Iranian Ethnic Music

Ethnic music is part of ethnic and national culture and identity. The music of each nation expresses aspirations, wishes and feelings and expresses the type of movement of these feelings and wishes. The type of behaviors and movements that show love, epic, consolation, mysticism, feast and other cultural manifestations.


Iranian musical instrument

Traditional Iranian music, also known as original Iranian music, Iranian classical music, and instrumental music, including instruments, melodies, and songs, have flowed from the years of Christ to the present day in the text of the Iranian people, and what More enjoyable, simpler and more understandable is available today. Much of Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Republic of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey, and Greece are influenced by this music, and each has contributed to the formation of this music. In other words, musicians in ancient Iran can be referred to as “Barbad”, “Nakisa” and “Ramtin”.


Iranian Folk music

 Balochistan music

 Bushehr Music

Torbat-e-Jam, Khaf, Taybad music

 Turkmen music حSahra

Music of North Khorasan

Kurdistan Music

 Music of Kermanshah

 Lorestan Music

Hormozgan music


Most advanced cultures, in addition to their so-called traditional music, have other music called local music. Music reflects all the needs of the people and belongs to all individual and social aspects.

In the cultures of the late Stone Age, musicians were healers who restored health to man. This view is seen in the culture of many parts of the world, including significant parts of Iran.

Folk music falls into the realm of branches or genres of culture and art called popular culture. One of the characteristics of folk music is its simplicity and unpretentiousness.

In Iranian folk music, on the one hand, the role of early arts, beliefs, feelings and life of the past in general can be recovered, and on the other hand, the effects of nature are the main component of Iranian folk music, songs. Many of these songs are reminiscent of local myths and legends. In ancient times, there was a very deep and strong connection between poetry and music.

Although local music, on the occasion of its name, seems to have its own color and smell in every place, and in many cases it is; But research shows that at the same time with such a feature, there are similarities between folk music in different parts of Iran.

One of the characteristics of local music in Iran is its efficiency in religious ceremonies.

Music could not grow as much as local vocal music; Because vocal music has historically preceded and human beings have easily been able to sing in any situation or in any place; But the instruments were made in the more advanced stages of civilization and gradually and then used.


History of Iranian music

One of the most important seals of music (Khonyagari) in the world; It should be mentioned that what is left in “Chaghamish Hill” of Dezful, which was found in 1961-1966. This 3400-year-old seal; It shows a picture of a feast of Rameshgaran. In this ancient feast, khonyagar (musician) groups are seen, each of whom is engaged in playing.


The way these harpsichordists play and sit shows that they are the first choir in the world. In this group of Rameshgaran, we see that the musicians play “harp” and another “trumpet” and the other “tonbak”. The fourth Rameshgar is a singer who sings “Avaz”. Also in this ancient feast, we see Azadeh sitting on a carpet and receiving him.


We know such khonyagars in Ilam in the 27th century BC and since the reign of “Pozoz in Shushinak” in Susa. Since then, there are seals and signs that show that many swindlers lived in Iran. At this time, the playing of the harp has become very widespread and this instrument is made by Iranians.


We have a picture that shows that in the kingdom of “Shokal Mah Ho” and since the 17th century BC in Iran, the strings of Mishdia, a carving in Ilam, again shows the Iranian khonyagars who played the Daf with the harp. In this carving, it can also be seen that among 11 khonyagars; 8 harps, 2 reeds and 1 tambourine are played.

In Lorestan province, strings have been played since the 9th century BC. In other parts of Iran, from 559 BC, pottery has been found in the Silk Hill of Kashan and Marvdasht, which has been painted with the appearance of dancing and touching.

A group of Iranian women performing music, paintings of contemporary works at the Abbasi Hotel in Isfahan

The term “ancient Iranian khania” is a pure spelling of Iranian words, which translates to “ancient Iranian music” or in other words “traditional Iranian music”. This Iranian term is well understood today. Using excavated evidence, such as the statue discovered at Sasa, the music records go back well to the Elamite Empire (644-2500 BC).

Ancient Iranian musicians

The most famous music scholars of this pre-Islamic period were as follows

* Barbd

* Rogue

* Ramtin

* Bamshad

* Afarin

* Nakisa

Barbad made a new song for each day of the week, which is known as Haft Khosravani. He also composed thirty tones or thirty hands for each day of the month and 360 songs or 360 hands for 360 days of the year. Jame Duran song, which is in the line of Iranian music, is composed by Nakisa and played with the harp. There are other hands called the right instrument that Barbad made and today it is one of the weekly instruments of Iranian music, also to the songs and hands of the great Nowruz, the arrangement of the sun, the moon on the hump (the moon above the mountain), Kane Iraj, the mourning of Siavash and the treasure of the wind , Ganj Kavous, Takht Taqdis, Farrokh Rooz, Shog Shidiz and Bagh Shirin.


Iranian traditional music consists of seven instruments, which are:

Shoor Device

Segah Devices

Chahargah Device

Homayoun Device

Mahoor Device

Nava Device

Rastpanjgah  Device

A work of perfection


Song (Iranian music)

Singing is usually a part of the instrument that can be called a sub-instrument.

There are 5 songs belonging to the Iranian musical instrument and they are:

Song of Abu Atta, belonging to Shoor (second degree)

Bayat Turk song (Bayat Zand), belonging to Shoor, (third degree)

Afshari song, belonging to Shoor device, (fourth degree)

Dashti song, belonging to Shoor device, (fifth degree)

Bayat Kurd song, belonging to Shoor device (fifth degree)

Song of Bayat Isfahan, belonging to Homayoun, (fourth degree)


A group of musicians, the surviving seal of Susa























Duduk (Balaban)



Don Ali






the bell






Santour standing

Ectar (single wire instrument)

And other instruments related to different and local areas

Lithograph of women musicians in the Bostan arch playing the harp

Music of Iranian regions

Baluchi music

Azerbaijani Turkish music

Bakhtiari Music

Music of southern Iran

Khorasani music

Gilaki music

Music of Qazvin

Kordish music

Lorestan Music

Mazandaran Music

Salt music

Hamedan Music

Talesh music

Port music

Ilamite music

Qashqai music

Persian folk music


Music of different ethnicities in Iran

The existence of musical instruments and their rhythm has existed for a long time in our Iranian culture and customs. The role of music is prominent in most Iranian celebrations. But the wedding, as the most important celebration among families, has become closely intertwined with music. Cheerful and rhythmic music can help to make the wedding atmosphere more exciting and create a happy and pleasant environment.

Local music:

Among different Iranian ethnic groups, music has its roots and originality. Music is woven into the veins and blood of Iranians, and most Iranian tribes have maintained an interest in local music according to the customs and rituals of their fathers. Evidence of this claim is the popularity of local music in celebrations and weddings.

Music in the region of Azerbaijan:

Traditional music among different ethnic groups is a reflection of the life, spirits and well-being of the people of that region. Azerbaijani music is based on this idea and is one of the oldest and most original local music in our country. Azerbaijani folk music with a fast and exciting beat is very suitable for weddings and has countless fans.

Music in the Kurdistan region

Despite numerous cultural attacks from different countries, Kurdish music still lives as dynamic and strong as in the past due to its deep roots and rich background. Music has also become a part of people’s lives in Kurdistan and the Kurdish regions. Kurdish music is very remarkable in terms of richness and originality. In Kurdish areas, music is divided into three different categories. Rural and traditional music, urban music, religious music along with original music, the existence of local instruments as well as local dance have also contributed to the promotion of the indigenous culture of the people of the region.

Music in Khorasan region

Another rooted and original Iranian music should be sought in the Khorasan region. Where the connection of different cultures from Turks, Lors and Kurds to Baluchs and Kermanj is. Khorasan music has taken its greatest influence from the climate and geography of the region and therefore is divided into two categories: plain and foothill music. The most prominent feature of Khorasan music is storytelling during music performance. Epic tone and mythical stories have a special place in Khorasan music.

Music in Gilan region

The northern region of the country, due to the cultural ties of different ethnic groups, has a very rich and original music. Music in this region, unlike other parts of the country, does not have a single style. In other words, regarding the variety of songs, music styles, melodies and rhythms, we are faced with different types in different parts of Gilan. In Gilan, for weddings, we are faced with a special style of music that is different from other styles of music. This area is different. The music of these areas has undergone several changes in recent times with the influence of new instruments and the combination of tradition and modernity.

Music in Mazandaran region

The effect of music on the soul of human beings is undeniable. The pleasant sound of local instruments and the resonance of local music in creating joy and creating collective enthusiasm is indisputable. The remarkable thing about Mazni music is that this vocal music is traditionally performed in the west and center of this province without instruments. . Vocal music is an important part of the region’s music. Common instruments in Mazandaran are: Lalehvar, Deserkoten, Daireh, Serna, Kamancheh, Ghazneh and Dotar in the east of Mazandaran. Homayoun, Dashti and Shoor are performed.

Music in Khuzestan region

Music is an integral part of the life of the people of Khuzestan. Art that combines with dance and has taken on a theatrical form. In the celebrations and wedding ceremonies, the traditional music of this region has a special place. The music of this country also has deep and deep-rooted connections with the music of the African natives. It is accompanied by singers sitting in a circle and moving their shoulders left and right by beating the music. Another popular music in this area is called Yazleh, which is accompanied only by touching. Melody is of special importance in this music and song is of secondary importance.

Music in Hormozgan province

Musical instruments such as barbat, oud, dahl, ignorance and…. They are used by some people in the province for entertainment as well as a place to earn money. The music of Hormozgan and Bandar Abbas is taken from the traditions and rituals of the people of this land. Music is strongly influenced by the geographical environment. The music of this region is often accompanied by dance.

Music in Sistan and Baluchestan

Due to its proximity to India, the music of this country is strongly influenced by Indian music. There are several types of Baluchi music, each of which is related to a part of the life of the people of this region: Large Shashgani is one of the songs sung and performed at weddings. Nazinak, which is sung at wedding songs and the text Its lyrics are different for the bride and groom. The larva is also related to the last day of the wedding, whose lyrics are rhythmic, and it can be said that the lyrics are more important than the music.


Khorasan music is a valuable treasure of Iranian history

Music of Khorasan regions with a long history and having special musical capabilities has played a significant role in the development of Iranian music, so most music professors believe that Khorasan is the cradle of traditional music from the distant past.

Regional music is a type of music that looks at the songs, instruments and melodies of the regions and regions of Iran and since the studies and researches have been done about it, names such as local music, folklore, tribes and Maqami have been attributed to this type of music.

The Maqami music, which was given a lasting decoration by ‘Tar and Dotar’, grew in Khorasan and was extended beyond the borders of Iran.

Traditional music of Khorasan is the music of the regions that is related to the songs, instruments and songs of the regions and regions of Iran and has a lot of value.

Iran has a history of 2,500 years in ancient civilization

Khorasan Maqami music has been able to help spread and spread the Persian language from the past and introduce the history of this border to the world with mystical poems. The depth of the influence of the original Iranian culture can be seen in the works of Khorasan musicians.

The music of North and South Khorasan has been passed down from generation to generation over the years and now this valuable heritage is in the possession of many great musicians.

After Khorasan, we can mention the Isfahan school, which has had many influences in the field of music.

Introduction to the history of Iranian music

Iranian music can be historically divided into ancient and Islamic periods

Ancient times: Pre-Islamic or ancient times are related to the time before the Arab invasion of Iran

This period is divided into smaller periods of the Medes, Achaemenids, Parthians and Sassanids.

Part of it is related to before these dynasties in the Elamite civilization and part to prehistoric or mythological time.

Due to the interaction of oriental music in antiquity, Iranian or oriental music can have many similarities with Indian, Turkish and Iraqi music.

Mythological Age: This period also dates back to prehistoric times. Due to its antiquity, little data is available from this period. Archaeologically, the seal or emblem of Choghamish is one of the few works related to this period. The most important work found in the music of this period is Mehr Chaghamish, which belongs to 3500 BC.

Regarding this period, we can also refer to Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh, in which the construction and interest of ancient and mythical characters in instruments such as Sorna are discussed:.

This Iranian term is well understood today, but it is rarely used in comparison with the widely used term “original music”, which has the same meaning.

Obviously, little information is available about the music of this period. The only exceptions are musical instruments such as guitars, oud and flutes that have been invented and played. Musical instruments such as the barbet are said to have originated in this period, around 800 BC.

Achaemenid period: Herodotus is quoted as saying that during the Achaemenid Empire, also known as the “Persian Empire”, music played an important role, especially in the courts.

He says that the existence of music was essential for the religious worship of God. Later, after the proclamation of the religion of the Prophet Zoroaster, Mitra, a person who became more and more accepted as a false god or devil as well as other idols.

The term “ancient Persian khania” is a term related to the post-Achaemenid era.

In addition to the Gatha melodies, another type of music called martial music as well as ballad music was composed during this period. The drums of this period led the warriors to the battlefields with motivation and the tambourines and reeds warmly welcomed them in the victory celebration.

Parthian period: In this period, new music appeared in Iran. During this period, music became free and popular and escaped from the shackles of the government and the court. During this period, people such as: Wards appeared in Khorasan or Gosans in all regions.

The Sassanid period: The interest of the Sassanid kings in music is quite evident from the narrations of historians and from the designs carved on the silver vessels and the mosaics found in Bishapour Kazerun and the plaster casts found in the lungs and reliefs.

The role of one of the exquisite mosaics found in the ruins of Bishapour Kazerun in 1319 is a female musician sitting and holding a harp.

Among the trays of Simin, which have been found since the time of the Sassanids, in a tray, the body of a king can be seen sitting on a throne and prostrating in front of him.

There is another tray in which a woman sits and drags on a dragon. On a large silver plate, the king sits on a throne and plays harp and spear in front of him.

In the reliefs of the Kermanshah Bostan arch, where the hunting scene is sometimes sculpted, in a house, the role of several harp girls sitting in a boat and following the king, who is hunting on a swamp, is moving and playing the harp.

Ardeshir Papkan knew the different classes of musicians well and had set a special law for each.

Anoushirvan made an obvious effort to observe the law and the rights of artists, and Bahram Gour himself was a master of chakam. Bahram Gour asked many of these actors and musicians named Loli from India and scattered them in different parts of the country. The golden age of Sassanid music should be considered as the reign of Khosrow Parviz.

Music reached its peak in his time and the encouragement of Khosrow Parviz from the people of taste and giving many prizes, this industry became popular at that time and famous musicians such as Nakisa and Barbad emerged who became famous in khaniagari and rameshgari.

With the encouragement and support of the Sassanid court of musicians, the people gradually became interested in music, so that in this period the musicians enjoyed a lot of prosperity and respect.

The names of the first great Iranian musicians such as Barbad, Nakisa, Bamshad and Ramtin have been remembered for us since that time. Also the name of many melodies of music and instruments of that time.

In the Pahlavi book of Khosrow, son of Ghobad, a long collection of Sassanid instruments has been collected.

  • Ordinary oud, Indian oud (Vienna), barbat, harp, a kind of harp (Andrew), tambourine, large copper tambourine, small tambourine (chamber), small drum (chamber), dulcimer (side), bell, tray, qara Strings, snakes, dice and a few other musical instruments that are difficult to identify, such as chains, shields, swords, muskets, rods, rivets, shishk, kopecks.

Masoudi mentions the names of the instruments used in ancient Iran in Murooj al-Dhahab, and considers the harps, the strings, the oud, the barbat, and the serena to be from the Iranians, and says that the foundation of the curtains, music, and seven songs of Khosravi were laid by the Iranians.

Masoudi writes in the promoters of gold: The people of Khorasan used the harp and the people of Tabarestan and Dilemistan preferred Rabab.

The period of the Arab invasion: Before the Arab invasion, melodies were played in which songs from the Avesta called Mazdin were played, which were in harmony with the mood. After the Arab invasion, many fashions and melodies disappeared due to the Arab invasion, which considered music to be an immoral issue.

When Islam was adopted as the dominant religion of Iran, the rulers decided to ban music altogether and later discourage the people from whispering Mazdin prayers.

Traditional music was played in the courts until the twentieth century. During the rule of the extremist Islamists of the Middle Ages, music was played secretly.

Although most Arab rulers banned music-related activities, others ordered Iranian musicians to compose pieces in book form, which in Arabic was called the “Great Book of Music,” meaning the Great Book of Music.

The religious leaders of Islam initially banned music and considered it a source of corruption and futility. But during the Abbasids, who ruled their court in the Sassanid style, the secular and secular aspects of music increased and music flourished; Some of the great musicians of this period are: Abolfaraj Isfahani, Abdolqader Maraghi, [Qutbuddin Mahmoud Shirazi], Hakim Abu Nasr Farabi and Safiuddin Ermavi.

Safavid period: In the Safavid period, music was under the control of the court and was removed from society. Iranian music suffered the most during the Safavid period, but its religious form continued in the form of taziyeh and dramatic plays, as well as by musicians and traveling poets.