Persian Classical Music

I hope I’ll be able to write more about Persian Classical Music and its enormous strengths (that are completely unknown in the West) in the future, but Opium and Saffron has a great quote here that will serve as a very good introduction:

“like other Middle Eastern traditions, Persian classical music is based on the explortion of short modal pieces: in Iran these are known as gushehs, and there are 200 or so gushehs in the complete radif [repertoire]. These gushehs are grouped according to mode into 12 modal ‘systems’ called dastgah. A dastgah essential comprises a progression of modally-related gushehs in a manner somewhat similar to the progression of pieces in a Baroque suite…The training of a classical musician essentially involves memorizing the complete repertoire of the radif. Only when the entire repertoire has been memorized – gusheh by gusheh, dastgah by dastgah – a process that takes many years, are musicians considered ready to embark on creative digressions, eventually leading to improvisation itself. So the radif is not performed as such, but represents the starting point for creative performance and composition.”

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