The Songs of the Ney

In Persian, the word ney means both the reed and the instrument made from it. Historians consider it to be the world’s oldest instrument. Its music is rich in structure, comprising melodic tones combined with a bounty of colourful rhythms. Played in various formations, it is most frequently heard in solo performance, with tombak accompaniment for rhythmic pieces. Performance with a singer is also both traditional and widespread.



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"This is a really wonderful set. Omoumi and the other performers play the music with sensitivity and depth, and the Nimbus recording engineers show equal sensitivity. The first disc is of flute and drums only. It focuses on how the ney is played, and the notes explain what's going on and how the player adapts to what his instrument can do. The second disc adds voice and more instruments, to make a small ensemble, performing classical Persian poetry. Each performance is unique. The performers choose which parts to play and where to go in the improvisations. It took me a while to get used to Persian music. I started with the Silk Road Ensemble's east/west blends, and then discovered Ensemble Dastan. Now I find it all not just fascinating, but beautiful. I recommend this set highly. It's an outstanding introduction to Persian classical music."-Larry Nelson

"I got hold of this album after I was sent a copy of the CD of the latest work of Omoumi and Khaladj, Sarmast (2004), which seems not be available here yet. It is quite educational to listen to these two works so many years apart. On the other hand I wish to have heard their albums in the proper sequence as this one was a clear foundation for Sarmast. Here we hear these masters at their first collaborative concert. Technically flawless and fluid. If you plan to get a copy of Sarmast (Trance of Devotion), which I highly recommend, then you should listen to the first disc in this album very intently. Listen to the way in which the two masters fill the space carefully with melody and rhythm with instruments which are expected to do just one or the other. As you may know, the ney (reed flute) is usually the melodic voice and the tombak (challis drum) is the percussive instrument which sets and carries the rhythm. This stereotype is broken down here. Sometimes Omoumi's ney becomes the base for a melody "suggested" by Khaladj's tombak, as if the suggestion then leads the ney to pick that melody and turn into a new path. This blurring between the usual voices defined by the ney and the tombak will reach new levels of sophistication in the next collaboration of these two master musicians where the human voice is intertwined as a new layer. Here they introduce something that foreshadows major technical and musical developments which we can now witness in Sarmast. I regret that at this time I have not listened to the second CD long enough to be able to do a review I would consider worthy of their work. On a vice real level I enjoy Sima Bina's voice and musical understanding. I need some time to fit the whole picture and will update this review accordingly. I wanted to alert fans of Omoumi and Khaladj to the importance of the first CD in this album as a precursor to their latest collaboration."Nassim Sabba-

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