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Iran has a long and rich musical tradition, which includes a great variety of styles, including classical, religious, folk, and pop. Typical Persian classical instruments include the kamancheh (a bowed spike-fiddle), the daf (a frame drum), the tonbak (goblet drum), and long-necked lutes such as the tar, setar, tanbur, and dutar.

Pop Iranian music is hugely popular in Iran. Bootleg copies of the newest Western artists are on sale in small music shops and on the streets. Through Internet and satellite TV, Iran’s youth stays up to date with the latest trends in Western music. Even more popular than Western artists are Iranian pop idols.

Until the 1950s religious, traditional, and folk music dominated the Iranian music scene. Vigen Derderian, also known as the Pop Sultan, changed all that. He combined Iranian classical music with Western jazz and pop and unleashed a revolution that coincided with the rise of a new middle class that was being increasingly influenced by the West. By the 1970s, Iran had developed its own popular music style, in which traditional Persian instruments and melodies were mixed with imported sounds and styles. Pop diva Googoosh (Faegheh Atashin) became one of its most prominent exponents.

Iranian pop did not flourish for long. After the Islamic Revolution, Western music was forbidden. Female singers could no longer perform in public, because female solo singing was outlawed. Many artists moved abroad and further developed their careers in diaspora communities, mainly in Los Angeles.

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