Rhythmic structure in Iranian music
Most previous studies of Iranian music focus on melodic systems (Farhat, Zonis, etc.) or on instrumentation and the transcription of folk songs (Massoudieh, Darvishi, etc. ). This thesis examines the so-far neglected rhythmic structure of Iranian classical music. This research has adopted a multidisciplinary perspective, employing approaches from the psychology of music, Western and Iranian music theory, historical musicology and the ethnomusicological approach of participant-observation. In order to investigate the rhythmic aspect of Iranian music and attempt to relate it to other aspects of this music, this thesis examines different issues related to the rhythmic structure of Iranian music, including the rhythmic structure of the Persian poetry, the old rhythmic cycles and the rhythmic characteristics of both improvisation and composed music. Analysis of more than fifty improvisations and composed music in this thesis shows that the rhythmic organisation of güsheh-ha and musical genres with any rhythmic profile (such as free metre, stretchable metre or fixed metre) may be influenced by the shape of Persian poetic metres. A wide exploration of music-related manuscripts from the twelfth to fifteenth centuries provides an opportunity to compare more than thirty different rhythmic cycles recorded there. Although this system of rhythmic cycles is no longer explicitly used in Iranian music, examining several examples of contemporaneous improvisation and composed music reveals that a taste of the old rhythmic cycles is still felt in this music. An adaptation of the old rhythmic cycles examined in this thesis to current techniques of tombak performance is another outcome of this thesis. Moreover, presenting a case study of contemporary performance of Iranian classical music at the end of this thesis provides an opportunity to exhibit the role in a real performance of most of the theories raised in this thesis.