Persian classical music dates back to the fifth century B.C. The Achamanide empire used music in prayer, royal festivities, national ceremonies, and war. The music is rich in structure, comprising melodic tones combined with a bounty of colorful rhythms. At the time of the Sassanid dynasty (100-630 A.D.), the music reaches its culmination with the Royal ensemble performing songs by Barbad and Nakisa (the two renown Iranian musicians) in a 100 piece orchestra.
One can compare traditional Persian music to the classical music of the West, which one should listen to from the beginning to the end with full attention. This form of Iranian music is based on improvisation and has a very inward quality. The sentiments of Persian music are personal and introspective. Some argue that this quality is the result of the many invasions of Persia, two of which were by Alexander in 330 BC and by the Arabs in the 7th century. Compared to the West, the traditional instruments of Iran are small and soft-sounding. Some believe that this evolution resulted from the ban of music in Islam, especially by the Shi’ite branch which became the main religion of Iran after the Arab invasion.
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