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dastgah

any of the principal modes of the art music of Persian-speaking areas, used as the basis for composition and improvisation. A dastgah incorporates a scale, a motif, a group of short pieces, and a recognizable identity. The scale (maqam) is a collection of seven pitches, some of which may be temporarily altered, using various combinations of whole tones, semitones, and fractional tones (see microtonal music). The motif is a short four-to-six-note phrase (mayeh), to which musicians repeatedly refer in performance. The short pieces (gushehs) emphasize different parts of the scale and various tonal relationships. A recognizable musical character is established for each performance

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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