Iranian Music and Popular Entertainment: From Motrebi to Losanjelesi and Beyond

G. J. Breyley, Sasan Fatemi

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The word motreb finds its roots in the Arabic verb taraba, meaning to make happy. Originally denoting all musicians in Iran, motrebi came to be associated, pejoratively, with the cheerful vulgarity of the lowbrow entertainer. In Iranian Music and Popular Entertainment, GJ Breyley and Sasan Fatemi examine the historically overlooked motrebi milieu, with its marginalized characters, from luti to gardan koloft and mashti, as well as the tenacity of motreb who continued their careers against all odds. They then turn to losanjelesi, the most pervasive form of Iranian popular music that developed as motrebi declined, and related musical forms in Iran and its diasporic popular cultural centre, Los Angeles. For the first time in English, the book makes available musical transcriptions, analysis and lyrics that illustrate the complexities of this history. As it presents the findings of the authors years of ethnographic work with the historys protagonists, from senior motreb to pop-rock stars, the book reveals parallels between the decline of motrebi and the rise of modernity. In the twentieth century, the fate of Tehrans motrebi music was shaped by the social and urban polarization that ensued from the modern market economy, and losanjelesi would be similarly affected by transnational relations, revolution, war and migration. Through its detailed and informed examination of Iranian popular music, this study reveals much about the values and anxieties of Iranian society, and is a valuable resource for students and scholars of Iranian society and history.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAbingdon Oxon UK
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages202
ISBN (Electronic)9781315660349
ISBN (Print)9780415575126
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameIranian Studies

Cite this