Hesam Mehboudi


Musician, singer and researcher of Iranian traditional music.

He has been learning how to use his voice since 1998, having started with the recitation of the Quran. In 1990 he became a member of a musical group and found great interest in the folk music of different ethnic groups living in Iran. From that time onwards, he has been learning their vocal techniques and studying their music has become the main focus of his research.

During all these years, he had many masters and each one of them influenced him in a (particular) way. Among them there were: Alireza Golshan, Jahanbakhsh Rostami, Maziar Sharifian, Ahmad Esterham Lari…

He plays mainly on the tambur, one of the oldest string instruments of Iran and his favourite one, but he also plays many other different Iranian instruments.

He gathered a group of 17 musicians who play different instruments and what makes the group unique, is that it has researched and attempted to harmonise some Western instruments such as different types of violins ( Alto, Classic and the cello) and drum, and the Tumba with Persian folkloric instruments such as the Tambur, Taar, Ney, Santur, Nay and Tombak. His working philosophy is to make and spread “Peace” by bringing the songs and instruments together. A clear form of unintentional peace emerges from that, rather than the “thinking and conditional” variety.

He has travelled to various parts of Iran to study the folkloric music and songs of various tribes. He has collected the major themes of pre- Islamic songs and also of the Islamic era and their variations.

Notes taken from Iran Review, Hesam Mehboudi and Ali Arghami.


It should be noted that music in Iran/Persia was first found in the Elamite era, around 800BC, and seems to be one of the earliest records of music in that region. Over time, and under different dynasties, instruments and styles developed and changed. Today’s traditional Persian music began to develop after the advent of Islam in Iran. The Medieval era was a very important foundation for the creation of today’s formal, classical music tradition, and is directly linked to the musical system of the Safavid Dynasty. And the rise of Shiism at that time caused some restrictions on music. Under the later Qajar Dynasty, the classical system was restructured in its present form.

The traditional music of Iran is a message, a call from the artist’s innermost consciousness. Deeply intertwined with Persia’s age-old history and culture, it is an expression of the joys, loves, sorrows, efforts and struggles, all the many victories and defeats that the people of Western Asia have experienced over the millennia. It is something of a miracle that these people have kept their music intact despite numerous, murderous foreign invasions – in fact, imposing their own art, lifestyle and generous view of the world on their invaders.


Daf: One of the most ancient from drums in Asia and North Africa. In 20th century Persia, it was considered a Sufi instrument used in Khangah-s for Zikr music. Recently is has become very popular and is fully integrated in Persian art music.

Dotar: (literally in Persian, meaning “2 strings”) comes from a family of long necked-lutes which can be found throughout Central Asia, the Middle East, and as far North East of China and in Xinjiang too. In China it apparently only has 1 string.

Kamanche: It is a bowed spike fiddle. The instrument has four metal strings, and the body consists of a wooden hemisphere covered with a thin sheepskin membrane.

Notes taken from Iran Review, Hesam Mehboudi and Ali Arghami.

Nay: It is the Persian knotgrass reed, has 5 finger holes in front and one thumbhole in the back. The nay has a range of two and a half octaves.

Santur: It is a struck zither in the form of a shallow, regular trapezoidal box. The santur has 72 strings in groups of 4. Each of 4 closely spaced strings are tuned to the same pitch.

Setar: Its ancestry can be traced to the ancient tambour of pre-Islamic Persia. It is made of thin mulberry wood. It is suspected that originally it had 3 strings, in its present form it has 4 strings. Because of its delicacy and intimate sonority, the setar is the preferred instrument of Sufi mystics.

Tar: It is a plucked stringed instrument (a long-necked lute) that is played in Iran (Persia), Caucasian countries (like Azerbaijan, Armenia, etc.) and in central Asia (Tadjikistan). It exists in 2 forms now: the Persian (called Tar-e-Shiraaz or Irani) and Caucasian (called Tar-e- Ghafghaaz).

Tombak: It is the most popular percussion instrument in Persian music today, a goblet drum. The Tombak is a large instrument with a goatskin head. Unlike other goblet drums, it produces a softer and more lower pitched tones.

Barbat: In Arabic countries it is known as the ud/oud, a short-necked fretless lute with 5 double courses of strings, traditionally played with an eagle’s quill. The barbat is the ancestor of the European lute, and of the Chinese pipa too.

Ghanoon: It is the Persian zither. Its shape is a trapezoidal wooden box, with 24 strings.

Notes taken from Iran Review, Hesam Mehboudi and Ali Arghami.