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As a Musician...

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Saeid Kordmafi is a composer, performer, and (ethno)musicologist, with special interest in cross-cultural music studies and music-making of the Islamic world. He is one of the leading musicians and scholars of a revival movement in Iran, seeking to revitalise the pre-modern aesthetic in classical Persian music; an undertaking inspired by historical pieces of evidence as well as neighbouring traditions which have partly preserved the previously shared musical heritage.  


As a soloist on the Iranian santur, Saeid has participated in a good number of live performances, recordings, and workshops in the Middle East, Central and South Asia, Europe, and the United States, actively engaged in carrying out various collaborative music-making projects with acclaimed musicians from the Central Asia and the Arab world. He co-founded Rahâ Ensemble in 2007 with Ali Kazemi and won the First Prize of the International Mugham Festival in Baku (2013) with the aforementioned ensemble (titled Nasim-e Ṭarab in the given event). 


Saeid Kordmafi has so far released six CDs in Iran (either as a composer or performer or both). His recent music-making project in the UK is the Phoenix of Persia (Tiny Owl Publishing 2019), a collaborative compositional work accompanying an illustrated children’s book based on one of the ancient epic stories of Shâhnâme.

Saeid has learned classical Iranian music from several distinguished musicians in Iran, endeavouring to explore various performance and compositional styles of the given tradition.

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As a Musicologist...

Saeid Kordmafi's research focuses on the history of music theories and their relation to practice in classical traditions of the maqam realm, casting a wide net over music analysis and practice-based research. 

He is now a lecturer and the convenor of the Performance Programme in the Music Department at SOAS University of London. He has also worked in the Music Departments at the Centre for the Great Islamic Encyclopaedia and Tehran University of Art as a senior researcher and lecturer, respectively. Now, he is a member of the editorial board of Mahoor Music Quarterly in Iran. 

Saeid was awarded the first BFE Fieldwork Grant (2015) as well as AAWM Rob Schultz Junior Scholar Award (2019). In 2021, he was recognised by the British Academy as a global talent/exceptional promise.

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Having completed a BA in Classical Iranian Music and an MA in Art Studies (music studies) both at University of Tehran, he received his PhD from the Department of Music at SOAS University of London where he was supported by a Felix Full Scholarship. His doctoral thesis is an analytical-historical study, looking at rhythmic organisation in the classical music of the Arab Mashriq.

Saeid has published some 30 journal and encyclopaedia articles, book chapters, interviews, and reports in English and Persian. Over the last decade and among diverse research topics that interest him, Saeid Kordmafi has been engaged in conducting both types of practice-related research, i.e., “practice-led” and “practice-based” research. One of his practice-related projects, encapsulated in his article in the prestigious journal of the world of music (2018), not only portrays two music revival movements in the region, but also showcases an example of how practice-based and practice-led research may merge in a single project which aims to enrich our understanding of music as well as creative output.



2021, "Global Talent/Exceptional Promise", British Academy Recognition 


2019, "The British Institute of Persian Studies (BIPS)" Research Grant



2018, Rob Schultz Junior Scholar Award, "Analytical Approaches to World Music" (AAWM) Award.



2016, "British Forum for Ethnomusicology (BFE)" Fieldwork Grant.



2015, Felix Full Scholarship for a PhD degree at SOAS University of London.



2013, Grand Prize of "the 3rd International Mugham Festival" in Baku, with Nasim-e Ṭarab/Rahâ Ensemble,



2010, 12th International Khwarizmi Youth Award.



2010, First Rank of the Entrance Examination of the Masters degree in Music in Iran.



2009, 14th Annual Student Thesis Award in Iran.



2009, Top student of the Music Bachelor Programme at the University of Tehran.



2005, First Prize of the 5th University Students Music Festival in Iran.




Dr Richard Williams and Dr Saeid Kordmafi Speak at Flamenco Music Festival at Seville

SOAS School of Arts News

Saeid Kordmafi recognised by British Academy


Iranian santur player wins Rob Schultz Junior Scholar Award


Scrutiny of a new stream in classical Iranian music 1


Scrutiny of a new stream in classical Iranian music 2

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