DO-BAYTĪ, a quatrain of sung poetry in many Persian dialects. In popular speech and publications the quatrains are commonly described as tarānahā-yemaḥallī/rūstāʾī (regional/rural songs). Many of the verses, however, are widely diffused in Persia, in part through inexpensive printed collections. Regional differences are perhaps most pronounced in the melodies to which the quatrains are sung.

Each hemistich of a do-baytī normally has eleven syllables, although singers sometimes add or subtract one or two syllables. The melodies used for singing the do-baytī accommodate twenty-two syllables, and the final note of the melody is usually lower in pitch than the note to which the eleventh syllable is sung. For the second half of one do-baytī, singers repeat the same melody with slight variations. The rhyme scheme is aaba.

In performance (at weddings, circumcisions, or intimate gatherings of family and friends) singers group together several quatrains in a freely chosen order, perhaps inserting a conventional refrain of fifteen to twenty-two syllables between each quatrain. The singer may be accompanied by an instrumentalist playing the ney (end-blown flute), the kamānča (spike fiddle), or one of several plucked lutes (dotār, dambūra, etc.), but most singers perform do-baytī without accompaniment. Many, but not all, of the metric patterns used by singers and instrumentalists are variants of the hazaj meter associated with the literary do-baytī (see ʿARUŻ.

Among the topics most commonly treated in the do-baytī are traveling, loneliness, rejection, discomfort, and other misfortunes. Quatrains on these topics are termed ḡarībī or qarāʾī (in eastern Persia) and felak (among the mountain Tajiks of Afghanistan), as well as čahār-baytī. The third line of a quatrain usually modifies, qualifies, or intensifies the preceding thought, as in the following examples: Hawā garma vo sar-sāya neyāya / Ṣedā-ye kelkel-e pāya mīāya / Ṣedā-ye kelkel-e pāya ne čandān / Ṣedā-ye kafš-e jānāna mīāya (The air is hot; no shadow falls. / The clatter of footsteps is heard. / It is less than the clatter of footsteps. / It is the sound of my loved one’s slippers). Ḥoseynā mīravī rā-ye to dūray / Ḥoseynā sūḵta-ye bād-e samūray / Del-e to meyl-e nān-e garma dāray / Bar ū sabze-y ke dar pāy-a tanūr-ay (Ḥoseynā, you are going; your path is a long one. / Ḥoseynā has been scorched by the simoon. / Your heart is desirous of warm bread. / Upon it the greens lying beside the oven).




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(Stephen Blum)

Originally Published: December 15, 1995

Last Updated: November 28, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. VII, Fasc. 5, pp. 41-452