Ardavan Kamkar, born in 1968 in Sanandaj, is the youngest member of The Kamkars. He began learning to play the Santur, a hammered dulcimer, from his father at the age of four. His father, Ostad Hassan Kamkar, was a composer schooled in Western classical instruments and his eight siblings are all musicians.
He moved to Tehran in 1979 … after completion of Santur playing techniques, he studied instrumental and vocal musical orders under the supervision of his older brother Pashang… He studied the Tehran Music Conservatory and performed as a soloist with the Tehran Symphony Orchestra.
… Santur players work under the long shadow of great musicians … who set the standard for traditional technique … Ardavan sought to expand the techniques and innovated a modern style for playing this instrument … at an extraordinarily young age.
Ardavan’s playing style and tuning techniques are unique:… Ardavan has developed the dexterity and strength of his left as well as his right hand, widening the santur’s technical range … He has the ability to play different melodies with each hand simultaneously.
The santur can produce 27 notes across a range of three octaves. Traditionally, the santur is tuned diatonically to the notes of two primary tonalities in a dastgah, Persian classical mode … the santur is playable in only one dastgah at a time … one tonality in a given register …
Ardavan has developed a tuning method by which he can take any note as a tonic and with some radical tuning sometimes have both chromatic and diatonic scales on the same santur in different registers … he has created the possibility of having up to four different tonalities at the same time …
These innovations, driven by his singular musical sensibility and skill, make Ardavan Kamkar a distinguished voice among all santur players today.
To have a better idea of Ardavan’s virtuosity, here are different tracks of Ardavan’s album: Over the Wind. “Kamkar’s sound lands somewhere between the haunting melodicism of George Winston’s solo piano work and Bach’s exuberant compositions for harpsichord.”
See also Roya Bahrami