Maqâm-e Delkash

Maqâm-e Delkash: A Comparative Look at the Concept and Characteristics of Maqâm in Persian Dastgâhi Music

Ârash Mohâfez

Originally published as “Maqâm-e Delkash: Negâhi tatbiqi be mafhum va khosusiyât-e maqâm dar musiqi-ye dastgâhi-ye Iran.” Faslnâme-ye Musiqi-ye Mâhur [Mahoor Music Quarterly] 53, 2011, 105–142. Draft translation: Leyla Rasuli, copy-editing: Kristen Wolf.

1. Introduction

At the present stage of Persian classical music life – i.e., a stage in which the most important scientific and theoretical challenge is to find ways to innovate in order to break free from the content stagnation and aesthetically static state of Qâjâr art tradition – initiating discussions on the theoretical foundations of Persian classical music, in general, and the technical details of the musical system of radif (or radifs), in particular, might not seem to be the best subject for research. This subject appears even less interesting when one remembers that there are as many theories, analyses and classifications as there are renowned scholars, prolific researchers and even interested students. Apart from the commonly agreed issues, a general comparison of the more prominent works shows that there is not much disagreement among authors regarding a large proportion of the problematic theoretical foundations; the disagreements in the perception of Persian music exist mainly due to unstandardized terms and a lack of unified theory. In fact, only a small proportion of the theoretical foundations are either truly disagreed upon or were not initially a part of discussions. This lack of inclusion was a result of excessive concentration on existing theories, which have failed to take such foundations into account. Perhaps, without actually sensing it, these general theoretical weaknesses are barring us from reaching a common understanding and a practical consensus on how to give a fresh breath to Persian classical music. When there still exist some aspects of the phenomenon, which are more or less unclear, the ways of modifying it will also remain unclear. This paper does not intend to critique different theories on dastgâhi music. Instead, through a comparative view of the concept of maqâm in two neighboring cultures and subsequent analysis of the musical structure of a particular example from Persian music, maqam-e Delkash, the attempt is made to share a personal, and slightly different, perception of the function of the dastgâhi music system with the theorists in the field. Furthermore, through presenting conceptual suggestions and clarifying the function of various musical features, the aim is to contribute, albeit to a limited extent, to the standardization and development of an ideal unified theory.

2. Maqâm versus Dastgâh

Apparently, some of the most fundamental terms or concepts of Persian classical music, such as dastgâh, maqâm, âvâz or gushe, still do not have a single, exact meaning. As well, the very basic issue of whether the radif system consists of seven or twelve dastgâhs continues to be doubted. There are also key questions left unanswered, such as “Why and based on what logic is Kord-e Bayât, which does not seem to have anything less than Afshâri, for example, not considered an âvâz along with the other five?” Although the details of the historical process of the old maqâmic system’s transformation into a newer dastgâhi system are to a great extent hidden to us, it seems that by possessing pre-dastgâhi musical examples and tracing the maqâm system in related musical cultures, understanding the essential similarities and differences between these two systems would not be so difficult for a contemporary researcher. Further, attempting to clarify the exact relationship between dastgâh and maqâm might be the key to finding logical answers to the aforementioned questions.

Even today, Persian oral musical culture does not seem to make a real distinction between dastgâh-e Homâyun and maqâm-e Homâyun, for example, and there are some works in the literature, which directly or indirectly, consider the two as equivalent. However, it is hard to doubt that most researchers in the field of Persian classical music know the dastgâh as a “multi-modal cycle” (cf. As’adi 2003: 46). Accepting this single characteristic will immediately lead to a slight distinction between the concept of dastgâh and the quintessential meaning of maqâm, as it is understood in Turkish and Arabic cultures. As we all know, ethnomusicological sources today define the concept of “mode” generally as a tonal entity which consists of a particular combination of elements, such as: 1) musical scale, 2) degree functions and their functional classifications, 3) ambitus, 4) movements and melodic progressions and tendencies, 5) typical melodies and the degree of their significance, 6) ethos, 7) ornamentation, 8) rhythmic structures, etc. Now let’s compare this definition of mode with the factors constituting the maqâm concept in one of the classical music traditions neighboring Iran. This is a tradition that has continuously preserved such a musical system for at least three or four centuries. The results from indigenous theories and ethnomusicological research on the musical practice of the Turkish-Ottoman tradition, such as the studies by Yekta (1921), Özkan (2007), Signell (1986), Feldman (1996) and Wright (2000) show that the identity of an individual Turkish maqâm, without modulation, is generally the result of interweaving of the five fundamental elements, namely, a scale, degrees functions, melodic progression, particular melody-types, and musical texture. It should be noted that Turkish or Western researchers have not tried to adjust the modern definition of mode to this Eastern tradition. Instead all of these characteristics, and even the less concrete issues such as melodic progression and musical texture, with quite similar local terminologies, have been indigenously theorized, classified and practically taught, constantly, at least from Cantemir’s time (18th century) until the present artistic tradition.

3. The Characteristics of Maqâm in Persian Classical Music

Presenting a comprehensive theory of maqâm in Persian classical music is beyond the framework of this study as an individual research article; however, the previously mentioned assumption that the Persian maqâm generally possesses the same constituent elements as its Turkish relative does need justification. In this section we briefly compare aspects of these five constituent elements of maqâm in Persian and Ottoman traditions, avoiding the obvious. This is done for two reasons: 1) to show that the essence of this phenomenon, maqâm, is the same in the two cultures, and 2) to use the theoretical system of Turkish music to clarify various ambiguities and focus on some neglected issues in the theoretical principles of Persian dastgâhi music.

3.1  Scale

Even without entering the detailed discussion of comparing the number and types of the employed tetrachords/pentachords and the issue of the interval nuances in the Persian and Ottoman traditions, there seems to be a consensus about one thing: the scale of each maqâm in the dastgâhi music, just like the scale of its Turkish counterpart, is made up of a tetrachord plus a pentachord or vice versa. In different maqâms, the structural tetrachord and pentachord can be homogeneous or heterogeneous. The fact that the central core of some Persian maqâms is sometimes heard as a single tetrachord or even a trichord seems to be the result of a sort of “laziness” in realization of the concerned melodic progression. In these cases, melodic clichés of the maqâms in the particular aesthetics of radif do not use the octave space rapidly. But, this is something that should not be attributed to the essence of maqâm in the Old tradition because in apparently Persian styles older than radif, even the very first stage of stabilization of each maqâm is generally done through expanding in a space of about one octave. The opening phrase of pishrow-e Shokufezâr by Hassan Jân (Kantemiroğlu 2001, vol. II: 53), a composer of Iranian origin, or the opening of the piece kâr dar Maqâm-e ‘Ajam ascribed to Abdulqâder Marâghi (Göyenç 2009), are good examples in this regard. Therefore, contrary to some assumptions, stabilizing the maqâm before its stages of development to the interval of an octave, and even using long passages and long melodic jumps, depending on how they are used, can be totally unrelated to the recent influences of Western music and an entirely traditional behavior.

Another point about the maqâm scale, which is implicit in Turkish theories and can be true for the Persian maqâm as well, is the distinction which should be made between the two concepts “scale” and “ambitus”. The octave scale of each maqâm forms the “minimum structure” and main foundation of sounds and intervals, i.e., musically said, the characteristic mode or çeşni (taste) of that maqâm, whereas the ambitus of each maqâm, depending on its unique character in different stages, can be developed to a great extent, going down starting from the lowest note of the primary scale or going up starting from the highest note of the scale, with the primary tetrachord-pentachord system either preserved or changed.

Naming the potential scale’s degrees in Persian classical music with the French names of the scale degrees (Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si) and inventing half-breed expressions to refer to the playing positions of maqâms and dastgâh-s, such as Mâhur-e Do and Segâh-e La koron[1], is one of the weaknesses of the current theoretical foundations of Persian music. This is especially the case when we know that in the past, in the Persian musical culture, some contrivances were thought to deal with such issues. The Systematist School named the scale’s degrees with Abjad letters based on a particular rule, and later this method was gradually replaced by a type or types of nominative degree systems. Eventually, as the solid documents by Tanburi Harutin show, in the first half of the 18th century, the Persian court musicians named the principal degrees of an octave, respectively, from the lowest to the highest: Yegâh, Dogâh, Segâh, Châhârgâh, Panjgâh, Sheshgâh, Haftgâh, and Hashtgâh (cf. Popescu-Judetz 2002: 101, 131). The other degrees between the principal degrees in the Persian musical scale of that time might have had their own names which Harutin did not mention. But we know that in the same century, Cantemir referred to all degrees of the Ottoman musical scale with their specific names. Since there are a lot of similarities between the names of Cantemir’s “principal degrees” and those of the Persian scale, it is likely that at least some names of his intermediate degrees are the same as the Persian names of their 18th century Persian equivalents. The system Cantemir referred to is to some extent still in use in Turkish art music today. The writer believes that after stating the position of the dastgâh-s in relation to each other and with collective consensus, such a system can and should be revived in today’s Persian music. In such a system, each degree has a particular name, and additionally, it should be determined on which degree the main position of each dastgâh, known as its “râst-kuk”, is formed, for example, dastgâh-e Râst on Yegâh degree, Shur on Dogâh degree, Segâh on Segâh degree, etc. After this codification, other local technical terms can be used to refer to transposed forms of dastgâh-s and various modulations, for example, dastgâh-e Shur on Panjgâh degree or modulation to Esfâhân on Dogâh degree.

3.2  Degrees’ Functions

The second constituent element of the Persian maqâm, like its Ottoman version, is the various functions of the scale degrees, and obviously it is their magnetic or gravitational pull, attraction and their roles as starting points, suspense makers, stops and ending points which form various melodic progressions on the soulless frame of different scales. In the Persian musical culture there are five functions with a particular terminology, namely, shâhed (principal polarized tone; tonic), ist (stop), khâteme (final tone), moteghayyer and âghâz (starting tone). In the Turkish theories six functions are mentioned: âghâze or giriş (the starting tone), durâk (the first tone of the scale and the maqâm’s tonic), guçlu (the maqâm’s dominant), âsmâ kârâr (suspending degrees), yeden (the leading degree and the lower neighbor of durâk) and kârâr (the final tone). Comparing the two sets of functions and regarding the need for specific terminologies to explain some unnamed functions in the Persian musical analyses, it seems necessary for the Persian musical theory to employ a standard term equivalent to the Western dominant tone – for degrees such as C in Shur on G, G in Mâhur on C, F in Segâh on A koron, etc. – and a term equivalent to leading tone (which can be away from the tonic by any interval, not necessarily a semitone) – for degrees such as B before tonic in Mâhur on C, F before tonic in Navâ on G, B before tonic in Châhârgâh on C, etc.

3.3  Melodic Progression

The third constituent element of the Persian maqâm is the melodic progression, which is a vital issue not considered among Iranian theories in the sense that it is going to be explained here. To elaborate on the issue, let’s first become more familiar with the concept of melodic progression in the Ottoman-Turkish maqâm. In the many existing theories, the progression of each Turkish maqâm is unanimously identified based on two aspects: “the general melodic direction” and “the codified melodic progression”.

Each Turkish maqâm can only have one of the three general directions of “ascendant” (çikici), “ascendant-descendant” (çikici – inici) or “descendant” (inici). The ascendant maqâm starts in the low register of the scale, near the final degree of the maqâm, gradually develops upwards, and finally cadences in the beginning point. The ascendant-descendant maqâm begins about in the middle of the scale, near the dominant degree of the maqâm (which may be the third, fourth or fifth degree of the final tone), and after developing relatively upward finally cadences on the conclusive tone in bass. The descendent maqâm’s progression begins from the highest tonal areas of the scale, near the octave of the final, stays in that area, then gradually moves downwards and finally cadences on the final degree in bass.

It seems that before the elaboration of radif, individual Persian maqâms, implicitly and practically, also had such a characteristic criterion. Later, this very criterion provided an underlying but specific algorithm for the late design of the radif dastgâh-s. This descriptive classification seems to be true for the Persian system as well, and it thus can theorize all existing maqâms in the heart of dastgâhi system with respect to the melodic direction: all primary or main maqâms of the dastgâhs, like maqâm-e Shur in dastgâh-e Shur, maqâm-e Mâhur in dastgâh-e Mâhur and maqâm-e Segâh in dastgâh-e Segâh, are definitely ascendant maqâms. Ascendant-descendant maqâms are the intermediate or secondary maqâms of each dastgâh, such as Shahnâz, Delkash, Bidâd, Zâbol, Mokhâlef, Nahoft, Shekaste, Bayât-e Râje and Panjgâh. They follow the main maqâm and somehow begin in the middle of its scale, near its dominant degree. After developing, they cadence on the final of the main maqâm. It should also be mentioned that what we know as âvâz, such as âvâz-e Abu’atâ, âvâz-e Dashti, âvâz-e Bayât-e Kord, âvâz-e Bayât-e Tork, âvâz-e Afshâri and âvâz-e Esfâhân, is nothing but a maqâm which has been independently interpreted, perhaps due to its greater importance in comparison to those maqâms incorporated in the seven dastgâhs. All these types of maqam, i.e., âvâz-s, are also obviously ascendant-descendant ones. One might argue that âvâz is also “multi-modal” since, for example, Afshâri modulate to ‘Arâq, Dashti contains Owj, Bayât-e Tork contains Shekaste, Abu’atâ has Hejâz, etc. Firstly, even if such an argument is right, being “multi-modal” is of much less significance and is less felt in an âvâz compared to a dastgâh, and the number of modes generated in an âvâz is also less than a dastgâh’s. Generally, in an âvâz, a maximum number of two or three modal spaces are formed rather close to each other, whereas in a dastgâh, there may sometimes be more than six different and more or less contrasting maqâms, and the modulations in dastgâhs are on the whole considered “less smooth”. Secondly and more importantly, a distinction should be made between the melodic development in the upper limits of the maqâm and the modulation of a maqâm into another one. For example, the Turkish maqâm Huseyni, which is similar to Persian âvâz-e Dashti and âvâz-e Hoseyni, and the Turkish maqâm Beyâti, which is similar to Persian âvâz-e Abu’atâ do not permanently stay in the primary mode, but gradually form an ascension toward an apogee, like the apogee of gushe Owj for Persian Dashti. However, these ascending movements, which are not really revolutionary and can definitely be accompanied by some changes in the scale and modal centers, are generally regarded as melodic development and a part of the predetermined identity of the same maqâm rather than modulating to a new maqâm. The writer believes that, apart from examples such as the modulation to Shekaste in âvâz-e Bayât-e Tork, most of the modal changes within the structure of âvâz-s of Persian radif are intra-maqâm developments rather than modulating changes; therefore, we prefer to consider the current Persian âvâz-s as “sizable maqâms” rather than “small dastgâhs”. Apart from this, the last category of radif maqâms such as Hoseyni, Maqlub, ‘Arâq, Râk, Mansuri, Nowruz (in Homâyun and Râst-panjgâh), which are more or less formed in the Owj (apogee) of the dastgâh, can be considered as descendent maqâms. After the exposition of their primary cores in the apogee of the scale, they always cadence on the final degree of the dastgâh’s main maqâm.

But what is the second aspect of the concept of seyir, i.e., the codified melodic progression, in the Turkish theory? The codified melodic progression (seyir) is the map and the main track of melodic behaveiors in a maqâm at different stages of forming, developing and returning with respect to the function of the principal degrees of the scale (but without innovative modulations). The principles of melodic progression of each maqâm in the Ottoman tradition, contrary to what is sometimes thought, are not so flexible; they are generally fixed, but can be practiced in different ways and more freely in some other aspects (to be discussed). The Turkish sources describe this codified melodic progression in two methods: the first method, which can be traced back at least to Cantemir’s time (cf. Kantemiroglu 2001, vol. I: 48–111), is the verbal description in which the writer in text or the teacher in speech explains what degree a maqâm begins on, where it then moves, which degree it emphasizes, and which maqâm it touches, etc. The second method is modern and is about composing very short “music-models” which, in brief and in a few measures, introduce to the reader or listener all the stages of maqâm progression. As an example we can refer to around thirty progressions which Rauf Yekta suggested in his 1921 Lavignac article for identifying maqâms (cf. Yekta 1921: 2997-3010). For an Iranian musicologist it is obvious that all his radifi maqâms have a fixed, algorithmic and quintessential codified melodic progression and can and should be theorized in an instructionally practical way – contrary to Walter Feldman’s opinion, for example. Feldman implicitly considers the development of the codified melodic progression as an innovation and a simply Ottoman characteristic (Feldman 1996: 278). The concept of melodic progression should by no means be mistaken for or mixed with the melody-types of radif maqâms. The melodic progression is the formula, i.e., the algorithm, of forming a maqâm, whereas the melody-types are the materials that are included in this formula or algorithm and constitute music. We shall explore this relationship more concretely in the section that analyzes maqâm-e Delkash. Yet what can be put forward as a hypothesis is that from a musicological point of view, the scheme of constructing or codifying the radif involves a basically close idea to what is considered the new or “the second method” of teaching seyir-s in the Ottoman musical tradition, i.e., teaching and consolidating the concept of melodic progression through a “purposeful intense music-model”. The difference is that the radif is older than this Turkish method, the expressive form of its main part is a “taqsim-like” form with free rhythm, and more importantly, the magnificence and distinctive artistic quality of its construction can by no means be compared to the simple seyir-s as Yekta, for example, had proposed. When Cantemir points out that the Persian musicians teach their taqsim-s “combination by combination” (cf. Feldman 2007: 153), he can be referring to the radif, and this can indicate that this large collection, which has introduced and stabilized the progression of each and every maqâm in the form of the broader progression of dastgâh-s as individual artistic models, was either completely or partially shaped in the 18th century.

3.4  Melody-Types

Each of the Turkish maqâms – contrary to what some Pan-Turkists in the field of Ottoman music claim – obviously employs completely recognizable variations of some melody-types or at least fixed or cliché motif-types. These melody or motif-types are particularly identifiable during the formation of the key points of maqâm progressions, like the starting points, expressing the exact mode, typical alterations and different cadences, specifically on the dominant degree (yârim kârâr) or on the first degree (tâm kârâr). Nevertheless, it is a fact that forming a maqâm in Ottoman style is to a great extent independent of “ready-made” or “fixed melody-types” in comparison to the current Persian style.

In fact, it seems that in forming the Turkish maqâm, after the innovative and compelling modulations – which are truly expected from “a competent musician” as qualitative criteria specifically while performing a taqsim – choosing or composing the musical material to melodize the progression, while respecting common aesthetic standards, is the second area which is to a great extent free and left to the personal taste of the improviser or composer. On the contrary, in the construction of the Persian radifi maqâm, the melody-types are as “ready-made” and “repetitive” as the melodic progression, and this is the reason these two phenomena are irritatingly blended in many Persian theories. With a bit of exaggeration, one can claim that in the “improvisations” and “compositions” of the current style of Persian classical music, there are not usually a lot of new materials or melodies; rather, there are an infinite number of variations of fixed materials adjusted to the different situations of the set progressions. On a large scale, this seems to be the most important difference in maqâm formation between the Persian and Turkish versions. It also appears to be the direct result of employing a phenomenon known as radif, not as a “progression-model” of the dastgâhs’ maqâms – which might have been the intention of its original designers – but as a sacred repertoire of the only tunes inherited from the past for being remade in the form of improvisation or composition based on it.

With regard to their dispersion rather than their physical character, the radif melody-types can be divided into three categories: those specific to a particular maqâm of a dastgâh or a particular independent maqâm, those specific to a dastgâh which are employed several times through the exposition of its maqâms, and those which move in the entire radif and can appear at any position.

As we analyze maqâm-e Delkash, some concrete examples of this categorization are seen. But a single point remains: the term melody-type is usually considered the same as the term “gushe” in the Persian theories. And this, the writer believes, is not right. Musical analyses can help us come to the conclusion that the division of “gushe-s, being presented in a sequence within a dastgâh, is vague and has not been organized based on “a fixed qualitative and quantitative criterion”, either originally or by the interpreters. In the existing radif-s, a gushe can consist of a single melody-type and form a whole musical sentence or a part of it; it can contain several melody-types and again express a whole sentence or a part of it; or it can consist of several melody-types and not only one or more whole sentences but also a complete progression of a maqâm. Therefore, general categorizations, such as “rhythmic gushe”, “prosodic gushe” and “tahriri gushe”, though true in some cases, are in many cases only a part of what a gushe involves. For example, a gushe may begin with a rhythmic melody-type, immediately followed by a tahriri melody-type, and is still the same gushe. Therefore, a gushe comprises melody-types; and it is the melody-types that should be categorized first based on their forms. Through finding the rules and possibilities of their combinations in the context of different gushes, we can have the classification of “gushe-types” as well.

3.5  Musical Texture

In theory and practice of the Ottoman musical tradition each maqâm has its own main position, but can also be transposed to other levels independently. The maqâms, which are formed on a degree other than their main position, are known as shedd or transposed maqâms. Karl Signell calls the unique and particular identity and sound color of each maqâm in its main position the texture (tessitura) (cf. Signell 1986: 137–139). For acoustic reasons, such as changes in the sound quality or timbre of the instrument, changes in amplifying harmonics and, more importantly, a number of slight changes happening in the structure of intervals as a result of the instrument’s limitations in the process of transposition, the sound texture of each transposed form of a maqâm is different from the texture in its main position. This difference in Turkey has been considered so significant that it has gradually caused some of the transposed maqâms to gain an independent character and even a particular name of their own. For example, if maqâm Kurdi, whose first degree in its main position is on Dugâh degree, is lowered by a tone and formed from Râst degree, it will become Kurdili Hijâzkâr; or if maqâm Buselik, which is formed on Dugâh degree in its main position, is lowered by a fifth and formed on Yegâh degree, the maqâm will become Sultâni Yegâh (Signell 1986: 134-141). As previously mentioned, since there are few detailed and comprehensive theoretical works, such as Lost Scales by Mortezâ Hannâne (2004), in which the positional relationship between the Persian dastgâhs and issues such as Râst-kuk and Chap-kuk are taken into account, the discussion about transposing the dastgâhs and their maqâms, e.g., which position is the main position of this or that dastgâh and what is their transposed form, still has many ambiguities. Yet there is no doubt that the sound texture is as significant an element in forming each Persian maqâm, and generally each Persian dastgâh, as it is in the Turkish tradition. Additionally, Persian musicians are well aware of the difference in effectiveness and special spirit of a maqâm caused by performing in different positions. In today’s Persian musical culture, changing the position of a maqâm or a dastgâh does not change its name[2], but the idea that transposition or at least some transpositions, like those of the Turkish tradition, do not practically make a completely different identity or character for the original maqâm or dastgâh, should be deeply doubted. Are Esfahân on C and Esfahân on F really the same maqâm with the same identity in the perception system of a Persian santur player? The writer’s suggestion is that after codifying and standardizing the main positions and the physical proportion of dastgâhs on the potential scale, the sound texture, which is so significant and noticeable for Persian musicians, should be recognized and classified as an element whose change would transform the identity of a maqâm and dastgâh. It is needless to point out that the change in only one of the aforementioned four constituent elements in a Persian or Ottoman maqâm is enough to change its identity and cause it to be regarded as a different maqâm, even though other elements remain unchanged.

4. Maqâm-e Delkash

After explaining the five constituents of a maqâm and in order to give a practical example of how it is formed and how it functions in dastgâhi music, here we analyze maqâm-e Delkash, one of the important maqâms of Persian music. Delkash, without having the title of “maqam”, is classified within dastgâh-e Mâhur progression. Here, we compare three instrumental versions of Delkash in Mirzâ ‘Abdollâh radif (During 1991), Âqâ Hoseyn Qoli radif (Pirniyâkân 2001) and Musâ Ma'rufi radif (Ma'rufi 1995). Our focus is mainly on describing the function and the concrete relationship between the two constituent elements of a maqâm, i.e., melodic progression and melody-types, based on the aforementioned concepts.

In our opinion, the large body of dastgâh-e Mâhur in all three radif-s is formed from seven woven together maqâms: the primary and principal maqâm is maqâm-e Mâhur and the six secondary maqâms which are formed relative to it, or referring to it, are maqâm-e Goshâyesh (or Âvâz or Dâd), maqâm-e Delkash, maqâm-e Shekaste, maqâm-e Hesâr-e Mâhur, maqâm-e ‘Arâq and maqâm-e Râk.

The musical scale of maqâm-e Delkash is made up of a Mâhur penthacord plus a Shur tetrachord on C (= tonic of Mâhur). But the tonic of the maqam-e Delkash is on the fifth degree of Mâhur’s tonic, i.e., G. In this maqâm the F degree is a suspended stop and the A koron/natural is a variable degree.

The upper ambitus of the maqam-e Delkash, in cases of the development of the basic core, can go higher by about a fifth from the highest note. The lower ambitus, which is particularly used at the cadence into maqâm-e Mâhur and the ending points of Delkash progression, can be expanded even by an octave lower than the tonic of Mâhur.

4.1  Position and Combination of gushe-s of maqam-e Delkash in three instrumental radif-s

With respect to the time of emergence and the order of arrangement, maqâm-e Delkash is the third modal domain in the ascendant progression of dastgâh-e Mâhur, after C modal domain (maqâm-e Mâhur) and D modal domain (maqâm-e Âvâz or Goshâyesh). This maqâm is presented in the form of three conjunct gushe-s in all three radif-s interpretations, and as we will see, it is always the combination of all these three gushe-s, and not just one, which fully demonstrates the direction and unique codified melodic progression of maqâm-e Delkash. The three constituent gushe-s of this maqâm in Mirzâ ‘Abdollâh radif are Delkash, Châhârmezrâb and Forud. The same names with the same order are also used for the three gushe-s of Âqâ Hoseyn Qoli radif. However, the third gushe of Ma'rufi radif is differently named and known as gushe Hâji Hasani.

One of the most artistic logics that the original and seemingly unknown “designers” of radif employed in linking the different internal maqâms of a dastgâh is that the new modal and structuring formulas and principles of the secondary maqâms of each dastgâh, which successively follow each other through its general progression, are always formed somehow on the basis of the earlier modal principles and are woven on them with the least friction. The qualitative thoroughness, formal homogeneity and aesthetic uniformity through the entire radif is obvious proof that the musicians who first presented such a repertoire have definitely done more than simply compiling it. Moreover, another credible aesthetic logic in the radif-s can be theorized: the emergence and stabilization of new principles of a secondary maqâm in a dastgâh never abolish the principles of the earlier primary maqâm and the secondary ones, but are added to them. The practical manifestation of this logic is particularly observable in the return from a secondary maqâm to a primary maqâm of a dastgâh, which occurs in two general ways: in one the return from a secondary maqâm of the dastgâh to the primary one is a direct return with no other secondary maqâm mediation, and in another the return is an indirect one with the mediation of the flavor of one or more secondary maqâms. In both cases, through the unifying returns of the progression in the dastgâh, the modal principles of the primary maqâm and the mediating secondary maqâm or maqâms remain identical to their earlier state when they were introduced and stabilized through the exposition of the ascendant progression of the dastgâh. The only difference is that the modal principles of each maqâm, when they are first presented in the ascendant progression of a dastgâh, are expressed elaborately and in detail, but during the returns or cadences only those parts of them with naturally more conclusive forms are mostly used individually and briefly.

Unknown designers of radif used some composition techniques to conjoin maqâm-e Mâhur and maqâm-e Delkash in the heart of dastgâh-e Mâhur. It should be noted that there is a relative homogeneity of the raw musical material used in maqâm-e Mâhur and maqâm-e Delkash. Also, the modal links between these two maqâms, or the way in which the latter is formed on the basis of the modal principles of the former with the least friction, are observable in the very basic selection of modal centers or polarized degrees of the latter. On the one hand, the tonic or the modal center of Delkash, that is G, is the fifth degree of the tonic in maqâm-e Mâhur, and on the other hand, in the principles of sentence structure of maqâm-e Mâhur, functions as the most important temporary stop. For these two significant reasons the melody-types adjustable to maqâm-e Mâhur frequently employ the G before and after the tonic. The temporary stop of maqâm-e Delkash, that is F, on the one hand, is the fourth of the tonic in Mâhur, and on the other hand, is one of the most functional and emphasized degrees, particularly through the development stages of maqâm Goshâyesh, the second maqâm of the dastgâh. Thus, both principal degrees which make the mode in Delkash have been stabilized and suspended again and again before the emergence of this maqâm in the pre- Delkash progression of dastgâh-e Mâhur, and therefore, sound completely familiar to the ear. Hence, in spite of the sudden appearance of the accidental A-koron in the beginning scale of Delkash, the shift of maqâm-e Mâhur into Delkash sounds like a relatively smooth modulation.

We do not clearly know whether the musical whole of what is known as Delkash today, apart from its name, was one of the standard modulations of old maqâm-e Mâhur or whether it was considered an independent maqâm in the pre-radif era. We also have no knowledge of whether the designers of radif found the fifth degree of the scale of Mâhur a better position for it compared to the other six dastgâhs, or it was the creators of radif who made such a maqâm for such a position in dastgâh-e Mâhur. But aside from the question of which of these possibilities is closer to reality, what is clear is that the general aesthetic filtering for modulations to be smooth, even in the dastgâhs, is to some extent also employed here, just like an extensive proportion of other modulations of the radif. The most important way of producing such an effect is avoiding very contrasted changes in the degrees’ functions and maintaining maximum similarity between the scales of the first and second maqâms. Of course, it is worth mentioning that weaving the maqâms together with minimum possible friction is not necessarily a value, and perhaps in another style juxtaposing the maqâms which are in contrast with each other would be more impressive and pleasurable. Therefore, one of the most artistic logics mentioned only emphasizes the fact that when a single unified aesthetic point of view is applied to almost 400 musical pieces, clearly we are not dealing with a process of random collection of melodies. Behind this material organization there has been a codified plan and a conscious scheme. Otherwise, the remaining works from the older Persian musical styles help us to determine that such a filter was never used so forcefully before radif, and sometimes even acting contrary to this logic had been considered an aesthetic criterion.

4.2  Codified melodic progression and direction of maqam-e Delkash

Based on the definition provided, maqâm-e Delkash is an ascendant-descendant maqâm, since it starts in the middle of the scale, on the dominant of its ending degree as well as that of the main maqâm of the dastgâh, and then, after developing in this range, descends towards the ending degree in bass.

The codified melodic progression of maqâm-e Delkash can be explained in two main stages: 1) Stabilization and development of the core of the maqâm, which is formed around the G tonic, and 2) cadence from this range to the primary maqâm of the dastgâh and its conclusive degree.

Comparing the melodic logics employed in the three interpretations under discussion shows that each musical sentence in the core of maqâm-e Delkash is formed by juxtaposing several “melodic blocks” each of which has a completely specific melodic function. By melodic block we are referring to an empty frame which should take in or carry a melody-type or musical material and shape and arrange it to fulfill its specific function. If these modal functions are considered as a classification criterion, four types of melodic blocks can be identified through the entire maqâm-e Delkash:

1. Type 1 Melodic Blocks: their function is to focus the musical material mainly on the tonic of Delkash, that is G, then repeatedly emphasize and eventually end on this very degree. While developing, these blocks use the upper G and Shur tetrachord, but in any case they end on the same degree, which is the tonic of Delkash.

2. Type 2 Melodic Blocks: they begin with emphasis on G, but gradually descend on F as the suspended and temporary stop. This call/response form between G and F may be repeated several times, but the type 2 melodic blocks finally stop on F.

3. Type 3 Melodic Blocks: their single function is to stabilize the suspended stop on F.

4. Type 4 melodic Blocks: their function is to return the music suspended on F back to the core of maqâm-e Delkash to be continued in the same domain.

The arrangement of these four types of blocks for making each sentence in maqâm-e Delkash is totally based on a fixed and determined rule; first, one, two or three type 1 melodic blocks run the music in maqâm-e Delkash, then only one type 2 block takes us from the heart of the magnet of the tonic G, towards the lower neighbor, F, and eventually one or two type 3 blocks finish our sentence in the core of the maqâm with more emphasis on the suspended stop, F. This last stage of making the sentence, which ends in type 3 blocks, can be completely excluded, and therefore its existence in the sentence-making formula is not crucial.

The following diagrams demonstrate all arrangement possibilities for the melodic blocks used in making the sentences of maqâm-e Delkash in the three instrumental radif interpretations:

In all three radif interpretations under discussion, after forming the first sentence by choosing one of these arrangements, with no exceptions only one choice exists for continuing the progression: the addition of a new type of melodic block, block 4, whose function is to return the music back from the suspended stop, F, on the tonic and the primary space. This block always contains a fixed and cliché melody which, considering its function, can also be called the “return block”. Using the return block is in fact a trick to develop the maqâm progression through the “reset method” and nullify the effect of the processes which have occurred till this very moment of performance. This is done in order to prepare the modal space for repeating of another musical sentence, completely conforming to the previous rule, yet with different musical material.

At this point of the maqâm progression, there are two different choices for the radifs: in Mirzâ ‘Abdollâh and Hoseyn Qoli’s interpretations, gushe Châhârmezrâb is immediately started; however, in Ma'rufi’s, before starting Châhârmazrâb, another sentence is arranged based on the aforementioned rule for the purpose of further development. Next, with a return block, it returns to the point where the other radifs were situated before Châhârmezrâb.

The whole Châhârmezrâb, which is introduced everywhere as a gushe, is in fact nothing more than a long type 1 melodic block, since its chief modal function is to emphasize, repeat and stabilize the G degree. This block is practically the beginning of the last musical sentence in the core of maqâm-e Delkash, and thus different types of blocks after it will again be juxtaposed in different ways all based on that single sentence-making rule till the sentence ends on the stop F. What marks “being the last sentence in the core of maqâm-e Delkash” at this point of the progression is the fact that after this ending, there are no other return blocks performed in the G range to develop the maqâm.

What happens from this point on in the progression of maqâm-e Delkash is the beginning of the second main stage, i.e., a series of actions which are done by an essentially descendant process in order to establish a link between itself and the main maqâm of dastgâh-e Mâhur. The radif style involves a single specific plan for this point in all the secondary maqâms of all dastgâhs: we propose to call it “intermediate cadence (forud-e miyâni)”. Each secondary maqâm of the radif’s dastgâhs has a kind of specific intermediate cadence of its own. Each cadence involves one or more melody-types which are to a great extent fixed and whose function is to receive the music from the edge of the core of the secondary maqâm and lower it towards the main maqâm of the dastgâh. Earlier, it was pointed out that this path can be a direct or an indirect one. In the three interpretations focused on here, maqâm-e Delkash descends towards maqâm-e Mâhur through an indirect path. The Delkash intermediate cadence lowers the music to the modal range of D, and from that point on, the rules of maqâm-e Goshâyesh are dominant again. The progression of the interpretations shows that at this stage, the performer can stay in the Goshâyesh space for several musical segments or immediately follow the descending process, depending on his or her taste. From here, based on the aforementioned stylistic aesthetics, the only way of descending is again through using the intermediate cadence particular to the maqâm we are in, that is “the intermediate cadence of maqâm-e Goshâyesh, which this time directly enters the space of the dastgâh’s main maqâm. At this stage, again, some segments can or cannot be expressed, but the ending point to our descendent process is letting “the closing cadence of maqâm-e Mâhur be heard. Again, like a stylistic rule, the main maqâm of each dastgâh has one or two fixed and cliché melodies which function as final melodic cadences and have the heaviest load to close the maqâm. These final cadences are always heard at the end of the main maqâm’s progression as well as at the end of the cadence from each secondary maqâm into the main one. Therefore, we are not exaggerating if we say that the idea, design and the way we use different types of intermediate and final cadences is the most important unifying element of a dastgâh and the main pillar relating the different maqâms based on a more significant chosen one. Therefore, the progression of our maqâm-e Delkash, as interpreted in the radifs, is considered complete only when the descending process ends in the final cadences of maqâm-e Mâhur. Based on what happens within the radif-s, the entire codified melodic progression of maqâm-e Delkash can be summarized as follows:

In improvisations, this progression can be repeated several times, completely or partially, in various ways, but in our three radif interpretations, the progression of maqâm-e Delkash is introduced only once and not at all repeated.

4.3  Musical materials or melody-types of maqam-e Delkash

Now let’s see what musical materials helps this codified melodic progression to operate, or better said, how different melody-types are each put in the frame of the aforementioned melodic blocks and adjusted to fulfill their particular musical function. In this section of the article, the musical materials or melody-types existing in the three interpretations of maqâm-e Delkash are very briefly introduced, since it is only through distinguishing and naming these melody-types and eventually comparing their usage in the fixed progressive algorithm of the maqâm that one can deeply understand the main difference between what we today know as “this or that interpretation” of radif. Except from certain melody-types, such as Kereshme, which have particular names in the tradition, the rest are named based on the personal taste of the writer and can be differently named by others. By naming the melody-types, we simply aim to have a device for immediate verbal identification in theory and are able to compare their position and how they are used in the comparative diagram of the maqâm progression in the three interpretations. The progression of maqâm-e Delkash in the three interpretations is performed by using and adjusting thirteen different melody-types:

4.3.1   Delkash melody-type (appearing in gushe Delkash of all three interpretations)

A set of four segments of this melody-type which is specific to maqâm-e Delkash are always presented in the functional frame of a type 1 melodic block. In all three interpretations, maqâm-e Delkash begins with very similar forms of this melody. Below you can see the Delkash melody of Mirzâ ‘Abdollâh interpretation[3]:

The first segment always introduces and stabilizes the tonic, G, with the help of A koron and Bb, which develop the taste of Shur. The second segment is where E koron appears and for a moment changes the first tetrachord of the maqâm into Râst tetrachord. This segment is an abstract of the melody of one of the intermediate cadences of maqâm-e Goshâyesh which in its main form in gushe Âvâz has a quick mention of two maqâms: Shekaste and Esfahân. However, since F sharp is not shown here, it is used without a mention to Esfahân. In all three interpretations, the second segment first emphasizes E koron through the movement from G downwards and then finishes on the tonic of Mâhur, C. The third segment is always a repetition of the first segment which again finishes on the tonic of Delkash. The fourth segment, without any exceptions, begins with a “round trip” between the tonic of Delkash and that of Mâhur, and then repeats the general content of the first and third segments.

Therefore the melody of Delkash very well fulfills the modal objective of a type 1 block, but more than that, it quickly demonstrates the relationship of maqâm-e Delkash with the receiving beginning point of the dastgâh. Perhaps it is because of this particularity that the melody under discussion begins and primarily introduces this new maqâm within the general progression of dastgâh-e Mâhur. Now see this melody-type in Âqâ Hoseyn Qoli’s interpretation, preserving all the discussed features: what is different is the partial variation of the motifs inside each segment, but no new functions, movements or processes are seen compared to the previous version[4]:

4.3.2  Tahrir-e Dâd (appearing in gushe Delkash of the three interpretations)

The essence of this melody-type seems to be driven from a type of tahrir which was earlier used in the construction of gushe Dâd in maqâm-e Goshâyesh. Here, by being transposed to the upper fourth, it briefly expresses its main form. Depending on the plan each master has for realization of the progression of maqâm-e Delkash, tahrir-e Dâd can be used as the musical material of a type 1 block (like Mirzâ ‘Abdollâh’s) or the musical material of a type 2 block (like Âqâ Hoseyn Qoli or Ma'rufi’s). The three-segmented musical structure of this tahrir automatically does the modal function of a type 2 block. See Âqâ Hoseyn-Qoli’s interpretation of this tahrir, for example:

By removing the last segment, and by repeating the function of the second segment, Mirza ‘Abdollâh adapt this same melody to a type 1 block:

4.3.3  Tahrir-e Âvâz Melody-type (appearing in gushe Forud of Mirzâ ‘Abdollâh & Âqâ Hoseyn-Qoli’s, and in gushe Delkash of Ma'rufi’s)

Like the previous tahrir, this musical material is not among characteristic melodies of maqâm-e Delkash. Before this maqâm appears, this tahrir is broadly used in gushe Âvâz of maqâm-e Goshâyesh, and now a form of it is transposed to the upper fourth. In all three interpretations, this melody-type is only used to build a type 1 block. As a difference between the usage of this melody in gushe Âvâz, and perhaps in order for it to be better adjusted with the modal principles of Shur, each of the musical segments bearing this tahrir, before dealing with its main body, involves a short prefix which particularly emphasizes A koron by extending it. Ma'rufi and Âqâ Hoseyn Qoli have very similar interpretations of tahrir-e Âvâz in maqâm-e Delkash. Ma'rufi’s interpretation is as follows:

Mirzâ ‘Abdollâh, however, develops the same material into three segments by maintaining its type 1 block function – using a very common development formula in radif, A/A+1/A that transposes a primary idea to an upper degree and then repeats it in its first position – and embellishing the end of the third segment with a vigorous tailpiece:

4.3.4  Abu’atâ Melody-type (appearing in gushe Delkash and Forud of Mirzâ Abdollâh’s, gushe Forud of Âqâ Hoseyn Qoli’s and gushe Delkash of Ma'rufi’s)

As its name shows, this musical material is in all aspects very similar to the melody-types of the initial stages of maqâm-e Abu’atâ progression, and therefore cannot be categorized as a characteristic material of maqâm-e Delkash. The core of this melody is a single descendent segment which can be repeated depending on the desired modal aim:


The various combinations that are made with these materials can be adjusted with the frame of both type 1 blocks and type 2 blocks of maqâm-e Delkash. The most common technique for developing this melody, before or after it is repeated, is its general transposition to the upper or lower neighboring degree. In the interpretations the Abu’atâ melody-type can be extended to five musical segments, using repetition and development. In the example below, Mirzâ ‘Abdollâh has used the development of the the Abu’atâ melody-type to build a type 2 block:

Using the same material, Musâ Ma'rufi has interpreted a two-segmented variation whose modal function is similar to that of a type 1 block:

4.3.5  Bâzgasht (return) melody-type (appearing in gushe Delkash of Mirzâ ‘Abdollâh and Âqâ Hoseyn Qoli’s, and in gushe-s Delkash & Hâji Hasani of Ma'rufi’s)

It is a short single-segmented ascendant melody which is supposed to return the music suspended on F, beginning from E to the central domain of maqâm-e Delkash, and again stabilize the tonic, G, with the help of its upper neighbors. It is the only musical material used to shape the type 4 blocks of maqâm-e Delkash. This melody-type is one of the characteristic musical materials of maqâm-e Delkash and is always brought at the end of a sentence built in its core, which is supposed to join a second sentence in the same modal space. This particular melodic content has the following similar variation in the three interpretations:

4.3.6  Stabilizing F suspended stop Melody-type (appearing in gushe Delkash of Mirzâ Abdollâh and Âqâ Hoseyn Qoli’s, and in gushe-s Delkash & Hâji Hasani of Ma'rufi’s)

This melody-type, which is characteristic of maqâm-e Delkash, can be single or two-segmented, but either way, it is only used for building type 3 blocks, whose function is to stabilize the melodic descent on F after each sentence in the core of maqâm-e Delkash. The body of the segment or segments of this melody-type is typically made up of several short motifs each of which quickly descend on F from A koron. The same motifs can go to upper degrees through a bit of development but, nevertheless, the primary motifs are supposed to reappear and join the final cliché, which this time uses E. Here you can see Ma'rufi’s interpretation of this melody-type:

Because of the importance of E in the scale of maqâm-e Delkash as a kind of leading note for the F, the most determinant part of the segments of this melody-type is that very cadential cliché of stabilizing the suspended stop, F, which comes in the end. This cadential cliché can be added to the end of different melody-types that form the type 2 blocks as an adjunct part. This is done in order to stabilize the suspended stop, F, so that it does not need an independent type 3 block. The example below from Mirzâ ‘Abdollâh’s has such behavior in that the final cliché of stabilizing F is added independently to the end of an adjusted melody in a type 2 block:


4.3.7  Kereshme Melody-type (appearing in gushe Forud of Mirzâ Abdollâh’s and gushe Delkash of Ma'rufi’s)

There is no need to explain that the kereshme melody-type is one of those musical materials used abundantly in many places within the radif and does not belong to a specific maqâm or dastgâh. In maqâm-e Delkash, it can provide the content of the type 1 blocks as well as the type 2 ones. Mirzâ ‘Abdollâh has interpreted two musical segments with the type 1 function, using only three principal notes F, G, and A on the prosody of kereshme:

Through adding B flat to the cycle of these three notes and with a bit of development of this very prosodic idea, Musâ Ma'rufi has presented a more elaborate kereshme in five segments, which ultimately functions as a type 2 melodic block:


4.3.8  Tahrir-e Hâji Hasani Melody-type (appearing in gushe Delkash of Mirzâ Abdollâh’s, gushe Forud of Âqâ Hoseyn Qoli’s and gushe Hâji Hasani of Ma'rufi’s)

The simplest form of this tahrir is presented in a gushe with the same name in the progression of dastgâh-e Segâh. The formula of constructing this melody-type is that at first a sequence of small particular cells in the general meter “Tan Tananan Tanan Tananan” is introduced in a musical segment in a way that each accentuates one of the two neighboring degrees selected:


At the next stage, parts of this segment, with or without prefix, are transposed to one degree upper and then, depending on the destination, descend step by step:

Making use of the various forms of tahrir-e Hâji Hasani as a musical material in maqâm-e Delkash seems to be a very clever choice, since it can very well cause interaction between two adjacent degrees. By adjusting and developing them in a way that these two adjacent degrees are “A koron and G” or “G and F”, both type 1 and type 2 blocks of maqâm-e Delkash can be easily constructed. The fact that Ma'rufi named his entire third gushe in maqâm-e Delkash for this tahrir, while this content consists of nothing more than the first three of the sixteen segments of this gushe, can be indicative of the significance of tahrir-e Hâji Hasani melody-type. The three segments of Ma'rufi’s type 2 block from tahrir-e Hâji Hasani are as follows:

Âqâ Hoseyn Qoli made a type 1 melodic block from the same Hâji Hasani material:

4.3.9  Châhârmezrâb Melody-type (appearing in gushe Châhârmezrâb of the three interpretations)

In maqâm-e Delkash, the character of the form of the Qâjâri Châhârmezrâb – which is generally made up through the repetition of a rhythmic pattern on a particular degree (pâye), followed by some passage-like developments of it to other degrees, and its usual returns to the primary degree – is used to organize a type 1 melodic block. The rhythmic patterns of the Châhârmezrâb-s of all three Delkash interpretations are designed on the tonic, G, and its bass octave, and even along with the passage-like movements of the basic melodic notes in the range of upper and lower tetrachords, the bourdon-like sound of the tonic, G, is never dropped. The rhythmic base of Mirzâ Abdollâh’s interpretation is as follows:

Ma'rufi changed the motifs inside each base in the figure above:


And Âqâ Hoseyn Qoli used a more repetitive variation:


4.3.10  Intermediate Cadence of maqam-e Delkash (appearing in gushe Forud of Mirzâ ‘Abdollâh and Âqâ Hoseyn Qoli’s and gushe Hâji Hasani of Ma'rufi’s)

As described in the introduction section of maqâm-e Delkash progression, the function of this melody-type – which is specific to maqâm-e Delkash and is usually comprised of five or six musical segments – is to lower the music from the modal range of G to the modal range of D and begin the process of the return to maqâm-e Mâhur by bringing back A natural to replace A koron. The intermediate cadence of Delkash begins with a primary segment, whose main body is made up of the value or the sequence of the values of the tonic, G, which can be fragmented by C drones (a mention to maqâm-e Mâhur) and D (a mention to maqâm-e Goshâyesh), and eventually rests on the stop F, like Mirzâ ‘Abdollâh’s example:

This segment can be repeated, but nonetheless later is once transposed to one degree upper:

Then only its final motif gets itself to the modal range of D, step by step and through identical transposition in several stages:

Without a doubt, naming the third gushe of maqâm-e Delkash in Mirzâ Abdollâh and Âqâ Hoseyn Qoli’s interpretations as Forud resulted from the fact that they had this significant melody-type of the maqâm progression inside them. Below you can see the same melody-type as interpreted by Âqâ Hoseyn-Qoli:

4.3.11  Melody-type of tahrir of maqam-e Goshâyesh Range (appearing in gushe Forud of Mirzâ ‘Abdollâh’s and gushe Hâji Hasani of Ma'rufi’s)

This musical material, whose minimal form is three-segmented, appears in the progression when the musician wants to stay a bit in the intermediate maqâm, i.e., Goshâyesh, before the final cadence. The construction of this tahrir follows the general and three-staged principle of other tahrir-s of the modal range of D: the repetition and continuation of one or more short fixed or changeable motifs at the first stage, creating a peak with ascending movements of the variations of the same motifs at the second stage, and finally, at the last stage, the intensive descending from the peak towards the starting point. Ma’rufi’s interpretation of this tahrir is as follows:

And Mirzâ Abdollâh’s interpretation of this structure is as follows:

4.3.12  Melody-types of Intermediate Cadence of maqam-e Goshâyesh (appearing in gushe Forud of Mirzâ ‘Abdollâh and Âqâ Hoseyn Qoli’s and gushe Hâji Hasani of Ma'rufi’s)

The modal function of this melody-type is lowering the music from maqâm-e Goshâyesh to maqâm-e Mâhur. The intermediate cadence of maqâm-e Goshâyesh has more than one melodic cliché. Âqâ Hoseyn Qoli and Ma'rufi used variations of the more applied cliché of the intermediate cadence of maqâm-e Goshâyesh to express this part of the progression, respectively, as follows:

Mirzâ ‘Abdollâh, however, used a summarized variation of the intermediate cadence of Shekaste/Esfahân, which was previously referred to, in a single segment and without the alteration of E koron:

4.3.13  Melody-type of Final Cadences of maqam-e Mâhur (appearing in gushe Forud of Mirzâ ‘Abdollâh and Âqâ Hoseyn Qoli’s and gushe-ye Hâji Hasani of Ma'rufi’s)

As mentioned before, the progression can be made a little longer by expressing a sentence in maqâm-e Mâhur based on the specific principles of this maqâm. In fact, this is a choice made by Âqâ Hoseyn Qoli at this point when organizing his radif-e Delkash. Yet, apart from this optional choice, the final and obligatory cadence of maqâm-e Mâhur has two fixed melodic clichés. Depending on the taste of the performer of the progression and conforming to the last musical materials used before them, these melodic clichés are either played alternatively at the end of the progression of maqâm-e Mâhur or at the end of any progression of the secondary maqâms, referring to this original maqâm of the dastgâh. A variation of what we know as the first cliché of the final cadence of Mâhur was played by Âqâ Hoseyn Qoli:

Mirzâ ‘Abdollâh and Musâ Ma'rufi used variations of the second cliché of the final cadence of Mâhur:

5. The final diagram of the progression of maqam-e Delkash in the three Interpretations

This diagram, which is presented at the end of the article, clearly shows how the three masters interpreting the radif express a completely solid codified melodic progression, a fixed phrasing rule and a closed circle of melody-types[5] in three different ways. In these three interpretations, the maqâm progression – except in its unimportant parts, such as the question of whether or not to develop the music in maqâm-e Goshâyesh or in maqâm-e Mâhur through the process of cadence – is not flexible at all; however, having three forms of this solid progression in practice results from the general freedom existing at three levels: The first level of freedom is that one can make different choices based on one’s taste among different possible forms of the fixed phrasing rule of the maqâm, or different possible forms of juxtaposing melodic blocks to make each sentence. The second level of freedom is firstly that fixed melody-types can be located within the frame of different functional blocks, and therefore can be given different modal functions, and secondly, each melody-type can more or less be used at various stages of making different sentences and thus create heterogeneous orders for their time of being heard in the progression. The third level of freedom is manifested through introducing variations and using taste in interpreting a fixed melody-type. After deciding on the place and general way of adapting a melody-type with its functional melodic block somewhere in the progression, it can be given variation to a great extent, on the condition that its identity remains unchanged.

It seems that the general approach and the practical macro logics of making “another interpretation” of a fixed progression, as shown in this diagram, are also more or less applicable to the maqâms of other dastgâhs, and they can, to some extent, explain the general aesthetics of the way in which “different versions” of “an old radif” are shaped.

6. Conclusion

Considering the fact that a dastgâh is a multimodal phenomenon, and that the concept of mode is regarded equal to the concept of maqâm in the cultures which have preserved the old maqâm system, we can assume that a dastgâh is a collection of several maqâms. Moreover, comparing the importance and function of the five main constituents of the Turkish maqâm with the constituents of each mode within the Persian dastgâh-s shows that despite subtle aesthetic differences between the ways the combination of these five constituents is put in practice in the two cultures, there is no reason to consider each mode within the dastgâh-s anything less than a maqâm. Based on such a viewpoint, Persian classical music has more than 30–40 old and new maqâms which can still be performed independently and joined with other maqâms through unpredicted combinations. However, in the Qâjâri repertoire, they are fixed as seven dastgâhs and six âvâz. The first maqâm in each dastgâh is considered as the basis and several other maqâms are gradually built on and refer to it. The fact that only seven major maqâms are used as the basis for constructing the seven dastgâh-s seems to be related to the choice and taste of radif designers in a particular era. Based on such logic, it was and still is easily possible to create other dastgâh-s on other important old maqâms, such as Sabâ, Nahâvand, Dogâh, ‘Ashirân, Buslik, and Kordi.

Attempting to compare the maqâm theories of the neighboring artistic traditions with the theoretical principles of Persian classical music can help us understand the present day practical similarities and differences between the two cultures and the way the common system between the two functioned in the past. It can also help us use the Turkish and Arabic theories as inspirations to theorize those musical facts which practically exist in the Persian classical music today, but are not theoretically organized.

They then can be precisely set to explain the particular character of today’s Persian classical music. This can fill many gaps in the Persian classical musical theory and help improve the mutual musical understanding between the practitioners of the three cultures: Persian, Arabic and Turkish. It will also help to lower the useless isolating walls that have been raised in the realm of the common old musical language of the three and resulted in their absolute lack of understanding and awareness of one another. In this article, recommendations of this type were presented to theorize each of the five constituents of a maqâm, but it seems that of greater importance is using and adjusting the theory of the codified melodic progression and direction for its ability in explaining the type of connections between maqâms in a Persian dastgâh and the construction of the latter.

The existence and the seriously organized structure of the codified melodic progressions in forming the maqâms as well as the masterly arrangement of their homogeneous linkage for constructing the codified melodic progression of each dastgâh leads us to conclude that radif is a really artistic “progression-model” designed for introducing and teaching the prevailing maqâms, and describing the new dastgâhi system in a particular era. It seems that, as a result of forgetting the old forms and rhythms and the musical attraction of radif as a masterpiece, the role of this “taqsim-like progression model” as a “pattern” or “example” or “one of a thousand possibilities” has gradually been forgotten, and its function has been changed into “the main music which should be performed”. Furthermore, the “taqsim-like” expression of radif does not seem to be anything more than “an optional choice for teaching the progressions by the radif designers”, and it was, and is, easily possible for the maqâms and dastgâh-s of radif to be metric as much as they are non-metric today. Therefore, the emphasis on the essential importance of non-metric interpretation in Persian classical music is also one of those more recent changes in the function of radif and definitely, somehow, the result of it.

Comparing three important interpretations of maqâm-e Delkash as well as explaining the details of their construction shows that beyond elements such as the scale, degrees’ function and musical texture, even the codified melodic progression and the number and kinds of the used melody-types are completely the same in these three versions. What causes the difference between the three radif-s is what happens in the minimal level of constructing a maqâm or dastgâh, that is, in “the relative differences” in the way of adapting “interpretive variations” of prefabricated melody-types with the formulas of the different stages of a fixed codified melodic progression. Thus, it seems that in the past nothing more than a single radif was created, and later these interpretive variations resulted in similar versions of it. Therefore, the term “radif-s (radif-hâ)” does not really seem to match their musical reality. The construction of new versions of this old radif or even creation of new radifs in its real sense is a totally traditional action in the Persian culture, and there is no reason for the lovers of the old radif repertoire at the present time not to follow such a tradition along with innovation at different levels.


[1] The koron sign, , lowers approximatively of 1/4 tone [This is an added footnote not present in the original].

[2] The writer believes that maqâm Hesâr is not a counterexample in this regard. In spite of having a similar scale, Hesâr is not a transposed form of Châhârgâh, and they are two different maqâms since, based on the afore-mentioned definition, the former is an ascendant-descendant maqâm while the latter is an ascendant one; and this single difference is enough for the two to have different identities.
[3] The transcriptions are relatively accurate and their objective is to demonstrate the general melodic design. The dots below or above some of the notes are used to show appoggiaturas.
[4] In order to keep the article as short as possible and still introduce each melody-type, only the transcriptions of two versions are alternatively presented, but the absence of the third version in each case means that no particular behavior different from the presented examples was seen in it.
[5] The names of the melody-types are briefly written within different melodic blocks of the final diagram to avoid repeating the term “melody-type” before each name.


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Citing this article:

Mohâfez, Ârash. 2015 [2011]. “Maqâm-e Delkash: A Comparative Look at the Concept and Characteristics of Maqâm in Persian Dastgâhi Music.” Translated from Farsi by Leyla Rasuli and Kristen Wolf. Translingual Discourse in Ethnomusicology 1: 102-139. doi:10.17440/tde006

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