Pish-Radif (Pre-Radif)

Pish-Radif (literary for pre Radif) is comprised of eleven lessons created by Hossein Omoumi to introduce the foundation of classical Persian music in a short period of time. As poetry has a very important role in classical Persian music and the vocal Radif is the basis of this tradition, Pish-Radif lessons are designed to be sung by students and musicians with various musical backgrounds and knowledge of this musical tradition. Pish-Radif lessons were created after analyzing the Radif using the General Systems Theory, so students are encouraged to study this approach before learning these eleven lessons. While there are 7 Dastgâhs and 5 Âvâzes (12 in total) in the Radif, Pish-Radif only includes 11 of these 12 systems, This is because of the complex structure of Dastgâh of Râst va Panjgâh, which is traditionally used for teaching and practicing modulation. Even when teaching Radif, Râst va Panjgâh is the last system that is covered and only those who have mastered the other eleven systems attempt to learn it. On the other hand each lesson of Pish-Radif provides a map to one of the Dastgâhs or Âvâzes, so when one enters the world of Radif the learning process becomes comprehensible, and much more effective while encouraging more creativity.

In Pish-Radif each lesson is created based on a poem from various renowned classical Persian poets such as Hâfez, Sa’di, and Bâbâ Taher to name a few. This is why one can claim that each lesson is a song that provides an introduction to all the open Gushehs of a Dastgâh or an Âvâz. That means each lesson starts with the Darâmad and moves through all the other open Gushehs in order to get to the Oj of each system. Finally and by using the open Gusheh that functions as Forud, the lesson ends, similar to how the structure of each Dastgâh and Âvâz works. What connects these open Gushehs to one another and keeps the constancy of each lesson is a closed Gusheh. In other words each lesson is based on a vertical-closed Gusheh so when moving from one open Gusheh to another the poetic and musical rhythms don’t change. This form is very similar to some of the closed Gushehs found in Radif as well as the structure of Tasnif (literary for song). But the difference appears when the lessons of Pish-Radif move through all of the open Gushehs of each Dastgâh and Âvâz, whereas in Tasnif or in closed Gushehs of Radif only a few of the open Gushehs are used and they don’t necessarily follow a specific order. Moreover each lesson has an assigned meter and time signature which is influenced by the poetic rhythm in order to convey the meaning of the poem as well as giving a rhythmic structure to each lesson.

By singing and learning each lesson, one will be introduced to every open Gusheh, which are the main musical atmospheres of Dastgâhs and Âvâzes while learning about one closed Gusheh of each system. Even though the student would only learn a limited amount of traditional melodic patterns and melodic ideas, memorizing these lessons doesn’t only introduce the foundation of this musical tradition, but it also provides a powerful tool for one to become able to recognize the structure of this music when listening to a performance. It also gives a comprehensive view of Radif and its application so one would be able to investigate the material in Radif with more appreciation and efficiency. Pish-Radif is also a great source for musicians who are interested in learning about the structure of classical Persian music and its application without spending several years on learning the whole repertoire. However, everyone is encouraged to study Radif after learning Pish-Radif.

Pish-Radif isn’t only inspired by one or two Radifs, rather and in order to create a comprehensive educational system, Hossein Omoumi has studied and used various vocal and instrumental Radifs of great masters of classical Persian music. When comparing different Radifs with one another, one would realize how the number of Gushehs are varied, especially when looking at the closed Gushehs. On the other hand while the open Gushehs are normally the same with some exceptions, the ordering of them might be unorganized or doesn’t follow a specific pattern or rule. This is where the structure and the systematic approach of Pish-Radif helps the learner to understand the relationship between the open Gushehs and the functions of the closed Gushehs within each Dastgâh or Âvâz. Moreover, for each Dastgâh and Âvâz—beside Dastgâh of Râst va Panjgâh—there is a table in which the tetrachord (Dâng) or pentachord (Pâng) of every open Gusheh is notated and recorded. The information of this table would help one to understand the intervallic relationship between the open Gushehs of each modal system and become familiar with the intervallic structure of each Dastgâh or Âvâz as a whole.

The lessons of Pish-Radif encourage one to begin with studying the poems and understanding its meaning through thoughtful and poetic recitation. In the singing process, the meter helps with keeping the constancy and accuracy of the melody. The melodies are carefully shaped based on the traditional melodic patterns used for each open Gusheh in order to convey the meaning of each line of the poem. On the other hand, learning and memorizing these melodies along with the poems, introduces one to the main musical atmospheres of classical Persian music. The instrumentalists are highly recommended to follow the same path before playing these lessons on their instruments.