How is folk music in Iran

Iranian music

The Rudolstadt Festival, Germany's largest festival for roots, folk and world music, will focus on Persian music in 2019. The rich musical tradition of Iran has so far been perceived rather one-sidedly, emphasizes program director Bernhard Hanneken: “Persia is one of the oldest cultural regions in the world, which has also significantly influenced European musical life. We are particularly familiar with classical Persian music; But we know less about folk music in the regions and about the current music scene. The festival wants to try in the coming year to reflect all these tendencies. "

Iranian music encompasses the art music tradition of Persian music in Iran, whose origins lie in the pre-Islamic, Sassanid period (beginning of the 3rd to the middle of the 7th century) and which developed with Arabic music after the subsequent conquest of the Iranian highlands by the Arab Abbasids. At the beginning of the 16th century, when the Safavids came to power, who elevated Shiite Islam to the state religion, Iranian musical culture fell into a phase of standstill and isolation, especially in relation to the culture of the Ottoman Empire that was dominant in the region at the time. In the 18th century the older classical music fell into disrepair. Its current form, which includes the twelve Dastgahs (modes), dates back to the 19th century.

The Iranian folk music traditions of the different ethnic groups, whose settlement areas extend beyond the national borders, are related to those of the neighboring countries. The numerous regional styles include Kurdish music in the north, the music of Balochistan in the south, and African-influenced music in the Persian Gulf.

In the middle of the 19th century, European music, Western harmonics and notation were introduced - initially with military bands. Western classical and popular music was very popular in the 20th century until it was initially banned completely by the Islamic Revolution in 1979. After the gradual easing of the ban, there is now a lively pop and rock music scene in Iran.


The position of musical performance in Iranian culture

The ambivalent attitude towards music in the Iranian cultural area is based on a culture that emerged from the conflict between ancient Persian customs and Islamic regulations. In ancient Persia, musicians were able to hold positions of high social standing. As Herodotus reports, music was widespread in Iranian territory as early as the Elamite and Achaemenid times. During the Parthian rule z. B. the hiking singers great popularity. When the Sassanids were in power from 224 onwards, there were popular and highly respected musicians whose names have been handed down to the present day, and Iranian musical culture experienced its most important heyday. As under the Parthians, most of the musicians were also poets.

Famous Sassanid Musicians (Pre-Islamic Period)
  • Bārbad: Barbad the Great was a musician at the court of the Sassanids. He invented one of the oldest systems of music theory with seven royal and 30 derivative modes with 360 melodies (Dastan) known as royal Chosravani - Dedicated to King Chosrou II. They correspond to the number of days in the week, in the month and in the year in the Sassanid calendar.
  • Nakisā: Also court musician of the Sassanids and collaborator of Barbad.
  • Sarkasch: The predecessor of the Barbad was an influential court musician.
  • Ramtin

Among the most famous musicians, the master singers Barbad, Sarkad, Ramtin and Nakissa, there was fierce rivalry during the reign of Chosrou Parwiz (590–628). According to tradition, Barbad invented the lute and established the musical tradition of the Magham and possibly the Dastgah system. Since the Arab storm in the 7th century and the Islamization of the Iranian cultural area, Persian music gained influence in the Islamic world, starting primarily from al-Hīra, especially after the capital of the Abbasids, who ruled until 1258, was moved from Damascus to Baghdad in 762. At the court of Hārūn ar-Raschīd there were numerous musical performances and the theoretical foundations of Persian-Arabic music were developed at this time. Since there was no musical notation in the current sense, musical transmission and training took place orally. Zirdjāb, who fled to Spain in 821, is often cited as the artist with the greatest influence on Andalusian and Spanish music. Farabi and Avicenna were not only music theorists, but also masters of the lute alongside the ney. Five centuries after Barbad's death, Farabi collected pieces of music of his time and described the ancient notation in Persia. Around 2000 works and melodies were preserved that can still be played today.

Abbasid musicians (8th - 13th centuries)
  • Naschit Farsi
  • Manṣūr ibn-Caʾfar Ḍārib Zalzal (died 791)
  • Ibrahim Moussali (Ibrahim al-Mawsili)
  • Ishaq al-Mawsili, son of Ibrahim M.
  • Abu l-Hasan ‘Ali Ibn Nafi‘ (called "Zirdschāb", German: "the nightingale"), disciple of Ishaq
  • Abū l-Faraj al-Isfahānī (897–967)

The Iranian musical culture during the Mongolian rule from 1219 to 1381 was not very pronounced. During the following reign of the Timurids there was even a law that completely forbade making music under penalty of death. In spite of everything, important music-theoretical treatises emerged in the 13th and 14th centuries. Music has been viewed with suspicion since the Islamization of Iran. The Shiite clergy considered dances and thus also music to be lewd and devilish. The Persian mystics (Sufis), on the other hand, understood music in connection with lyrical poetry as a means of transcendent experience and had a great influence on the traditional Persian art music that still exists today, which is also characterized by mystical-religious spirituality. Under Arabicized names, the work of medieval Persian theorists and scholars in Near Eastern and Central Asian music is still enormous today. Some famous personalities are:

Another stagnation in musical developments occurred in particular with the establishment of Shiism as the state religion under the Safavids, who ruled until 1736, from 1501 onwards.

Musician under the rulers of the Safavid dynasty (1501–1722 and 1729–1736)
  • Ahamad Ghazwini
  • Galalel Bachersi
  • Mosafar Ghomi
  • Hashem Ghaswini
  • Mohammad Kamanchehi
  • Mohammad Momen
  • Shahsawar Charhar-tari
Musicians of the Qajar era (creation of the Radif)
  • Gholam-Hossein
  • Ali-Akbar Farahani (1821-1857)
  • Hossein-Gholi Farahani (1853-1916)
  • Mirza Abdollah Farahani (1843-1918)
  • Ali-Akbar Shahi (1857-1923)
  • Nayeb Asdollag
  • Gholam-Hossein Darwisch (1872–1926)
  • Hossein Taherzadeh (1882–1955)
  • Mirza Sattar, from around 1840 singer (from Ta'zieh) from Ardebil and founder of new tonal modes
  • Mina, Armenian orchestra leader from Isfahan at the Qajar court
  • Zohre, Jewish orchestra leader from Shiraz at the Kajarenhof

The post-Soviet regime and the Taliban banned instrumental music and public performances in Afghanistan. In 2005 there were voices like those of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadineschād who want to ban all types of Western music - contrary to the long Iranian music tradition.

Folk music

The Iranian cultural area is home to many different peoples such as the Bakhtiars, Baluch, Kurds and Azeri, each of whom developed their own stylistic peculiarities. Turkmen shaped the music in Khorasan in particular.

Kurdish music

Kurdish music is known for its dance-oriented character.


The northern province of Māzandarān produced various types of folk music such as instrumental or ritual music. Simple songs like Katolithat are common in the area around the city of Aliabade Katol are characterized by simple rhythms. Farmers sing this song when they have one catholic Driving cow to pasture. Another way will Leili's lover called. Amiri-Songs dress the poems of Amir Pasvari, a poet of Masandaran, in melodies. It is popular all over Iran Najma; Songs of the love of the prince of the province of Pars and a girl named Rana act. Furthermore, the songs of the old traders count Charvadar to the people of this area. Charvadarimusic stands out due to its rather untypical rhythm for Masandaran, which according to legend arose from singing while riding.

Afghan folk music

Afghan folk music consists on the one hand of women making music. This is banned in the homes because of the ostracism by the Koran. However, weddings or other celebrations are traditionally accompanied by music. In fact, the lively wedding parties are the main source of income for professional musicians. The men are entertained by a male singer, whose lyrics are accompanied by instrumental music, as there is a separate sex party, while the women usually spend the night dancing and singing themselves. Jats, who are a wandering Roma people, also play their songs on instruments that are inviolable for non-Jats at weddings or on other occasions. The lyrics of Afghan folk music typically tell of love and use the nightingale and the rose in their language symbolism. Also the story of Leili and Majnun, which is comparable to Romeo and Juliet, is sung about. However, there is no place for current objects in folk music. The Iranian New Year, Nouruz, is also celebrated in Afghanistan at the spring equinox. The musical part of the celebration is particularly important in Mazar-e Sharif. "The lion of the instruments", Rubab, Forerunners of the Indian Sarod, is considered the national instrument of Afghanistan. This instrument with three melody strings, which Mohammad Omar, Isa Kassemi and Mohammed Rahim Chuschnawas master perfectly, made from the wood of the mulberry tree is an important part of Afghan folk music.

Tajik folk music

Tajik music is heavily influenced by Uzbek and other Central Asian musical styles. At weddings and other celebrations in southern Tajikistan, a folk music is called Falak played. Altogether one can distinguish variants of Tajik folk music from three areas:

Songs of all kinds, lyrical or instrumental music, are sung. The epic music surrounding the hero story is particularly important Gurugli. Gharibi (Songs of a Stranger) are songs invented in the 20th century by poor farmers who had to leave their land. Gulgardoni or Boychechak are songs that are performed at spring festivals. Sajri-Guli-Lola-Music, for the Celebration of the tulips, is accompanied by dance music and choirs. The most famous song of these holidays is called Naghschi Kalon. Other popular songs worth mentioning are called Nat and Munodschotthat are sung when a boy is born. Play at weddings Sosanda, mostly female musicians who are members of a Dastaensembles. Music off Badakhshan is known for the spiritual chants of lyric poetry that Madah and accompanied by lute-like instruments. Well-known Tajik musicians are Barno Itshakova, Davlatmand Cholov, Daler Nasarow or Sino.

Traditional female chants

These occur in different forms within Persian folk music. In addition to the wedding songs already mentioned in Afghan music, these are mainly lullabies, funeral songs and workers' songs, such as those sung by carpet weavers and laundresses to make their work more pleasant. The Iranian singer and musician Maryam Akhondy, who lives in Cologne, has collected some of these songs from different musical cultures in Iran and put them on CD Banu - Songs of Persian Women released.

Classical Persian music

Since classical Persian music (, musiqi-e assil) originated from the traditional music of the Persian Empire and spread over all Persian-speaking countries, it is also Persian music (Persian too asil or according to western music-ethnological terminology sonnati (“Traditional music”) adjective, but not necessarily as Iranian music) called. In contrast to European classical music, Persian art music does not deviate strictly from folk music (or from the "lighter" music of the earlier professional music) motrebi-Groups) by which it is influenced and which influences it. Traditional classical Persian music, which uses heterophonic elements, but does not have polyphonic contrapuntal and chordal harmony like European music, but is characterized by clear differentiations between clearly played and less emphasized, softer tones, which can also be found in other oriental musical traditions , and until the 20th century was usually passed on unnoticed from master to student has its origins in the (Chonjâ-je Bâstâni Irâni), traditional Persian melodies, from which, under Arab and probably also Indian and Mongolian influences, the Persian maqam or dastgah system developed, which is the basis for artists making music with it, whereby the given elements (the radif or the dastgahs ) oriented improvisation or interpretation is characteristic of the performance. A term in Persian music that describes the emotional interaction or a mental-emotional state of musicians and listeners and thus helps to determine the success of a performance Hal. The repertoire of tones, rhythms and melodies can be found in the form of the tahrir (cf. Arabic / Turkish Taksim) also outside of art music in sung or instrumental music. In contrast to the European, on a scale consisting of twelve (half) tones, the Persian music has 22 (or 24) tones. Bārbad was the legendary singer of the Sassanid era. Until the beginning of the 20th century, classical music was largely reserved for the court of the absolutist monarchs in Isfahan, where court music was more quantitatively than qualitatively strong, especially from 1848 to 1896 under Nāser ad-Din Shah. Outstanding musicians who initiated a renaissance of the old Iranian musical tradition were Ali Akbar Farahani (1821–1857) and his son Mirza Abdollah (1843–1918). A "popularization of music" began after the rule of the Qajars from 1779 to 1925. Nur-Ali Borumand was an important music theorist and preserver of classical music in the 20th century.

The big cities, where the classical Persian music with each characteristic musical styles or schools is mainly played, are Tehran, Isfahan, Tabriz and Shiraz.

The first sound recordings of Persian music were made in Paris in 1905 with the musician Mirza Hoseyn Chan Bachtiyar. More recently, classical Persian music has spread among the people mainly through the introduction of cassettes from 1960 onwards. Before 1979 stars like the singer Gholam Hossein Banan and virtuosos on their instruments like Abol Hassan Saba, Ahmad Ebadi and Faramarz Payvar had their breakthrough. Well-known interpreters of traditional melodies and songs are still Farid Farjad (violinist), Javad Maaroufi (piano), Pari Zanganeh and Sima Bina (all singers).

In a counter-movement and a return to classical Persian traditions, the Islamic Revolution in 1979 triggered a renaissance of Persian classical music, which led to national greats such as Parisa (singer), Parviz Meshkatian, Jamshid Andalibi, Kayhan Kalhor, Mohammad Reza Lotfi, Hossein Alizadeh, Shahram Nazeri, Sima Bina and Mohammad-Reza Shajarian were involved. The relationship between Islam and music has always been difficult. Many conservative religious scholars see even simple melodies and texts of the Persian classical period as problematic. Musicians like Parvaz Homay, who add critical texts with current references to classical Persian music, have to reckon with disabilities and performance bans. Women can only be musically active to a limited extent, because they are only allowed to sing in front of an exclusively female audience. In order to be able to perform in front of a mixed auditorium, some of the singers regularly travel to concerts abroad or live and work, such as Maryam Akhondy, permanently outside their home country.

The classical afghan music is strongly characterized by Indian influences. Indian music instruments were also introduced in Afghanistan. Ghazal consists of Persian rhyming double verses, especially from Bedil, Saʿdī and Hafez. A well-known interpreter of classic Afghan singing is Mohamed Hussein Sarahang.

Musical instruments

In the spring of 2018, the saxophonist Mulo Francel toured Iran and got enthusiastic about Persian music and poetry. The idea for an audio book was born.Because exactly 200 years earlier, Prince Poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was inspired by the medieval mystic Hafis, whom he is his own Twin in spirit called, and published his extensive collection of poetry "West-Eastern Divan". The audio book Goethe's Persian Journey - A West-Eastern Divan Audiobook now contains Goethe texts as well as selected poems by Persian poets such as Hafiz or Rumi in German translation. The music for this was recorded exclusively by Francel's world music group Quadro Nuevo and their guests Basem Darwisch (short-necked oud lute) and Rageed William (ney and duduk flute). After working with Iraqi and Egyptian musicians, Quadro Nuevo is building another cultural bridge across religious-political rifts. [wt]

"Goethe's Persian Journey - A West-Eastern Divan Audiobook", GLM, 2018

String instruments:

Wind instruments:

Percussion instruments:

Persian pop music

The Iranian or Persian pop music was developed in the 1970s with the introduction of new instruments such as the electric guitar. The most famous Persian singers of the time are Googoosh, Hayedeh and Vigen. This pop music was banned after the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Many of the musicians emigrated, especially to Los Angeles. Some well-known interpreters of Persian pop music are Dariush Eghbali, Hassan Sattar, Mahasti, Homeira, Andy Madadian, Faramarz Aslani, Moein, Mansour, Sandy, Ebi, Leyla Forouhar, Farschid Amin, Schahrsad Sepanlou, Afshin, Arash, Shadmehr Aghili, Kamran & Hooman , Shahram Solati, Shohreh Solati, Shahrokh etc.

Bandari is a direction of pop music that has its roots in southern Iranian folk music. The music, which is very danceable due to its special rhythm, is often played at weddings and other celebrations. The bagpipes are particularly characteristic.

Afghan pop music Developed late in the 1950s, following the destruction of the broadcasting corporations that had existed since 1925 in 1929 Radio Kabul was only broadcast nationwide again in 1940. In the early days, Pashtun songs were broadcast with Dari texts. Films and especially music were first imported from Iran, Tajikistan and also Pakistan or India. Over time, however, there were also local artists. Parwin was the first Afghan woman to be played on the radio in 1951. Also musicians like Ahmad Zahir - the Afghan Elvis Presley - or Biltun became known. 1977 sang Mahwash, the most famous Afghan pop singer, the hit O batsche. Since the “war on terror” reached Afghanistan and the Taliban overthrown, the Afghan music scene has emerged anew. Some groups like that Kabul ensemble were noted internationally. Traditional Pashtun music from southeastern Afghanistan also gained momentum.

Rock music

In the late 1990s, after a certain state liberalization of cultural policy, rock music and hard rock music flourished. Since then, new music groups have been emerging continuously. This development differs from Iranian pop music in that it tends to appeal to a younger fan base, those born after the revolution and, in contrast to exiled music from Los Angeles, largely originates in the Iranian underground. Meera and Barad were among the first rock bands in Iran. After the first bands appeared in secret, O-Hum, who offer Hafez 'poetry to rock ’n’ roll sounds, were even allowed to give concerts for Christian Iranians in Tehran. The music label became around the year 2000Hermes Records founded in Tehran and released the first official rock albums by Iranian bands. The first international release was Kiosk's debut album.

Nowadays there are musical competitions and music criticism going underground. However, the Iranian government occasionally allows concerts under certain conditions. Bands like 127 and The Technicolor Dream have already played their English-language pieces. In Iran, rock music with female vocal interludes or heavy metal is produced, as is death metal, e.g. B. the underground heroes ArthimotH and SdS from Isfahan or Poor from Mashhad. The 70s rock-influenced band Cheshme3 plays punk rock.

In July 2005 the music company released Bamahang production in Canada for the first time an album by the Iranian rock band Adame Mamuli, which is the first Iranian underground rock album to be downloaded from Apple's iTunes Music Store. The second album was released in December 2005 Aloodeh of O-hum released. The singer, guitar and setar player Mohsen Namjoo combines traditional Iranian music with rock and jazz with his music. Most recently, Mazgani, who was born in Tehran and lives in Portugal, was considered the bearer of hope for the Americana-Rocks in Europe. Probably the most famous rock musician with Iranian roots was Freddie Mercury (Faroch Bulsara), singer of the band Queen.

Electronic music

Electronic music has a special position in Iran. Since it is mostly composed without human singing, the pieces are not rejected in the same way as other music of Western origin. Many Iranian exiles are active in this area. The most famous band of this style is Deep Dish: Ali "Dubfire" Shirazi and Shahram Tayebi from Washington DC. Furthermore, DJ Behrouz, Behrous Nasai, from San Francisco, Fred Maslaki from Washington DC and Omid 16b, Omid Nourisadeh from London have achieved a certain level of awareness.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia []. Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization.

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

Date: February 2019.

Photo credits: (1) - (2) Impressions from Iran, (3), (5) Rudolstadt-Festival, (6) - (8) Mehdi & Adib Rostami, (9) Omid Bahadori, (11) - (12), (14 ) Quadro Nuevo / Mulo Francel (13) Mohsen Namjoo (unknown / website); (4) Cymin Samawatie (by Karsten Rube); (10) Paul Hoorn & Friends (by Walkin 'Tom).

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