The Concept of Radif and Three Paradigms of Persian Music in Contemporary Iran

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Dabbagh Hossein


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”.

DOI: 10.5958/2347-6869.2017.00019.X

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How to Cite
Hossein, D. (2018). The Concept of Radif and Three Paradigms of Persian Music in Contemporary Iran. S O C R A T E S, 5(3 and 4), 19-28. Retrieved from
Author Biography

Dabbagh Hossein, Doha Institute for Gratuate Studies, Philosophy Program Al Tarfa St., Al Daayen, Doha, Qatar

Hi, I’m Hossein Dabbagh and I specialize in doing Research esp. in Humanities. I’m passionate about what I do, and I love to do teaching in Universities and Colleges. I spent my Doctoral journey in moral philosophy at the University of Reading and the University of Oxford, based at the Uehiro Center for practical ethics. I’m working on Moral Reasons, Normativity, and Meta-Ethics more generally. My interests are mostly in Normative ethics, Applied Ethics (Business Ethics), Moral psychology (esp. Hume), Philosophy of Language (esp. Wittgenstein and Metaphor Theories), Music Theory (esp. Persian Music), Philosophy of Religion and Islamic Mysticism (esp. Rumi).


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