Free Rhythm In Persian Music Online Workshop

A practical introduction to

Free Rhythm in Persian Music Online Workshop by Negar Bouban

June 27, 2020 at 18:00 CET

Are you interested in musical traditions that have parts called improvisation or Maqam?

Are you learning to play or sing Avazi, Maqam, Taqsim, and/or Persian Classical music?

 Would you like to learn to improvise in free-rhythm?

 But, You find yourself puzzled with how phrases take shape when there is no beat and time signature in the music? Looking for some ideas on how phrases are made in free-rhythm?

 We will be presenting an interactive online workshop on free-rhythm in Persian Music, discussing the key points, through guided listening to some of the masters‘ performances, while presenting clues to the underlying timing-structure in them.

 We will also play and sing to try some of the concepts in practice.


In most traditions of Maqam music –or Modal music; as many call it: – there are always parts that do not go with rhythmic cycles or percussions. Turkish Makam, Kurdish and Arabic Maqam, Persian Avaz (or Avazi), Azerbaijani Mugam and many others, they all have it as a prominent feature: some supposedly improvised, free-rhythm, instrumental or vocal part in the course of performance. Such parts can take even more than three-quarters of a program and so they seem to be the main body of the music. They are loosely called “improvisations“ in a specified Maqam/Dastgah, in spite of the fact that in many cases, the music is not made at the moment. It becomes even more curious when you try to learn to perform Maqams but all you can find are explanations of how every Maqam is defined by its tonal/modal aspects, or in simpler words: what notes in what order you need, to make a Maqam, but nothing about timing! 

These so-called free-rhythm parts are supposed to be “free”, and maybe freedom is what it has in common with improvisation. Yet for many learners, they are extremely difficult to understand and perform, let alone improvise! No matter how hard the learner tries, what they come to play is in most cases far from genuine quality. Many end up copying or imitating masters’ works, the resulting being usually a poor copy. 

So, what should one learn to be able to play and/or sing free-rhythm in a more creative way? What does it mean to be free in rhythm? Is there a structure in such rhythm, and if yes, how can one build and follow on such a structure without making replicas of others’ works? 

In this one-session workshop, we discuss the question of the nature of free rhythm in Persian music, through guided listening to some of the masterpieces. Some clues to the underlying timing-structure will be shown in free-rhythm phrases and we will play and/or sing to put some of the concepts into practice. 

The level of your skills and previous knowledge about Persian music might play a role in how active you can get in the interactive parts of the workshop, but it is not necessary at all to be at an advanced level. You can even benefit a lot from the workshop, through mere participation and following what others do.

  • Duration: 2.5 hours 
  • Tuition: $90
  •  Platform: Zoom 
  • Language: English Starting 
  • date: Saturday, June 27 at 6 pm Central European Time ( 12 pm Toronto time ) 
  • This session will be recorded for Rhythmitica private archives.