The Persian Empire, with all its grandeur and glory, has left us little to reveal the nature of its musical culture. Herodotus mentions the religious rituals of Zoroastrians, which involved chanting of sacred hymns. Xenophon, in its Cyropedia, speaks about the martial and ceremonial music of the Empire.

    The first documents of any extent on Persian music come to us from Sassanian period (A.D. 226-652). At the Sassanian court  musicians had an exalted status. Emperor Khosro Parviz was patron to numerous musicians. Ramtin, Bamshad, Nakisa, Azad, Sarkash and Barbod were among the musicians of this periods whose names have survived.

    Barbad was most illustrious musician of the court of Khosro Parviz. He is credited with the organization of a musical system containing seven modal structures, known as royal modes, thirty derivative modes and three hundred and sixty melodies  which apparently correspond with the number of days in the week, month and year of the Sassanian calendar.

    We do not know what these modes and melodies were, but a number of their names have been related by the writers of the Islamic era. In general, the musical documents from the ensuing periods abound in references to the music of the Sassanian age. An investigation of these works brings the quasi-certainty that the music of Sassanian period had been the germination seed from which Islamic music grew.

        The traditional Persian music arrived to us through an oral tradition, it is expressive music. It is expression of feelings, emotions, " movements of heart ". Sometimes not measured, sometimes very rhythmic, it makes alternate a meditative character, even a nostalgia of the absolute, at this time there lived many large ancient Moorish - whose majority were mystics.



If you have any questions or comments feel free to e-mail me.


Senior Project : 2001-2002 The Great Persian Empire Website