BAYĀT-e EṢFAHĀN, or ĀVĀZ-e EṢFAHĀN, a musical system based on a specific collection of modal pieces (gūšahā) which are performed in a particular order. According to the late 13th/19th-century author Forṣat Šīrāzī (apud Ṣafwat, p. 81), Eṣfahān was listed as one of the pieces of the modal system (dastgāh) of Homāyūn. In the twentieth century it has developed from a gūša of Homāyūn into a nearly independent dastgāh. Its smaller repertoire and cadential references to Homāyūn support the theory that it is a sub-dastgāh (āvāz, naḡma) of Homāyūn. Some theorists (Farhat, p, 164; Caron and Safvate, p. 89) believe it to be an independent dastgāh; others believe it to be derived from the dastgāh Šūr (During, p. 118).

The introductory part (darāmad) is in the mode of Eṣfahān. The scale degrees are F G Ap B C D Eb. The recitation tone (šāhed) is on C, the initial pitch (āḡāz) may be on C or G, the cadential pitch (īst) may be C or Ap, and the final pitch is on G, although earlier in the century it concluded on F.

Like other dastgāhs, Eṣfahān’s scale and modal configuration have changed over time. The mood of Eṣfahān has been described as mystical and profound, expressing a mixture of happiness and melancholy. Its current similarity to the Western minor scale has made it a much-used mode in popular and semiclassical music, where Western minor tuning is used and the Ap eliminated (Zonis, p. 87).

The important gūšas of Bayāt-e Eṣfahān are the Darāmad, Jāmadarān, Bayāt-e Rājeʿ, ʿOššāq, Šāhḵatāʾī, Sūz-o-godāz, and Maṯnawī. Bayāt-e Rājeʿ is one of the most important gūšas, and has a slightly different modal character than the Darāmad. ʿOššāq, also very important, represents a distinct modulation. Šāhḵatāʾī, which is modally close to ʿOššāq, expresses the high pitch area (awj) of the dastgāh, cadencing to Eṣfahān at its conclusion. Both Sūz-o-godāz and Maṯnawī have modal configurations similar to Eṣfahān.


N. Caron and D. Safvate, Iran: Les traditions musicales, Berlin, 1966, pp. 88-91.

J. During, La musique iranienne: Tradition et évolution, Paris, 1984, pp. 118-19.

H. Farhat, The Dastgah Concept in Persian Music, Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles, 1965, I, pp. 164-75; II, pp. 355-58.

M. Forsat Šīrāzī, Boḥūr al-alḥān, ed. ʿA. Zarrīnqalam, Tehran, 1345 Š./1966.

M. Karīmī (coll.), Radīf-e āvāzī-e mūsīqī-e sonnatī-e Īrān, transcribed and analyzed by M.-T. Masʿūdīya (Massoudieh), Tehran, 1357 Š./1978, pp. 83-97.

R. Ḵāleqī, Naẓar-ī be-mūsīqī II, Tehran, 1352 Š./1973, pp. 207-14.

K. Khatschi, Der Dastgah: Studien zur neuen persischen Musik, Regensburg, 1962, pp. 102-03.

M. Maʿrūfī, Radīf-e haft dastgāh-e mūsīqī-e īrānī, Tehran, 1352 Š./1973 (s.v. Bayāt-e Eṣfahān).

M. Sadeghi, Improvisation in Nonrhythmic Solo Instrumental Contemporary Persian Art Music, M.A. thesis, California State University, Los Angeles, 1971, pp. 35, 60, 62-63.

D. Ṣafwat, Ostādān-e mūsīqī-e Īrān wa alḥān-e mūsīqī-e īrānī, Tehran, 1350 Š./1971, pp. 74-99.

E. Zonis, Classical Persian Music: An Introduction, Cambridge, Mass., 1973, pp. 86-88.

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 بیات اصفهان bayat e isfahan bayat e isfahaan  

(M. Caton)

Originally Published: December 15, 1988

Last Updated: December 15, 1988

This article is available in print.
Vol. III, Fasc. 8, pp. 884-885