Persian Modern Music: Classic Approach and Modern Perspective

  June 17, 2021   Read time 2 min
Persian Modern Music: Classic Approach and Modern Perspective
Despite the modal diversity in the gusheh, teaching and understanding the dastgah and avaz-dastgah as overarching modalities that provide the dominant modal definition in the system are quite common.

Conversely, a framework of performance that emphasizes the more complex procedural aspects of the original seven dastgah remains at the core of musicians’ conceptions of the fully authentic Iranian music tradition. Thus, traditional Iranian music in its most authentic manifestations of the late twentieth century still emphasized the melodic idiosyncrasy of the individual dastgah. If a musician or a group of musicians with a singer wanted to perform traditional Iranian music in its most authentic form, it would be the radif-dastgah tradition following a detailed procedural model: they would take one particular dastgah and perform the gusheh of it in a fairly set order, with varying degrees of improvisation on the different types of gusheh. This continued emulation of the radif-dastgah tradition’s earliest manifestations has maintained an emphasis on each dastgah’s idiosyncratic use of pitch in the course of ongoing melodic development even as notions of systematic modality have become a standard part of the tradition.

Within the modal diversity of the gusheh, musicians and scholars locate dastgah modality primarily in the gusheh that comprise the first section of a dastgah performance, referred to as the introduction or daramad (darāmad). The dastgah and avaz-dastgah all have a certain number of gusheh that are performed/ improvised upon first in a performance for the daramad. Most gusheh of the daramad are simply called daramad and then numbered to indicate their order in performance (first daramad, second daramad, and so on). Other gusheh may be considered part of the daramad and the gusheh called Kereshmeh (kereshmeh) is one of the most common gusheh to be included as part of this introductory section. While some are improvised upon more than others what the gusheh of the daramad have in common is their use of a specific, consistent modal range. As the performance continues, gusheh will move away from this range, both in terms of moving higher in range and in terms of modulation. Reiteration of the initial daramad modality at certain intervals knits together the ever-changing pitch usage of individual gusheh. Short codified phrases called forud (forūd) provide restatements of the opening modal range as the performance proceeds. Thus, the modal range of the daramad does provide a consistent modal touchstone throughout the performance.

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