Music Music in Iran
by
Ameneh Youssefzadeh
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 November 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199757824-0250

Introduction

Iran is a vast multiethnic and multilingual state with rich and diverse musical traditions. What is often called “Persian music” refers to the canonical repertoire that is also known as classical, sonnati (traditional), asil (authentic), honari (art), ʿelmi (learned), or dastgahi (dastgah is the name given to principal divisions of the modal system), and is associated with the Persian language (Farsi) and poetry. Urban popular music, formerly cultivated by professional entertainers, called motreb (from Arabic tarab, “joy”), has a variety of musical styles. The musics of various ethnic groups, such as Turkic-speaking peoples, Kurds, Lors, Baluchis, and Arabs, are referred to as mahalli or navahi (regional) or maqami (here the term implies melody or tune). Each ethnic group in Iran has a distinctive culture and language and its own musical practices that have many parallels with the same ethnic groups in adjacent countries; musicians are often bilingual or trilingual. Throughout history, Persian language and culture extended beyond Iran into South and West Asia. For centuries, Iran formed a crossroads between the Middle East and Far East. In modern times it has experienced two revolutions: the Constitutional Revolution of 1905–1911 and the 1978–1979 Iranian Revolution (also called the Islamic Revolution); the consequences of each were crucial to music and musical life (discussed partly in Chehabi 1999, cited under Tasnif, for the former; and in Youssefzadeh 2000, cited under History, for the latter). Persian classical music has been cultivated in the courts of Persian kings from pre-Islamic times up to the end of the 19th century. The Persian musical system, said to be one of the world’s oldest, later contributed to the Perso-Arabic system of music theory. The classical music that we know today was crystalized in the second half of the nineteenth century at the court of the Qajar king, Naser al-Din Shah (r. 1848 to 1896). It was also in this period that Western music was introduced and taught in Iran. The Pahlavi era (1925–1979) is identified with the modernization and Westernization of Iranian society and culture. The 1979 revolution that established the Islamic Republic brought many restrictions affecting music and musical life. The official religion since 1501 has been Shiʿa Islam but there are also Sunni Muslims and other religious minorities, such as Armenian and Assyrian Christians, Jews, Baha’i, and Zoroastrians. In terms of literature, the works produced on classical music by both Iranian and Western authors are far more numerous than those about regional traditions. Most of the studies of Iranian musicians in diaspora are dedicated to pop music and musicians. Only a few studies have investigated the musical practices of religious minorities. The first half of this bibliography lists mostly publications concerning Persian classical and popular music, and the second half is on regional traditions, here discussed by region, although publications for some regions are sometimes nonexistent or hard to find.

General Overviews

Blum 2002 is a very informative and scholarly introduction to the varieties of music-making in Iran, emphasizing the use of the voice in diverse contexts and venues. In During, et al. 1991, each author contributes a section examining different aspects of Persian music. Caron and Safvate 1966 is one of the first publications in a Western language on Persian music. Nettl 2006, an article in the Encyclopædia Iranica Online (with free access), gives an overview of Persian classical music.

  • Blum, Stephen. “Iran: An Introduction.” In The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. Vol. 6, The Middle East. Edited by Virginia Danielson, Scott Marcus, and Dwight Reynolds, 823–838. New York: Routledge, 2002.

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    Organized into three sections: “Venues and Purposes,” “Roles of Performers,” and “Musical Knowledge.” The first section treats khaneqah (a Sufi lodge) and zurkhaneh (House of Strength), ceremonial mourning, and public spaces in cities. The second describes amateurs and professionals, topics and voices, and rhythms of interaction. The third section examines attitudes toward music, instruments, and names.

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  • Caron, Nelly, and Dariouche Safvate. Iran: Les traditions musicales. Paris: Édition Buchet/Chastel, 1966.

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    The modal system’s twelve dastgahs and avazs and their expressive characters are explained concisely. The instruments and their tunings, as well as religious, Sufi, therapeutic, and zurkhaneh music, are treated briefly.

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  • During, Jean, Zia Mirabdolbaghi, and Dariush Safvat. The Art of Persian Music. Washington, DC: Mage, 1991.

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    In this beautifully illustrated volume intended for the general public, During covers the history, musical system, poetry and music, and mysticism; Mirabdolbaghi treats music and the visual arts, including a valuable section comprising accounts by prominent performers and teachers on aspects of Persian classical music; Safvat’s section gives important practical indications for students. Includes a CD, “Anthology of Persian Music: 1930–1990.”

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  • Nettl, Bruno. “Iran xi: Persian Music.” In Encyclopædia Iranica Online. 2006.

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    An introduction to music in Iran emphasizing the history and musical system of Persian classical music. This article is also available in print: Encyclopædia Iranica, Vol. 13, Fasc. 5, pp. 474–480, (2006).

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Reference Works

Danielson, et al. 2002 includes a section on Iran in which various musical traditions and practices are discussed. Lawergren, et al. 2001, an article in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, provides a history of Persian music from the pre-Islamic period to present-day theory and practices. A separate section is devoted to regional musical traditions. Instruments and some prominent figures of Persian classical music also have separate entries in the dictionary. Encyclopædia Iranica Online is an extensive research tool dedicated to the study of Iranian civilization and culture. It has various entries related to music and musicians, many of which have audio examples. Two encyclopedias published in Iran, Dā’eratolmo‘āref-e bozorg-e eslāmi and Daneshnāme-ye jahān-e eslām also have various entries on music. Kazem 2015 has several articles on the history of music in Iran.

  • Kazem Musavi Bojnurdi, ed. Tarikh-e jāme’ Irān. Vol. 18. Tehran: Center for the Great Islamic Encyclopedia, 2015.

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    “The Comprehensive History of Iran” has six chapters on music: Shiloah’s “A General Overview of the History of Music in Iran”; Khazra’i’s “In Search of the Music in Saljuqi’s Period”; As‘adi’s “Music in the Temurid Period”; Meysami’s “Music in the Safavid Period” and “Music in Zand Period”; and Fatemi’s “The History of Qajar Music.”

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  • Kazem Musavi Bonjurdi, ed. Dā’eratolmo‘āref-e bozorg-e eslāmi. Vol. 1. Tehran: Markaz-e dā’eratolm‘āref-e bozorg-e eslāmi, 1988.

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    “The Great Islamic Encyclopaedia,” in Persian, has entries on music. The website of the Center of the Great Islamic Encyclopaedia is in Persian, Arabic, and English, and has access to the library and information about the published volumes. It consists of 23 volumes.

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  • Daneshnāme-ye jahān-e eslām. Vol. 1. Tehran: Bonyād-e dā’erat al-ma‘āref-e eslām, 1996.

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    “Encyclopaedia of the World of Islam,” in Persian, has entries on music. The website is in Persian, Arabic, and English. It consists of 24 volumes. Available online.

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  • Danielson, Virginia, Scott Marcus, and Dwight Reynolds, eds. The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. Vol. 6, The Middle East. New York: Routledge, 2002.

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    In addition to the section on Iran (pp. 820–890), two articles by Margaret Caton under “Issues and Processes” discuss the modal system and performance practice of Persian music.

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  • Encyclopædia Iranica Online.

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    In English, it covers a wide range of subjects and terms related to music, such as the modal system; melodies; rhythms; roles of performers; genres; venues; musical instruments; musicians and writers on music; institutions; poets, prosody, and poetic genres; regional traditions, genres, and occasions; religious communities and leaders; songs; birds and animals; languages and dialects; peoples; and technical terms. The print version is edited by Ehsan Yarshater (London and New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul [first four volumes], subsequent volumes by Mazda).

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  • Lawergren, Bo, Hormoz Farhat, and Stephen Blum. “Iran.” In The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Edited by Stanley Sadie, and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan, 2001.

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    The entry on Iran is divided in three sections. Lawergren treats the pre-Islamic period from the 3rd millennium BCE to 651 CE. Farhat gives an introduction to the history and theory of Persian classical music, and Blum surveys the regional and popular musical traditions in Iran. Each section has a bibliography. The article is a valuable introduction to the history of musical practices in Iran.

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Edited Manuscripts

Many edited manuscripts have been published, especially in recent decades, including some by the younger generation of Iranian scholars, such as Khazra’i 2011, an edition of a 19th-century manuscript (see also his edition of ʿAbdolqader Ibn Gheibi 2009, cited under Instruments) and Purjavadi 2007, an edition of a 16th-century manuscript. Anwar 2013 is the translation from Arabic to Persian of a commentary on Urmawi’s Advār. Binesh 1992 is an edition of three Persian treatises on music.

  • Anwar, Sayyid Abdollah, ed., and trans. Tarjom’e-ye sharh-e Mobārak Shah Bokhāri bar advār-e rmawi dar ‘elm-e musiqi. Tehran: Farhangestan-e honar, 2013 (1392).

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    A Persian translation from Arabic of a commentary by the 14th-century author Mobarakshah Bokhari on Safi al-Din Urmawi’s (d. 1294) music treatise, Kitāb al-Adwār, one of the most influential works on music.

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  • Binesh, Taqi, ed. Se resāle-ye fārsi dar musiqi: Musiqi ye dānesh-nāme-ye ‘alā’i; musiqi-ye resā’el ekhwān al-safā, Kanz al-Tuhaf. Tehran: Markaze Nash-re Daneshgahi, 1992 (1371).

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    “Three Persian Treatises on Music” presents Avicenna’s “Discourse on Music” (from Dānesh -nāme-ye ‘alā’i), Persian translation of the Epistles of the Brethren of Purity, on Music, and Kanz al-Tuhaf (Treasure of Rarities).

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  • Khazra’i, Babak, ed. Kolliyāt-e Yusefi by Ziyā’-eddin Yusef. Tehran: Entesharat-e Farhangestane Honar, 2011.

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    In Persian with an English introduction, “Complete Works of Yusefi,” written by Ziya’-eddin Yusef, a contemporary of Fath ʿAli Shah Qajar (b. 1769–d. 1834), is one of the few Persian musical treatises complied in the Qajar period. It contains an introduction and five chapters dealing with different aspects of music, such as the description of the modal system, the rhythmic cycles, and which modes should be performed at a certain time of day.

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  • Nasehpur, Naserollah, ed. Resāle-ye musiqi az Durrat al-Tāj by Qotb al-Din al-Shirāzi. Tehran: Entesharat-e Farhangestane Honar, 2008.

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    This edition is the music section of the famous book Durrat al-Tāj by Qotb al-Din al-Shirazi, a prominent figure in the late 13th and early 14th century CE. The first volume is the original text; the second volume provides commentary on and explanation of the original text.

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  • Purjavadi, Amir-Hoseyn, ed. Nasim-i Tarab. Tehran: Entesharat-e Farhangestane Honar, 2007.

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    In Persian with an English introduction, Nasim-i Tarab (The breeze of Euphoria) seems to be the earliest musical text that survives from the 16th century. After a brief biography of the author, Nasimi, the treatise deals with the modal system and rhythmic cycles.

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Bibliographies/Discographies

Halali 2007 and Mir-‘Alinaqi 2007 are bibliographies of contemporary writings on music in Iran, while Massoudieh 1996, Fallahzadeh 2005, and Daneshpazhuh 2011 deal with early sources. DeBano and Youssefzadeh 2005 contains a selected bibliography. Kinnear 2000 presents a numerical catalogue of Persian recordings made from 1899 to 1934.

  • Daneshpazhuh, Mohammad Taqi. Fehrest-e āsār-e khati dar musiqi. Edited by Qodratollah Pishnamazzadeh. Tehran: Markaz-e Nashre Daneshgahi, 2011.

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    “Catalogue of Manuscripts on Music” is a new edition and an extended version in Persian, Arabic, and Turkish of the 1976 publication.

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  • DeBano, Wendy, and Ameneh Youssefzadeh, eds. “Music and Society in Iran: A Look at the Past and Present Century, a Selected Bibliography.” Iranian Studies 38.3 (2005): 495–512.

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    A multilingual bibliography of writings in Persian, English, French, and German on music and related subjects. Part of a special issue that focuses on music in Iran.

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  • Fallahzadeh, Mehrdad. Persian Writings on Music: A Study of Persian Musical Literature from 1000 to 1500 AD. Act Universitatis Upsaliensis, Studia Iranica Upsaliensia 8. Uppsala, Sweden: Uppsala Unversity, 2005.

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    The author’s dissertation, which deals with treatises and works written on music in Persian from the first half of the 11th century up to about the end of the 15th century, a period considered to be the Golden Age of Persian writing on music.

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  • Halali, Simin, ed. Ketābshenāsi-ye musiqi dar Irān. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2007.

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    “Bibliography of Music in Iran” contains a thematic catalogue of books, articles in journals from 1975 to 2004, dissertations, and research projects.

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  • Kinnear, Michael. The Gramophone Company’s Persian Recordings, 1899 to 1934. Heidelberg, Australia: Bajakhana, 2000.

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    A complete numerical catalogue of Persian recordings made from 1899 to 1934 by the Gramophone Company, with a supplement of recordings made by Columbia Gramophone Company from 1928 to 1934. The book’s introduction has been translated into Persian and published in Mahoor Music Quarterly 8.29 (2005): 49–75.

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  • Massoudieh, Mohammad Taghi. Manuscrits Persans Concernant La Musique. Répertoire International des Sources Musicales, B, xii. Munich: G. Henle Verlag, 1996.

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    The first comprehensive inventory of Persian writing on music, it includes and describes a total of 204 Persian manuscripts on music, based mostly on a catalogue of Arabic-Persian manuscripts compiled by Daneshpazhuh in 1976 (see Daneshpazhuh 2011).

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  • Mir-‘Alinaqi, Seyyed ʿAlireza, ed. Ketābshenāsi va maqāleshenāsi-ye musiqi Iran be tariq-e towsifi. Vol. 1. Tehran: Sure-ye Mehr, 2007.

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    A descriptive bibliography of contemporary writings on music in Iran, containing sections such as a general bibliography, definitions and terms, a history of music in Iran, critics, theoretical works, sociology, education, associations, and music programs.

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Journals

There are several journals in Iran dealing with different genres of music. Faslnāme Mahoor offers scholarly articles. Nashrie-ye honarhāye zibā (published by the Department of Arts of the University of Tehran) and Nāme, honarhāye namāyeshi va musiqi (published by the University of Art) both provide articles on music.

Online Resources

Many publications on music as well as dissertations can be found in Iranian academic databases such as Pazhuheshgāh-e ‘olum va fanāvari-ye etelā‘āt-e Irān and Pazhuhehgāh-e ‘olum-e ensāni va motalle‘āt-e farhangi.

History

Lawergren 2009 and Neubauer 2009, articles in the Encyclopædia Iranica Online, outline the history of Iran from the third millennium BCE to the Sasanian period (224–651 BC), and from 650 to 1370 BCE, respectively. Khaleqi 2011 contains three volumes in one and continues to be a standard reference book on the history of music in modern Iran. Meysami 2010 is on the history of music in the Safavid period. Sepanta 1998 provides an overview of the early history of recording practices in Iran. Pakdaman 1966 is a pioneering work on the status of musicians in Iranian society. Khoshzamir 1979 studies the history of music education in modern Iran. The effects of the 1979 revolution on musical life in Iran and abroad have been the subjects of many works in the ensuing decades. During 1992 and Youssefzadeh 2000 treat the situation of music after the 1979 revolution and its effect on music and musical life in Iran.

  • During, Jean. “L’oreille islamique: Dix années capitales de la vie musicale en Iran: 1980–1990.” Asian Music 23 (1992): 135–164.

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    Examines the decade after the 1979 revolution, a difficult period when many prohibitions were imposed on the music and musical life in Iran. The annex gives extracts of Ayatollah Khomeini’s discourse and fatwa on music.

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  • Khaleqi, Ruhollah. Sargozasht-e musiqi-ye Irān. 3 vols. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2011.

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    “The History of Music in Iran” was originally published in 1954; the first volume is a valuable source of information on both male and female musicians, instruments, and musical events of the Qajar period to the mid-20th century. The second volume describes Khaleqi’s encounter with the influential musician and educator, ʿAli Naqi Vaziri (b. 1887–d. 1979), and the third volume by Sassan Sepanta covers musicians, musical education, and music in radio. The appendix includes photographs of male musicians from the period.

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  • Khoshzamir, Mojtaba. “Ali Naqi Vaziri and His Influence on Music and Music Education in Iran.” PhD diss., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1979.

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    The primary focus of this study is to describe the career of ʿAli Naqi Vaziri, a renowned Iranian musician and music educator. It studies the history of music education in modern Iran beginning in 1856, with the foundation of the first school of music within Dar-ol-Fonun (the first polytechnic school, founded in 1851).

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  • Lawergren, Bo. “Music History i: Pre-Islamic Iran.” In Encyclopædia Iranica Online. 2009.

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    An extended version of Lawergren’s chapter in Grove (Lawergren, et al. 2001, cited under Reference Works), the entry outlines Iran’s pre-Islamic music history, from the 3rd millennium BCE to the 7th century CE. It describes various instruments (harps, lyres, trumpets, lutes) and ensembles from earlier eras. Sasanian music and instruments are discussed, and sections are dedicated to the Sogdian instruments in China and Chinese inventories of Sogdian orchestras, which are not in the Grove entry.

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  • Meysami, Seyyed Hossein. Musiqi-ye ʿasr-e Safavi. Tehran: Farhangestan-e Honar, 2010.

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    “Music in the Safavid Period” is a revised version of the author’s 1999 dissertation (University of Art) exploring music in the Safavid period (1501 to 1722).

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  • Neubauer, Eckhard. “Music History ii: CA. 650 to 1370 CE.” In Encyclopædia Iranica Online. 2009.

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    Written by an outstanding German scholar, Neubauer’s article treats an important period in the history of the music of the Islamic world. After a very informative introduction, sections are dedicated to musical instruments, music theory, the tonal system, the modal system, extra-musical phenomena, musical meters, and musical forms.

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  • Pakdaman, Naser. “La situation du musicien dans la société persane.” In Normes et valeurs dans l’Islam contemporain. Edited by Jean-Paul Charnay, 325–343. Paris: Payot, 1966.

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    After a brief introduction on the origin and history of music in Iran, the author explores the situation and the status of musicians in Islam and in Iranian society, and finally the influence of ʿAli Naqi Vaziri on many aspects of musical life in Iran in the 20th century.

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  • Sepanta, Sassan. Tārikh-e tahavol-e zabt-e musiqi dar Irān. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 1998.

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    “The History of Recording Evolution in Iran” traces the history of recording in Iran from wax cylinder to cassettes and CDs. An invaluable reference work on domestically and foreign-produced recordings of Persian music.

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  • Youssefzadeh, Ameneh. “The Situation of Music in Iran since the Revolution: The Role of Official Organizations.” British Journal of Ethnomusicology 9.2 (2000): 35–61.

    DOI: 10.1080/09681220008567300Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Describes the cultural politics of the Islamic Republic and the role of official agencies dealing with music and musical life in post-revolutionary Iran.

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Classical Music

Persian classical music is an organized repertoire known as radif (row), a collection of about 250–300 units called gushe (lit. “corner”), the number of which depends upon lines of instrumental or vocal transmission. These are subdivided into twelve unequal segments generally termed dastgah (system), comprising seven principal dastgahs and five annexes termed avaz (lit. singing, but has multiple meanings.) The consolidation and ordering of the radif is attributed to the musicians at the court of Naser al-Din Shah (r. 1848 to 1896), ʿAli Akbar Farahani and his sons, Aqa Hoseyn Qoli (d. 1915) and Mirza Abdollah (d. 1918). Radif exists in different versions for specific instruments. The radif of Mirza Abdollah for tar (a double-chested long-necked lute) and setar (long-necked lute) became a model for performance and teaching (discussed under Notation) and a tool for composition and improvisation. During 1984 provides a good introduction to Persian classical music. Miller 1999 observes certain traditions and the transmission of Persian music. The modernization and Westernization of Persian music has been the subject of debates and studies. Nettl 1978 studies the process of changes in Persian classical music in Tehran and the ways in which Western and traditional musics interact. Nooshin 2015 is mostly an attempt to understand the process of creativity in Persian classical music. The renowned singer Mohammad Reza Shajarian is the main subject of two books, Simms and Koushkani 2012a and Simms and Koushkani 2012b, supplemented by online transcriptions (see Simms and Koushkani 2012b).

  • During, Jean. La musique iranienne: Tradition et evolution. Bibliothèque iranienne 29. Paris: Recherche sur les Civilisations, 1984.

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    A revision of During’s 1975 thesis (University of Strasbourg), the book is organized into four sections. The first is on cultural contexts of music and performance; the second treats musical instruments (including the voice) and provides valuable organological information; the third covers the modal system and rhythm; and the last examines interpretation and aesthetics.

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  • Miller, Lloyd Clifton. Music and Song in Persia: The Art of Āvāz. Richmond, UK: Curzon Press, 1999.

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    A revised version of Miller’s PhD dissertation (University of Utah, 1995), it is addressed to the general public. The discussions in chapters 4, 5, and 6 on the theory of Persian music, vocal music, and Perso-Arabic structure can be of use for students. The bibliography omits many important works on Persian music.

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  • Nettl, Bruno. “Persian Classical Music in Tehran: The Processes of Change.” In Eight Urban Musical Cultures: Tradition and Change. Edited by Bruno Nettl, 146–185. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1978.

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    Focuses on the ways Western and traditional musics interacted in Tehran in the early 1970s, and how the effects of Westernization and modernization are motivated and interpreted differently. Informative for students and scholars.

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  • Nooshin, Laudan. Iranian Classical Music: The Discourses and Practice of Creativity. Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2015.

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    A revised version of the author’s PhD dissertation (University of London, Goldsmiths College, 1996), it is divided into three main parts. The first part discusses mostly the different ways Western scholars have approached the subject; the second part examines the place of creativity in Persian classical music, focusing on the history of radif; and the third part focuses on dastgah Segah and the place of creativity in music.

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  • Simms, Rob, and Amir Koushkani. The Art of Avaz and Mohammad Reza Shajarian: Foundations and Contexts. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2012a.

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    Initiated by a revision of Simms’s PhD dissertation (University of Toronto, 1996), it explores the work and career of Mohammad Reza Shajarian up to the 1979 revolution. Chapter 4 studies the traditional art of singing classical poetry, the art of avaz. The sections of Shajarian’s own observations on different aspects of Persian music and culture are most valuable.

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  • Simms, Rob, and Amir Koushkani. Mohammad Reza Shajarian’s Avaz in Iran and Beyond, 1979–2010. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2012b.

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    A continuation of Simms and Koushkani 2012a, the volume examines Shajarian’s work and career in post-revolutionary Iran. The transcriptions of the examples discussed in the volume are posted online.

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Theory and Analyses

A number of works have been published that examine the modal system of Persian classical music by both Iranian and Western scholars, such as Farhat 1990, Nettl 1992, and Tala’i 2002 among many others; see also As‘adi 2006, an unpublished dissertation. Wright 1978 analyzes two major 13th-century treatises on Perso-Arabic musical theory. Wright 2009 focuses on the work and career of the singer Touraj Kiaras. Wright analyzes a recorded performance accompanied by a small instrumental ensemble. Tsuge 1974 is the first extended study of the rhythmic aspects of classical vocal tradition (avaz) in relation to poetry. Azadehfar 2006 also focuses on the rhythmic structure of Persian classical music.

  • As‘adi, Hooman. “Mafhum va sākhtār-e dastgāh dar musiqi-ye kelāsik-e Irān: Barresi-ye tatbiqi-ye radif.” PhD diss., Tehran: University of Tarbiyat-e Modares, 2006 (1385).

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    “The Concept and the Structure of the Dastgah in Persian Classical Music” offers a comparative analysis of the radifs of Mirza ʿAbdollah, Hoseyn Qoli, and the singer ʿAbdollah Davami, with numerous examples in musical notation.

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  • Azadehfar, Mohammad Reza. Rhythmic Structure in Iranian Music. Tehran: University of the Arts, 2006.

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    A book version of Azadehfar’s PhD dissertation (University of Sheffield, 2004) published in English by Tehran University of the Arts, it focuses on the rhythmic aspects of Persian classical music, with music examples in notation and on the two accompanying CDs.

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  • Farhat, Hormoz. The Dastgāh Concept in Persian Music. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511470233Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A revised version of Farhat’s PhD dissertation (UCLA, 1965), it is one of the first published in the West analyzing the modal system of Persian classical music. Each of the twelve dastgahs and avazs with their main gushe are treated in individual chapters. An extended appendix presents 145 transcriptions of performances on the tar and setar.

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  • Nettl, Bruno. The Radif of Persian Music: Studies of Structure and Cultural Context in the Classical Music of Iran. Champaign, IL: Elephant & Cat, 1992.

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    A revised edition of a 1987 publication, it presents case studies of three different dastgahs within the radif: Chahargah, Mahur, and Segah, which Nettl examines with his collaborators (Babracki, Foltin, Shenassa, and Shiloah). In the concluding chapters Nettl discusses the cultural context of the radif and its relationship to other aspects of Iranian culture.

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  • Tala’i, Dariush. “A New Approach to the Theory of Persian Art Music: The Radif and the Modal System.” In The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. Vol. 6, The Middle East. Edited by Virginia Danielson, Scott Marcus, and Dwight Reynolds, 865–874. New York: Routledge, 2002.

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    Also Published in Tala’i 2000 (cited under Notation), the article, organized into three main topics, discusses the radif, 20th-century theories of Persian music, and the modal system. The modal structure of the radif is shown in several charts.

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  • Tsuge, Gen’ichi. “Āvāz: A Study of the Rhythmic Aspects in Classical Iranian Music.” PhD diss., Wesleyan University, 1974.

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    A pioneering study of the relation between avaz (the classical vocal tradition) and poetic meters.

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  • Wright, Owen. The Modal System of Arab and Persian Music, A.D. 1250–1300. London Oriental Series 28. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978.

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    An analysis of two major 13th-century treatises: Kitāb al-adwār of Safi al-Din al-Urmawi (d. 1294 CE) and Durrat al-tāj of Qutb al-Din al-Shirāzi (d. 1311 CE), including the Persian text of one section of the latter with English translation and commentary and a long notated example given by Qutb al-Din, here transcribed into staff notation. Wright’s highly technical analysis is intended for specialists.

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  • Wright, Owen. Touraj Kiaras and Persian Classical Music: An Analytical Perspective. Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2009.

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    Starts with an account of the singer’s life and career, a discussion of analytical method, and a valuable section explaining musical terminology, before continuing with several analyses of pieces (from the included CD) in the dastgah Homayun, including instrumental compositions by Faramarz Payvar.

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Notation

The canonic repertoire known as radif was traditionally learned by ear and committed to memory without the use of music notation. Over the course of the 20th century up to the present, Iranian and Western scholars and musicians have transcribed the radif using Western notation. Today, most old masters’ versions of the radif have been published. One of the first publications is Ma‘rufi 1963. During 2006 transcribes the instrumental radif of Mirza ʿAbdollah from a recorded performance by Nur ʿAli Borumand on tar. Tala’i 2000 notates the same radif performed by the author on the setar with his particular method of notation and an excellent analysis. Massoudieh 1997 published the vocal radif sung by the master Mahmud Karimi. Tahmasbi 1995, based on the same radif, notates and analyzes javab-e avaz (response to vocalization), the instrumental response to the singer that is one of the most important aspects of Persian classical music. Another valuable vocal radif is that of ʿAbdollah Davami, compiled in Payvar 1999, which also includes the old tasnifs (see Tasnif). Pirniakan 2001 published the radif of Mirza Hoseyn Qoli, Mirza ʿAbdollah’s brother, for tar.

  • During, Jean. Radif-e Mirzā ʿAbdollāh barā-ye tār va setār, āvā-nevisi va barresi-ye tahlili. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2006.

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    A revised and extended edition of a 1991 publication, it presents the analysis and notation of the radif of Mirza ʿAbdollah for tar and setar according to Nur ʿAli Borumand with an extended introduction in Persian and English (see Discography for related CDs).

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  • Ma‘rufi, Musa. La musique traditionnelle de l’Iran: radif. Tehran: Ministère de la Culture et des Arts, 1963.

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    Musical notation with introductory essay by Mehdi Barkechli. Based on the repertoire of more than one master, the notation of the radif is preceded by a lengthy preface in Persian, with French translation, on the history and theory of Persian music, written by the Iranian musicologist Mehdi Barkechli.

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  • Massoudieh, Mohammad Taqi. Radif-e āvāzi-ye musiqi-ye Irān be ravāyat-e Mahmud Karimi. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 1997.

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    A revised and extended edition of the 1978 publication with major changes in the analysis. It presents the vocal radif of Persian music as transmitted by Mahmud Karimi. His notation of the radif is extremely detailed. The verses with the name of the poet are given at the end of each notation (see Discography for related CDs).

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  • Payvar, Faramarz, ed. Radif-e āvāzi va tasnif-hā-ye qadimi, be ravāyat-e ostad ʿAbdollāh Davāmi. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 1999.

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    Collected and compiled by the Iranian composer and santur (a hammered dulcimer) player, Faramarz Payvar, it contains the notation of the radif of the singer ʿAbdollah Davami as well as 186 old tasnifs. The notation is preceded by a brief biography of some of the composers of tasnifs and a glossary of terms (see Discography for related CDs).

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  • Pirniakan, Dariush. Musiqi-ye dastgāhi-ye Irān: Radif-e Mirzā Hoseyn Qoli be ravāyat-e ʿAli Akbar Shahnāzi. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2001 (1380).

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    The radif of Aqa Hoseyn Qoli (d. 1915) for tar came down to us from his son ʿAli Akbar Shahnazi. The author, Pirniakan, was a disciple of Shahnazi from whom he learned this radif and transcribed it (see Discography for related CDs).

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  • Tahmasbi, Arshad. Javāb-e āvāz bar asās-e radif-e āvāzi be ravāyat-e ostād Mahmud Karimi. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 1995.

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    Based on the vocal radif according to the version of Mahmoud Karimi (see Massoudieh 1997), the volume presents the notation and analysis of the instrumental responses (javabs) to the singer’s phrases. A valuable work for performers and students (see Tahmasbi 2010, cited under Classical Music: Discography/Videography for related CDs).

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  • Tala’i, Dariush. Traditional Persian Art Music: The Radif of Mirzā ʿAbdollāh. Musical notation, commentary and performance by Dariush Tala’i. Traditional Persian Art Music, CD 600, vols. 1–5. Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda, 2000.

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    Book accompanying a set of five compact discs. Excellent pedagogical presentation of the radif, it has a clear visual layout, including analytical outlines of each gushe. Tala’i names each gushe before playing it on the setar on the set of five accompanying CDs. A new expanded edition in Persian with an enriched analytical approach was published in Tehran in 2016, as radif analysis based of the notations of Mirza ʿAbdollah’s radif with annotated visual description. Tehran, Nashr-e Ney.

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Discography/Videography

There have been many commercial recordings published in Iran and abroad on Persian classical music since the mid-20th century. Labels such as Le Chant du Monde, UNESCO, and Ocora (Radio France) were the leading publishers of Persian classical music in the West. Today, the Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art in Iran is the principal publisher of Persian classical and regional music. The radifs of most of the masters of Persian music with notations and recordings have been published. Borumand 2005 and Shahnazi 2003 are based on the teachings of During’s and Pirniakan’s masters, Nur ʿAli Borumand and ʿAli Akbar Shahnazi, respectively (see During 2006 and Pirniakan 2001, cited under Classical Music: Notation). Performers can find the recordings and the notations useful. Karimi 2003 is the performance by the master Mahmud Karimi transcribed in Massoudieh 1997 (cited under Classical Music: Notation). Tahmasbi 2010 presents the instrumental responses (here performed on tar) to the vocal radif of Karimi. Kasa’i 2010 is the radif for ney (a rim-blown flute) performed by the ney player Hassan Kasa’i. Borumand 2005 offers lessons by the musician and educator, Nur ʿAli Borumand (b. 1905–d. 1977) explaining the structure of dastgah-e Mahur. Saba 2011a and Saba 2011b are performances of the radif for violin by Abol-Hassan Saba, recorded by his friends in private gatherings in the last three years of his life. Braad Thomsen 2006 is a documentary film on the most famous contemporary singer of Persian classical music, Mohammad Reza Shajarian. (For more recordings of Persian classical music, see Instruments: Discography/Videography).

  • Borumand, Nur ʿAli. Descriptive analysis of the dastgāh-e Māhur. 4 CDs. MCD-176. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2005.

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    A series of interviews in Persian with Borumand conducted by Hormoz Farhat in Tehran, explaining the structure of the radif through a case study on dastgah-e Mahur. The first two CDs are lessons explaining the structure of dastgah-e Mahur. The other two, within the framework of the same dastgah, explore aspects of the instrumental repertory as well as the styles and performance techniques of the Persian art of singing, avaz.

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  • Borumand, Nur ʿAli. Radif of Mirzā Abdollāh (tār and setār). 5 CDs. MCD-216. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2007.

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    Performed by Nur ʿAli Borumand on setar. For related notation see During 2006 (cited under Notation)

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  • Braad Thomsen, Christian. The Voice of Iran: Mohammad Rezā Shajarian. DVD. In Persian with English subtitles. Copenhagen: Kollektiv Film, 2006.

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    Documentary on Mohammad Reza Shajarian performing and talking about music, poetry, and his inspiration. He is joined by two other renowned musicians, Hossein ‘Alizadeh and Keyhan Kalhor, who accompany him on the tar and the kamanche (a spike fiddle), respectively. Homayoun Shajarian, his son, sings and accompanies on tombak.

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  • Karimi, Mahmud. Vocal Radif of Persian Classical Music. 5CDs. MCD-125. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2003.

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    Performance of the vocal radif by the singer of Persian classical music Mahmud Karimi (for related notation see Massoudieh 1997, cited under Notation).

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  • Kasa’i, Hassan. Radif of the Iranian Music: Ney Playing by Maestro Hassan Kassā’i. CD. Tehran: Barbad Music, 2010.

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    All 12 dastgahs and avazs are performed; each gushe is announced before being played on the ney. The set comes with a booklet “A Story of the Ney” written by master Kasa’i’s son, Mohammad Javad Kasa’i, in Persian with a summary in English, narrating the history of the ney, the construction, and the performers, with many poems from Persian literature on the ney.

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  • Saba, Abol Hassan. Ostād Abol Hassan Sabā, Solo Violin (2). 2 CDs. MCD-309. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2011a.

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    The first CD is dedicated to Saba’s performance of dastgah-e Shur, avaz-e Abu‘ata, and avaz-e Dashti accompanied by Hoseyn Tehrani on zarb (a goblet drum, also called tombak) and vocals; the second CD to dastgah-e Segah, accompanied on vocals by ʿAli Mostofian, avaz-e Shushtari, and avaz-e Bayat-e Esfahan with accompaniment by Hoseyn Tehrani.

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  • Saba, Abol Hassan. Ostād Abol Hassan Sabā, Solo Violin (3). Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2011b. 2 CDs. MCD-310.

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    The first CD is dedicated to Saba’s performance of dastgah-e Chahargah, Segah, and avaz-e Afshari; the second to dastgah-e Nava and dastgah-e Rast-Panjgah.

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  • Shahnazi, ʿAli Akbar. Radif of Hoseyn Qoli. 3 CDs. MCD-108. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2003.

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    According to the version of Hoseyn Qoli’s son, performed by the master ʿAli Akbar Shahnazi on tar. For related notation see Pirniakan 2001, cited under Notation.

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  • Tahmasbi, Arshad. Javāb-e āvāz. 4 CDs. MCD-283. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2010.

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    Instrumental responses performed by Arshad Tahmasbi on tar based on Mahmud Karimi’s version (see Karimi 2003 in this section). For related notation see Tahmasbi 1995 (cited under Notation)

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Composition and Improvisation

Radif is not only an ordered repertoire with pedagogical functions; it also includes primary units or gushes for improvisation. Blum 1998 is an excellent essay on improvisation from a cross-cultural and multidisciplinary perspective. Many books and articles treating different aspects of Persian classical music also discuss the place of improvisation and composition in Persian music (e.g., Nooshin 2015, cited under Classical Music; Wright 2009, cited under Classical Music: Theory and Analyses). Mohafez 2015 presents the notation and analysis of the compositions of Iranian musicians at the Ottoman court.

Discography

The radif is also a point of departure for composition and improvisation, as in Parisa and Vaziri 2007, Meshkatiyan 2005, and ʿAlizadeh 1998. Some scholars and musicians have tried reconstructing old compositions, as in Sarkhāne and Mohafez 2013.

Tasnif

Tasnif (composition) is a vocal precomposed metrical genre. A lighter variant of the genre is called tarane (song). The texts of tasnifs come from classical, popular, or contemporary poems. They are performed in many social environments, such as radio broadcasts, recordings, films, and private gatherings, as well as nightclubs. In the beginning of the 20th century, around the Constitutional Revolution, tasnifs with patriotic themes became a vehicle for revolutionary ideals; the poet and musician Abol-Qasem ʿAref Qazvini (b. 1882–d. 1934) was the leading musician and poet of this genre, as explored in part of Chehabi 1999. Caton 1983 is a pioneering study of tasnif. Lewisohn 2008 focuses on the famous and prestigious radio program Golhā and its founder. Tasnif formed a significant part of this program.

  • Caton, Margaret. “The Classical tasnif: A Genre of Persian Vocal Music.” PhD diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 1983.

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    Approaching tasnif from historical, cultural, and structural perspectives, this study is the result of three years of fieldwork in Iran in the 1970s.

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  • Chehabi, Hooshang E. “From Revolutionary Tasnif to Patriotic Surud: Music and Nation-Building in Pre-World War II Iran.” Journal of Persian Studies 37 (1999): 143–154.

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    Organized in sections, it deals with music at the beginning of Westernization, examining the patriotic tasnif and its bards, the influential musician and music educator ʿAli-Naqi Vaziri and his role in the modernization of Iranian music, and national hymns (sorud) and public musical education.

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  • Lewisohn, Jane. “Flowers of Persian Song and Music: Dāvud Pirniā and the Genesis of the Golhā Programs.” Journal of Persianate Studies 1 (2008): 79–101.

    DOI: 10.1163/187471608784772742Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Survey of the Golhā radio programs broadcast from 1956 through 1979 on the Iranian National Radio, and the important role of its founder and producer Davud Pirnia.

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Discography

One of the most valuable recordings of tasnif is Payvar 2006, which can be used in conjunction with Payvar 1999 (cited under Notation). Golhā was a well-known radio program broadcast from 1956 through 1979 in which many classical musicians participated, and which is now available online. Banan 2012 features tasnifs performed by Gholam-Hossein Banan (d. 1986), the most prominent singer of the Golhā programs. Panjereh-ye omid is an anthology of tasnifs from the period of the Constitutional Revolution.

  • Banan, Gholam-Hossein. Songs of Banān. 6 CDs, MCD 325. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2012.

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    A collection of some of the best known tasnifs and taranes composed by Nasrollah Zarrinpanje and performed by Gholam-Hossein Banan and the Zarrinpanje Orchestra. With liner notes in Persian and an abstract in English.

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  • Golhā.

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    This radio program featured sung and recited poetry and instrumental pieces, mostly arrangements and orchestrations of Persian classical music, along with newer compositions. Many renowned female singers, such as Delkash and Marzieh, performed on Golhā programs. The complete archive of the Golhā broadcasts is available and accessible to scholars and musicians for research purposes at the World Music section of the National Sound Archive in the British Library.

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  • Panjereh-ye omid. MCD-258. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2008.

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    An anthology of tasnifs from the period of the Constitutional Revolution, mostly by Abol- Qasem Aref Qazvini and Sheyda (the pen name for Mirza ʿAli-Akbar Shirazi) performed here by Mohsen Keramati accompanied by ney, santur, tar, and tombak.

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  • Payvar, Faramarz, comp. 186 Old Tasnifs. 5 CDs. MCD-209. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2006.

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    Compiled by Faramarz Payvar and performed by the singer Mohsen Keramati accompanied by Parisa Kashefi on the kamanche, the recording presents tasnifs from the Qajar period according to master Abdollah Davami (for the related transcription see Payvar 1999, cited under Notation)

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Popular Music

In the past couple of decades, popular music (banned from 1979–1997) has become a growing field of Iranian music studies. Nooshin 2005 examines the meanings and significance of pop music in Iran from the 1979 revolution to the aftermath of President Khatami’s election in 1997. Popular Iranian music comes from the motrebi tradition of entertainers who performed in celebrations and festivities. Some popular musicians are trained in classical music. Toward the end of 20th century, the motrebi tradition gradually declined and gave way to a great variety of popular musics drawn from both Iranian and non-Iranian styles, as Nettl 1972 demonstrates regarding the 1960s. Breyley and Fatemi 2016 examines the history of popular music from motrebi tradition to losanjelesi, the pop music produced in Los Angeles. Hemmasi 2010 explores Iranian popular music in Los Angeles, home to one of the largest Persian diaspora communities in North America. The focus of Hemmasi 2017 is Googoosh (b. 1950), the female icon of Iranian pop music (see also Zamani 2000, cited under Popular Music: Discography/Videography). Nooshin 2016 discusses the discourses of religion within Iranian popular music since the late 1990s. Namjoo 2015 is a personal account by a musician in post-revolutionary Iran who has been hailed as “the Bob Dylan of Iran.” For the politics of the Islamic Republic toward different genres of music, such as popular music, see Youssefzadeh 2000 (cited under History) and Youssefzadeh 2018 (cited under Music in Gender and Dance). Siamdoust 2017 surveys the politics of music in post-revolutionary Iran, highlighting the life and work of four musicians. Semati 2017 is a special issue of the journal Popular Communication dedicated to popular music in Iran.

  • Breyley, G. J., and Sasan Fatemi. Iranian Music and Popular Entertainment: From Motrebi to Losanjelesi and Beyond. London and New York: Routledge, 2016.

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    Examines the role and the history of the marginalized character of the urban popular entertainer (motreb) in Iran and his repertoire (part of Fatemi 2005 (cited under Discography) PhD diss. University of Paris Nanterre), and explores the contemporary popular music produced in diaspora, especially in Los Angeles, California. The book is illustrated with lyrics, musical notations, and analysis.

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  • Hemmasi, Farzaneh. “Iranian Popular Music in Los Angeles: Mobilizing Media, Nation, and Politics.” PhD diss., Columbia University, 2010.

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    After a discussion on popular music in pre-revolutionary Iran and changes after the revolution, the author investigates the significant production of Iranian popular music in Los Angeles and the reception in Iran of this product of exiles.

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  • Hemmasi, Farzaneh. “Googoosh’s Voice: An Iranian Icon in Silence and Song.” In Vamping the Stage: Female Voices of Asian Modernities. Edited by Andrew Weintraub and Bart Barendregt, 234–257. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2017.

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    Focuses on the “metaphoric language of voice, speech, and the song” in the sung performances of Googoosh (b. 1950) in post-revolutionary Iran.

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  • Namjoo, Mohsen. “The Revolution and Music: A Personal Odyssey.” In Politics and Culture in Contemporary Iran: Challenging the Status Quo. Edited by Abbas Milani and Larry Diamond, 179–216. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2015.

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    An autobiographical account by Mohsen Namjoo (b. 1976), a controversial and audacious figure in Persian popular music, and his journey from Torbat-e Jam in western Khorasan, where he was born, to the United States, where he is now living and working.

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  • Nettl, Bruno. “Persian Popular Music in 1969.” Ethnomusicology 16 (1972): 218–239.

    DOI: 10.2307/849722Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A study of different styles of popular music available in Tehran in the late 1960s, with analysis and notation of sixteen examples of 45-rpm records in these styles.

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  • Nooshin, Laudan. “Subversion and Countersubversion: Power, Control, and Meaning in the New Iranian Pop Music.” In Music, Power, and Politics. Edited by Annie J. Randall, 231–272. London: Routledge, 2005.

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    Explores the changing meaning of Iranian popular music from the 1979 revolution and the banning of pop music through to its gradual legalization after the 1997 election of Mohammad Khatami. Focuses on how the discourses on and around music served issues such as identity and power.

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  • Nooshin, Laudan. “Discourses of Religiosity in Post-1997 Iranian Popular Music.” In Islam and Popular Culture. Edited by Karin Van Nieuwkerk, Mark Levine, and Martin Stokes, 242–257. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2016.

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    Discusses the relationship between religiosity and certain forms of popular music by presenting two case studies: Ali Reza Assar and the band Arian.

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  • Semati, Mehdi, ed. Special Issue: Popular Music of Iran Popular Communication 15.3 (2017).

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    The articles in the special issue of this journal on popular music in Iran include an introduction by Semati and five articles by Nooshin, Hemmasi, Steward, Naqvi, and Maghazei.

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  • Siamdoust, Nahid. Soundtrack of the Revolution: The Politics of Music in Iran. Studies in Middle Eastern and Islamic Societies and Cultures. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2017.

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    Addressed to the general public, the book is the revised version of author’s PhD dissertation (University of Oxford, 2013), looking at musical life in four periods of post-revolutionary Iran, and highlighting one genre of music and one musician for each period: Mohammad Reza Shajarian, ʿAlireza Assar, Mohsen Namjoo, and the rapper known by his stage name Hichkas (lit. “nobody”).

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Discography/Videography

Radio Javān offers various styles of contemporary Iranian popular music. Namjoo 2011 is the recording of a live concert at Stanford University. Zamani 2000 is a documentary on the celebrated pop singer Googoosh (b. 1950). Many artists in Iran and outside of the country have voiced their concerns about music and its restrictions, such as the Iranian/Kurdish film director Bahman Ghobadi in Ghobadi 2011 (see also Ghobadi 2008, cited under Music in Gender and Dance: Discography/Videography; and Ghobadi 2002, cited under Kurdistan and Lorestan: Discography/Videography).

  • Ghobadi, Bahman, dir. Kasi az gorbehā-ye irāni khabar nadāreh. New York: IFC Films, 2011.

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    The film (“No One Knows about Persian Cats”) shows Tehran’s underground musical life and the difficulties that young musicians, essentially playing themselves, must endure in starting a band and their dream of performing in Europe. The film, which was produced without government authorization, was banned, and its filmmaker and the musicians went into exile after the film was shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 2009, where it won the Special Jury Prize.

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  • Namjoo, Mohsen. Alaki. CD. Payam Entertainment Inc., 2011.

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    Alaki is a compilation of nine compositions and arrangements by Namjoo set to lines from great Iranian poets and to his own lyrics, with Namjoo performing on vocals, setar, and acoustic guitar accompanied by other vocalists and instrumentalists.

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  • Radio Javān.

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    Broadcasts varieties of pop music by Iranian performers in Iran and in diaspora.

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  • Zamani, Farhad, dir. Googoosh, Iran’s Daughter. DVD. FRF 911 283D. First Run Features, 2000.

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    A documentary on the Iranian pop icon Googoosh (b. 1950), with accounts and interviews with musicians, lyricists, journalists, and scholars; illustrated with clips from her films and others evoking the history of Iran in the second half of the 20th century. In English and Persian, with English subtitles.

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Music in Gender and Dance

Since the 1979 revolution, women have been forbidden to dance or sing solo in front of a mixed-gender audience in the public sphere of the Islamic Republic, as discussed in both Chehabi 2000 and Youssefzadeh 2018. Accounts and representations of female musicians and dancers are found in abundance in Persian literature and art, from pre-Islamic times to the present. Women had a notable role in the Persian classical, semi-classical, and popular musics of both Iran and the West before the 1979 revolution. Maleki 2001 surveys the history of female musicians from mythological times to the present. Khaleqi 2011 (cited under History) is a valuable source of information on female musicians, from the Qajar period (1785 to 1925) to the second half of the 20th century. Khaleqi 2000 presents the life and work of the female singer Qamar ol-Moluk Vaziri (b. 1905–d. 1959). DeBano 2009 is an account of an annual state-sponsored women-only festival that began in 1999. Shahbazi and Friend 1993 surveys the history of dance in Iran. Rezvani 1962 is a pioneering work on theater and dance in Iran, and Shay 1999 is the first full study of Iranian dance. Meftahi 2016 is a historiographical study of dance in modern Iran and the sociopolitical discourses around it.

  • Chehabi, Houshang. “Voices Unveiled: Women Singers in Iran.” In Iran and Beyond: Essays in Middle Eastern History in Honor of Nikki R. Keddie. Edited by Rudi Mathee and Beth Baron, 151–166. Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda, 2000.

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    Discusses issues such as the female voice from the point of view of Muslim jurisprudence, as well as the role of the women in pre-revolutionary Iran, focusing on three famous female singers: Qamar ol-Moluk Vaziri, Mahvash, and Googoosh.

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  • DeBano, Wendy S. “Singing against Silence: Celebrating Women and Music at the Fourth Jasmine Festival.” In Music and the Play of Power in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. Edited by Laudan Nooshin, 229–244. Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2009.

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    Explores various aspects of women’s musical performance in Iran, focusing on a state- sponsored women’s music festival, through which DeBano discusses issues such as gender and women’s empowerment.

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  • Khaleqi, Zohre. Avāye mehrabāni: Yadvāre-ye Qamar ol Moluk Vaziri. Tehran: Donyā-ye mādar, 2000.

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    A survey of the life and work of the most prominent female singer of the first half of the 20th century, Qamar ol-Moluk Vaziri, who has often been compared to her Egyptian contemporary, Umm Kulthum.

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  • Maleki, Toka. Zanān-e musiqi-ye Irān: Az osture tāemruz. Tehran: Khorshid, 2001.

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    A survey of the history of female musicians from mythological to modern times.

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  • Meftahi, Ida. Gender and Dance in Modern Iran: Biopolitics on Stage. London and New York: Routledge, 2016.

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    A revised version of Meftahi’s PhD dissertation (University of Toronto, 2013), the book focuses on the transformation of the staged dancing body, and mainly on three theatrical Iranian dance genres: the “national dance” of the Pahlavi era (1925–1979); cabaret dancing of the post-1940 era; and the post-revolutionary genre called “rhythmic movements.”

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  • Rezvani, Medjid. Le théâtre et la danse en Iran. Paris: Maisonneuve et Larose, 1962.

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    A survey of the history of theater and dance in Iran from antiquity to modern times. The appendix gives the transliteration and translation of songs from different regions of Iran and the translation of a taʿziyeh text.

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  • Shahbazi, A. Shapur, and Robyn C. Friend. “Dance.” In Encyclopædia Iranica Online. 1993.

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    A survey of the history of dance in Iran divided into three sections by period: pre-Islamic time, the Islamic period, and modern Persian dance. With three audio examples of dance tunes in the online version. This article is also available in print in Encyclopædia Iranica, Vol. 6, Fasc. 6, pp. 640–645 (1993).

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  • Shay, Anthony. Choreophobia: Solo Improvised Dance in the Iranian World. Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda, 1999.

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    The focus of this book is to analyze the “ambiguous and negative reactions to solo improvised dance” in the Iranian cultural sphere, including the Iranian diaspora.

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  • Youssefzadeh, Ameneh. “Veiled Voices: Music and Censorship in Post-revolutionary Iran.” In The Oxford Handbook of Music Censorship. Edited by Patricia Hall, 657–674. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

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    After a brief history of censorship and music in Iran, this chapter examines music censorship in post-revolutionary Iran, from the 1979–1989 revolutionary period up to the Ahmadinejad era (2005–2013). Some of the materials are also discussed in Youssefzadeh 2000 (cited under History). Also available online by subscription.

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Discography/Videography

The situation of female musicians is ambiguous in contemporary Iran. Although female voices can legally be heard in recordings in the context of lullabies, work songs, and wedding and funeral music, and the prohibition of female singing in public still continues, there are many recordings of and films on female singing published in Iran and in the West (see Zamani 2000, cited under Popular Music: Discography/Videography). Both Ghobadi 2008 and Ghobadi 2002 (cited under Kurdistan and Lorestan: Discography/Videography) also deal with the restrictions upon female musicians. Many recordings of dance tunes from various regions of Iran were collected and published by Mansureh Sabetzadeh (see Regional Traditions: Discography). The Association pour le Développement de la Musique Persane, a new label in France, has published recordings of Iranian female singers from the mid-20th century, such as Ruhangiz 2017 and Vaziri 2014. Singing in Shadow is a collection of classical singing by thirty-four female Iranian performers. Female vocalists of the second half of the 20th century were the prominent singers on the radio (see Golhā, cited under Tasnif: Discography). See also the performance of Sima Bina in Bina 1999 (cited under Khorasan: Discography) and Parisa and Vaziri 2007 (cited under Composition and Improvisation: Discography).

  • Ghobadi, Bahman, dir. Half Moon. DVD. ICA Films, 2008.

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    Shows a long and troublesome journey of a Kurdish group of male musicians and a female singer across the border between Iranian and Iraqi Kurdistan to go to Iraq for a concert, and the problems they have to face during their journey, especially since women singing in public was forbidden after the 1979 revolution. In Persian and Kurdish with English subtitles.

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  • Ruhangiz. Les chants de Ruhangiz: Iranian Classical Music. 2 CDs. ADMP-7. Lyon, France: Association pour le Développement de la Musique Persane, 2017.

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    One of the rare CDs representing the performances of Ruhangiz (b. 1904–d. 1984). The first CD contains compositions by ʿAli Naqi Vaziri, and the second presents works by various composers.

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  • Singing in Shadow: Anthology of Classical Female Voices in Iran, Today. 4 CDs. ADMP-5. Lyon, France: Association pour le Développement de la Musique Persane, 2015.

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    With a booklet in French, English, and Persian, this collection presents an anthology of Iranian classical female singers (thirty-four singers) and is aimed at introducing young classical singers, who learned classical repertoire in the post-revolutionary era, including some of their masters from the older generation such as Parisa, Sima Bina, and Hengameh Akhavan.

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  • Vaziri, Qamar ol-Moluk. Qamar ol-Moluk Vaziri: Iranian Classical Music. 2 CDs. ADM3–1. Lyon, France: Association pour le Développement de la Musique Persane, 2014.

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    An anthology of tasnifs and avazs in various modes.

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Instruments

Iran has a large number of musical instruments. Some variants of the instruments used in Persian classical music are also found in regional traditions; others belong to a specific tradition such as dotar, tanbur (both long-necked lutes), and ney-e anban (a bagpipe), discussed under different regions. Few works other than encyclopedia articles (see Reference Works) provide a case study of a single instrument, such as Movahed 1993, Caton 1971, and Tabar 2013. A section in During 1984 (cited under Classical Music) offers valuable organological information on the principal instruments used in the classical music ensemble. Darvishi 2001 and Darvishi 2005 are two volumes of an ongoing encyclopedia of instruments. They represent the first complete survey and inventory of Iranian instruments and a major contribution to the understanding of the musical culture of Iran. Tsuge 2013 studies the mid-14th-century Persian treatise Kanz al-tuhaf (Treasure of Rarities), the earliest source on musical instruments in the Islamic world. ʿAbdolqader Ibn Gheibi 2009, an edition of an influential 15th-century Persian treatise, devotes a substantial chapter to the comparative description of instruments.

  • ʿAbdolqader Ibn Gheibi. Jāmi ʿal-alhān. Edited by Babak Khazra’i. Tehran: Iranian Academy of Arts, 2009.

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    In Persian, “Compiler of Melodies” lists forty-three instruments and describes a wide variety of chordophones and aerophones.

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  • Caton, Margaret. “The Kamānche Style of Ustad Faydullah of the Province of Gilan, Iran.” MA diss., University of California, 1971.

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    Dedicated to the analysis of one of the styles of kamanche playing in the music of Gilan in northern Iran, performed by the master Ostad Faydullah, with illustrations and examples in musical notation.

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  • Darvishi, Mohammad Reza. Dā’eratolma‘ref-e sāzhā-ye Irān. Vol. 1, Sāzhā-ye zehi-ye mezrābi va ārshe-i navāhi-ye Irān. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Arts, 2001.

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    “Encyclopaedia of Musical Instruments in Iran, Vol. 1, Strings and Fiddles in Regional Music” is a comprehensive survey on the various types of string instruments in Iran. It provides detailed information on the structure, tuning, and playing styles of types of bowed and plucked instruments found in regional and classical traditions. The book was awarded the Klaus P. Wachsmann Prize of the Society for Ethnomusicology in 2003 for the best publication in the field of musical instrument research and organology.

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  • Darvishi, Mohammad Reza. Dā’eratolma‘ref-e sāzhā-ye Irān. Vol. 2, Pust sedā-hā va khod sedā-hā-ye navāhi-ye Irān. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Arts, 2005 [1384].

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    Like the first volume, the second volume, “Membranophones and Idiophones in Regional Music,” offers a comprehensive survey providing detailed information and illustrated with photographs. Each volume ends with several full-page color photographs of instruments performed in their context.

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  • Movahed, Azin. “The Persian Ney: A Study of the Instrument and its Musical Style.” PhD diss., University of Illinois, 1993.

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    Provides organological information as well as information on the development of the playing techniques of the Persian ney in 19th-century to present-day musical practices. An extended section discusses the role of Hassan Kasa’i (see Classical Music: Discography/Videography) in the dissemination of the current practice.

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  • Tabar, Hassan. Le santur persan. Paris: Paul Geuthner, 2013.

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    Revised version of the author’s PhD dissertation (University of Paris Sorbonne, 2011) discussing history and organology, the role of the santur’s masters, and the learning and teaching of the repertoire. It comes with a DVD of performances by various masters as well as by the author himself.

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  • Tsuge, Gen’ichi. “Musical Instruments Described in a Fourteenth-Century Persian Treatise Kanz al-tuhaf.” Galpin Society Journal 66 (2013): 165–184.

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    Translation from Persian to English and a study of the third discourse (maqale) in Kanz al-tuhaf, devoted to a description of nine musical instruments with illustrations and a description of how to make silk and gut strings.

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Discography/Videography

Recordings of the radif for different instruments, such as tar, setar, ney, and violin, are available (see Classical Music: Discography/Videography). Master instrumentalists of the new generation have published many recordings, such as Khaladj 1994, a performance on the zarb. Nazeri Shahram and Kamkar 1992 offers the performances of acclaimed musicians such as the Persian-Kurdish classical singer Shahram Nazeri, master of tar and setar Dariush Tala’i, and Bijan Kamkar (a member of the Kurdish family ensemble Kamkaran; see Kamkar Ensemble 1999, cited under Kurdistan and Lorestan: Discography/Videography) performing on daff and tombak. The documentary Kiarostami 2005 on the kamanche portrays a journey to various regions of Iran.

Composers of the Modern Era

Western-trained composers whose works are performed internationally, such as Fozieh Majd (b. 1938), Alireza Mashayekhi (b. 1940), and the Iranian composer in diaspora Reza Vali (b. 1952), combine aspects of Iranian music with Western or other Asian compositional techniques. Some classical musicians, such as Keyhan Kalhor (b. 1963), collaborate with international ensembles.

Discography/Videography

Majd 2014 is a recording of Majd’s compositions from the 1970s, Mashayekhi 2016 presents Mashayekhi’s recent compositions, and Vali 2004 is a recording of Vali’s compositions from the 1990s. Keyhan Kalhor’s composition “Gallop of a Thousand Horses” is in the compilation Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble 2004. In the documentary Scheffer 2009, the Dutch director follows the Iranian composer Nader Mashayekhi (b. 1958) back to Tehran after thirty years in Vienna.

  • Ma, Yo-Yo, and the Silk Road Ensemble. Silk Road Journeys: Beyond the Horizon. CD. Sony Classical 93962. Sony Classical, 2004.

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    The Kurdish/Persian composer and virtuoso of kamānche Keyhan Kalhor is one of the members of the Silk Road Ensemble, and contributes a composition to this compilation. His “Gallop of a Thousand Horses” is a fusion of Western, Iranian, and Asian musical elements.

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  • Majd, Fozieh. Shabkuk. CD. MCD-368. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Arts, 2014.

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    A set of four pieces, “Shabkuk” and “Hell is But a Sparkle of Our Futile Suffering,” both for strings, were commissioned by the former NIRTV Chamber Orchestra. The “Song of Leyli” and “Petite pièce” were originally composed for a film. The former is written for an ensemble of three vocal parts with violin, kamanche, viola, and ney, and the latter for flute, 2 violins, viola, cello, and double bass.

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  • Mashayekhi, ʿAlireza. Grand Concerto. CD. MCD-470. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Arts, 2016.

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    Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra, no. 2 op. 215, “Grand Concerto”; and Concerto for Violoncello, Strings, Recorders and Percussion, no. 4, op. 233 are among the recent compositions ofʿAlireza Mashayekhi, a professor of composition at Tehran University and permanent conductor of Iranian Orchestra for New Music.

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  • Scheffer, Frank, dir. To Be and Not to Be: The Tehran Philharmonic Orchestra. DVD. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Pieter van Huystee Film and VPRO and ZDF/3sat, 2009.

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    Captures the composer and conductor Nader Mashayekhi during rehearsals with young musicians of the Tehran Philharmonic Orchestra, and his reflections on life and the meaning of music and poetry. Interesting reflections by young male and female musicians in the Orchestra and by Jamshid Mashayeki, the composer’s father, an actor. In German and Persian with English subtitles.

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  • Vali, Reza. Flute Concerto, Deylamān, Folk Songs (Set No. 10). Naxos 8.557224. Nexos, 2004.

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    All pieces were composed in the 1990s; Concerto for Flute and Orchestra was commissioned by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project; Folk Songs (set no. 10) for Voice and Orchestra consists of four songs based on Persian folk songs. In Deylaman the ney and the ud (a short-necked lute) are added to the Western symphony orchestra.

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Religious Minorities

Little research has been carried out on musical practices of the religious minorities in Iran (e.g., Zoroastrians, Baha’i, Armenian and Assyrian Christians, and Jews). Loeb 1972, Sarshar 2009, and Chaoulli 2006 study Jewish musicians in Iran and their role in Persian classical and popular music. Rapport 2016, while not exclusively about Iran, contributes to the little exising literature on religious minorities. In the first volume of Khaleqi 2011 (cited under History), there are accounts of Jewish and Armenian musicians in 19th- and 20th-century Iran. Mirza 2004, through fieldwork in India and Iran, and archival recordings, studies Zoroastrian prayers.

Discography

There aren’t many commercial recordings of the music of religious minorities. Darvishi 2015 gives examples of Zoroastrian prayers in the Yazd region.

  • Darvishi, Mohammad Reza, comp. “Regional Music of Iran 60.” In Iranian Zoroastrian Ritual Religious Music. CD. MCD-443. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2015.

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    Some examples of singing religious texts gata and avesta recorded by Mohammad Reza Darvishi in the region of Yazd in 1991 and 1993. The notes do not provide any information about the pieces.

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Religious Ritual and Ceremonial Traditions

Various processions and mourning rituals such as rowzeh-khani (singing laments), sine-zani (beating the chest), and taʿziyeh (mourning, also called shabih, meaning “likeness” in Persian), are associated with Shiʿa Islam. Performed in most regions of Iran, they are usually practiced during the first ten days of Muharram, surrounding the martyrdom of Imam Hossein and members of his family at Karbala in AH 80/681 CE. Caron 1968 is a survey of Shiʿa musical and religious practices in Iran, which are also discussed in detail in a section of Blum 2001 (cited under Regional Traditions). During 1988 is on the concept of samaʿ (mystical audition) in Muslim tradition. Afzuntar 2012 gives the texts of several nowhes (laments) from the Qazvin region. Reckord 1987 is a valuable study of religious music in Iran.

  • Afzuntar, Said. Nowhe-hāye dastgāhi-ye Qazvin. Tehran: Sure-ye Mehr, 2012.

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    In Persian. Before providing excerpts of more than fifty nowhe, Afzunfar presents a study of poetic meter.

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  • Caron, Nelly. “La musique shiitte en Iran.” In Encyclopédie des musiques sacrées. Vol. 1. Edited by Jacques Porte. Paris: Labergerie, 1968.

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    A brief survey of various Shiʿa religious practices in Iran, such as recitation of the Qurʾan, azan (call to prayer), monajat (a devotional prayer), rowze, and sine-zani. Half of the article is dedicated to theatrical and musical aspects of taʿziyeh.

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  • During, Jean. Musique et extase: L’audition mystique dans la tradition soufie. Paris: Albin Michel, 1988.

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    Originally part of During’s Thèse de Doctorat d’État (1986), this is an introduction to the concept of samaʿ in the Muslim world for the nonspecialist. The book relies heavily on secondary sources.

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  • Reckord, Thomas Martin. “Chant in Popular Iranian Shiʿism.” PhD diss., University of California-Los Angeles, 1987.

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    The main focus of the work is to study the characteristics of different genres of religious practices, such as madh, musibat, and rawayat, in rowze (lament), the most widespread Shiʿa mourning ceremony in Iran.

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Taʿziyeh

Most of the publications on taʿziyeh deal principally with its historical and theatrical aspects rather than music, as in Chelkowski 2010, with the exception of Blum 2005, Massoudieh 1988, and Caron 1975.

  • Blum, Stephen. “Compelling Reasons to Sing: The Music of Taʿziyeh.” TDR: The Drama Review 49.4 (2005): 86–90.

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    Studies the use of voices in taʿziyeh, the relationship of music and prosody, and the use of instruments, based on Blum’s field recordings made in Khorasan in 1969.

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  • Caron, Nelly. “The Taʿzieh: The Sacred Theatre of Iran.” World of Music 17.4 (1975): 3–10.

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    A brief introduction on the history, context, setting and music of taʿziyeh.

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  • Chelkowski, Peter J., ed. Eternal Performance: Taʿziyeh and Other Shiite Rituals. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010.

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    Dedicated to different aspects of taʿziyeh and other Shiʿa rituals in Iran, but also in Pakistan, India, Lebanon, and the United States, this is an expanded version of a special issue of TDR: The Drama Review, titled “From Karbala to New York: Taʿziyeh on the Move,” edited by Chelkowski in 2005.

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  • Massoudieh, Mohammad Taqi. Musiqi-ye mazhabi-ye Irān. Vol 1, Musiqi-ye ta‘zieh. Tehran: Sorush, 1988.

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    First attempt to analyze and transcribe in a modified Western notation the music of two taʿziyehs: taʿziyeh shahadat-e emam and taʿziyeh shahadat-e haftdad-o do tan. The transcriptions and analyses are preceded by a historical overview, the texts of the taʿziyeh, a description of the use of different dastgah and gushe, and tables showing which of these are used in each section of the play.

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Zurkhāneh

Zurkhaneh (The House of Strength) is a traditional gymnasium where urban men’s athletic exercises are coordinated with music by the leader (morshed or master), with the sounds of a large zarb, sung verses, and a bell (zang). Chehabi 2006 is an introduction to zurkhaneh. Najafi Tehrani and Hejazi 1991 is a manual of the rhythms used in zurkhaneh.

Discography/Videography

Ashrafi 2009 provides samples of Shiʿa religious practices from various regions of Iran. The documentaries Baronnet 1972 and Spinetti 2014, on taʿziyeh and zurkhaneh, respectively, are very informative. Old Hail 2006 is the performance of a morshed in zurkhaneh.

  • Ashrafi, Nasri, comp. Religious Music of Iranian Shiites. 4 CDs. MCD-275. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2009.

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    The first CD is dedicated to different vocal forms such as emam-khani, ʿAbbas-khani, rajaz-khani, and bahre tavvil; the second to taʿziyeh in different regions of Iran; the third to sahar-khani, monajat, azan, and Qurʾanic recitation; and the fourth is dedicated to nowhe and pish-khani.

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  • Baronnet, Jean, dir. Le lion de dieu au théâtre ta’zieh à Natanza. Paris: Office de radiodiffusion-télévision française, 1972.

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    A documentary on the taʿziyeh performed in the city of Natanz in Isfahan Province in the early 1970s, with commentary in French explaining its significance. Available online with subscription.

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  • Old Hail: Zarb-e Zurkhāneh and Vocals. CD. MCD-218. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2006.

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    Recording of a performance by the morshed (master) Mehregan, playing on the large zarb the rhythms that coordinate the movements of athletes in zurkhaneh and reciting verses on morality and advice.

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  • Spinetti, Federico, dir. Zurkhaneh—The House of Strength: Music and Martial Arts of Islam. DVD. University of Alberta and Lab 80 film, 2014.

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    A new update and complement to the two older documentaries on zurkhaneh in French, by Charles Brabant (1963) and Jean-Claude Lubtchansky (1971) (available online by subscription). Spinetti looks at zurkhaneh in different settings: in several Iranian cities, in Toronto, Canada, and at the world championship in Busan, South Korea. In Persian and English with English, Italian, and Persian subtitles.

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Regional Traditions

Regional musical traditions are very rich in Iran, and poetry is sung in many different languages and dialects. Cultural practices, including music, are shared with people across the border to some extent, so that the repertory of the different ethnic groups of Iran presents many parallels with the same ethnic groups living outside of Iran’s political boundaries, and many performers are bilingual or multilingual. A researcher who wants to study the music of these regions can benefit by reading the entries on Kurdistan, Turkmenistan, Baluchistan, Azerbaijan, and the Gulf Regions in Grove Music Online, the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: The Middle East, and Encyclopædia Iranica Online (see Reference Works). After some more general resources, resources for border regions are presented individually; note that for some regions there are not many resources available. Blum 2001, the section on Iran in Grove Music Online, gives the best introduction to the musical diversity of Iran. Massoudieh 1992, Massoudieh 1980 (cited under Khorasan), and Massoudieh 1988 (cited under Taʿziyeh) give more value to stylistic analyses based on transcribed examples, rather than studying the sociocultural context. Chodzko 1842 is the first full-length English translation of a Turkic oral epic. Darvishi 2001 and Darvishi 2005 (cited under Instruments) survey, respectively, plucked and bowed string instruments and membranophones and idiophones of Iran’s many regions.

  • Blum, Stephen. “Iran, III: Regional and Popular Traditions.” In Grove Music Online. Edited by Deane Root, 2001.

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    Covering many topics, genres, and instruments in diverse musical traditions in various regions of Iran, Blum arranges his section into five broad categories (1) Introduction, (2) Ritual and Ceremony, (3) Instruments and Ensembles, (4) Sung Poetry, (5) Entertainment. Available online by subscription.

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  • Chodzko, Alexander. Specimens of the Popular Poetry of Persia as Found in the Adventures and Improvisations of Kurroglou, the Bandit Minstrel of Northern Persia; and in the Songs of the People Inhabiting the Shores of the Caspian Sea. London: Oriental Translation Fund, 1842.

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    Collected and translated by the Polish diplomat Alexander Chodzko (b. 1804–d. 1891), with philological and historical notes. More than half of the book is dedicated to the Koroglu/Gorogli epic, and the rest to lyric and narrative songs from Turkmen, Tatars, Persians, and inhabitants of the shores of the Caspian Sea. A section of the book gives examples of the texts in different dialects (e.g. Persian, Turkish, Mazanderani, Gilaki) in Arabic script and English commentary, and the notation of nine songs.

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  • Massoudieh, Mohammad Taghi. “Der Begriff des maqam in der persischen Volksmusik.” In Von der Vielfalt musikalischer Kultur. Edited by Rüdiger Schumacher, 311–334. Anif, Austria: Ursula Müller-Speiser, 1992.

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    Eight notations and analyses of recordings from eastern Khorasan, northern Khorasan, the Turkmen plain, Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, and Lorestan.

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Discography

Many CDs of Iran’s diverse musical traditions have been released by the Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, but often without scholarly liner notes. Outstanding recordings of musical practices in different regions of Iran are found in the recordings made by the composer and musicologist Fozieh Majd in the 1970s with the sponsorship of the former NIRTV (National Iranian Radio and Television), many of which have been released in recent years by Mahoor, with excellent liner notes in Persian and English (see Khorasan: Discography, Azerbaijan: Discography, Baluchistan: Discography). Fatemi 2005 is an anthology of vocal examples in diverse languages and dialects of Iran. Darvishi 2014a presents examples of various epic traditions in Iran, while Darvishi 2014b offers excerpts of various performances in Iran of Shāhname (The Book of Kings), the epic of Ferdowsi (d. 1020). Sabetzadeh 2003a, Sabetzadeh 2003b, and Sabetzadeh 2006 are recordings of traditional dance tunes from Kurdistan, Lorestan, and Bushehr, respectively.

  • Darvishi, Mohammad Reza, comp. Epics in Iranian Folk Music. Regional Music of Iran 47. 3 CDs. MCD-392. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2014a.

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    Thirty-seven examples of various epic traditions from Iran’s many regions, such as Khorasan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kurdistan, and Baluchistan. A valuable work for both scholars and students interested in epic tradition. The liner notes are in Persian with an abstract in English.

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  • Darvishi, Mohammad Reza, comp. Shāhnāme-khāni in Iranian Folk Music. Regional Music of Iran 46. CD. MCD-391. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2014b.

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    Extracts of various performances of Shahname among Qashqayi (5 examples) and Bakhtiyari tribes (3 examples); in Lorestan (1 example), Bushehr (1 example), and Laki (1 example); and in Kurdish dialects (6 examples).

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  • Fatemi, Sasan, comp. Voices from the Land of Iran. 3 CDs. MCD-139. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2005.

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    This anthology of sixty-five examples of various vocal performances presents a valuable overview of musical diversity in Iran. It is organized in three main groups: cries and their functions in diverse context; vocal techniques focusing on tone color and ornamentation; and vocal styles such as speech, parlando, and cantabile.

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  • Sabetzadeh, Mansureh, comp. Lorestan Dances. CD. MCD-149. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2003a.

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    Dance tunes from the Lorestan region performed on sorna (a conical oboe), kamanche, and vocals for both festivities and funerals.

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  • Sabetzadeh, Mansureh, comp. The Kurdistan Dances. CD. MCD-144. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2003b.

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    Dance tunes from the Kurdistan region performed on sorna, dohol (a double-headed cylindrical drum), and vocals.

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  • Sabetzadeh, Mansureh, comp. Dance Tunes from Bushehr. CD. MCD-206. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2006.

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    Performed with instruments such as ney-e anban (a bagpipe), ney-e jofti (a double flute), tombak, dammam (a cylindrical double-headed drum), dayere (a frame drum), and vocals.

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Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan consists of two parts, a province of Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan. The Iranian province is separated by the salty Lake Urmia into West and East Azerbaijan, each with distinct local dialects and musical practices. The language spoken today in the province of Azerbaijan, commonly called Azeri, is the most important Turkic language spoken in Iran. The two main musical traditions in Azerbaijan are classical music (the art of muqam), and the tradition of the poet-singers called ashiq who are common throughout Azerbaijan and eastern Turkey. Albright 1976 focuses on the ashiqs and their repertoire in Iran. Albright 2002 gives an overview of the ashiq tradition in Iranian Azerbaijan. Başgöz 2008 studies different aspects of the Turkish romance hikaye, in Azerbaijan and eastern Turkey. During 1988a is the first work to appear in the West on the Azeri classical tradition. During 1988b provides a short introduction to the music of Azerbaijan.

  • Albright, Charlotte F. “The Music of Professional Musicians of Northwest Iran (Azerbaijan).” PhD diss., University of Washington, 1976.

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    After the first chapter on methodology, Albright reviews the history of music in Azerbaijan and examines musical instruments and ashiqs and their music. The longest chapter is devoted to the ashiq’s musical resources, concentrating on the melody types, commonly called hava, with musical notations, and the last chapter is largely devoted to the use of dastgah in non-classical Azerbaijani music.

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  • Albright, Charlotte F. “The Aşıq and His Music in Northwest Iran (Azerbaijan).” In The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. Vol. 6, The Middle East. Edited by Virginia Danielson, Scott Marcus, and Dwight Reynolds, 843–852. New York: Routledge, 2002.

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    A condensed overview of the ashiqs and their repertoire in Iranian Azerbaijan.

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  • Başgöz, Ilhan. Hikaye: Turkish Folk Romance as Performance Art. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008.

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    Some of the materials in the book come from Başgöz’s previous essays compiled in Turkish folklore and oral literature: Selected Essays of Ilhan Başgöz (Kemal Silay, ed., 1998). It focuses on the tradition of the ashiqs and their repertoire of hikaye. It examines subjects such as the pattern and structure of the hikaye, performance context, and the audience, with many quotations from various ashiqs whom he interviewed between 1943 and 1982. The appendix gives the plot outlines of fifty hikayes.

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  • During, Jean. La musique traditionnelle de l’Azerbayjan et la science des muqams. Collection d’études musicologiques/Sammlung musikwissenschafticher Abhandlungen, 80. Baden-Baden, GErmany: Koerner, 1988a.

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    Material for the book was collected in Baku on two field trips, in 1985 and 1987. The first chapter places the mugam in its historical and sociocultural context; Chapter 2 studies musical concepts, compares them to those of neighboring Iran, and provides a valuable and detailed section on instruments. Chapter 3, the heart of the book, examines intervals and outlines the fundamental progressions of the main muqams.

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  • During, Jean. Azerbaijan xi. “Music of Azerbaijan.” In Encyclopædia Iranica Online. 1988b.

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    Surveys the history and the theory of Azeri music. Three audio examples are included. This article is also available in print in Encyclopædia Iranica, Vol. 3, Fasc. 3, pp. 255–257 (1988).

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Discography

Widely popular in all Azerbaijan, Shahriar 1999 is the most noted poem of the Iranian-Azerbaijani poet Mohammad Hoseyn Shahriar (d. 1988). Ashiq Aslan 2008 and Eskandari and Sayi 2005 present the art of the ashiqs from West Azerbaijan and East Azerbaijan, respectively.

  • Ashiq Aslan. Aşıqi Music from West Azerbaijan: The Tale of Köroǧlu: Discovering Eyvaz. Regional Music of Iran 20. Collected and Researched by Fozie Majd. CD. MCD-262. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2008.

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    An episode from the well-known Koroglu/Gorogli epic, performed by Ashiq Aslan from Khoy in West Azerbaijan, accompanying himself on his saz. With important notes in Persian and a Persian translation of some verses with a short summary in English.

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  • Eskandari, Ashiq Hasan, and Ashiq Hoseyn Sayi. Aşıqi Music from East Azerbaijan: De’ishima of Aşıq ʿAli Kalibri and Leyli Khanom. Regional Music of Iran 7. CD. MCD-178. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2005.

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    Performance of a de’ishima, a type of poetic-musical debate between two ashiqs who improvise, here performed by Ashiq Hasan and Ashiq Hoseyn, joined during the instrumental interludes by a balaban (cylindrical oboe) and a qaval (frame drum). Accompanying notes in Persian by Sasan Fatemi with a summary in English.

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  • Shahriar, Mohammad Hossein. Heydar Bābā. CD. MCD-9. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 1999.

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    Heydar Bābā Salām, in which the poet addresses a mountain, was composed in Azeri, though Shahriar wrote mostly in Persian. This poem is performed with voice and saz.

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Baluchistan

Baluchistan, part of Sistan and Baluchistan Province in southeastern Iran, has a rich musical tradition and distinctive instruments. Massoudieh 1988a is a short introduction to various musical genres in Iranian Baluchistan. Massoudieh 1988b consists of fifty notations and analyses of different vocal genres from selected regions of Baluchistan. The Baluchi healing ceremony gwati is the subject of During 1989, During 1990, and During 1997.

  • During, Jean. Musique et mystique dans les traditions de l’Iran. Paris: Institut Français de Recherche en Iran, 1989.

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    A section of this work (also cited under Kurdistan and Lorestan) is dedicated to Baluchistan (pp. 37–233). It is divided into two sections: the first on gwati and the qalandari tradition, studying the ritual, the music, the repertoire, and the power of the music; the second on the songs of the Cheshti dervishes of Baluchistan.

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  • During, Jean. “L’organisation du rythme dans le musique de transe baloutche.” Revue de musicologie 76 (1990): 213–225.

    DOI: 10.2307/947264Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Highlights the rhythmic system of the qalandari repertoire of the professional musicians of Baluchistan, estimated as some twenty to forty pieces and songs designed for either healing rituals, or for the zekr in dervish sessions.

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  • During, Jean. “African Winds and Muslim Djinns: Trance, Healing, and Devotion in Baluchistan.” Yearbook for Traditional Music 29 (1997): 39–56.

    DOI: 10.2307/768296Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Studies the rituals of healing in both Pakistani and Iranian Baluchistan, with a detailed account of the proceedings of a ceremony in the Baluchi quarter of Karachi.

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  • Massoudieh, Mohammad Taqi. “Baluchistan iv: Music of Baluchistan.” In Encyclopædia Iranica Online. 1988a.

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    Short introduction of different musical genres in Baluchistan (e.g. zahirok, liku, sh‘eyr, sawt) with three audio examples. This article is also available in print in Encyclopædia Iranica, Vol. 3, Fasc. 6, pp. 644–645 (1988).

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  • Massoudieh, Mohammad Taqi. Musik in Balučestān. Beiträge zur Ethnomusikologie 20. 2 vols. Hamburg: Karl Dieter Wagner, 1988b.

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    German translation of the 1985 Persian edition, Musiqi-ye Baluchestan (Tehran: Sorush), the first volume is the analysis of many genres of sung poetry in Iranian Baluchistan, from different sources and a German translation of the poems. The second volume is the transcription of fifty-two songs.

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Discography

Majd 2017 and During 2005 are both examples of music performed in gwati ceremonies of healing. Majd 2018 presents examples of the art of epic singing.

  • During, Jean, comp. Qalandari music of Baluchistan. Regional Music of Iran 9. CD. MCD-181. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2005.

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    From the repertoire of a gwati ceremony in Baluchistan, performed by two Baluchi musicians, one on the doneli (double duct flute) and the other a singer accompanied by the sorud (double-chested fiddle). Recording and accompanying notes (by During) in Persian and English.

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  • Majd, Fozieh, comp. Gwat and zekr in Baluchistan. Regional Music of Iran 68. 2 CDs. MCD-501. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2017.

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    A remarkable set from Majd’s field recordings in the regions of Chabahar and Iranshahr in Iranian Baluchistan in the early 1970s, dedicated to narrative poems, zekrs, and some instrumental music, all related to the gwati ceremony. The accompanying notes in Persian and English are most informative for scholars and students.

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  • Majd, Fozieh, comp. Shā‘eri in Baluchestan. Regional Music of Iran 70. 2 CDs. MCD-516. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2018.

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    Recorded in 1974 and 1975, this two-CD set gives excellent examples of Baluchi verse narrative (she‘r) performed by poet-singers (sha‘ers).

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Gilan and Mazandaran

Gilan and Mazandaran, the coastal regions of the Caspian Sea in northern Iran, have distinctive dialects and musical practices unique to Iran. There are very few publications on the music of these regions. Fatemi 1997 is the only study on the music of Mazandaran available. Caton 1971 (cited under Instruments) studies different styles of kamanche playing in Gilan.

  • Fatemi, Sasan. “La musique et la vie musicale du Mazanderan: Le problème du changement.” MA diss., University of Paris Nanterre, 1997.

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    Organized into chapters on general matters such as overview, technical aspects of the music, musical life, and changes. Three annexes at the end are dedicated to musical notations, lyrics, and illustrated with charts and maps. Published as a book in Persian in 2002, titled Musiqi va zendegi-ye musiqāyi-ye Māzandarān: mas’ale-ye taghir (Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Arts).

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Discography/Videography

Faridi-Haftkhani 2010 is examples of work songs related to rice from the Talesh region in Gilan Province, known for growing rice. Mohsenpour 2003 and Faridi-Haftkhani 2007 present anthologies of the music of Mazandaran and of Gilan, respectively. Kiarostami is a documentary on professional Gypsy musicians of Mazandaran.

  • Faridi-Haftkhani, Armin, comp. A Musical Anthology of Gilān. Regional Music of Iran 16. 3 CDs. MCD-223. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2007.

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    Mostly field recordings of the music performed in daily life, such as weddings and funerals, as well as work songs. As the notes (in Persian, with an English abstract) state, “the collection has been intended to show the array of diverse instruments of the region.”

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  • Faridi-Haftkhani, Armin, comp. Music of Talesh Rice Farms. Regional Music of Iran 28. CD. MCD-292. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2010.

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    Solo and group female singing of various songs, mostly work songs for rice cultivation in the Taleshi dialect.

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  • Mohsenpour, Ahmad, comp. A Musical Anthology of Māzandarān. Regional Music of Iran 1. CD. MCD-130. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2003.

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    Examples of vocal and instrumental music from various parts of Mazandaran. Out of fifteen examples of sung poetry, five are without accompaniment; six are accompanied by kamanche; three with the dotar (a long-necked lute); and one with dotar, laleva (a reed pipe), and daff. Liner notes in Persian and English by Sasan Fatemi.

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  • Kiarostami, Bahman, dir. Koffār (infidels), Butimar Productions, Iran, 2004.

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    A documentary on the marginalzed professional Gypsy musicians, called Godar, who had a great impact on the music of eastern Mazandaran.

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Gulf Regions

In the southern coastal regions of Iran, musical practices share many common features, some of African origin. On the Gulf coast, the major language is Arabic. Prominent features of their music are zar and nuban, major Afro-Arab musical rituals of possession and healing. Moghaddam 2009 is a general overview on zar. Gharasou 2014 studies the zar ceremony in the province of Hormozgan. Kuckertz and Massoudieh 1976 analyzes the music of Bushehr in southwestern Iran. Sharifian 2004 is an overview of the songs and mourning rituals in Bushehr.

Discography/Videography

Majd 2006b presents examples of the music of the healing ceremonies of nuban and zar, and Majd 2006a presents samples of laments (nowhe) in Bushehr performed during the religious Arbaeʿen (fortieth day after Imam Hossein’s martyrdom). Shanbezadeh 2009 is by a renowned musician and dancer from Bushehr. Taghvai 1969 is a documentary film on a zar ceremony.

  • Majd, Fozieh, comp. Arbaeen in Bushehr. Regional Music of Iran 14. CD. MCD-217. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2006a.

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    Excerpts of nowhe for the mourning ceremony of the forty days of Imam Hossein’s martyrdom (called Arbaeʿen), performed in the city of Bushehr which is renowned for its religious rituals, and accompanied by seven dammams, seven cymbals, and one buq (long serpentine conical trumpet).

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  • Majd, Fozieh, comp. Music of Nubān and Zār. Regional Music of Iran 15. CD. MCD-215. Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2006b.

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    Ten samples of the music of nuban and zar (5 each) from Qeshm, the largest island in the Persian Gulf, recorded in 1973. Major instruments of these ceremonies are a bowl lyre (tambire) and double-sided drum (e.g. dohol and kasser). With notes in English and Persian.

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  • Shanbezadeh, Saʿid. Iran: Musiques du Golfe Persique. Musique du Monde 3017925. Paris: Buda Musique, 2009.

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    Shanbezadeh, born in Bushehr in 1968, is the most renowned ney-e anban (bagpipe) player in Iran. He also plays ney-e jofti (double flute) and is the head of the Shanbezadeh Ensemble. He performs a fusion genre of traditional music and his new arrangements. His son Naghib often accompanies him on various drums such as zarb, dammam, and kasser.

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  • Taghvai, Naser, dir. Bade jen (zār). National Iranian Radio & Television, 1969.

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    The film shows a zar ceremony in Bandar Lenge, a harbor city in Hormozgan province, with commentary in Persian.

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Khorasan

Khorasan, the northeastern region of Iran, shares a frontier with Turkmenistan to the north and Afghanistan to the east. The music and culture of eastern Khorasan is closely related to western Afghanistan, as is that of northern Khorasan to southern Turkmenistan. The sung poetry of northern Khorasan is in Khorasani Turkish, Turkmen, Kurmanji Kurdish, and Persian, the languages of the major ethnic groups that have been cohabiting in the region for centuries, and is performed by bards or singer of tales called bakhshi. The Khorasani bakhshi and Turkmen bagshy share a repertoire of stories (dastans), narratives in spoken prose and sung verse, some of which are known from Anatolia to Chinese Turkestan. In eastern Khorasan, musicians perform this repertoire in Persian; they are Sunni Muslims, forming the only Persian-speaking Sunni minority in Iran. Khorasan is one of the regions in which the most fieldwork has been done. The pioneer in this region, Stephen Blum, has been studying the different musical traditions of northern Khorasan for over forty years. Blum 1972 studies different attributes of the word asheq in northern Khorasan. Blum 1978 examines different types of performers—the darvish, the naqqal, and the bakhshi—in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Blum 1996 and Blum 2006 examine special genres, vocal exchanges in form of question and answer, and Nava’, respectively. Youssefzadeh 2002 focuses more on the Khorasani bakhshi and their repertoire. Massoudieh 1980 analyzes and transcribes different songs from the Torbat-e Jam region in eastern Khorasan.

  • Blum, Stephen. “The concept of the ʿAsheq in Northern Khorasan.” Asian Music 4 (1972): 27–47.

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    ‘Ashiq in Azerbaijan and Turkey is a bard; in Khorasan an ʿasheq, often Kurdish, is a member of a troupe who performs at weddings and other celebrations. ʿAsheq in Khorasan is also an attribute of poets whose verses are motivated by love of a woman.

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  • Blum, Stephen. “Changing Roles of Performers in Meshhed and Bojnurd.” In Eight Urban Musical Cultures: Tradition and Change. Edited by Bruno Nettl, 19–95. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1978.

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    A summarized and extended version of Blum’s PhD dissertation (University of Illinois, 1972), drawing on fieldwork in Mashhad and Bojnurd, two urban cities in northern Khorasan. Blum examines the role and aspects of the work of different types of performers—the darvish, the naqqal and the bakhshi—in those cities. The section on rhythmic and melodic frameworks is illustrated with notations of musical examples.

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  • Blum, Stephen. “Musical Questions and Answers in Iranian Xorāsān.” EM: Annuario degli Archivi di Etnomusicologia 4 (1996): 145–163.

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    Several examples of exchanges between two protagonists of stories in sung poetry of Khorasan.

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  • Blum, Stephen. “Navā’i, a Musical Genre of Northeastern Iran.” In Analytical Studies in World Music. Edited by Michael Tenzer, 41–57. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

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    This analytical essay examines nava’i, one genre of great importance in the music of Khorasan, performed on the accompanying CD by three musicians of the region. Outlining how poetic meter and musical rhythm interact, it is most valuable for both scholars and students interested in the relationship of poetry and music.

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  • Massoudieh, Mohammad Taqi. Musiqi-ye Torbat-e Jām. Tehran: Sorush, 1980.

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    In Persian, provides analyses and notations of different vocal and instrumental genres in the music of the Torbat-e Jam region in eastern Khorasan. The texts of the sung poetry are given.

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  • Youssefzadeh, Ameneh. Les bardes du Khorassan iranienne: Le bakhshi et son répertoire. Leuven, Belgium, and Paris: Peeters, 2002.

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    Revised version of Youssefzadeh’s PhD dissertation (University of Paris Nanterre, 1997), this is a monograph on Khorasani bakhshis and their repertoire, examining their ethnic and language background, the contemporary bakhshi, their poetic and musical resources, as well as their situation after the 1979 revolution. The accompanying CD offers examples of sung poetry in various languages of the region. A revised Persian translation was published in 2009 as Rāmeshgarān-e shomāl-e Khorāsān: Bakhshi va repertuārash (Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art).

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Discography

Soleymani 2003, Yeganeh 2004, and Golafruz 2005 are outstanding field recordings from the master musicians of Khorasan from the 1970s, with important liner notes. The Stephen Blum Collection of Music from Iranian Khorāsān, comprising Blum’s field recordings from northern Khorasan in 1968–1969 and 1972, is available on the permanent website at Harvard University and covers sung poetry in diverse languages of Khorasan. Mohammadi 2015 is the Kurmanji Kurdish repertoire performed by a Khorasani bakhshi. Golafruz 2004 is a short version of dastan-e Taher o Zohre. During 1993 gives a panorama of dotar performed from Khorasan to Central Asia. Dorpur 1999 is dedicated to vocal repertoire of the Torbat-e Jam region in eastern Khorasan. Bahari 2016 presents the ʿasheq repertoire of northern Khorasan. Bina 1999 is an arrangement of songs from southern Khorasan performed by the female singer and researcher Sima Bina.

  • Bahari, ʿAli Akbar. Music of Northern Khorasan. Regional Music of Iran 63. CD. MCD-457. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2016.

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    Examples of tunes of the ʿasheq repertoire in northern Khorasan, many of which are dance tunes, played on the qoshme (double clarinets) and the dohol by ʿAli Akbar Bahari and Mohsen Bahari, respectively. Liner notes in Persian by Saʿid Tehranizadeh.

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  • Bina, Sima. Iran: Musique du sud du Khorassan. Musique du Monde. Paris: Buda Musique, 1999.

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    Trained as a singer of classical Persian music, Sima Bina draws her inspiration from regional popular songs, especially from southern Khorasan, her native region. In this album, she performs popular quatrains from Baba Taher, Ahmad Bina (her father), and anonymous poets of Khorasan.

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  • Dorpur, Nur Mohammad. Music of Torbat-e Jām (Nur Mohammad Dorpur). CD. MCD-042. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 1999.

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    Renowned singer Nur Mohammad Dorpur (d. 2015) from the Torbat-e Jam area accompanied on the dotar by Zolfaqar ʿAskaripur (d. 2014), performing the important maqams of eastern Khorasan, with verses from renowned figures of Persian mystical literature and important figures of the Naqshbandi order.

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  • During, Jean, comp. Asie Centrale: Les maîtres du dotār. CD. AIMP 26. Geneva, Switzerland: Archives internationals de musique populaire, 1993.

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    Offers valuable examples of the performances of dotar masters in regions of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Khorasan, Iran, and Turkmenistan. With informative liner notes in French and English.

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  • Golafruz, Hamra. Music from Northern Khorasan: The Story of the Golden-Faced Prince. Regional Music of Iran 12. CD. MCD-188. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2005.

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    Performance of the romance of Prince Goldface by the Khorasani bakhshi, Hamra Golafruz (d. 1990). This tale seems to be unique to Hamra’s repertoire. With sections of spoken prose in Persian and sung poetry in Khorasani Turkish. Liner notes in Persian and English by Fozieh Majd.

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  • Golafruz, Rowshan. Iran–Khorassan: L’histoire de Tāher et Zohre/Rowshan Golafruz, chant et dotār. CD. Inédit W 260116. Paris: Maison des Cultures du Monde, 2004.

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    A version of one of the best-known Turkish romances, Taher and Zohre, known from eastern Anatolia to Xinjiang, performed by bakhshi Rowshan Golafruz. Summaries of the prose and translations of the verse are included in the French and English liner notes by Ameneh Youssefzadeh. Extracts of another version of this tale are published in The Story of Zohre and Tāher (Mahoor, MCD-154, 2003).

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  • Mohammadi, Sohrab. The Music of Northern Khorasan. Regional Music of Iran 50. CD. MCD-418. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Arts, 2015.

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    Fourteen examples of songs in Kurmanji Kurdish performed by the bakhshi Sohrab Mohammadi from Ashkhane in northern Khorasan. A studio recording made in Tehran. Notes in Persian and English by Stephen Blum.

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  • Soleymani, Nazar Mohammad. Music of Torbat-e Jām: The Instrumental Maqāms of Torbat-e Jām. Regional music of Iran 42. CD. MCD-137. Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2003.

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    Nazar Mohammad Soleymani (d. 1978), a dotar player of eastern Khorasan, performs the instrumental maqams of Torbat-e Jam. With important notes in Persian and English by Fozeh Majd.

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  • Stephen Blum Collection of Music from Iranian Khorāsān. Archive of World Music, Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, Harvard College Library (AWM RL 16198–16251; AWM SC 11742–11763).

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    A most valuable collection of about fifty hours of recordings made in the two urban centers of Mashhad and Bojnurd, and nine villages of northern Khorasan, especially of sung poetry in three languages: Persian, Khorasani Turkish, and Kurmanji Kurdish.

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  • Yeganeh, Mohammad Hoseyn. Regional music of Iran 39 (Music from northern Khorasan): The Story of Ebrāhim Adham. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2004. CD. MCD-172.

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    Extracts from the story of Ebrahim Adham recorded in northern Khorasan in 1973, performed by the bakhshi Mohammad Hoseyn Yeganeh (d. 1992). With sections of spoken prose in Persian and sung poetry in Khorasani Turkish and Persian. Liner notes in Persian and English by Fozeh Majd.

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Kurdistan and Lorestan

The regions of Kurdistan and Lorestan, both in the western part of Iran, have distinctive languages and musics. These regions are the heartlands of the Qaderi Sufi brotherhood and the Ahl-e Haqq religion. The Ahl-e Haqq in southern Kurdistan and Lorestan has been the subject of many works. Mokri 1968 is the first publication on Ahl-e Haqq music. A significant part of During 1989 is dedicated to the repertoire and modal system of the Ahl-e Haqq, and partly discusses the Qaderi brotherhood. During 2003 profiles Nur ʿAli Elahi (b. 1895–d. 1974), a musician and the leader of one of the many branches within Ahl-e Haqq. The Ahl-e Haqq is the subject of Hooshmandrad 2004. Haj-Amini 2002 provides the notation and analyses of songs in the Hawrami dialect. There is not much research on the music of Lorestan with the exception of Kazemi 2010.

  • During, Jean. Musique et mystique dans les traditions de l’Iran. Paris and Tehran: Institut Français de Recherche en Iran, 1989.

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    Originally part of During’s Thèse de Doctorat d’État (1986), the book is divided in three large sections: “Baluchistan” covers Guati/Qalandari traditions and songs of the Cheshti dervishes; “Kurdistan” is dedicated to zekr and songs of the Qaderi dervishes (pp. 239–290), and to the musical tradition of Ahl-e Haqq (pp. 293–520); and the last part is on spiritual aspects, structure, and aesthetic of Persian classical music.

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  • During, Jean. The Spirit of Sounds: The Unique Art of Ostad Elāhi (1895–1974). Cranbury, NJ: Cornwall Books, 2003.

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    English translation of L’esprit des sons: L’art unique d’Ostad Elahi, first published in 2001. It explores the history and music of Nur ʿAli Elahi, a musician and master of the tanbur (long-necked lute), and the leader of the Elahi branch within the Ahl-e Haqq community.

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  • Haj-Amini, Bahman. Musiqi-ye kord-hā-ye Hawrāmān. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Arts, 2002.

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    Notation and analyses of about fifty songs from the Hawraman district, a region divided between Kurdistan and Kermanshah in western Iran, with the poems in the Hawrami dialect with Persian translation.

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  • Hooshmandrad, Partow. “Performing the Belief: Sacred Musical Practice of the Kurdish Ahl-i Haqq of Gūrān.” PhD diss., University of California, Berkeley, 2004.

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    Based mostly on the musical repertoire of two Ahl-e Haqq (Yarsan) families in the Guran region in the Kermanshah province, this dissertation presents their ritual (jam), their sacred instrument (tanbur), and their sacred musical practice, and offers translations and interpretations of some texts.

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  • Kazemi, Bahman. Musiqi-ye Ilām. Tehran: Farhangestan-e Honar, 2010 (1389).

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    In Persian. The book deals with music in Ilam, one of the western provinces, originally part of the province of Lorestan. The first chapter deals with the history and people of Ilam; the second offers some songs in the Lori dialect written in the Latin alphabet with Persian translation; chapters 3 to 9 present notations of numerous songs and their lyrics.

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  • Mokri, Mohammad. “La musique sacrée des kurdes ‘Fidèles de vérité’ en Iran.” In Encyclopédie de la musique sacrée. Vol. 1. Edited by Jacques Porte, 441–453. Paris: Editions Labergerie, 1968.

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    Introduction to the music of the Ahl-e Haqq from southern Kurdistan, studying instruments (especially the tanbur), the role of the tanbur and its technical aspects, composers and performers, the modal system (dastgah), and sung poetry.

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Discography/Videography

Moradi 2002 is one of the most valuable recordings of the repertoire of the Yarsan/Ahl-e Haqq community. Hooshmandrad 2012 and Hooshmandrad 2015 are dedicated to the music of the Ahl-e Haqq of the Guran region. During 1994 is dedicated to the Qaderi zekr. Elahi 2014 explores the music of Nur ʿAli Elahi (b. 1895–d. 1974). Ardalan 2002 is among the few recordings of sung poetry in Lorestan. Moradi 1994 is a performance by the most renowned sorna player of Lorestan, Shahmirza Moradi (d. 1997). In Ghobadi 2002 the Kurdish-Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi shows the problems that a Kurdish musician and his family have to endure on a journey from Iran to Iraq. Bozorgniya 2010 is an anthology of the music of the Bakhtiyari tribe, one of the two largest tribes (the other being the Qashqai) living in southwestern Iran and speaking a Lori dialect. Kamkar Ensemble 1999 is a performance of the Kamkar Ensemble, a family group of seven brothers and one sister.

  • Ardalan, Hamid Reza, comp. Mir-e nowruz (The Music of Lorestan). CD. MCD-090. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2002.

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    Examples of sung poetry and instrumental music of Lorestan performed by three musicians, a singer accompanied by a kamanche and a zarb. The notes are short and not informative.

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  • Bozorgniya, Peyman, comp. A Musical Anthology of Bakhtiyāri Tribe. Regional Music of Iran 30. 4 CDs. MCD-295. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2010.

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    Examples of various instrumental and vocal music styles of the Bakhtiari tribe, for both festivities and funerals, performed with instruments such as karna (a long brass trumpet), sorna, ney, and dayere, and including different vocal genres such as lullabies, work music, and narrative and lyric songs.

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  • During, Jean, comp. Kurdistan: Zikr et chants soufis. 2 CDs. Paris: Ocora Radio France, 1994.

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    The zekr (zikr) ritual of the Qaderi dervishes in the city of Sanandaj, recorded in 1993 and featuring sung poetry, prayer, and invocations, some accompanied by the daff, performed by two religious leaders (khalife) of the region, Khalife Mirza Aqa Ghowsi and Khalife Karim Safvati.

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  • Elahi, Nur Ali. The Sacred Lute: The Art of Ostad Elahi. 2 CDs. Paris: Chant du Monde, 2014.

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    Commemorative CDs published to coincide with the special exhibition presented by the Metropolitan Museum of Art (5 August 2014–11 January 2015), exploring the life and music of Ostad Elahi with some examples from recordings of his private performances in Iran in the 1960s and 1970s.

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  • Ghobadi, Bahman, dir. “Marooned in Iraq.” MIJ Film, 2002.

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    Also known as Songs of My Motherland. A film about a Kurdish singer who travels from Iran to Iraq with his family to search for his wife, a famous singer who, we find out, lost her voice and beauty in the chemical gas attacks under Saddam Hussein. In Kurdish and Persian.

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  • Hooshmandrad, Partow, comp. Ritual Music of Guran. Regional Music of Iran 41. 2 CDs. MCD-343. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2012.

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    The result of Hooshmandrad’s field research on Ahl-e Haqq (Yarsan) (see Hooshmandrad 2004, cited under Kurdistan and Lorestan), the set includes selections from the group and solo tanbur modes (maqam or nazm) performed by the kalam-khans (chanters of the sacred texts) from the Guran region. The recordings, like the dissertation, focus on two families. With notes in both Persian and English.

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  • Hooshmandrad, Partow, dir. Music of Yārsān: A Living Tradition. DVD. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Arts, 2015.

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    Mostly field recordings and part of Hooshmandrad’s research on the musical repertoire of two Ahl-e Haqq families in Guran region in the Kermanshah province (see Hooshmandrad 2004, cited under Kurdistan and Lorestan). The commentaries are in English.

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  • Kamkar Ensemble. Kani Sepi. Kereshmeh Records KCD-110. 1999.

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    The ensemble performs three compositions by Hooshang Kamkar and five arrangements of Kurdish folk music by Ardeshir or Arsalan Kamkar, four of which have new lyrics by Irandoost. The booklet provides all lyrics in Sorani Kurdish with Persian translations as well as full English translations of two poems and summaries of the others.

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  • Moradi, ʿAli Akbar. Kurdistan iranien, les maqam rituels des Yārsān. Ali Akbar Moradi, chant et tanbur. 4 CDs. Inédit W260110. Paris: Maison des Cultures du Monde, 2002.

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    Performed by the tanbur player ‘Ali Akbar Moradi, this set of four CDs is the first recording of the entire repertoire of the Yarsan/Ahl-e Haqq community.

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  • Moradi, Shahmirza. The Music of Lorestan, Iran: Shahmirza Morādi, Sornā. NI 5397. Wyastone Leys, UK: Nimbus, 1994.

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    A performance by a sorna player of Lorestan, Shahmirza Moradi (d. 1997), accompanied by his son Reza Moradi on dohol.

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Turkmen Plain

The Turkmen of Iran live in the northeast of the country, in the province of Khorasan (mostly along the border areas adjacent to Turkmenistan), as well as in the northeastern part of the province of Mazandaran, split off since 1997 to become the province of Golestan. They are Sunni Muslims and speak the Turkmen language. The Turkmen music of Iran is less studied than that of Turkmenistan. Youssefzadeh 2002 (cited under Khorasan) mentions the Turkmen bagshy, and their repertoire in northern Khorasan. Massoudieh 1992 examines the terms maqam and dastgah in Turkmen music. Massoudieh 2000 presents notations and analysis of Turkmen music from private archives.

  • Massoudieh, Mohammad Taqi. “Die Begriffe maqām und dastgāh in der turkmenischen Musik des Iran.” In Regionale maqām-traditionen in Geschichte und Gegenwart. Vol. 2. Edited by Jürgen Elsner and Gisa Jänichen, pp. 377–397. Proceedings of the Materials of the Study Group “Maqām” of the International Council for Traditional Music, Gossen, Berlin, 23–28 March 1992. Berlin: Inst. für Musikwiss. der HUB, 1992.

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    Examines the terms maqam and dastgah in Turkmen music.

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  • Massoudieh, Mohammad Taqi. Musiqi-ye Torkamani: Āvā-nevisi va tahlil. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2000.

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    Sixty notations and analyses of recordings of Turkmen music are preceded by a large section in Persian on the different genres of Turkmen music. The poems are presented in Turkmen with Persian translation.

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Discography

Yeganeh 2003 and Mahjubi 2004 both feature performances of distinguished Turkmen bagshys: Olia Qoli Yeganeh (d. 1979) on the former, and Nazarli Mahjubi (d. 2000) on the latter.

  • Mahjubi, Nazarli. The music of Turkmen Sahrā. CD. MCD-123. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2004.

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    The Turkmen bagshy Nazarli Mahjubi, from the Gonbad region, accompanies himself on the dotar and is joined by another bagshy, Ashur Galdi Garkazi and a qijak (spike fiddle) player, performing Turkmen maqams and melodies. With liner notes in Persian and a summary in English.

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  • Yeganeh, Olia Qoli. Music from Northern Khorasan (Daregaz). CD. MCD-136. Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art, 2003.

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    Recorded in the 1970s, the album is dedicated to the performance of the Turkmen bagshy Olia Qoli Yeganeh from the Daregaz region in northern Khorasan, performing the four principal Turkmen maqams, extracts from various narratives (dastan), and one poem by the 18th-century Turkmen poet Makhtum-Qoli Faraghi, accompanied by his dotar. With important liner notes in Persian and English by Fozieh Majd.

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