Bandari is a dialect spoken in the Iranian region of Bandar, belonging to the southwestern group of Iranian languages. This area of Iran is Homorzgan, north of the Persian Gulf; it sports many distinct regional dialects, hot limestone cliffs and sandy hills, and a long history of international trade.

A Minority Language in a Changing Time

Bandar has its own news programs produced in Bandari and tramsitted on the local television stations and via shortwave radio. Songs in Bandari are very popular in that region. Iranica.com comments that "Almost all of the circulating tape recordings go back to pre-revolutionary times, and only few recordings with the songs on political and social issues have been officially produced quite recently."

Along with these new productions, there has been a recent wave of locally published books on the history, culture, and ethnography of Bandar Abba, as well as a website. Books of lyrical Bandari poetry have also been published, as well as guides and glossaries for the dialect.

From Dialogue to Dance Music

"Bandari" is not just the term for the language, but also an adjective describing things specific to the Bandar Abba and nearby regions -- for example, the local website refers to "Bandari sites" and presents a list of local links. The term "bandari" is also used to refer to the local folk music.

Iranfolk.com describes bandari as "rhythmic and activated" music. It is folk music from Southern Iran, especially the cities of Khoramshahr and Abadan. The instruments used vary, from ood and daf (one of the national drums of Iran), to dohol and tanboor.

Healing Harmonies

Music as medicine is often practiced in Iran: there is even a term ("gowati") for "psychological patients who have recovered through music," and a form of heatstroke for which the cure is dancing and bandari.

Recently, bandari has become yet another genre to be turned into a hot dance music craze. While this is delighting and fascinating to many people, it gives many folk music aficionados cause for concern. Saiid Shanbehzadeh, an Iranian folk musician who has performed with orchestras around the world, said in an interview that:

"Unfortunately most of these albums classified as bandari music have been real blow to our folk music. Instead of using genuine musical instruments and genuine pieces, they utilize synthesizers and the poems and melodies used have no historical records. They know a few genuine melodies by heart and under the cover of innovation they ruin and distort them. This is very sad."
He commented on the fact that bandari music has specific instruments, songs, and ways of singing which are used for different religious ceremonies, and that when only joyful, fast, rhythmic pieces are performed it can "sometimes lead to the omission and destruction of an important part of culture and this is not fair at all."

Resources:

  • Bandar Abba's website: http://w1.859.telia.com/~u85907095/
  • Wikipedia has a map of this region of Iran at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hormozgan
  • The history of Homorzgan: http://www.irancaravan.com/XPR.htm
  • A linguistic analysis of Bandari: http://www.iranica.com/articles/sup/Bandari.html
  • Audio clips of songs from many different bandari albums: http://www.iranian.com/Music/Bandari/
  • Interview with Saiid Shanbehzadeh: http://www.payvand.com/news/00/dec/1030.html
  • Bonus link: the Bandari Smile bouquet: http://www.dastchin.com/Shopexd.asp?id=1238
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