ḤOSAYNI, a guša (significant melodic unit) of the canonic repertory of Persian classical music (radif). Its principal home is the mode (dastgāh, q.v.) of Šur, ordinarily regarded as the most important of the twelve modes. It is also occasionally found in the mode of Navā (where it is sometimes designated as Ḥosayn), which overlaps in content with Šur. The significance of the name is not clear; but a number of the components of the radif have personal names. While melodic material with the name Ḥosayni has been used for hundreds of years, it does not appear to have a consistent melodic identity. Performance of Ḥosayni as found in the radifs requires between one and two minutes.

According to the earliest sources (15th cent. C.E.) cited by Khatschi Khatschi (pp. 45-50), Ḥosayni was evidently a major component of Persian music (equivalent perhaps to today’s dastgāhs) associated for performance with the time of sunrise. In the early versions of the 20th-century radifs, it continued in a position of prominence but then gradually declined. Thus, Hormoz Farhat (p. 32) lists it as an important and clearly distinct melody, occupying a range an octave above darāmad (q.v.). Manoochehr Sadeghi (p. 58) places it lower, in the upper part of the principal octave. Later published versions, for instance the radif of Musā Maʿrufi and of Maḥmud Karimi (see MASʿUDIYA) include Ḥosayni, but it is brief and without subdivisions. The radif of Nur-ʿAli Borumand (see, e.g., During, p. 81; Kiāni, p. 2) does not include Ḥosayni, and the radifs of some recent performers, for example, of Ḥosayn ʿAlizāda (recorded ca. 1990) and Dāriuš Ṭalāʾi (recorded ca. 1992) do not include it. Some musicians regard Ḥosayni as identical with the gušas Bozorg and Kuček. In recent performances of improvised Āvāz of Šur, the guša Ḥosayni seems to be rarely present (see Nettl, pp. 119-36). All of this illustrates interestingly the separate histories of melodic materials and the terminology associated with them, as well as the variety of life-cycles of the components of the radif.

For a music sample, see Ḥeṣār - part 3.

For a music sample, see Ḥosayni (2).


Jean During, Le répertoire modèle de la musique iranienne: radif de tār et de setār de Mirzā ʿAbdollāh, version de Nur ʿAli Borumand, Tehran, 1991; tr. Piruz Sayyār as Radif-e sāzi-e musiqi-e sonnati-e Irān: radif-e tār wa setār-e Mirzā ʿAbd-Allāh, Tehran, 1991.

Hormoz Farhat, The Dastgāh Concept in Persian Music, Cambridge, 1990.

Khatschi Khatschi, Der Dastgah System: Studien zur neuen persischen Musik, Regensburg, 1962.

Majid Kiāni, Radif-e Mirzā ʿAbd-Allāh: barrasi-e rewāyat-e Nur-ʿAli Borumand/The System of the Modes of Iranian Music According to the Musicologist Master Mirza Abdollah as Presented by the Late Professor Nur ʿAli Borumand I, Tehran, 1990.

Musā Maʿrufi, Radif-e haft dastgāh-e musiqi-e irāni/Les Systèmes de la musique traditionelle iranienne (radif), ed. Mehdi Barkešli, Tehran, 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, 1978.

Bruno Nettl, The Radif of Persian Music: Studies of Structure and Cultural Context in the Classical Music of Iran, rev. ed., Champaign, Ill., 1992.

Manoochehr Sadeghi, “Improvisation in Nonrhythmic Solo Instrumental Contemporary Persian Art Music,” M.A. thesis, UCLA, 1971.

Mehdi Setāyešgar, Vāža-nāma-ye musiqi-e Irān-zamin, 2 vols., Tehran, 1995-96, I, pp. 377-78.

(Bruno Nettl)

Originally Published: December 15, 2004

Last Updated: March 23, 2012

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Vol. XII, Fasc. 5, p. 516