City Research Online

Beyond the Radif: New Forms of Improvisational Practice in Iranian Music

Nooshin, L. (2013). Beyond the Radif: New Forms of Improvisational Practice in Iranian Music. Music Theory Online, 19(2),


This essay explores new forms of improvisational practice being developed by Iranian musicians in a tradition where the canonic radif repertoire has been central to improvisational practice for more than a century. I focus on the work of two musicians, Amir Eslami (nei) and Hooshyar Khayam (piano), and discuss pieces from their 2010 album All of You (Hermes Records, Iran). This music takes inspiration from the radif but lies outside the radif tradition and differs in important respects from “traditional” forms of improvisation, not least in the discussions that precede performance and in the discursive foregrounding of compositional thinking by the musicians themselves. I ask what the work of these musicians might tell us about the future direction of creative practice in Iranian classical music.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Iranian music, improvisation, composition, Amir Eslami, Hooshyar Khayam, radif
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Performing Arts > Music
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