Academic journal article Australian Journal of Music Education

A Historical Overview of Iranian Music Pedagogy (1905-2014)

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Music Education

A Historical Overview of Iranian Music Pedagogy (1905-2014)

Article excerpt


To understand recent developments concerning Iranian music education in the twentieth century, a social, cultural and musical overview of the past is necessary. This research investigates the development of Iranian instrumental music teaching and learning from the pre-revolutionary period, specifically the Iranian constitutional revolution (1905), to the present (2014). It discusses the five main chronological trends: Nationalism, Modernism, Conservatism, Neo-Traditionalism (Shirin-navazi) and Revivalism of the Traditions. The chronological order of the pedagogical trends is linked to and aligned with the cultural and socio-political events during the twentieth century. The significance of this information is to pursue the critical changes in Iranian music pedagogy and the interconnectedness between the mainstream pedagogical trends from those introduced by international musicians in the mid 1950s to the hybridized education system introduced by Iranian modernist Vaziri (1887-1979), and more recently by Iranian universities to teach tertiary music students.

The gap in the existing literature

Despite the need for a comprehensive investigation into Iranian instrumental music pedagogy, there has been a dearth of literature that focus on vocal and instrumental pedagogy (Farhat, 1998). Most of the literature pertaining to Iranian music education, such as the Gharavi (1979), although providing useful information, generally concentrates on a specific period of time, such as the Pahlavi era (1925-1979), and does not make pedagogical connections between the key historical events and their impact on current events in Iran. There is almost no research on post-revolutionary Iranian music pedagogy, from 1979 to 2010, even though this period has brought massive change. Despite the growing importance of music education methods, nothing has been written about this Iranian pedagogical history. In particular, the great musical training and activity that is taking place in Tehran and other Iranian cities in the promotion of Iranian pedagogy in the postrevolutionary (1979) era appears to have totally escaped the attention of scholars.


Iran underwent five major events in the twentieth century: a constitutional revolution (1905); the Mossadeq (1882-1967) project; the insurrection of the fifth of June 1973; the Islamic Revolution of 1979; and recently the post-election challenges of June 2009. The constitutional revolution is characterized as the turning point among these events. Despite the defeat of the Qajar dynasty which ushered in relative social freedoms, the constitutional revolution of 1905 could also be considered as marking the onset of Western influence on nearly all aspects of life--sociological, political and philosophical --including ideologies such as those of Hegel and Marx (Lotfi, 2009; Hojati, 1997). Following the revolution of 1905, anti-Westernization movements were undertaken in the music field by traditionalists such as Aref Ghazvini (1882-1934), a noted Iranian lyricist, musician and poet. Aref wrote many pro-revolutionary and political songs that largely contributed to the formation of a political-patriotic genre known as tasnif. (1) Tasnif flourished and became the leading popular nationalistic genre of the period. Tasnif was initially developed by Sheyda, an Iranian poet and musician (1843-1906), in the nineteenth century that reflected more amorous and romantic atmospheres and feelings. After Aref, Iranian musicians and lyricists such as Morteza Neydavud (performer and composer, 1901-1990), Mirzadeh Eshghi (political writer and poet, 1893-1924), Malekoshoara Bahar (poet and historian, 1884-1951) and Amir Jahed (composer and poet, 1895-1977) were major figures in developing the tasnif form by extensively composing in and documenting this form (Caton, 1983). The constitutional revolution of 1906 was accompanied by a new atmosphere of social consciousness in which mystic and romantic ideologies were largely superseded by 'nationalistic' genres and contexts. …

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