Hossein Tehrani

Hossein Tehrāni (1912 February 25, 1974) (Persian: حسین تهرانی) was an Iranian musician and tonbak player. He is regarded as the father of the modern tonbak.

Hossein Tehrani
Hossein Tehrani
Background information
OriginTehran, Iran
DiedFebruary 25, 1974(1974-02-25) (aged 62)
GenresPersian music
Occupation(s)Professional musician, Instructor

Early life

He was born in Tehran, Iran. At an early age he was going to Zurkhaneh -زورخانه (an Iranian gymnasium) and was impressed by the big clay vase covered on open bottom with skin called Zarb- ضربZurkhaneh. At age if 13 Hossein found a similar type of Zarb Zurkhaneh in a smaller size which was called tonbakتنبك and began practicing by himself.

Musical education

In 1928 Hossein Tehrani became interested in studying music professionally, and took private lessons from music master and kamanchehكمانچه player Hossein Khan Esmail-Zadeh.[1] Hossein was keen to observe different tonbak playing styles so he attended the music classes of master tonbak players such as Reza Ravanbakhsh and Kangarlo. He wanted to learn more about Iranian traditional music, and therefore formed a relationship with the great music master and multi-instrumentalist Abolhasan Saba, from whom he learnt music theory and different aspects of Iranian traditional music.[2]

Music career

In 1940 the first radio station was established in Tehran and Hossein Tehrani was an active tonbak player accompanying musicians while performing live music programmes. He was a permanent member of the National Music Ensemble and National Music association. Hossein Tehrani formed and organized a tonbak players ensemble with seven members[3] and performed several pieces with his group for the first time at the Shiraz Arts Festival- (جشن هنر شیراز) the group performed several concerts in Talar Vahadat, formerly Talar Roudaki.

While playing the Tonbak Hossein could imitate the sound of a locomotive and a motorcycle to astonish his listeners.[4]

Tutoring career

Hossein Tehrani was a tonbak instructor at the Madrese Aali Mosiqi- مدرسه عالی موسیقی (Music College) and National Music college of Tehran. Hossein innovated a rhythm technique, which involved the tonbak being played in harmony with the saying of Persian phrases such as 'Baleh vo Baleh, Baleh Digeh and Yek Sado bisto Panj.

Literary work

Hossein wrote a book titled Amouzesh Tonbak-ٱموزش تنبك about the style and practice of the tonbak.

Resting place

Hossein Tehrani is buried in the Zahir od-Dowleh cemetery, Darband, Shemiran, Tehran.[5]

Famous students

  • Siamak Pouian
  • Mohammad Esmaili
  • Mohammad Tahmassebi


  • Haghighat, A., Honarmandan e Irani az Aghaz ta Emrooz, Koomesh Publication, 2004, (in Persian)
  • Khaleghi, R., Sargozasht e Musighi e Iran, Ferdowsi Publication, 1955, (in Persian)
  • Video on YouTube
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