The Tar is the result of the development of the ancient raba´b . It appeared in its original form at the beginning of the nineteenth century but was modified to its modern form toward the end of the century. The Tar is an exclusively Iranian and very original instrument.tar_picture

The Tar is characterized by its original form, incorporating a sound-box in two unequal parts, called by analogy, naqqare (double kettle drum). Carved out of a mulberry tree, the belly is equipped with a long neck, fitted with camel bone and carrying six strings grouped in pairs.

Old Tar had five strings. It is said that Darvish khan, a master of Persian music in the early 20th century, added one more string. The long fingerboard has twenty-six to twenty-eight adjustable gut frets. Its range is about two and one-half octaves and is played with a brass plectrum, mezeab .


The Setar is a small lute with a long neck, originally with three metallic strings (the present setar has four strings) that are plucked with the right index finger, sometimes in the past with a metal nail piece affixed to it.setar picture

The first representations of the Setar in manuscripts appeared in the sixteenth century. Before this period, long-necked lutes were depicted as resembling the Dotar, whose sound-box and neck are longer.

The origins of the Setar go back the Tanbur of Khorasan described by Farabi in the tenth century. The Setar is just an adaptation of this instrument to which one string was added.

The sound-box of the Setar is curved; like the lute and mandolin, it is generally made of strips of wood. The long and slender neck is attached to the sound-box and the table, which are made of mulberry wood. Three pegs, Gushi, placed at the tip of the neck, two on the right side and two on the left.


Ashkan Ghafouri - School Director - Tar, Setar
Arian Rahmanian - Events Manager - Vocal, Tar, Setar
Fares Hedayati - Zarb (Percussion)
Amir Abbas Etemadzadeh - Zarb & Daf (Percussion) - (619) 729-6902
Mahvash Gerami - Santour - (510) 531-3937
Partow Hooshmandrad - Setar - partowh@yahoo.com
Bahman Azadi - Piano, Kamanche - (650) 533-9026
Faraz Minooei - Santour - (408) 813-4728
Ramin Zoufonon - Piano - (650) 619-7220

Shahab Paranj - Tombak - - (310) 487-6519


Instruction is one on one, and the goal is to teach the Persian modal system (Radif) through traditional and modern methods.


  1. Tuition is $200 per month. It includes four one-hour sessions, the music workshops and all the course materials (notation and tapes).
  2. Tuition must be paid in the beginning of each month.
  3. A makeup class is offered for sessions canceled by the instructor.

Distance Learning

These are individual classes conducted remotely over the Internet using state of the art Skype service.

  • You may purchase a package of 4 seesion for $200 from our on-line Store.
  • Please visit skype.com to dowanload free Skype software.

Music Workshops

The workshops include group rehearsals and instruction; lectures on music appreciation; history of Persian music; music theory; and rhythmic and instrumental explorations.

Special Classes For Children

These classes are designed to teach children the basic elements of music, such as music appreciation, theory, keyboard (Piano), ear training and singing. In addition, the students become familiar with many Persian instruments which they may later choose as their main instrument.

Registration may be required in order to access weekly updates, class materials, and multimedia instructions in the STUDENTS section.

Please contact Tar School for additional information.


Music lessons are offered in several locations in California:

  • San Jose (headquarters) - 1900 Camden Ave., Suite 211, San Jose, CA 95124
  • Berkeley
  • San Francisco
  • Contra Costa County - 98 Miramonte Dr., Moraga, CA 94556
  • Marin County
  • Sacramento - 10098 Folsom Blvd, Suite E & F, Rancho Cordova, CA 95670
  • Los Angles
  • San Diego


Shahid Note
Stop Note

The Radif (raw or rank, model or a suit of sequences) is an evolving collection of old melodies that have been categorized into seven Dastgah. The main element of the Radif consists of the modes of each Dastgah and the sequence of the Goushehs and Avazes. Since the Radif was compiled and narrated by different masters, various versions of the Radif have emerged over time. However, in a broader sense, the Radif can be divided into two main categories: the vocal Radif and the instrumental Radif. The instrumental Radif is based on vocal modes or non-rhythmic music, which is designed in accordance with the special capabilities of each instrument for which the Radif is written. The vocal Radif is a kind of Radif in which Avaz or non-rhythmic music is based on poetic meters and syllabus. The rhythm is greatly influenced by the rhythm and meter of Persian poetry. This kind of Radif is performed by a vocalist. Since there is a close relation between instrumental and vocal parts of most Persian classical music, the player usually follows the vocalist in performance.

Iranian classical music is based on the Radif which consists of seven Dastgahs. Apparently, the first classification of the Radif was derived from the Bohur Al-Alhan, a book written by Fursat Al dullah-i Shirazi. In addition to the characteristics of Maqam, each Dastgah has some rhythmic forms, such as intermezzo (Chaharmiezrab), Reng, and Kerishmeh as well as some non-rhythmic forms, which make the most part of each Dastgah. Modal changes appear in performing each Dastgah and return to the initial modes is other characteristics of each Dastgah. The names of the different Dastgahs and their sub-divisions in the Radif are

  • Dastgah Shur, includes Avaz Abuata, Bayat Tork (Zand), Avaz Afshari, and Avaz Dashti
  • Dastgah Segah
  • Dastgah Chargah
  • Dastgah Mahur
  • Dastgah Humayoun and Avaz Esfahan
  • Dastgah Rastpanjgah
  • Dastgah Nava

Mayeh is kind of tonal and it is similar to scale, but unlike scale, tonal not necessarily requires the sequence of the notes between the beginning and the ending notes of the scale. In Persian music, tonal is sometimes used for defining the Avaz like Mayeh-i Isfahán and Mayeh-i Afshary.

Mayeh is kind of Mode: is the distances between the notes of any specify scale. In analyzing the theory of Persian traditional music, each scale is divided into two Dongs. The Dongs could be symmetrical or asymmetrical. Sometimes, both Dastgah and Maqam are used for the same purpose in Persian music like Dastgah-I Shur or Maqam-I Shur. In this case, Maqam-i Shur signifies the notes which correspond to the Daramad-i Shure.


Each of the existing melody in the Radif is called Gusheh. Gushes can appear in the form of Charmeszrab and Kershemeh. From the modal perspective, Gushes can be divided into two categories: the Gushes which are based on the change of the tonic or stop notes. In this case, the change of the mode has not occurred in accordance with Daramad. The other Gushes have changed in respect to the tonic and endnotes. For instance, Gusheh Dad in Mahur is among those Gushes that only its tonic note has change, while the mode and the tonic note have changed in Gusheh Delkash in the same Dastgah. Foroud is the descent or return to the beginning of the melody which is in accordance with the mode of the Daraumad.

Shahid Note (Tonic Note)
It is the note that appears more than any other notes and is the center of the melody.

Stop Note
After playing a Shahid note in a Gusheh you can end on this note as well as the Shahid note. Shahid and Stop can be the same note as in Mahour Do, Gosheh Delkash (Shahid & Stop are Sol) or they can be different notes as in Mahour Do, Gousheh Shekasteh (Shahed is Sol and Stop is Mi Koron)

Forms in Persian Music
Generally, form in music refers to the shape and the skeleton of the musical piece. There are two general forms in Persian music: First, the forms that exist in the Radif, such as Daraumad, Avaz, Kereshmeh, Bastehnegar, Charmezrab, Renge, Masnavi, and so forth. Second, the forms that do not exist in the Radif like Peeshdaramad and Tasneef. Except Daramad which is the introducer of the main mode in each Dastgah, all of the existing forms in Persian music are performable in other Dastgahs and Gushes.

A. The Existing Forms In The Radif
  • Daramad, it denotes beginning or appearing. Daramad introduces the main mode of each Dastgah. The form of Daramad can be though of vocal form too.
  • Avaz: is the main part of each Dastgah and is a non-rhythmic form.
  • Kereshmeh: is a rhythmic form whose rhythmic cycle is twelve.
  • Bastenegar: is also a rhythmic form which has a three-beat cycle (3/8, 3/16,…).
  • Charmezrab: has the fastest rhythm in the Radif. It can have various rhythmic cycles, such as 6/8, 6/16, 4/4, 2/4, etc.
  • Reng: is a dance-like piece marking the end of the performance. Its rhythmic cycle is usually 6/8.


B. The Forms that do not exist in the Radif
  • Pishdaramad (prelude) usually performed in the beginning of the performance. It is a slow rhythmic piece which comes before Daramad in each Dastgah. These rhythmic forms usually have 2/4, 4/4, 6/4 rhythmic cycles. Darvish Khan and Mokhtari played a vital role in developing and promoting this rhythmic form.
  • Tasneef is a kind of music, which is accompanied with poems. Therefore, the presence of a vocalist is necessary in performing a Tasneef. Usually, Tasneef has a part known as overture and some other portions which can be only instrumental or partially instrumental and vocal. In terms of rhythm, Tasneef can have the form of Renge.


Improvisation is a kind of art in which the performer in accordance with his/her emotional mod uses his/her musical knowledge which he/she has gained through many years of repletion and practice under the supervision of the master. It should be mentioned that the ultimate goal of memorizing and mastering the Radif is to make the musician able to improvise

Modulation is the art of changing the initial mode, going to different modes, and returning to the original mode. This mastery cannot be achieved unless the musician has perfectly learned the different Radifs and other musical pieces and compositions.


Scale’s note name in Persian music
A series of successive sounds or notes located between two notes one of which is the beginning and the other is the end of the scale. The numbers of the existing notes in each scale vary from country to country. For instance, in Chinese music, each scale has five notes. Therefore, the six notes is the repetition of the first note. In Jazz music each scale has six notes. It is to say that usually musical scales in most music contain seven notes and the eight notes is the repetition of the first note. Each note of any musical scale is called “degree”. The first degree in each scale defines the name of that scale. The Persian names of the different degrees of the eight-note scale (seven notes and 8th is a Octeve) are, Pardih, Ru Pardih, Miyani, Zir Namayan, Namayan, Ru-Namamyan, Mahsoos, and Hingum.