As it was mentioned in the previous pages, there are two separate Radifs for voice and instruments. While Farahâni’s family were all Târ and Setâr players and they compiled the Radif for instruments, the deep connection between music and poetry in Iran as well as historical events suggests that the instrumental Radif was an imitation of the vocal Radif. When analyzing the Gushehs, one will discover how classical Persian poetic rhythms have been embedded in several Gushehs. On the other hand the melodic contours of other Gushehs indicates the importance of singing and the presence of poetry in this music. This can be also found in various folkloric music of Iran, which are heavily based on singing and storytelling. As Farahâni’s family didn’t invent Radif rather they collected and organized the music that existed in the society, and since during the Safavid dynasty (1501-1736) instrumental music was banned and music was preserved through ritual and religious vocal music, development of instrumental Radif was highly based on vocal music tradition.

Although all the concepts and organizations of both Radifs are very similar, their differences are mainly in numbers of Gushehs and performance technicalities. As the vocal Radif (Radif-e Âvâzi) is organized for training singers, it is deeply connected with poetry. The majority of Gushehs include one or more lines of poem along with melodic lines sung in a melismatic form using an ornamental technique known as Tahrir. On the other hand, Instrumental Radif (Radif-e Sâzi) doesn’t include lyrics and because of the abilities that instruments have, there are more rhythmic and virtuosic Gushehs added to this Radif. Meanwhile, there are some musicians such as Abolhasan Saba whose Instrumental Radifs’ notation includes poetry to remind the learner about the poetic rhythms and the extra-musical concepts that shaped each Gusheh. Normally, the number of Gushehs in vocal Radifs don’t exceed 150, while the Instrumental Radifs may include up to 350 Gushehs. Since most of the Gushehs found only in instrumental Radifs are created because of the technical abilities of instruments, the majority of musical and extra-musical contexts that are needed for one in order to learn and understand this music is embedded in the shared Gushehs. Many established musicians and Radif experts believe that learning both vocal and instrumental Radifs is necessary and enriches musicians’ experience and creativity.

School of Isfahân and Tehran

Historically there are two main schools of thought in classical Persian music: the school of Isfahân and the school of Tehran. The school of Isfahân dates back to the 17th century when Isfahân served as the capital city of Persia during the Safavid dynasty. In several periods playing music on instruments was banned by religious leaders and kings of the time. There is evidence showing very few Safavid Shahs were in favor of music, but the majority of leaders and kings were against music due to Islamic beliefs. This is why vocal music became very important and was supported by the kings and religious leaders. As a result singing became the main form of performing classical Persain music and evidently the Radif  of Isfahan was influenced and formed based on the meaning and the rhythms of poetry. On the other hand the school of Tehran and its Radif  was established during the Qajar dynasty. As Tehran became the capital of Iran and Qajar Kings supported instrumental music, the instrumental Radif gained more weight. However, the main roots of this Radif was also the older vocal Radif of Isfahan.

As Pish Radif lessons are based on the vocal Radif, we have included the main three recorded vocal Radifs of classical Persain music in this website: Radif of Hassan Kassaie—the great Ney player—from the school of Isfahan, and Radif of Abdollah Davami as well as Mahmoud Karimi both of which are from the school of Tehran.

While Hassan Kassâie is known as the greatest Persian Ney player of all times, he has recorded three different versions of Radif one of which is performed by him playing Setâr and singing. In an interview, when he is asked about his mesmerizing performances he says “When I’m playing I am indeed reciting poetry.” He refers to the importance of poetry and how a musician can enrich his improvisation abilities by deeply understanding poetry and its connection to music. This is why Kassaie’s Radif is strongly connected to poetry and leans towards extramusical concepts, and more specifically, poetic meanings and traditions. This is the main difference between the school of Isfahân and the school of Tehran.

Abdollah Davâmi is known mostly as a singer of Tasnifs (composed pieces) and there are some old recordings of his Tasnif singing in hand. He is the first singer who was asked by his students and friends to record a vocal Radif. His Radif is based on what he had learned from Ali Khân Nâyebo-Saltaneh who was also a singer, Mirzâ Abdollâh and other instrumentalists such as Darvish-Khân (1872-1926). Davâmi’s Radif was inspired by the instrumental Radifs of great master musicians who were mostly Târ players, composers and musically connected directly to the Farâhâni family. He trained several singers such as Mahmoud Karimi, Mohammad-Reza Shajarian (1940) and female singers such as Khâtereh Parvaneh (1930-2008). Davâmi started recording his Radif accompanied by Mohammad-Reza Lotfi on Târ. However, they only recorded Dastgâh-e Shur and it’s two derived Avâzes, Bayât-e Tork and Abu-Atâ. A while after Mehdi Kamâliân a Setâr player and renowned Setâr maker encouraged Abdollah Davami to continue recording his Radif. This is how Davâmi recorded his Radif  in Kamâlian’s house using his own recording devices without any instruments. On the other hand, Davâmi’s student, Mahmoud Karimi recorded and published the first vocal Radif in 1966. Karimi was known as a Radif expert and trained many contemporary singers such as Parisaa (1950), and Shahram Nazeri (1950). His Radif is based on his first teacher, Abdollah Davâmi’s Radif while he was also influenced by the Radif of Abolhassan Sabâ for violin. There are very few recordings of Karimi performing or improvising as a singer because he considered himself as a Radif teacher rather than a singer. “He had told me a few times that ‘I’m not a singer’” (Hossein Omoumi). One can argue that because Kassâie was an active performer, his vision on Radif was also leaning towards creativity and performance while Davâmi and Karimi were focused on teaching the principles in a more disciplinary setting.