Vocal Style and Poetry

Bahr-e Taveel

Ajam take influence from, and make use of, many native forms of vocal performance that are usually associated with specific forms of poetry. In particular, a poetic form known as Bahr-e Taveel is used in many of Ajam’s tracks to convey the main message of the track. Bahr-e Taveel is often sung in a narrative (speaking) tone and respects the natural prosodic features, and classical rhyming schemes, of the Persian language and literature but does not require for verses and hemistiches to be of equal lengths. Bahr-e Taveel is generally synonymous with people’s poetry, rather than classical art poetry, and is often used to tell urban parables or humorous stories. This form of poetry is still widely used in Tazyieh (religious passion plays performed in streets, markets and religious institutions). Ajam uses this form as a native alternative to Rap and stress that there are fundamental differences between Bahr-e Taveel and Rap especially with regards to the fact that Bahr-e Taveel preserves the natural rhythm and music of the Persian language.

Examples of Bahr-e Taveel can be heard in Bahr-e Taveel-e Ajami, Bāyrām, Eghvāgar, Tayyebeh Jān, Noroozkhāni, Beshkan, and several other of Ajam’s songs.


Other forms of poetry and vocal performance that are often referred to as influences by Ajam’s are Zarby-Khāni and PāZarby songs and poems. These forms are mentioned in many studies as comprising a key part of the repertoire of Motrebs (urban minstrels), especially in Tehran and Esfahan. Some notable features of Zarby-Khāni and PāZarby are the use of short iambic phrases to create simple upbeat rhythms; a combination of colloquial and literary tones in the same piece; and developing rhyming schemes that form stanzas of varying lengths in the same piece.


Noroozkhāni is a broad term given to songs that are sung around the Iranian New Year that generally served to announce the arrival of Spring. Traditionally, this involved agriculturalists, and rural people whose daily routine was influenced by the natural environment, travelling to nearby towns to hail the arrival of Spring, whilst seeking gifts from the townspeople for bringing this good news. Amin Ajami has carried out research and field studies in various Noroozkhāni performance styles from the historic regions of Tabarestan, Koomesh, Rey, and Astarābād in the foothills of the Alborz mountains and the Caspian Rim. Even though it is difficult to class the regional variations of Noroozkhāni as one style, the quick-witted, spiritual, and lively character of the Noroozkhān performers has in part been incorporated into the vocal and performance style of Ajam.

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