Classical Persian music is generally modal and is not always based on the traditional major and minor scales of music. It is also generally monophonic, (mostly consisting of a single vocal part). Musical pieces consist of melody and rhythm, and, when a singer is involved, the melody is repeated with some variation. Melodic patterns are called gushehs (literally meaning “corner”) and generally reflect the rhythm or the melodic pattern of the poem being used. Traditional melodies are ordered in a radif (literally meaning “rank” and “series”). Radif is a sonic space identifying the movement of the melodies, and, as such, it groups a large number of sequences or melodies ( gusheh ) in a mode. The procedure for melodic invention with a mode is called mâyeh (basis) and “includes rules for cadences, a hierarchy of tones,” and an appropriate “melodic pattern.” 1 In the late nineteenth century, the above system was restructured and the modes were reconstituted in twelve dastgâhs (literally meaning “system”). A dastgâh is very similar to the Indian Raga or Arabic maqâm system. Each dastgâh has a related eight note scale and its own repertoire of gushehs (such as kereshmeh, chahâr pardeh, and suz-o godâz ). Seven of these dastgâhs are considered primary modes ( shur, navâ, mâhur, c hahârgâh, homâyun, segâh , and râstpanjeh) and five as secondary ( Abu ‘Atâ, dashti, bayât-e turk, afshâri, bayât-e Esfahân ). The compositional structure of Persian music includes three instrumental forms and one vocal form. The instrumental forms are called pishdarâmad (prelude), châhâr mezrâb (a solo piece based on the melody that precedes it), and reng (a dance piece played at the end of a dastgâh ). The vocal form ( tasnif) is sung based on the melody. The rhythm is usually “in duple, triple, or quadruple time,” 2 and the melodies are derived from the gushehs. The initial gusheh in a dastgâh is called darâmad. The lyrics are often mystical selections from the classical Persian poetry. Recently, modern poetry, which often is devoid of traditional rhythmic structure, has been used as well. Performers are expected to develop their own compositions by selecting items that would make a “suite.” Ornamentation, decorating a piece of music without changing the context, is widely used and is an important feature of delivery. Performers expand upon the composition either through careful preparation or spontaneous improvisation ( bedâh-e navâzi ). Ornamentation and improvisation add excitement and creativity to the pieces by allowing both instrumentalists and vocals to improvise “within a single mode for the duration of the performance.”3 Relatively similar to yodeling in the Western music, vocal ornamentation ( tahrir) is often dense and the tempo rapid. Poems are often sung within the context of a suite and without a time signature (thus rhythmically free). Long pauses are also common in musical performances. Rhythms and melodies are freer and there is slurring between the notes. The various schools of music in Iran are often named after the region in which they were originally developed (i.e., Gilaki, Kordi, Shushtari, and Esfahân ) . Traditionally, master musicians teach their students individually, offering them tailored education. Reading biographies of Persian musicians, one notices a clear distinction from Western ones: each musician identifies the master under whom s/he has been trained. This is very similar to the traditional education in the seminaries where each teaching âyatollâh devotes himself to a few students, making sure to pass all the relevant knowledge to them. While following a guideline of general rules, each musical master often has his own interpretation of gushehs. The radif is transferred orally because there are no written symbols. A student learns by observing the master’s performance, memorizing the piece, and practicing it in his presence. The radiftakes a student about four years to learn, since it is the entire repertoire of Persian music which has been passed down. It takes about ten hours or so to perform the radif. As these radif collections have been passed along, the number of gushehs within them has increased since new master musicians often add new elements to their collection. Persian music is usually performed in a small chamber ensemble, rather than in an orchestra, consisting of different instrumentalists accompanied by a vocalist. Musicians sit on benches or carpets spread on the floor, with some decorated pillows behind them. Instruments used would vary but invariably two or more of the followings are involved: kamâncheh, târ, setâr, santur, tonbak, and nay . The kamâncheh is a bowed lute with a small, hollowed hardwood body and a thin stretched skin membrane. The târ is a six-stringed long-necked lute ranging about two and a half octaves. The dutâr has two steel strings and is tuned in fourth or fi fth intervals. The setâr has four strings, even though its name means “three strings.” Its delicacy and intimate sonority has made it a favorite instrument for Sufi music. The santur (hammered dulcimer) is a zither-type stringed instrument with 72 strings arranged over two sets of nine bridges on each side. It has a range of a little over three octaves. The tonbak (also called dombak or zarb ) is a kind of goblet-shaped drum and is used as the chief percussion instrument. The nay is a flute with finger holes, which has a range of two and a half octaves, producing a nasal and thin sound. The daf is a frame drum often used in spiritual Sufi music. Recently becoming very popular, this instrument has been integrated into all genres of music in Iran. For a period of time the violin overshadowed the kamâncheh , but recently the latter has gained a new popularity. Although each of these instruments has distinct sound, they maintain a monophonic texture.