ḤESĀR, in Persian music, an important section (šāh-guša, see GUŠA) in the Persian and Azeri radifs, its name probably originating from the town in Tajikistan. It occupies a central position in the development of the modal systems (dastgāh, q.v.) of Čahārgāh and Segāh, transposing these modes to the higher fifth. In both cases its melodic content is identical, but its scale is adapted to the interval of the dastgāh: Ep Fa# G Ap B C (in Čahārgāh in C), G A Bp C D (in Segāh in Ep). The motifs are strongly centered on G (in Čahārgāh) and Bp in Segāh.

It consists of three parts, an introduction, a rhythmic section (Čahār-meżrāb, q.v.), and a conclusion (pas-Ḥeṣār), followed up by the guša Muya. It is played in the same manner in Azerbaijan, but mainly in Segāh mode in the scale G A# B C D. Its very tense expressive character culminates in a melisma (taḥrir) in three notes, among the most developed in the canonic repertory of these two traditions.

A different form called Ḥeṣār-e Māhur or Abol is found in Māhur mode, which consists of a modulation on the fourth F, in the scale C D E F G A.

Ḥeṣār is metioned, apparently for the first time, by Neẓāmi Ganjavi (Purjawādi, p. 47) and is described in Dorrāt al-taj of Qoṭb-al-Din Širāzi. Lāḏeqi (15th century) adds it to the list of six “āvāzāt"of Ṣafi-al-Din Ormavi, while ʿAbd-al-Qāder Marāḡi (1965, pp. 63-64) includes it among the twenty-four šoʿbas. According to the treatises of the Safavid period, it is derived from the upper part of the maqām Ḥejāz and was played right after Do-gāh (Ḏokāʾ, ed., p. 196; Rajabov, p. 65; Kawkabi, p. 55). Kantemir (Feldman, p. 226) places Ḥeṣār on the higher fifth of Segāh, as is still the case today in Persia.

For a music sample, see Ḥeṣār - part 2.


Yaḥyā Ḏokāʾ, ed., “Maʿrefat-e ʿelm-e musiqi” (a Safavid treatise), in Ḥabib Yaḡmāʾi and Iraj Afšār, ed., Nāma-ye Minovi, Tehran, 1350 Š./1971, pp. 190-98.

Jean During, Le rèpertoire-modele de la musique persane: radif de târ et de setâr de Mirzâ Abdollâh, Tehran, 1370 Š./1991.

Walter Feldman, Music of the Ottoman Court: Makam, Composition and the Early Ottoman Instrumental Repertoire, Berlin, 1996.

N. Kawkabi, Resāla-ye musiqi, Dushanbe, 1983.

Moḥammad b. ʿAbd-al-Ḥamid Lāḏeqi, al-Resāla al-fatḥiya, tr. by R. d’Erlanger, La Musique Arabe IV, Paris, 1939, pp. 259-498.

ʿAbd-al-Qāder b. Ḡaybi Ḥāfeẓ Marāḡi, Maqāṣed al-alḥān, ed. Taqi Bineš, Tehran, 1344 Š./1965.

Idem, Jāmeʿ al-alḥān, ed. Taqi Bineš, Tehran, 1366 Š./1987, pp. 133-34, 144, 164, 232.

Musā Maʿrufi, Radif-e haft dastgāh-e musiqi-e irāni/Les Systèms de la Musique Traditionelle Iranienne (Radif), ed. Mehdi Barkešli, Tehran, 1341 Š./1962, 2nd ed., 1973.

Moḥammad-Taqi Masʿudiya (Massoudieh), Radif-e āvāzi-e musiqi-e sonnati-e Irān ba rewāyat-e Maḥmud Karimi/Radif vocal de la musique iranienne, Tehran, 1357 Š./1978.

Moḥammad b. Maḥmud Nišāburi, “Resāla-ye musiqi,” ed. with commentaries by Amir Ḥosayn Purjawādi as “Resāla-ye musiqi-e Moḥam-mad b. Maḥmud b. Moḥammad Nišāburi,” Maʿāref 12/1-2, 1374 Š./1995, pp. 32-70.

Mehdi Setāyešgar, Vāža-nāma-ye musiqi-e Irān-zamin, 2 vols., Tehran, 1374-75 š./1995-96, I, pp. 379-80.

Qoṭb-al-Din Maḥmud Širāzi, Dorrat al-tāj le-ḡorrat al Dabbāj, ed. Sayyed Moḥammad Meškāt, 5 vols. in one, Tehran, 1317-20 Š./1938-41.

A. A. Rajabov, Naḡma-ye niāgān, Du-shanbe, 1988.

(Jean During)

Originally Published: December 15, 2003

Last Updated: March 22, 2012

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Vol. XII, Fasc. 3, p. 303