Full description expressed by Ahmad Feily, a popular Iranian singer, and musician, in connection with instrumentation and identification of instruments

An instrument is a means used to play music.

Although any means that can make sounds is considered an instrument, in musical concepts, an instrument is a device that is considered merely for playing music.

Probably the oldest means of producing music is the human voice. Later, percussion instruments and later blowing instruments are thought to be older than other instruments. A perforated piece of bone from the Neanderthal period is considered to be the oldest blowing instrument ever discovered.

Persian musical instruments

Reed or Ney

The reed is the oldest of its kind and consists of a cylindrical reed tube with seven holes and six knots. Reed is one of the local instruments and is common in almost all parts of Iran.


Sorna is another member of the family of wind instruments that is common in all parts of Iran and includes Bakhtiari Sorna and Azerbaijani and Khorasan music. In Iran, this instrument is played with drums or tambourines. It should be noted that playing this instrument in different parts of the country is done on special occasions and for different purposes. In Lorestan and Kurdistan, the death of someone is announced by playing the dohol and the Sorna, and in the north, the Sorna is played with some traditions related to ropes, and in West Azerbaijan, villagers play the Sorna at weddings during a wood dance.


Kernay is an old and historical instrument that is made and performed in different ways in different provinces of Iran. The best Kernays are found in the north, Gilan, Mashhad, and Bakhtiar. This instrument is mostly used in Khuzestan, Fars, Chaharmahal, and Gilan.


The bagpipe is mostly used in the south of Iran and in some parts of Iran it is also called “Khik Nai”.

string instruments


One of the oldest stringed instruments is the fiddle, which is the first form of the modern violin. This instrument could be played as a soloist well. It is a national fiddle. It is common in all provinces of Iran and is more common among the Lor and Bakhtiari tribes. This instrument has different shapes and functions in different regions of Iran. For example, the Turkmen fiddle is smaller and has one less string. Today, this instrument is also used in the Alto range. Other instruments include the Ghichak, which is also called the ghajal. This instrument is also made and played in the bass range today. In this category, we can also mention some instruments that have been lost throughout history: Delroba and string lute.


Iranian are connected to the family of useful string instruments, also called “oud or loot”. The structure of this instrument is like a pear that has been cut in half in length. It has large bowls and short handles that initially had three strands of wire. The size mentioned of oud in ancient books was different from modern oud.


Rubab is a string instrument that consists of four parts, including the belly of the melon-like, the chest, the handle, and the head. Rubab strings used to be made of intestines and today they are made of nylon thread, and Rubab Plectrum is made of chicken feathers. This instrument is basically a local instrument and is most common in the regions of Balochistan and is also played in the regions of Sistan.


Tar is one of the original string instruments in Iran, which has a multi-part belly and six strings. Of these instruments, sitar and dotar can be named, which is very common in Turkmen Sahara and Khorasan. Pear-shaped instruments have evolved and changed throughout history. This change from the main generating of Dotar; has started in various dimensions and has reached out as today’s instruments.


The guitar is another string instrument with Spanish roots that is divided into four categories: four-string, six-string, eight-string, twelve-string, and classical guitar, acoustic guitar, and electric guitar. This string instrument is played by courier or finger.

Percussion instruments

Famous Iranian percussion instruments are Dohol, Tombak, and Naqareh in various dimensions, shapes, and applications, daf, circle, Dahlak, and Kasr.


This instrument consists of a short wooden cylinder with a diameter of about one meter and a height of 25 to 30 cm, and the skin is drawn on two circular surfaces. Its Plectrum is two sticks, one in the shape of a cane and the other a thin wand. Dohol construction is completely local and mostly accompanies Serna. It is used in Fars, Baluchistan, Kurdistan, and Khorasan more than other places.


This percussion instrument, which consists of wooden rings that are skinned on one of the side surfaces of its circular shape, is played by tapping the fingertips of both hands. This instrument is played in a combination with other instruments. The circle is currently used in different regions of Iran, such as North Khorasan and Azerbaijan, and other regions. This instrument is also used in urban music. In some parts of Iran, non-round shapes are also available. For instance, the hexagon shape of a circle in South Khorasan.


The drum is another percussion instrument smaller than the Dohol. The Plectrum has two wooden sticks and is played in mourning ceremonies in most parts of Iran. It can be said that playing this instrument has been common in mourning ceremonies for the past 100 years and has replaced Dohol. Drumming is less common in non-urban areas of Iran.


The tombak is made of skin and wood (usually walnut) and consists of two parts, the throat and the cylinder, the upper surface of which is covered by skin and the throat has a wide-open pore. The technique of playing this instrument with both hands and fingers is such that it is one of the most technical percussion instruments.


Cajon is a Spanish word meaning “box, chest, small cupboard or small folding table”, which is a kind of percussion instrument. The musician sits on the Cajon and by using palm and fingers they tap on the front panel of the instrument which produces a special and ringing sound.

Percussion string instruments

The unique Iranian instrument that falls into this category is the dulcimer. This instrument consists of trapezoidal boxes and consists of 72 white and yellow strings.

The dulcimer is basically an instrument that has the ability to play solo and accompaniment and its playing is common in all provinces of Iran.