Persian music notation

The notation for Persian classical music commonly uses two accidentals for microtones, sori and koron. Invented by Ali-Naqi Vaziri around 1935, they indicate raising and lowering a pitch by (approximately) a quarter tone, respectively.

[image of music]

The file persian.ly4 provides support for koron and sori; they can be obtained by appending ‘k’ (koron) and ‘o’ (sori) to the English note symbols.

LilyPond supports tunings for all major Persian modes in all keys, sufficient to notate the gushehs (central nuclear melodies) of all dastgahs (musical modal systems).

The note immediately following a koron is sometimes5 lowered by about 20 cents. This is not notated but considered part of the tuning. However, for getting better MIDI support you can make a sound flat by appending ‘v’ to the note name (‘vlat’). This note should actually also get a strong vibrato, and the vibrato and low tuning are perceptually integrated (serialism). This is just for MIDI and has no effect on the notation itself.

There are no further tuning issues in Persian music. Since the music is monophonic, the difference between just intonation (for example) and equal temperament is merely academic – there are no chords where out-of-tune intervals would be noticeable.

The following suffixes to English note names are provided.

kkoron (about quarter flat, -3/10 of whole tone, 60 cents)
osori (about quarter sharp, 2/10 of whole tone, 40 cents)
v20 cent flat-tuned note (“vlat”, not notated)
fvflat, tuned 20 cents down (notated as a normal flat)
svsharp, tuned 20 cents down (notated as a normal sharp; does never occur in traditional Persian music)



There exists another, older support file for Persian classical music also called (written by Kees van den Doel) that no longer works with the current LilyPond version; while note names are compatible, the selection of key signatures is not.


If the interval defined by the note before the koron and after the koron is a minor third. The same is true for the note below the finalis in the ‘Esfahan’ dastgah according to some (but not all) Persian musicians.

LilyPond Notation Reference v2.25.16 (development-branch).