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"Form " in the Radif of Iranian Music:
"Form" is a western term designating conformity of the musical piece with predefined notions, such as sonata, symphonic and concerto forms in the western classical music, or peeshdaramad, reng, tasneef, chaharmezrab, and finally classical solo performance forms in the Iranian traditional music.
The Iranian classical solo performance form
Before the invention of peeshdaramad, or the advance of tasneef and chaharmezrab forms by the contemporary musicians, the performance of Iranian music was based on avaz where the main emphasis was on the poetic rhythms that in the framework of the musical performance were rendered in free rhythmic patterns. However, the monotony in the performance of this kind of music goaded the musicians to invent separate pieces that were nevertheless unified under the structure of the solo performance.
This, in a way, revolutionized the manner in which music used to be performed. The peeshdaramad form and the evolution of the tasneef and the reng forms were the offsprings of this major change.
The innovators of these forms, such as Darveesh Khan and Mokhtari, who were influenced by the military music of their time were able to compose valuable pieces that promoted and developed those forms. Finally, the classical solo performance form assumed the following structure:
1. Peeshdaramad (a slow rhythmic piece lasting between 5 to 8 minutes),
2. Daramad and movement along the general melodies of the dastgah or gusheh,
3. Chaharmezrab (a fast rhythmic piece lasting between 3 to 5 minutes and melodically following the general mood of the performance),
4. Continuation of the avaz and modulation,
5. Zarbi-khani (rhythmic vocal piece) or zarbi-navazi (rhythmic
instrumental piece ) after the modulation (lasting between 5 to 8 minutes),
6. Continuation of the avaz and other modulations,
7. Owje (a movement to the highest degree of the mode),
8. Foroud-e-avaz (return to the home key),
9. Tasneef-e-bargardan (a song in the original mode),
10. Reng-e-khatemeh (a dance-like piece marking the end of the performance).
The above form was followed in nearly all of the performances and sometimes would take up to two hours to culminate (the times quoted in the parantheses are only approximate guidelines and can be significantly different from the above in an actual performance; however, the length of the rhythmic pieces should in no way disrupt the flow of the vocal or instrumental rendition of the avaz).
Using the above form the solo performers could logically expand the duration of their performance. One of the most important features of the classical solo performance form is in the way the listener is guided along, not unlike being taken on a journey. Different moods and emotions such as fear, sorrow, and happiness are experienced throughout this journey; however, the final goal is to free the listener from her (his) worldly shackles and bring her (him) closer to her (his) spiritual self.
M. R. Lotfi
Translated by Behzad Towhidi
As appeared on Name-ye-Shayda newsletter