The Concept of Radif and Three Paradigms of Persian Music in Contemporary Iran
From 30 years ago onwards, Persian music, under the influence of Western philosophy, has been Westernised in the sense that some elements of Western philosophy have strongly impacted Persian music. In this paper, I intend to propose a critical leap in Persian music which leads to the creation of three different paradigms in Persian music. Philosophically, Persian music can be seen from three perspectives: Transcendental, Secular and Nominalistic. The Transcendental view considers Persian music as something that is related to what comes from high up, i.e. God. In this paradigm, the concept of Radif is a very important element which has a high place in the history of Persian music. Contrarily, the Secular view focuses on the mundane feature of Persian music in the sense that musicians care to produce melodies by humans and for humans. If Transcendentalists consider music as “less is more,” Secularists treat it as “less is bore.” However, the Nominalistic view tries to leave the two previous paradigms behind by not considering any essence for music, and thus focuses on the contextual feature of music. I conclude by saying that we are now dealing with different “Persian musics” rather than “a Persian music”.
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