In ancient Persia musicians held socially respectable positions. We know that the Elamites and the Achemenians certainly made use of musicians but we do not know what that music was like. During the Parthian era, troubadours or Gosans were highly sought after as entertainers. There are theories in Academia that perhaps the early Dari Poets of Eastern Iran like Roudaki were in fact Gosans.
The history of musical performance in Sassanid Iran is however better documented than earlier periods. This is specially more evident in the context of Zoroastrian ritual. By the time of Xusro Parviz the Sassanid royal court was the host of prominent musicians such as Ramtin, Bamshad, Nakisa, Azad, Sarkash, and Barbad. Among these survived names, Barbad is remembered in much documents and has been named as remarkably high skilled. He has been credited to have given an organisation of musical system consisting of seven "Royal modes" named Xosrovani, thirty derivated modes named lahn, and 360 melodies named dastan. These numbers are in accordance with Sassanid's calendar of number of days in a week, month, and year. The theories these modal system were based on are not known, however the writers of later period have left a list of these modes and melodies. These names include some of epic forms such as kin-e Iraj (lit. the Vengeance of Iraj), kin-e siavash (lit. the Vengeance of Siavash), and Taxt-e Ardashir (lit. the Throne of Ardashir) and some connected with the glories of Sassanid royal court such as Bagh-e shirin (lit the garden of Shirin), Bagh-e Shahryar (lit. the Sovereign's Garden), and haft Ganj (lit. the seven threasures). There are also some of a descriptive nature like roshan cheragh (lit. bright lights).
In general the period of Xosroparvis reign is regarded as an "golden age of Iranian music" and himself is shown in a large relief at Taq-e Bostan among his musicians and himself holding bow and arrows and while standing in a boat amidst a group of harpists. The relief depicts two boats and the whole picture shows these boats at "two successive moments within the same panel".
Barbad may have invented the lute and the musical tradition that was to transform into the Maqam tradition and eventually the Dastgah music.