Persian traditional music or Iranian traditional music, also known as Persian classical music is the traditional and indigenous music of Iran. Persian traditional music is appreciated and enjoyed by all different ethnic groups across Greater Iran, the history of musical development in Iran dates back to the prehistoric era. King Jamshid of Persia, a figure of Shahnameh, is credited with the invention of music. Fragmentary documents from various periods of the countrys history establish that the ancient Iranians possessed a musical culture. Archeological evidence reveals musical instruments that were used in Persia during the Elamit era around 800 BC, little is known about the Persian music of the ancient world, least of all about the music of the Achaemenid Empire. Alexander the Great is said to have witnessed many melodies and instruments upon his invasion, Music played an important role in the courts of the kings of the much later Sassanid Empire. Of this period, we know the names of court musicians like Barbad. Under Sassanid rule, modal music was developed by a significant court musician, Barbad. Under the later Qajar Empire, the system was restructured into its present form mostly through the efforts of two legendary musicians of that time, Agha Hossein-Ghoul and Mara Abdullah. Persian traditional music relies on both improvisation and composition, and is based on a series of scales and tunes which must be memorized. Apprentices and masters, ostad, have a relationship which has declined during the 20th century as music education moved to universities and conservatories. The common repertoire consists of more than two hundred short melodic movements called gusheh, which are classified into seven dastgāh or modes, two of these modes have secondary modes branching from them called āvāz. Each gusheh and dastgah has an individual name and this whole body is called the Radif of which there are several versions, each in accordance to the teachings of a particular master or ostad. A typical performance consists of the following elements pīshdarāmad, darāmad, āvāz, taṣnīf, Chahārmeżrāb, a performance forms a sort of suite. Unconventionally, these parts may be varied or omitted, towards the end of the Safavid Empire, more complex movements in 10,14, and 16 beats stopped being performed. Today, rhythmic pieces are performed in beats of 2 to 7 with some exceptions, rengs are always in a 6/8 time frame. Many melodies and modes are related to the maqāmāt of the Turkish classical repertoire and Arabic music belonging to various Arab countries and this similarity is because of the exchange of musical science that took place in the early Islamic world between Persia and her neighboring countries. The vocalist plays a role, he or she decides what mood to express
Karna, one of the ancient Persian musical instruments, 6th century BC, Persepolis Museum.
Ancient Persians attached great importance to music and poetry, like today. Post Sassanid era silver plate. 7th century. The British Museum.
Wall painting depicting a scene from 17th century Persia.