Persian studies at UIUC


Persian music in Iran has thousands of years of history that has been recorded through the archeological documents of Elam, one of the earliest cultures. Elam is located in southwestern Iran. In ancient Iran, musicians held socially respectable positions. The history of musical performance in Sassanid Iran, however, is better documented than earlier periods, with musicians like Barbad holding an almost legendary status.

Two examples of notable living Iranian classical vocalists are Shajarian and Shahram Nazeri. The Golha program ( covered the history of classical as well as contemporary Persian poetry, giving marvelous expression to the whole gamut of traditional Persian music and poetry.

Classical music is not the only culturally unique musical style though. Like many Arab countries, Iran developed its own pop music in the 1950s when Vigen introduced the guitar. Later on, Persians expanded on this pop music by using indigenous instruments. After the Iranian Revolution in 1979, pop music's future seemed ominous because of the new Islamic laws and restrictions. Many Iranians artists migrated to foreign countries and continued their work in exile.