The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
Dulcimer (Santour) is an Iranian musical instrument which for the first time
was recorded in Assyrian and Babylonian stone inscriptions in 669 B.S. Santour
was christened dulcimer in English literature since 1400 A.D. and nowadays more
than 10 types of Iraqi, Egyptian, Indian and Turkish dulcimers and are made and
played in other countries.
considered an Ilamite musical instrument in Iran in the past because they owned
two types of harps and flute and an instrument that resembled the dulcimer. The
Ilamite interest in dulcimer can be noted from stone inscriptions in Izeh.
Dulcimer has been named with various appellations during the Iranian history. At
times it was called Qanoon (in other words the Qanoon and dulcimer were called
under a single appellation) whereas beside the fact that they were both string
and beating instruments, they had many differences in appearance and in method
The term Santour has
been recorded by different spellings in various sources such as Sontour, or
Santir (Arabic) or Santour. In fact this is a peaceful and soothing word and was
employed by the Jewish tribe also. In the beginning of the middle ages the
Santour became popular and was renamed according to the tribal and linguistic
behaviors. As of 1400 A.D. Santour was christened dulcimer (or dalcimer) in the
The Oxford Companion to Music says in 1660 A.D. Pepy registered the dulcimer and reported that its sound was heard many years in Britain and in London streets or in dramatic plays. According to that report Hungarian, Romanian or Bohemian gypsy dulcimer players used to play different types of dulcimers.
Meanwhile in the English translation of the Music of the Bible a dulcimer known as Yangkin which is a Chinese manufactured instrument has been portrayed. This dulcimer resembles the present day dulcimer with slight differences. Meanwhile its German name is reported to be Hack Bret. Fabrication of piano was inspired by dulcimer. The dulcimer was gradually changed into the original piano and after a series of modifications it emerged into the present shape. Nowadays more than ten types of Santours or dulcimers such as Iraqi, Indian, Egyptian and Turkish Santours are played in other countries.
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