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Traditional hierarchies of authenticity and value

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Traditional hierarchies of authenticity and value

Postby Gotravel » Wed Aug 07, 2013 5:30 am

The position of a particular work of music often depends on the music genre and its relationship to music theory. The academic Authentic Persian Music (Musiq-i-Asil) is strongly based on the theories of sonic aesthetics as expounded by the likes of Farabi and Shirazi in the early centuries of Islam. It also preserves melodic formula that are often attributed to the musicians of the Persian imperial court of Khosroe Parviz in the Sassanid Period. Dastgah is the music of those who have a greater share of, or affect to be in possession of, refined taste and high culture and as such, in spite of its present popularity, has always been the preserve of the elite. However, the influence of Dastgah can not be underestimated as it is seen as the reservoir of authenticity that other forms of musical genres derive melodic and performance ideas and inspiration.

Other genres of respectable music were not as soundly based in abstract theory, but from a utilitarian point of view were useful. To this group belongs the martial music of Persia (Musiqi Razmi), whose roots go back to the Parthian era, as attested by Roman sources. This form of music has now been almost completely replaced by European forms ever since the modernization of the armed forces. This type of music with large drums, brass and reed instruments was used not only at war but also in official and solemn occasions. The Naqareh Khaneh or the house of drum, the chief exponent of this type of music survived into the Qajar Period but by this time much of the expertise, fostered during the Safavid era, had disappeared. The only trace of this form of music in a much simplified form is the music of the Zurkhaneh, the traditional martial arts of Iran, where the exercises of champions (Pahlavan, literally Parthians) is regulated by a drummer / vocalist known as the Murshid.
Religious music as a category for music is not a musicologically homogeneous genre. The Shiite passion plays depicting the martyrdom of Imam Hussein have its beginnings in the martial music of Iran. Similarly Sufi music, though having set traditions of its own such as the use of the mystical instrument daf and a set compendium of librettos in Persian mystical poetry, is nevertheless perhaps closest to Dastgah music but enjoys a greater freedom of composition and is rhythmically more sophisticated.

The recitation of the Koran is not considered music by Muslims, but something more sublime. Similarly, religious liturgy or Noheh is a category of improvised song, but is never discussed in musical terms.

Popular music however occupies a low ebb in the rungs of respectability with the exception of folk music that plays an important role in the daily life of rural Iranians. Some of the most beautiful music composed in Iran is remembered in the folk songs in Kurdistan and Khorasan for example. Unlike other forms of music that derive from Classical Persian Music, Folk songs have greatly influenced the Dastgah system, and names such as Isfahan and Bayat e Turk attest to the regional origins of the melodic formulae that underlie Persian Art Musical Tradition.

Musical theatre in the form of Rohozi, whereby the covered pool in the middle of an inner courtyard served as a stage, is considered decadent by many Iranians. Tasneefs or popular urban compositions were often put together for the purposes of dance often in all women parties and some of the more famous compositions like Baba Karam and the accompanying dance is today the height of Persian Kitsch. (Dr Salardini – excerpt from upcoming book)
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