Middle East

Exploring Pathways of Appreciation

To foster an awareness and appreciation of music by listening and coming to appreciate how the diverse application of shared elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, texture and form gives rise to such diverse expressive pathways showcasing an inner beauty of the human spirit.

Here are links to music performances showing diverse styles and performance as voiced around the world; each expressing a component part of a global diverse counterpoint of cultural contrast. Enjoy yourself and do check on the links.

Without support from authoritive references this site would not be possible.

In Counterpoint of Cultural Contrast

HomeClassical European AmericanNative FolkMiddle EastIndian-AsianJapaneseAfricanAnd More
Fiddle & BluegrassCountry/balladJazz & Blues
Throat SingingNative American
Vocal AdventuresFlute FormsViolin VersatilityDrumbeats

Music of Iran

Music of Iran reflects an ancient past and a rich legacy of age old traditions.

Tasnif: BEZAN AN ZAKHMEH Ahang: Alizadeh Sher: Shafiee Kadkani Avaz: Dashti


The Daf is a frame drum made out of wood. One side is covered with lamb or goatskin, and on the inside of the frame little metal rings are attached, which create sound at the smallest movement. When played it is held with both hands, and played with the fingers. Considered a sacred instrument, the Daf is present in Sufi rituals for its power to create trance states. This drum has now established a permanent position in the Iranian classical orchestra.

For more on Persian drums see: http://www.persiandrums.com/home/instruments.htm

Here is a traditional piece from Iran played on the Kamancheh.


The kamancheh ( spiked fiddle) is a Persian instrument related to the violin. Played with a variable-tension Bow. the kamancheh consists of a round body made from gourd or wood, which acts as a sound box covered with a thin sheep skin membrane. Traditional kamanchehs have three silk strings  however, modern ones have four metal ones. At the bottom of the instrument is a spike to support the kamancheh while it is being played. The kamancheh is the only bowed string instrument in classical Persian and Kurdish music. http://www.statemaster.com/encyclopedia/Kamancheh

The four strings ( low to high)are tuned to G,D,A,E. This tuning shows the strong influence of the western violin. Other alternative tunings include D,A,D,A. This spacing lends itself more towards Indian- Asian music styles.


 Cretan Lyra composition

The Cretan Lyra is a 3 stringed violin-like instrument that is pear shaped with a lightly curved top and an arched back. The soundboard has two small semi-circular sound holes. It is played with a bow, which in the earlier years was strung with hawk bells to greater emphasize the rhythm. The use of hawk-bells is sadly rarely seen today, used mainly by players from the remoter villages who play with a more retrospective style, or the rizitika or roots of Cretan music.

The lyra is unique in a number of ways. Firstly it is played vertically with the foot of the instrument placed on the top of the thigh. The truly unique aspect of the lyra is the fact that the strings are not stopped (pressed) from above like the violin or most stringed instruments, but the nail of the players hand is placed up against the side of the string. This gives the voice of the lyra a distinctly different sound to other similar instruments.

The modern lyra is tuned A D G from thinnest string to thickest. The top or soundboard kapaki is made of cedar wood. This component most influences the sound of the instrument.




An Iranian/Cretian musical jam session.

Ardeshir Kamkar on kamancheh, Matthaios Tsahourides on Pontic lyra and the Kurdish daf master Hussein Zahawi going at it.


The classical music of Iran is based on the Radif, which is a collection of old melodies that have been handed down by the masters to the students through the generations. Over time, each master's own interpretation has shaped and added new melodies to this collection, which may bear the master's name.
The preservation of these melodies greatly depended on each successive generations' memory and mastery, since the interpretive origin of this music was expressed only through the oral tradition.
To truly learn and absorb the essence of the Radif, many years of repetition and practice are required. A master of the Radif must internalize the Radif so completely to be able to perform any part of it at any given time.

The Radif contains several different maqam's which are distinguished from each other by their relationship of note intervals and the form of the movement of the melodies within them. A maqam portrays a specific sonic space. A dastgah may contain approximately from 10 to 30 gousheh's (melodies). The principle gousheh's of the dastgah specify the different maqams within that dastgah. The note, upon which the gousheh is based and often is the center of the gousheh, is called the shahead. The shahead moves when we modulate between principle gousheh's, and this movement creates a new sonic space. Rhythm in these melodies takes three different forms: symmetric, asymmetric(lang), and free form. The rhythm is greatly influenced by the rhythm and meter of the Persian poetry. The instrumental and vocal Radif are different from the rhythmical point of view; however, their melodic structures are the same.



Note: This site on "Global Music Appreciation" is a work in progress. Thie main purpose of being online at this point of development is to allow collaborators and friends to view the progress, make suggestions and provide comments.

You may find "scratch notes" concerning future implementaion of goals. Pages will still be partially complete or even blank.

Yet, there is still an ever-evolving growing selection of music from around the world linked too in this site. You are welcome to look, play and experience music as performed from around the world.