Persian Santur

Ardavan Kamkar
Over the Wind 


1 - Memory of Friends
2 - Dance of the Wind
3 - Three Drops of Blood
4 - Azari
5 - Trotting
6 - Zagros



 Ardavan Kamkar (Persian: اردوان کامکار‎; born 1968 in Sanandaj, Iran) is an Iranian-Kurdish musician from Iran. He is a part of the Kamkar ensemble.

Ardavan Kamkar was born in 1968 in Sanandaj, Iran. He began learning to play the Santur (dulcimer) from his father, Master Hassan Kamkar at age 4. During his childhood years he worked with several Cultural & Art groups and the radio.


Traditionally, the santur is tuned diatonically to the notes of two primary tonalities in a dastgah (Persian classical mode): the tonic is usually place in the middle row of strings on the second (F), third (G) or sixth (C) note (counting upward from the first bridge) in order to make the different positions accessible to the player, while the secondary tonality, in the same dastgah, is usually tuned on the lower notes played on the row of strings to the right. This method makes the santur playable in only one dastgah at a time and omits the possibility of modulation to other tonalities, limiting the musician to playing only one tonality in a given register, which sometimes eliminates the correct voice leading. Ardavan, however, 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. Therefore he has created the possibility of having up to four different tonalities at the same time to which he can modulate on one santur, allowing his melodies to be more colourful as well as having a correct voice leading. These technical innovations, driven by his singular musical sensibility and skill, make Ardavan Kamkar a distinguished voice among all santur players today.

In addition to playing the santur, Ardavan has taken music composition, harmony and counterpoint lessons with Houshang and Arsalan Kamkar.

He released his first album named "Darya" (literally 'Sea') at age 16 which contains 6 pieces played by solo santur...

 Ardavan Kamkar

Born in Sanandaj in 1968

He began to learn playing dulcimer from his father when he was four years old and cooperated with different art and culture groups in the radio. Ardavan went to Tehran in 1979 to learn techniques of playing dulcimer under the supervision of Pashang Kamkar, as well as lines of the instruments and traditional Persian music. Through listening to the works and studying the scripts of the pieces which were available he was completely familiarized with the local and country music of different parts of Iran in addition to the styles of the preceding players of dulcimer and other musical instruments.

However, the traditional style of playing dulcimer could not satisfy his creative mind and questing soul. He intended to expand the new techniques of playing, and eventually mingled the elements of the global music and his mentalities as well as his technical capability to create a modern style for playing this traditional instrument. The accurate composition of different melodies, similarity of the power of striking the left and right plectrums, playing full and separate melodies by the both plectrums, increasing the sound volume, accurate and timely order in striking the left and right plectrums in playing the melody along with the percussion instruments and changing the common tunes of dulcimer are among his unique techniques. In addition to playing Ardavan learned different lessons in the area of composition, harmony and counter point from Houshang and Arsalan Kamkar. In order to introduce the Persian dulcimer he performed many concerts in different festivals around the world. As a teacher he has trained many students in the area of solo dulcimer and as an instructor he has trained capable teachers of this instrument who are now busy working with different music bands. Parts of his works are:

On the crown of daybreak (concertino for dulcimer), a month for the new year (dulcimer and string orchestra), Siachamaneh (kordish melody for symphonic orchestra), Sea and Over the Wind albums (solo), music track of the movie "Santoori" (dulcimer player) (directed by Daryoush Mehrjouie), and music track of the movie "The Iranian Prospect" (directed by Touraj Mansouri).

 Green Man Review:

Ardavan Kamkar is a member of a large Iranian Kurdish musical family. In his early 30s, he has risen to prominence as a soloist on the santur, a Persian hammer dulcimer. Over the Wind, recorded in 1998 in Teheran, is a knock-out showpiece of his skill on the instrument.

Nearly an hour of solo hammer dulcimer may not sound like your cup of tea, but I urge anyone who likes World, Middle Eastern, and even Western neo-classical music, to give this a try. Kamkar takes this highly specialized instrument and makes it speak a universal language.

Apparently, if you’re familiar with the techniques and classical repertoire of the instrument, Kamkar’s playing is nothing short of astonishing. But even for the novice, this can be highly enjoyable music with a small investment in concentration.

The CD’s six tracks mostly flow from one to the next with little or no interruption. Over the Wind opens with the hypnotic and moving “Memory of Friends,” which in many places is similar to a Bach fugue, in others resembles Beethoven’s “Fur Elise,” and elsewhere could be the late Sandy Bull creating a classical-jazz hybrid on banjo and piano. This is powerful music, impressive technically and in its emotional range.

The next track is the aptly named “Dance of the Wind.” It starts off with slow, stark arpeggios that establish the mode, then rapidly picks up tempo into a controlled frenzy of tremolos. The sound is very piano-like at times, and the main section is extremely rhythmic, almost like jazz-rock fusion.

The third and fourth tracks, “Three Drops of Blood” and “Azari,” are tone poems, less rhythmic, more Eastern sounding. The former is mysterious and enigmatic, at times sounding like an Ennio Morricone spaghetti western film score, the latter a tour-de-force of arpeggios, tremolos and other rapid series of notes. The middle section includes a series of downward, bell-like runs, sounding for all the world like “Carol of the Bells.”

“Trotting” is another apt title. This fifth track contains four distinct sections that feature driving rhythms and complex melodic schemes. “Zagros” seems influenced by 20th Century modernist piano pieces, with a dual melody line in a call-and-response scheme that emerges from lengthy runs that leap up and down the scale in a barely controlled frenzy.

Kamkar’s music can be approached on different levels. It could conceivably be played as background music like the New Age piano of Scott Cossu or George Winston, but it also rewards close attention with many nuances and subtleties. And it’s also an impressive display of technical mastery of a difficult instrument. Exotic and yet relatively accessible to Western ears, Over the Wind rings true.

let me just say: more pure gold. Go get your copy. I cherish mine : )