Dariush Talai is an Iranian singer, tar and setar player, musicologist, composer, and educator who has become internationally recognised for his many contributions to the world of Persian art music.
Born in 1953, he began his studies of traditional Persian music with masters of radif, the canonical corpus of melodic models that constitute the core of the Persian classical dastgah repertory, and are transmitted intergenerationally from master musicians to their students. He began his formal music education studying the tar with master musician Ali Akbar Shahnazi for over a decade, and later went on to learn from other renowned musicians including Nur Ali Borumand, with whom he studied radif, and Abdollah Davami, with whom he studied setar and singing. He has recorded numerous albums, many of which have been released through the Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art.
Though his personal style is classical at its core, he is the only musician known to be able to play and improvise on the tar in styles that range from those of the oldest recordings of traditional Persian music to those of the most contemporary performances. He has also experimented with new genres and applications of music through his musical collaborations with French jazz musician Michel Portal and Hindustani classical musician Koshal Das, and his multimedia projects with the French-Swiss choreographer and opera director Maurice Bejart and French-American choreographer and poet Carolyn Carlson. At the Aga Khan Music Awards ceremony in 2019, Dariush Talai’s distinguished and endearing contribution to music was recognised for his exceptional commitment to transmitting the classical performance tradition of the tar through his diverse activities as an artist, educator, and scholar.
As a philosopher and aesthetician of Persian music, Talai has become an internationally acclaimed author; he invented his own system of notation for music of the radif tradition, and has published numerous texts that discuss his original analysis of the aesthetics of Persian classical music. As an educator, Talai has taught at the University of Tehran, the Sorbonne, and University of Washington in Seattle.
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