Forever Under Construction

Ardavan Kamkar

Posted in Iran, Music by homeyra on January 13, 2007

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.

Youtube link

… 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.”


Relevent links: The Kamkars, Stanford University Persian Student Association
For Persian speakers, Harmony Talk
Previous post: Music from Kurdistan

See also Roya Bahrami


13 Responses

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  1. Agent 99 said, on January 15, 2007 at 3:37 am

    Agh! Now I want to hear them all! This sound made my shoulders relax for a moment. 😦

  2. Agent 99 said, on January 15, 2007 at 4:15 am

    I hit the jackpot. 🙂

  3. homeyra said, on January 15, 2007 at 5:22 am

    🙂 Fortunately there are a few clip of the Kamkars on youtube.
    There is another santur solo by Ardavan: Raghse bad, wind dance, but the sound track is not good.

  4. Agent 99 said, on January 15, 2007 at 5:45 am

    Ha! I was just coming here to link you to this very piece. If you turn the sound way down on it, it rocks in a seriously major way.

  5. homeyra said, on January 15, 2007 at 5:48 am

    Have you tried the link above: Over the Wind.
    I doesn’t work for me, but it might work for you.

  6. Agent 99 said, on January 15, 2007 at 6:14 am

    Works fine for me, Homie. But it says Raghse Baad at YouTube. You just really have to turn the sound way down once you get it. Or are you talking about the Over the Wind link? That one works fine for me too.

  7. homeyra said, on January 15, 2007 at 6:17 am

    I meant both in different comments 🙂
    I’ll try Raghse baad your way, but the album, over the wind does not work for me. Glad you can hear it.

  8. Agent 99 said, on January 15, 2007 at 6:23 am

    It’s only samples. Not the whole songs.

  9. Bluebear2 said, on January 16, 2007 at 7:36 pm

    I want one of those!

  10. homeyra said, on January 16, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    If we survive the stormy clouds! I will get one of those for you BB2, promise 🙂

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  12. naj said, on January 2, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    I loved “Mahi baraye saale no” … I wish I could find the CD.

    On the musical topic, do you know if “gol-e pamchal” CD (Alizadeh’s soundtrack on TV series) exists?


  13. homeyra said, on January 21, 2008 at 9:55 am

    I don’t know Naj, but will ask and let you know.

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