Research Topic

Developing an Integrated Cross-cultural Approach to Teaching Persian Classical Music

Pegah Varamini

Sydney Conservatorium of Music

Supervisors: Dr Michael Web, Dr Daniel Rojas


Persian classical music is a modal music, that is based on cyclic multi-modal scales and tunes preserved through an oral tradition. It relies on both improvisation and composition around several skeletal melodic outlines.

Iranian classical music education has been based on a richly elaborated and tacit knowledge through a master/apprentice model. Learning would be through imitation, memorization and repetition of some melodic forms within a model repertory called radīf. While detailed theoretical analyses has been written by various Iranian musicologists, Persian music theory has not been effectively integrated in the pedagogical methods of Persian classical music. 

This approach has made Persian music difficult to learn for students with a limited time for study. This research investigates a new pedagogical approach in which some of the basic aspects of Persian classical music theory will be used in conjunction with the traditional method to assist a fast and efficient learning of and understanding, Persian classical music.

In this research, a short curriculum will be developed around a series of theory- and practice-based lessons in two streams: Stream 1 for Iranians without musical background, and Stream 2 for musicians without Persian musical background. 

The goal is to minimise the complexities associated with the conventional aural transmission techniques, while maintaining the integrity and originality of the music. It is hoped that this research will contribute to an extension of Persian traditional music beyond its native land and makes it more available for those who live abroad.

More information

If this research topic interests you, contact Pegah.