Despite the political turmoil of recent decades, the music of Iranand the current Iranian diasporacontinues to be rich and vital. From the country's centuries-old, courtly tradition of Persian classical music to its wildly diverse folk styles to a flourishing pop scene from pre-Revolutionary and young artists performing in the exile communities of Los Angeles and elsewhere, the music of Iran is alive and well.
While Persian classical music has become increasingly popular in recent years among mainstream North American and European audiences (in part thanks to the touring and recording efforts of such groups as the Masters of Persian Music), other genres are not quite as well known abroad to non-Iranian listeners.
While Persian classical music belongs largely to the cities and in past centuries to the royal courts, folk music has flourished in rural areas and amongst the country's many ethnic minority populations. Among the most prominent styles are those of the northeastern region of Khorasan, with its instruments like the stringed dotar, double-reeded ghooshmeh wind instrument and daiyreh drum, all of which are heard to beautiful effect on the Khorasan-inspired recording Night Silence Desert (Shanachie), featuring kemancheh player Kayhan Kalhor and Khorasan-born master vocalist Mohammad Reza Shajarian.
Another important tradition is that of the Kurdish population based in the western part of Iran; the renowned Kamkar family, comprised of seven brothers and one sister who are the children of well-known musician Hassan Kamkar, have made excellent recordings of both Kurdish folk and Persian classical music.
Iranian pop music is a world unto itself. Without doubt, the most popular pre-Revolutionary artist was the female singer Googoosh. After the Revolution, she decided to remain in Iran, but she did not perform again until 2000, when she resumed touring internationally. Since that reemergence, she has regularly toured abroad. Other acts have emerged from the second-generation Iranian-American community, particularly in Los Angeles; star artists include solo vocalists like Andy and Mansour. Anastasia Tsioulcas