ostad Hossein Tehrani and Ostad Nasser Farhangfar, have in recent times advanced playing techniques and have created new rhythms and have refined many old rhythms.


Ostad Nasser Farhangfar, one of the outstanding tonbak players of last century, has created new techniques and has composed new rhythms. He was very talent in composing beautiful rhythms spontaneously. In this article I will discuss some of these rhythms.

Basic Techniques

Here you can listen to the basic techniques of tonbak: tom, bak, pelang, takriz and chakkoshi, which they will help the reader to imagine the rhythms better.

Rhythms of Ostad Nasser Farhangfar

Ostad Nasser Farhangfar, in his youth spent considerable amount of time at Zourkhaneh studying rhythms played on Zourkhaneh drum during marshal art exercise. His knowledge of  these rhythms has influenced his style of playing tonbak and the character of his rhythms. For example one of the very beautiful rhythms that is played in zourkhaneh, is the following rhythm [T, p.106]:

6 beat rhythm to be played in zourkhaneh

Ostad Farhangfar has composed a very interesting rhythm that it is based upon the above rhythm [N]:

9 beat rhythm

Ostad Farhangfar has introduced technique of playing pelang with both hands. pelang or beshkan literally means snap of the fingers. One of the rhythms that he has taught to his students is the following rhythm [N]:

6 beat rhythm-using pelangs

He has composed a 12 beat rhythm that it is based upon the above rhythm [N]:

12 beat rhythm-using pelangs

Now I point to one of the most complex techniques of Ostad:

If we play the pelang-s of little finger, ring finger and middle finger consecutively with a very high speed, we will get an interesting technique that I have named compound-pelang.

The rhythm is [N]:

6 beat rhythm-using compound-pelang

The other technique introduced by Ostad Farhangfar is playing takriz with both hands. The following well known rhythms of Ostad Farhangfar demonstrate the use of takriz. [N]:

6 beat rhythm-using takri

12 beat rhythm-using takriz (1)

12 beat rhythm-using takriz (2)

Although Ostad Farhangfar is famous for composing 12 beat rhythms, he has composed some 7 beat rhythms. The following rhythm is one his well known 7 beat rhythms [F]:

7 beat rhythm

At the end, I would like to demonstrate a difficult techniques that was developed by Ostad Farhangfar called Chakkoshi. Chakkoshi is striking separately the rim of tonbak by all fingers except the thumbs. The following rhythm is one his well known rhythms using Chakkoshi [N]:

12 beat rhythm-using chakkoshi


[F]: Ostad Nasser Farhangfar, Khalvat Gozideh (Audio Cassette), Side B, 1991.
[LF]: Ostad Nasser Farhangfar, Mohammad Reza Lotfi (Tar), Parvaz-e-Eshgh (Audio Cassette), Side A, 1997.
Peyman Nasehpour, Personal Interview, 1985-1991.
[T]: Faramarz Najafi Tehrani, Ritmha-ye-Varzeshi (Ritmha-ye-Zarb-e-Zourkhaneh), 1st Ed. 1991.

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