Kurdish Music 101


In my upcoming book, Shahram – A Kurdish Love Story, my hero is Kurdish, and he grew up in the west of Iran. To make it easy, his nickname is Ram and I’m going to let him tell you about some of his favorite music. Before he arrives, here’s a small excerpt from my book of what he looks like…

Ram Zare was still leaned up against the hood of his car with a sexy grin curving his lips. Nope, she wasn’t that lucky to go unnoticed. The guy was desire, lust, and sin from the top of his dark, overlong hair to his scrumptious body, and silky brown gaze. She hated how her eyes zeroed in on his black leather jacket, emphasizing his hard chest. Of course, they’d barely spoken outside his sensual grin and her awkwardness, but the man oozed all kinds of carnal appeal that should be illegal.

–Mia Phillips

Me: Hello, Ram. Thanks for stopping by today.

Ram: Salam. Thank you for inviting me. I appreciate the opportunity.

Me. Well, it’s great you’re here. I wanted to introduce you to everyone before your story hits.

Ram: (flashes a smile) Anytime.

Me. So, I was hoping you would share some insight into Kurdish music. Would you share the basics?

Ram: To keep it simple, there are three basic kinds: storytellers, minstrels and bards. These are considered to be classical. There are some heroic ballads about Kurdish heroes and love ballads expressing the pain of separation and unfulfilled love. And some religious, love songs, and dance. Wedding songs are very popular too.

Me: I see you brought along some samples. What is the first one?

Ram: This is a song typically played in weddings when the bride arrives. It’s called Şemmame by popular singer, Ibrahim Tatlises. In this video, you get a sense of the happy times a wedding is for families.

Me: Awesome. Love the dancing too. It’s so lively and happy.

Ram: Kurds love to dance—especially at weddings.

Me: Wait…? I heard they love to dance anytime.

Ram: (grins) Yes, you heard right.

Me: What does Şemmame mean?

Ram: Well, here’s the translation. I hope it’s not too complicated. (He winks)

Şemmamê Şemmamê Şemmamê bûkê

—- şemmam is a type of melon, but is also used to refer to the breasts of a young woman which should be the case in this song, bûk = bride. Şemmamê is also the name for a girl.


Me: Thank you for that. (trying not to blush) Okay, so what is the second example?

Ram: This one is more modern. It’s by two singers who are very popular in the Middle East: Jamshid and Mansour. The song is called Naz Maka, and it’s a very happy song, though the video doesn’t show traditional Kurdish culture. It’s probably more for the upcoming generation, but it is in the Kurdish language with a few lines of Farsi/Persian. It’s one of my favorites.

Me: Oh, that is high energy!! LOVE IT!! What does Naz Maka mean?

Ram: (he laughs heartily) It means… don’t be spoiled. You never know what kind of song will hold a few surprises. Asking a girl not to be spoiled is one of them.

Me: Oh, really? Do you have anyone in particular in mind?

Ram: Of course I do, but I’m not telling you. (he winks)

Me: Why not? This would be a great way to share a bit about yourself.

Ram: (nods) I agree, but I’m not feeling it.

Me: (I resist the urge to roll my eyes, looking thoughtful) I see you brought us a final song to look at. What is this?

Ram: This… (he pauses, his face softening)

Me: Ram?

Ram: This is called Delale. Just listen…

Me: It’s beautiful. What does Delale mean?

Ram: It means “My love.” It is written and produced by: Saam Moosa. Here… I also brought the translation:

I can’t wait to hear your voice, I’m yearning to see you

I missed you a lot, and are waiting here until you coming back

So many days have passed, I’m home alone,

Bored and counting every minute

My heart wears your name

Our love is endless

There is no girl like you

My love is infinitely great

My love, my darling

My Sweetheart My wife and friend

When will you reach me I cant wait no more

Please run faster to me, my Love, my darling

The sun is shining down on me when you smile, when you leave, it turns dark

Your warmth is like the summer, your every touch is lovable

You really deserve all my love, You mean the world to me

My love, my darling.

My heart wears your name

Our love is endless

There is no girl like you

My love is infinitely great

My love, my darling

My Sweetheart, my wife and friend

When will you reach me, I can’t wait no more

Please run faster to me, My Love, my darling

As long as I live, my heart will always be yours

As long as I live, my soul will always be yours

My love, my darling

My Sweetheart, my wife and friend

When will you reach me, I can’t wait no more

Please run faster to me, My Love, my darling

Me: That is very beautiful, Ram. Thank you for sharing this with us today.

Ram: My pleasure. It is very special to me.

Me: Oh? Why is that?

Ram: (he hesitates) Well, if I tell you now, then I’ll be giving away something too soon. Trust me, you’ll find out soon enough.

Me: Ok. Cryptic and vague, but thank you all the same. (slight pause) I appreciate you stopping by and giving us a flash insight into the various Kurdish music out there. I’m sure there’s more, but what you shared has been beautiful.

Ram: It’s been an honor to share. I’ve only shown you three of my favorites. Kurdish music spans different types and meanings. Our music is steeped in history. Some sad, some happy. No matter where a Kurd lives in the world, we all keep the beauty of music in our hearts. That’s not simple words, but a fact. And thank you for having me.

Me: Goodbye, Ram–

Ram: Wait, I brought you a final video.

Me: Really? That’s wonderful. What is it?

Ram: It’s at a Kurdish wedding in Iran. The men love to dance like this after lunch. Tell me what you think.

Me: Oooooo, I loved it! They really look like they are having fun. I appreciate the small surprise at the end.

Ram. Happy to share some of my favorites with you.

Me. I’ll be seeing you soon to discuss more on your book.

Ram: I’m ready when you are. Take care, Beth Jaan. Khodahafez.

**Thank you for stopping by, dear reader. I hope you enjoyed a little insight into Kurdish music from Ram’s point of view.**

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