Mohsen Mohammadi

image for Mohammadi

Director of Indo-Persian Music, Department of Ethnomusicology

Department: Ethnomusicology
Bunche Hall Room 11292
Phone: (310) 206-2654

Keywords: Middle East, Near East, India, Music, History, Afghanistan, Iran

Mohsen Mohammadi specializes in the music of Iran and the Middle/Central/Near East and plays the setar. His publications are based on his first-hand experience as a musician, on fieldwork, and on a wide range of first-hand historical sources including manuscripts, diaries and memories, old newspapers, and early recordings. His research interests include musical cultures in Persian and Indo-Persian countries, the history of music in oral traditions, colonial and contemporary literature on Iranian music, classicization of music in non-Western cultures, and early recordings of non-Western music. He has a PhD in Musicology, Utrecht University, the Netherlands, with an emphasis in Ethnomusicology hosted by UCLA; MA in History, University of Tehran, Iran; BA in Music, University of Tehran, Iran. He received the Certificate of Merit for his book, Modal Modernities (2017) in the 2018 ASRC Award for Excellence for Best Historical Research in Recorded Country. He also received the Certificate of Merit in the Biannual Award for Best Book in Research from the Musicians Guild of Iran in 2016 for his book Musical Souvenirs (2015).

At UCLA, Mohsen Mohammadi has initiated projects on Indo-Persian music, which connect musical cultures across a wide region from Southeast Asia to Central Asia, encompassing India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Iran. As the Director of Indo-Persian Music, he curates academic and artistic programs on the Indo-Persian musical confluence, drawing participants from across the world. He is also working on a project translating Persian musical texts from India, funded by the Sambhi Foundation. At UCLA, he has taught a range of courses including an undergraduate course on the Music of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, and Turkey, and a graduate seminar on the Sources and Methods of Historical Research on Music. He is currently teaching a graduate seminar on Indo-Persian music.

Mohsen Mohammadi has collaborated with several UCLA centers, such as the Iranian Studies Program, Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies, Lowell Milken Center for Music of American Jewish Experience, and the Center for Musical Humanities. In addition to his collaborations on campus, he has curated several performances in collaboration with cultural institutions, such the Skirball Cultural Center, and has worked on several multimedia productions.


2018: The Treatise on the Seven Dastgah of Iranian Music. Tehran: Miras Maktoob.

2017: Modal Modernities: Formations of Persian Classical Music and the Recording of a National Tradition (Ph.D. Dissertation)
Free pdf:

2015: Musical Souvenirs: European Transcriptions of Persian Music (1600–1910). Tehran: Mahoor. (In English and Persian; Certificate of Merit in the 2016 Musicians Guild of Iran Biannual Award for Best Book in Research)

2007: The Gramophone Company’s Persian Recordings, 1899 to 1934. Persian Edition in collaboration with Michael Kinnear. Tehran: Society for the Appreciation of Cultural Works and Dignitaries.

English Articles:

2022: “Marche Triomphale: A Forgotten Musical Tract in Qajar-European Encounters.” Iranian Studies 55 (3). Cambridge University Press: 765–76.

2021: “Naqqareh-khaneh: Sonic Time Signifier.” Guest blogpost for Sonic Tehran Project. Edited by Laudan Nooshin.

2020 “The Bird of Dawn: An Iranian Jewish Musician in L.A.” In 100 Years of Sephardic Los Angeles, edited by Sarah Abrevaya Stein and Caroline Luce. Los Angeles: UCLA Leve Center for Jewish Studies.

2016: “Chef de Musique or Chef de Macaroni: The Twisted History of the European Military Music in Persia.” Rivista Italiana di Musicologia (Journal of the Italian Society of Musicology). V 51, 51-88.

2010: “Persian Records by the Lindström Company: Triangle of Political Relationships, Local Agents and Recording Company.” In The Lindström Project, Contributions to the history of the record industry, Beiträge zur Geschichte der Schallplattenindustrie. Eds. Pekka Gronow, Christiane Hofer. Wien: Gesellschaft für Historische Tonträger. pp 121-8.

2006: “Qand-i Pārsī: An Introduction to Twenty Persian Texts on Indo-Persian Music.” Journal of the Indian Musicological Society. V 36-37, 40-60.

Multimedia projects:

2022: Avanegar: The History of Music Transcription in Iran. In collaboration with Behrouz Jamali. Washington D.C.: Dimension Media Production.

2014: Let No One Judge You: Early Recordings From Iran, 1906-1933. London: Honest Jon’s Records.

2013 Basteh-Negar: Early Recordings by Iranian Female Singers. A collaboration with Fateme Ahmadi. London: BBC (Persian Service).

Articles in Persian:

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