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Radeef and Dastgah


Radeef and Dastgah



Persian music is presently organized into twelve systems called dastgah. Dastgah is a general word meaning apparatus, mechanism, scheme, or framework. Thus there are dastgah for weaving carpets, for conducting government operations, and for making music. When a musician performs, he plays in a certain dastgah for the length of the performance, which may last from five minutes to an hour. The dastgah in classical Persian music are also twelve in number. Transposed to start on C they are:

Mahur, Rast Panjgah C D E F G A B C

Shur, Dashti, C Dk Eb F G Ab Bb C

Abu Ata, Nava Bayat-e TorkC D E F G A Bk C

Afshari C D(k) E F G Ak Bb C

Homayun C Dk E F G A Bb C

Esfahan C D Eb F G Ak B C

Sehgah' C D Ek F G Ak Bb C

Chahargah C Dk E F G Ak B C

The dastgah is a collection of smaller units called gusheh in Persian and maqam in Arabic. A number of gusheh-ha, usually from three to fifteen, comprise a dastgah, the exact number depending on the performer's knowledge of the repertory and the length of time he wishes to play. Within each dastgah are several notes of special importance. One is the note where the dastgah stops, the ist. The second is the shahed, the note on which the melody centers. Third is the noteghayer, to be discussed later.

Diagram 15-1 illustrates the structure of the dastgah. The bottom line represents the note that functions as a tonic, the upper line is the upper octave. Each rectangle is a gusheh. An important characteristic of this system is that each gusheh occupies a definite part of the octave. As in Indian music, the performance rises to the upper part of the range and then descends, ending where it began.

The dastgah, as a framework or an apparatus for making music, is relatively easy to understand: it is a collection of gusheh-ha. Each collection is unified in the following ways: all the gusheh-ha in a dastgah use the same scale degrees (or pitch collection) with, perhaps, the addition of one or two accidentals toward the middle of the performance. A dastgah performance usually begins and ends in the same tetrachord. Furthermore, the gusheh played at the opening is usually played at the end.

Yet another device for unifying a dastgah is a specific cadence pattern characteristic of each dastgah. This is called forud, meaning descent, and it may be played between gusheh-ha, especially if the performance is quite long. (The for- ud is indicated by dotted lines on the diagram.)

#3 DIAGRAM 15-1. Dastgah as a collection of gushch-ha.

DIAGRAM 15-2. Gushch-ha as a collection of small pieces.

The musician begins to play the daramad, the first section of the dastgah. After playing this section of the dastgah for a while (the while can be half an hour!), there is a slight pause in the music, and then something sounds different. The musician has changed gusheh. He has gone from the daramad into something else. This is called the "maqam principle." The gusheh has, like the dastgah, an ist, usually different from the ist of the daramad, and it has a very different shahed. The gusheh may be further up the tetrachord, using, let us say, the fourth through the eighth notes of the scale. It always sounds different, be it in the melody, a rhythmic figure, or just the use of notes that differentiate that gusheh from any other. All gusheh-ha played by Iranian musicians are not the same, however; they are selected by each musician either beforehand or while he is playing.

So the musician has gone to a different gusheh and everyone knows where he has gone, for each gusheh contains a note called the moteghayer, which is not in the parent dastgah. Say, for example, the scale of the dastgah is the same as the Western melodic minor: C, D, E@ P G Ab B@ C. This particular gusheh has A@ as the moteghayer. So whenever you hear it, and the musician makes sure you do hear it, you know that this note is the moteghayer and you know he has gone to another gusheh. When he leaves this gusheh you will know the difference because you will once again hear A@, not A4, the moteghayer of the preceding gusheh.

Each gusheh has a title and tracing it can be fun. Some mean large, bozorg, or small, kouckek. Some are the names of towns, Zabol and Ravandi; and some are names of people: Homayoun, Leyli, and Majnoun.

The total of all the gushehs in all twelve dastgahs is called the radif. There are several people who have notated their own radifs. The government of Iran printed the radif of Moussa Mal rufli'' which is now used in the National Conservatory, as a guide for learning the radif.

By Ella Zonis,