The Kurdish Daf: A Workshop by Hajar Zahawy | The American University of Iraq Sulaimani

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The Kurdish Daf: A Workshop by Hajar Zahawy

Wednesday, August 12, 2015 - 11:15

Renowned Kurdish Daf (frame drum) player, Hajar Zahawy, gave a workshop on the history and techniques of daf and performed to a packed audience at AUIS on April 9, 2015.  His presentation was titled, “The Kurdish Daf: From Traditional to Global Instrument.”

Zahawy began his presentation by explaining the history of Daf. He explained that the instrument has pre-Islamic origins and belongs to the drum family of instruments. He then talked about the history of the Kurdish daf, which was born from a religious ritual practiced by the Sufis, and demonstrated it by playing some Sufi music. After that, he explained the rhythms of the daf. He indicated that the music is sometimes called “Daem” which means continuous. This type of music forms a deep and spiritual connection between the musician and daf. He also performed some of the rhythms like Hai Allah, Haddadi, Saqqazi, and Garyan. He also explained to the audience that the daf can be used in different types of music. Consequently, he allowed the audience to listen to the theme of "Kingdom of Heaven” that included the daf.

Zahawy also gave a mesmerizing solo performance on the daf at the end of his presentation, much to the delight of the audience. At the end of the event, Zahawy took some questions from the audience. One student asked him if he would ever consider coming back to Kurdistan to teach playing the daf ,to which the musician replied that he would be ready to teach but lamented the fact that there are no conservatories to support professional and aspiring musicians. Most comments however touched on how such instruments are not properly appreciated and valued. Zahawy agreed and said, “We have the potential to make the daf our national instrument.”

He thanked the University for hosting him and he was glad he had the opportunity to finally visit Kurdistan. “I am grateful AUIS provided me with this opportunity to demonstrate the workshop. I’ve always wanted to visit the University, now that I have, I would like to further the relationship to have more workshops in the future.”

Before leaving campus, Zahawy had the chance to hear AUIS student Botan Muhammad Husein singing a Kurdish song and playing music along with other students and friends.

This news story has been published with contribution from AUIS student and communications volunteer Rawan Barzan.