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The Music RoadCoherence and Diversity in Music from the Mediterranean to India$

Reinhard Strohm

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266564

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266564.001.0001

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Bridging the Safavid–Ottoman Divide

Bridging the Safavid–Ottoman Divide

(p.168) 9 Bridging the Safavid–Ottoman Divide
The Music Road

Owen Wright

British Academy

Abstract and Keywords

In both Persian and Turkish art-music traditions, despite their significant current differences, the musical idiom of the 15th-century Timurid court is regarded as a significant forbear. Late 15th-century theoretical literature, however, refers to regional variations across the Middle East; these were exacerbated by a lack of continuity in Safavid and Ottoman court patronage during the 16th century, resulting in loss of repertoire and eventual replacement. Yet in the late 17th century commonalities between Safavid and Ottoman art-music practices re-emerge. Although not identical, indeed partly divergent, these practices share a core of frequently used modes and rhythmic cycles and use the same structures for complex song-settings; they even have elements of vocal repertoire in common, while certain Ottoman instrumental pieces are labelled ‘Persian’. There is evidence for the maintenance in both traditions of aesthetic constants in the domains of modulatory practice and formal articulation that can be observed much earlier.

Keywords:   Ottoman music history, Safavid empire, Persian music history, Middle Eastern music history, melodic structures, rhythmic structures

THE METAPHOR OF a connecting bridge between cultures may appropriately be applied, on the one hand, to the distant ancient links spanning Mesopotamia, Greece and Central Asia (and beyond),1 or on the other to the more local and recent peregrinations of Western European opera companies around the Greek communities of the Eastern Mediterranean.2 Midway in time and space between these contrasting examples lie the concerns of the present chapter, the bridges connecting the Safavid and Ottoman art-music traditions during the late 17th century. To encounter commonalities in their repertoires and the systems underpinning them may seem unsurprising, even predictable, given the temptation to view the musical map of the Islamic Middle East from the 13th century onwards as relatively homogeneous, especially when contrasted with the increasing complexity of the European map. Yet within the structural parameters that provide a typological umbrella marking this area as distinct from, say, Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe or East Asia, there is in fact no a priori reason to expect that the relationship between the Iranian and Turkish musical traditions should be particularly close. Certainly, in their present manifestations, and also as far back as the legacy of recorded sound takes us—almost to 1900—they are marked by considerable contrasts: their articulations of the domains of mode, rhythm and form are quite distinct, they prefer different instruments, and they employ contrasting vocal techniques.

They have, nevertheless, a connected history, one strand within a complex tangle of artistic, literary and also political trajectories. The great foundation epic of Persian literature, the Shahnama, is a story of millennial conflict between Iran and Turan, Persians and Turks. When we arrive at the 16th century we find the first Safavid rulers writing poetry in their native form of Turkish, while at the same time Ottoman sultans write verse in Persian, and it was Persian poetry that provided the models for the flowering of the (by then) well-established tradition of Ottoman divan poetry. Yet Ottoman and Safavid architecture exhibit quite distinct features, (p.169) and their musical traditions likewise emerge within a context of regional differentiation, the full extent of which is dificult to grasp. It is masked primarily, and decisively, by the inadequacy of the documentary record, but is also disguised by the unhelpfully reductive nature of nationalistic constructions of origins and subsequent domination, that is, unification. Much earlier, Arabic sources had rehearsed a story of a Hijazi base from which, with an admixture of primarily Persian but also Byzantine elements, there emerged an art-music tradition centred upon Baghdad that then difused both to the east and west during the late 8th- to 10th-century heyday of Abbasid rule.3 The equivalent Persian story, not surprisingly, stresses Sassanian origins and the decisive influence of Persian musicians and traditions upon the evolution of Abbasid practice, with the same subsequent difusion.4 But the domain of art music, in which one might reasonably toy with the idea of an emergent great tradition, is a somewhat restricted one. As elsewhere, it is both separate from, yet constantly interacting with, geographic and ethnic particularisms, and of these little is said in either story, although their existence was clearly recognised in the 10th century by the Iḫwān al-Ṣafā’, who record that ‘each people has rhythms and melodies which only they take delight in, such as the songs of Daylamis, Turks, Kurds, Armenians, Africans, Persians, Byzantines and other peoples’.5 Subsequently, though, perceptions of diference are for the most part stifled by the emergence of theoretical traditions that largely eschew the ethnographic, and by a decline in alertness to contemporary and local musical behaviours in writings of a more general nature. Earlier stories of indigenous origins are now enriched or supplanted by legendary accounts in which greater emphasis is placed on the creative or symbolic role of Greek philosophers and Old Testament figures.6

For later developments leading up to the Safavid and Ottoman periods we encounter the notion of a common source and tradition, stressed in a more consolidated story largely shared by Persian and Turkish sources. It concerns the period subsequent to the Mongol invasions, marked climactically by the capture of Baghdad in 1258 by Hülegü and the termination of the Abbasid caliphate. This is the period of the great performer, composer and theorist Ṣafī al-Dīn al-Urmawī (d. 1294), who survived the sack of Baghdad to be employed by Ilkhanid grandees,7 (p.170) and whose compositions would be widely difused, even reaching Mamluk Cairo, where one of his pupils taught the palace slave-girl singers.8 As this indicates, political frontiers can turn out to be rather porous when it comes to the domain of culture, yet the line of demarcation between Arab/Mamluk territory and the Mongol empire corresponds, nevertheless, to earlier recognitions of differences of taste and practice between Arab and Persian musicians,9 and, indeed, to al-Urmawī’s account of their contrasting rhythmic preferences. It is also relevant to note, as one of the cultural efects of the subsequent fracture of the Ilkhanid empire, the emergence of local centres of artistic production and consequent stylistic variation.10 By around 1400, however, the political unity of the Persianate world is restored under Timur, and we arrive at the key figure in this common story, the possibly even more illustrious successor to al-Urmawī as performer, composer and theorist, ‘Abd al-Qāder Marāġi, who died in 1435.11 Having begun his career in western Persia and then finding patronage with the Jala’irids in Baghdad, he was among those captured by Timur and taken to adorn his new capital at Samarkand. He subsequently moved with Timur’s successor Šāhruḫ (1405–47) to Herat, which was to remain a major cultural centre until the end of the 15th century, especially under the last great Timurid patron, Ḥosayn Bāyqarā (1470–1506).12 Herat provided an environment in which court music continued to flourish, and with it a textual tradition in which the influence of Marāġi’s works would remain preponderant, as the highly derivative treatises of Awbahi,13 Jāmi14 and Banā’i15 demonstrate.

(p.171) Both Persians and Turks invoke this Timurid past: the modern Turkish tradition even contains a number of compositions attributed to Marāġi16—incidentally all spurious—and present-day Persian musicians still sometimes hope to uncover his legacy, presumably by glancing sideways at the Ottoman repertoire and its early notations. There is, then, a musical heritage centred upon Herat that is claimed by both traditions, presumed to be carried forward in Iran into the Safavid period and, in parallel, into Ottoman practice, partially, indeed, via Persian (or Persianate) intermediaries, including the son and grandson of Marāġi, both of whom went to the Ottoman court, and, later, Hasan Can (d. 1567), one of the major musical figures during the reign of Süleyman I (the Magnificent) (1520–66).

During the 16th and 17th centuries we thus have two competing but connected powers occupying between them much of the Middle East, each with perhaps real as well as ideological links to a musical inheritance suggestive of broadly common practices and, possibly, shared elements of repertoire. Convergence would also, paradoxically, be reinforced by conflict, for Ottoman incursions resulted in the capture, amongst other material and human booty, of musicians who would then have a contributory role to play in the shaping of the Ottoman tradition, the last such episode occurring during the reign of Murad IV (1623–40).17

There is, however, something rather too neat in the trajectory implied by this account. It assumes that we can speak of the overlapping of unitary Safavid and Ottoman traditions when, at least for much of the 16th century, musical activity at provincial centres may have been significant, with possible implications for the maintenance of distinct regional styles,18 especially during periods when court patronage was tepid, or even curtailed. Šāh Ṭ ahmāsp (1514–76) was notoriously opposed to music-making, even having musicians put to death, and his Ottoman contemporary Süleyman I also assumed a negative attitude in his later years, and had the palace instruments burnt,19 prefiguring the destructive onslaught of Ahmed I (1603–17), who took a battleaxe to the idolatrous clock-cum-organ that Elizabeth I had dispatched in 1599 as a diplomatic gift.20 Such paroxysms of summary violence might, no doubt, be dismissed as representing only momentary, if highly dramatic, (p.172) interruptions of a well-established musical tradition if textual corroboration of its cohesion and onward flow could be found.21 However, rather than indicating uniformity, the theoretical literature of the period immediately prior to 1500 and the imminent establishment of the Safavid state echoes earlier evidence pointing towards regional autonomy: it suggests a map that is significantly more fragmented and more complicated than the clear lines of the Timurid inheritance story would suggest.

It is a map, though, rather difficult to draw. Several texts are anonymous, and when not, the author may be a figure dificult to place; and even when that can be done the text itself is liable to be derivative of material written elsewhere, and at different periods.22 Nevertheless, one can reasonably claim that for the latter part of the 15th century we have more or less informative sources spread over a wide band from Herat in the east through Iran to Anatolia, including treatises from areas not yet in the Ottoman orbit, and North Iraq and Syria, and including works in Persian,23 Turkish,24 and Arabic.25 North Africa remains, unfortunately, a blank and, for the most part, so does Egypt: the one relevant text is rather early, from the first half of the 14th century, but is revelatory of local particularism nonetheless.26 Similarly, with the spread of material from the late 15th century the main message, (p.173) in relation to fundamental modal and rhythmic structures, is one of diversity: there are, to be sure, common and durable elements, but the lists of names, whether of mode or rhythmic cycle, are far from uniform, and when we turn to the definitions relating to a given name we find that they are as likely to be different as not. This may sometimes be explained as the result of alterations to the angle of theoretical vision, but in several instances it cannot. The general picture is therefore one of a patchwork of regional traditions with markedly local features yet at the same time with sufficient shared characteristics to allow the positive reception of a repertoire or performance style brought in by a musician from elsewhere.27

To illustrate the range of similarity and diversity we may begin by considering a small but representative sample of modal definitions, principally from the latter part of the 15th century, but framing them with earlier and/or later accounts where appropriate in order to point out continuities or the lack thereof. The first case is that of eṣfahān, classified from the mid-13th century at least down to the 16th as one of the 12 members of a major category of modes variously termed, according to language and period, šadd, parda or maqām. Its durability of status is matched by the retention over this period of a stable core structural element: a species of fourth statable as /1 2- 3B 3 4/. Here and below, numbers refer to the successive pitches of a major (untempered) scale, and the minus sign indicates a pitch of lower intonation, approximately of the order of a quartertone (so that both 1 to 2- and 2- to 3B are neutral, approximately three-quarter tone intervals). In later examples a plus sign will indicate a comparably higher intonation.

This core element is identified by al-Urmawī and also integrated by him into an octave-scale abstract of the same name. If this is positioned on 5 (underlining referring to the lower octave), the core element, forming the upper segment, will appear as 2 3- 4 4♯ 5,28 and it is in this form that the mode eṣfahān is reported by al-Lāḏiqī and Seydī in the late 15th century. The accounts given by Ibn Kurr (early 14th century) and the Judaeo-Persian text (probably early 15th) add additional pitches below, being, respectively, 1 2 3- 4 4♯ 5 and 6 7- 1 2 3- 4 4♯ 5, while the probably mid-16th-century Persian taqsīm al-naġamāt adds them above, to give 2 3- 4 4♯ 5 6 7B.29 Whatever such amplifications might imply for the existence of locally specialised variants, this strongly suggests the retention of a characteristic element, an unusual species of fourth, over a wide geographical range (Egypt, Turkey, Persia) and over a period of at least three centuries, although the development suggested by the version in the (probably 16th-century) Berlin Arabic treatise, from which 4♯ (p.174) is omitted, cannot be explained away as a textual lapse. However, by the time we reach the late 17th-century Ottoman repertoire, a distinctive change has taken place, the mode now consisting of two elements: a (usually initial) ascent that omits 4 and in which 3- may be raised to 3, giving 3 4♯ 5, followed at a later stage by a descent from which 4♯ is omitted, giving 5 4 3- 2 or, alternatively, a final modulation in which 5 is replaced by 5B,30 yet however specifically Ottoman these developments in melodic morphology might be, a link to the earlier form(s) is still discernible.

With dogāh, similar continuities and bifurcations are detectible behind the screen of frequently reductive accounts driven by an irritating form of semantic minimalism. As lucidly explained by Širāzi, dogāh derives its identity from a modal shift giving emphasis to 2 (as both initial and finalis) within the nuclear range 7- 1 2 3- 4, less frequently extended to include 6 below and 4♯ 5 above,31 but some later accounts take its name (= ‘position two’) as the basis for a definition, or perhaps, better, an identification, consisting of just 1 2 or, marginally more generous, 2 1 2. Only slightly more helpful again is al-Ḥaṣkafī,32 who describes it as 2 3- 4 (here, and below, bold type indicates prominence), but other accounts are fuller, with a wider range and indicating a melodic contour: that given by Ibn Kurr retains 4♯: 1 2 3- 4 5 4♯ 4 3- 2; that in the šajara ḏāt al-akmām retains the lower expansion: 2 1 6 71 2; and that in the Judaeo-Persian text shows that the range could be extended from 6 to 6, still with finalis 2. By the late 17th century, however, dogāh had become no more than a nominal presence in the Ottoman tradition,33 and its modern Turkish avatar is quite unrelated.34

We can thus speak in some cases of core continuities, however disguised, but within a fragmented landscape, an even more extreme and complex example of which is provided by homāyun, the varying definitions of which, arranged in approximate chronological order, are presented in Figure 9.1.

They confront us with a bewildering variety of forms, beginning with a bipartite structure that is then simplified in the account given by Marāġi and his successors and eventually assimilated in the Judaeo-Persian text to the dominant scale type. In contrast, al-Lāḏiqī records another line of development, retaining only the

Bridging the Safavid–Ottoman Divide

(p.175) Figure 9.1. Versions of homāyun.

augmented second tetrachord (/1 2- 3 4/) that had formed part of Širāzi’s account, where it is positioned above the prominent 4. With the exception of the seemingly unrelated definition in the šajara ḏāt al-akmām (but perhaps to be interpreted as /5 4♯ 3- 2/ →/5 4♯ 4 3- 2/ → /4♯ 4 3- 2/ → /4♯ 4 3- 2 1/, although different orders are possible), and Seydī’s second definition, which is dificult to interpret, the later accounts all revolve around this tetrachord. Striking here, as indeed also in many other cases, is that the closest parallels to the definition ofered in the 16th-century Safavid taqsīm al-naġamāt are to be found in two related and probably near-contemporary Arabic texts. Both are unfortunately of uncertain provenance, but perhaps suggest close links between the idiom of Iran at this period (or at least of its western provinces) and that of North Iraq and Syria.35 Notwithstanding all the variety that these definitions ofer, we can thus still trace the intermittent thread of a particular tetrachord, and it is one that will continue: in the Ottoman tradition the central interval becomes slightly enlarged, but in the Persian tradition it has remained unchanged until today.

In contrast, rahāvi, despite the expectation of long-range stability aroused by its being another member, alongside eṣfahān, of the group of 12 modes constantly foregrounded in the theoretical literature, provides an example of radical discontinuity, the various stages of which, with very approximate dates given in relation to representative texts, are displayed in Figure 9.2.

Bridging the Safavid–Ottoman Divide

(p.176) Figure 9.2. Versions of rahāvi.

Thus the earliest characteristic, an unusual species of third, /1 2- 3B 3/, occurring in Širāzi’s account from 4, is first disguised,36 then abandoned, being replaced by an even more unusual compressed pitch set, here /1♯ 2 3- 3/, which is abandoned in turn in favour of a rāst-related more or less major scale with a characteristic leap of a fourth from 5 to finalis 1 (which is why, presumably on exposure to V—I cadences, 17th-century Ottomans identified the Western major mode as rahāvi rather than the more frequent rāst).37

We have, then, a decidedly uneven modal landscape. Continuities seem to be confined to some 10 to 12 modes (out of much higher totals), accounts of which vary somewhat, but not enough to invalidate the conclusion that they constituted a core set that, whatever local inflections each one might be subject to, formed the dominant vehicle for modal creativity over a wide area. Their importance is largely confirmed by song-text collections, where they tend to be the ones that occur most frequently, although they are relatively more prominent in the late 17th-century Hafız Post collection38 than in the earlier ones.39 The many other modes that surround them seem to be prone not only to change but also to obsolescence: the mode stock is constantly supplemented with a trickle of additions and replacements that increasingly tend to be regionally specific.

When we turn to the rhythmic cycles, we are confronted with a landscape that is, if anything, even more chaotic and difficult to construe. An earlier Arab-Persian line of cleavage was recognised as significant by al-Urmawī in the 13th century,40 and although the later Timurid/Systematist literature fails to develop this theme, it is clear from both Ibn Kurr in 14th-century Egypt and al-‘Ajamī and al-Saylakūnī in (p.177) late 15th-century Syria and perhaps Iraq that the Arab repertoire of cycles was both internally varied and in some ways quite distinct from its eastern counterparts.41 Persian texts present a mythical history of gradual accretion, from the calling of rhythm into being out of primordial chaos through successive stages of growth, one stage being associated with the period of al-Urmawī, another with Marāġi, until a global set of 17 cycles is established.42 But although there are hints of local diferences at the margins, no reference is made to the more significant contrasts to be encountered with what lies beyond the Persianate world. Even more significant, by comparison with the modes, is that the few cycles that are statistically predominant in the song-text anthologies fail to demonstrate quite the same level of durability: two of those that appear most frequently in early 15th-century collections simply disappear thereafter, with alarming implications for the maintenance of repertoire.

Some idea of the general lack of consensus through space and time can be gathered from Figure 9.3, which presents the diferent total numbers of time units (naqra, the basic unit, irrespective of tempo, from which a cycle is compounded) that are reported for cycles with names that persist over the centuries. The dates are, again, no more than focal points. For the Safavid tradition the table relies upon the taqsīm al-naġamāt, one of the only two 16th-century Persian sources to give precise information about their structure.

Bridging the Safavid–Ottoman Divide

Figure 9.3. Comparative time unit totals.

(p.178) Significant are the continuities from the Timurid to the later Ottoman totals among the longer cycles of 16, 32 and 48 time units, whereas the Safavid ones diverge, presenting a picture that does not quite tally with the notion of Ottoman practice being the recipient of the Timurid legacy as routed through later Persian(ate) intermediaries. However, for these rhythmic structures at least, the line of transmission suggested by the presence of Marāġi’s son and grandson at the Ottoman court should not be accepted uncritically: both musicians give rather conservative accounts that fail to recognise more recent developments such as a ḫafif cycle of 32 time units or a ṯaqil cycle of 48.43

The situation is rendered even more complicated by the existence of a second Safavid source from approximately the same period, the nasim-e ṭarab,44 which agrees only partially with the taqsīm al-naġamāt. Even where it has the same number of time units it may give a different internal segmentation, thus suggesting that the temptation to regard the label ‘Safavid’ as designating just one consolidated idiom is to be treated with a certain reserve.

In addition, where there are a number of texts from approximately the same period, we may find that they disagree about what structure(s) a given cycle name relates to, a representative example being supplied by ramal. For this cycle or, perhaps better, group of cycles, discrete ‘long’ (ramal-e ṭavil) and ‘short’ (ramal-e qaṣir or just ramal) variants are given by 15th- and 16th-century sources, but in most cases the relationship between them is not a simple arithmetic one: only the nasim-e ṭarab has 2x for ramal-e ṭavil as against x for ramal, and even here the internal segmentations, 3+5+2+2+2+2 and (1+1+1+1)+4, do not coincide. For al-Lādhiqī the ‘long’ and ‘short’ forms even have the same number of time units (24), so that they are diferentiated by their segmentation. Only the taqsīm al-naġamāt and Seydī have matching totals for ramal (12), but predictably with diferent segmentations, while Seydī adds both a ‘long’ form with 18 time units and a ‘short’ form that with 14 is still longer than the basic ramal. From Arabic texts, whether Ibn Kurr or, later, al-‘Ajamī and al-Saylakūnī, the name ramal disappears. The later Ottoman cycle of this name, with 28 time units, can hardly be related to any of the earlier versions except Seydī’s ‘short’ form, and even in this case the segmentation fails to point to it being a close descendant. We thus have a wide dispersal of late 15th-century texts that ofer contradictory accounts, and the 16th-century Safavid versions remain at some distance from the late Timurid and early Ottoman ones and likewise from the repertoire of cycles represented in the song-text collections.

Broadly speaking, this evidence points, whether in the Safavid or the Ottoman cultural sphere, to the 16th century as a period of fluidity. Any previously dominant tradition had already begun to loosen its grip and, importantly, court-music repertoires failed to be adequately sustained: even if some form of institutional (p.179) palace tuition remained in place in Istanbul,45 both political upheaval and periodic withdrawals of patronage led to ruptures in transmission and consequent losses of repertoire and, hence, continuity: it is striking that there is a general lack of references to teacher-pupil relationships. The later Ottoman tradition may have retained a few instrumental pieces from this period, but of the abundant material recorded in the early song-text anthologies no trace remains. The expectation might then have been that the later reformulation and stabilisation of art-music norms would assume recognisably diferent profiles in 17th-century Istanbul and Isfahan, especially as a new Ottoman repertoire setting Turkish texts comes on stream. However, in trying to explore this period we are unfortunately confronted not, as for the late 15th century, with a welter of conflicting or partially overlapping and only occasionally identical accounts, but with the problem that there is a basic information deficit:

  • for the modes, there are Safavid accounts in the 16th century but no Ottoman ones, and Ottoman accounts in the 17th, but no Safavid ones;

  • for the rhythmic cycles there are, again, Safavid accounts in the 16th century, but no Ottoman ones.

The 17th century, however, ofers a possible way out of the impasse, for there are three Safavid texts that, as well as listing most of the same cycle names as their Ottoman counterparts, provide varying degrees of comparative purchase: an anonymous treatise, that by Gorji, and the bahjat al-ruḥ.46 Each contains descriptive material that can be measured against the explicit Ottoman definition, despite the fact that in one basic respect they show a lack of alignment, for they point to a conceptual difference by listing the number of żarb in each cycle, a feature ignored by Ottoman sources. The obvious meaning of żarb is ‘beat’, and so it might be thought to correspond to ‘time unit’, but given the frequent disagreements both among the Safavid sources themselves as to the numbers involved and between these and the Ottoman time-unit totals, the equation may be discounted. As the three representative examples in Figure 9.4 show, the Safavid żarb totals are generally (although not always) much lower, and they also vary unpredictably.

Bridging the Safavid–Ottoman Divide

Figure 9.4. Comparative żarb and time unit totals.

(p.180) In some way, but evidently inconsistently, and for comparative purposes unhelpfully, the żarb totals probably reflect different perceptions of internal segmentation, while at the same time they reinforce the cautionary message, made above, that it may be an unwise oversimplification to speak of the Safavid tradition as if it were monolithic. Yet if all this suggests fragmentation rather than cohesion and overlap, there are countervailing factors that also need to be taken into account. In addition to the argument for a core of mutually acceptable and hence transferable modal practices, we may point to parallels in song structure that continue well after the switch by Ottoman composers to setting mainly Turkish texts. In addition, the contacts between styles maintained by the mobility of musicians, voluntary or not, and in particular the repeated contributions to Ottoman practice by Persianate musicians, cannot have been without effect in mitigating fissiparous tendencies. Recognition of one or two such figures as significant presences during the first half of the 17th century implies that they may have served as sources for some of the pieces characterised as ‘Persian’ (acemi, acemler) by Cantemir that formed a small but significant part of the instrumental repertoire, and also as repositories and transmitters of parts of the vocal repertoire.

Accordingly, it is not wholly surprising to find, at least during the latter part of the 17th century, evidence for a high degree of congruence between Safavid and Ottoman art-music practice in the domain of rhythm. Here the key witness is Gorji, much the most informative Safavid source, who also supplies syllable strings reflecting a binary qualitative contrast, using dīk vs dak, evidently equivalent to the Ottoman düm vs tek. Missing from them, though, is the crucial element of duration needed to establish the structure of the cycle, so that we need to see if this can be convincingly supplied from the Ottoman definitions—as it evidently can, for example, in the short cycles ṣufiyāna/sofyan and dobaryak/düyek:

Bridging the Safavid–Ottoman Divide

Figure 9.5. Comparative cycle definitions.

The editorial insertion of a time unit without an attack (signalled by Ø) in Gorji’s version to match that integral to the Ottoman definition (represented by a dot) thus makes the two coincide (see Figure 9.5).47 Among the longer cycles a striking (p.181) parallel is provided by ṯaqil/sakil (Figure 9.6), which despite its vastly greater length (48 time units) still shows a qualitative match throughout, so that if every dīk is aligned with the Ottoman düm we have a perfect fit: an editor’s delight.48

Bridging the Safavid–Ottoman Divide

Figure 9.6. Comparative definitions of ṯaqil/sakil.

Not all the other cycles match up quite as well, it must be admitted, but in most the correspondence is convincingly close. The remaining few include one or two instances of rotation, the placing of the beginning of the cycle at diferent points in the pattern, or a less readily explicable diference in the time unit total.49

Among the latter is the longest cycle of all, żarb al-fatḥ.50 This, one of Marāġi’s several inventions, began life at the beginning of the 15th century with either 49 (p.182) or, more likely, 50 time units (he gives slightly different versions in diferent treatises), but within half a century it had spawned versions with 48 time units (noted in an Arabic source) and 88 time units, and it is this latter figure that is retained in the Ottoman tradition.51 Our two 16th-century Safavid sources, however, show different lines of development, one with 58 time units, the other 78, and Gorji’s version is probably to be identified with the latter, although one could think of it as possibly having 80 time units.

This proliferation raises in particularly acute form two questions that also apply more widely as we look back at the variety of definitions ofered for most cycles: how did one form evolve into another and, less obvious but more important, why? To invent a trail leading from x to y is usually easy enough: one can postulate repetition or addition of segments, deletion, rotation and so forth, even, sometimes, in a convincing manner; but all such changes exist in an independent world where rhythmic cycles are free-floating autonomous entities. In practice, however, and this is especially true of the longer cycles, they are not: quite apart from the fact that change in one might impinge upon, or be inhibited by, another, they crucially have a specific, one might even say subordinate, function as integral elements of a mainly vocal repertoire, in relation to which the modalities of significant expansions or contractions in the rhythmic underlay are difficult to envisage. Consequently, rather than being the result of smooth transitions, the more extreme contrasts between different structures are better explained as being associated with transformations of the repertoire, as whole areas are abandoned during periods of rupture, to be replaced by songs cast in a novel variant form or, indeed, in a quite different cycle to which, in an attempt at cultural validation, a still-remembered earlier name is attached.

Whatever the processes, and whatever the causality involved in such cases, one general conclusion is nevertheless inescapable: the repertoire of Safavid and Ottoman art-music rhythmic cycles that had become established by the middle of the 17th century was one that, with just a few variations, was shared by practitioners of both traditions. It is dificult to think that this coincidence would not be reflected in other areas, and the articulation of the more substantial kâr compositions recorded by Gorji and Hafız Post points to the continuance of the same basic formal structures.52 We encounter, further, the emergence of the common practice of giving songs titles (e.g. havā-ye bāġ, ‘garden breeze’),53 so that their respective collections include items that may be attributed to the same composer, are settings of the same text, are ascribed to the same form, mode and rhythmic cycle, and have the same title. Among the most prominent group, those attributed to Marāġi—although (p.183) they are doubtless considerably later and possibly, indeed, 17th-century compositions—we find some half dozen with all or nearly all these features in common. Given the absence of notation from the song-text collections, and the practice of both Gorji and Hafız Post of providing very few indications as to how the text itself was set (for example, by showing the insertion of extraneous elements or the repetition of syllables), the only way of establishing how far the Safavid and Ottoman versions might have diverged from one another is by investigating the nonsense syllable passages that are interspersed between the verse-setting sections,54 such as that given in Figure 9.7. It occurs within a section termed bāzgu that, within the fundamental AABA structure, would come after B. The song in question, entitled (ruz-e) qiyāmat (‘resurrection, day of judgment’) and attributed to Marāġi, appears in at least four collections, two Safavid ones forming the first pair (G = Gorji, BR = bahjat al-ruḥ), and two Ottoman ones (HP = Hafız Post, BV = Bağdatlı Vehbi 1002) the second.

Bridging the Safavid–Ottoman Divide

Figure 9.7. Four versions of a bāzgu section.

The two Ottoman versions are virtually identical, differing only in the final slot, an evidently elastic area allowing a fairly free choice within a conventional family of ejaculatory expressions, so that we have here miram, jānam and, in one Safavid version, yār, all in the semantic area of ‘friend, beloved’. There is certainly a little distance between these two and the Safavid accounts, but not enough to avoid the conclusion that we are faced with only slight variations, resulting from different lines of transmission, of what is essentially the same piece,55 and examination of further such compositions in most cases leads to similar conclusions.

(p.184) As noted above, the Ottoman repertoire contains in addition a number of instrumental compositions with the label acemler, pointing to a perceived Persian origin or at least stylistic affiliation (although definition proves elusive).56 Assuming that some of these were also known to Safavid musicians, or would at least have been recognised by them as familiar in idiom, it would follow, in this area of common or cognate repertoire, that there is a compelling case for modal congruence also. One may note in addition the presence among Cantemir’s notations of four pieces attributed to a certain Ağa Mu’min, presumably to be identified with the mid-17th-century Safavid court musician of that name, also the author of a collection of his own compositions and a short theoretical treatise.57 But such evidence, however cumulatively convincing, remains circumstantial, and any notion of blanket Safavid/Ottoman modal uniformity should be resisted. There is a considerable disparity between a core of some dozen mode names, prominent in both, among which we may certainly expect to find significant commonalities, and a wide periphery of lesser importance where inherited names reveal areas of contrast and those coming on stream point to different trajectories. The closest traditional Ottoman account of modal categories to the one we find in Gorji’s treatise is by a younger contemporary, Nayi Osman Dede (1652–1729),58 who, unlike Cantemir, retains the division into maqām, šo‘ba and tarkib groups. The similarity is, however, superficial: the population of the maqām set, which one would assume to be sacrosanct, is radically different, and there is now no accompanying āvāz set. The number of modes named remains virtually the same, but is diferently constituted: they share a little over a half of the total of around 80, and among the remainder we find Nayi Osman Dede giving examples of a trend towards modal combinations (e.g. muhayyer buselik) that will be typical of later Ottoman developments, while among those cited by Gorji are guša names, some (e.g. mollānāzi) still current in Iran, that never appear in Ottoman sources.

It should also be borne in mind that the elements of common repertoire that have been detected were almost certainly considered prestigious, and were concentrated at the serious end of the stylistic spectrum. That there is no shared record (p.185) of other types could be a consequence of the nature of the documentation, with compilers less concerned to include pieces regarded as transitory and of lesser worth, although a clear exception is provided by the varsağı and türkü material that looms large among Ali Ufuki’s notations.59 Their specifically Turkish character suggests that lighter songs, and by extension also dance pieces, were probably folk-inflected, and hence liable to exhibit distinctly local characteristics. This would not necessarily prevent them finding an audience elsewhere, but does indicate that they would be less likely to form part of a common Safavid and Ottoman repertoire.60

For the most part, the preceding account attempts to draw inferences and conclusions of a dryly factual nature, but there are also less tangible factors to consider, including those that could be categorised as aesthetic. One, to refer back to the kind of material displayed in Figure 9.7, would be focus: the shifting balance between semantic plenitude and emptiness in the larger song forms as the structure alternates between the textual demand for comprehension and the possibility of attention to purely musical concerns allowed by the strings of nonsense syllables—the sense of which, allied to their mnemonic value, is to help clarify the rhythmic articulation of the melody. Might this, one wonders, be not just a feature characteristic of a particular period but a constant in both traditions? Clearly present in the one revelatory early example of notation that we owe to Širāzi,61 it is a standard feature of the later Ottoman repertoire. It is equally apparent, with only the diference of there being no rhythmic cycle, in contemporary Iranian āvāz, where, although there are no longer passages of nonsense syllables, there is a common format of an untexted expository passage followed by an initially rather plain declamatory exposition of the verse. Once comprehension is assured, this exposition can give way to greater musical complexity expressed, first, as an increase in the number and rapidity of pitch changes and, eventually, after the text is exhausted, in the taḥrir, a yet more florid and virtuosic untexted passage.

The vocal compositions identified as common to the Safavid and Ottoman repertoires provide clear indications that sectional contrasts of a possibly similar order typified longer forms: they might start with a nonsense-syllable section—a distinctive feature of the kâr—and others are always interspersed between the verse sections. Earlier song-text collections also give precise information on how extraneous syllables are introduced within and especially towards the end of the verse, presumably indicative of melismatic elaboration being concentrated in this (p.186) area. Yet as neither Hafız Post nor Gorji strives for comparable detail, evidence for variations in melodic density is lacking, even if the formal complexity of the longer pieces they record is comparable to that encountered in the earlier repertoires, and in Ali Ufuki’s notations of the mid-17th-century court repertoire the melodic texture fails to exhibit such alternating zones. As typified in Music example 9.1, where the first system is the final part of the initial nonsense-syllable section (terennüm in Ottoman terminology) and the second is the beginning of the text setting,62 melismatic elaboration of the verse may be minimal, and the resulting surface is akin to that of the terennüm material: if the text indications were deleted it would only occasionally be possible to tell which section is which.

Bridging the Safavid–Ottoman Divide

Music example 9.1. The end of a nonsense-syllable section (above) and the beginning of the following text setting (below). (The symbol after the clef is —, the half flat sign, not a rest.)

In Ali Ufuki’s notations such terennüm sections are restricted to a small group of pieces termed nakış. In the generally rather simple settings that he notates of the much more frequent murabba’ (‘quatrain’) songs, a couplet of divan verse—that is, four hemistichs with an aaba rhyme scheme—is matched to a corresponding AABA melodic structure, but there is no additional terennüm material. Music example 9.2 gives a typical example of an A section:

Bridging the Safavid–Ottoman Divide

Music example 9.2. The first section of a murabba’.

(p.187) At most a generation later many such texts appear, but without a genre heading, in the song-text collection of Hafız Post, who also recorded a significant number of nakış, often with extensive passages of terennüm. In the kâr, evidently prestigious for both Hafız Post and Gorji, terennüm material is even more prominent, but this is a form Ali Ufuki fails to notate, presumably reflecting its marginality within, or indeed absence from, the court repertoire. We thus encounter in both Safavid and Ottoman song-text collections of the late 17th century strong typological similarities at the formal level between the more extended song-forms. Their structure perpetuates in significant respects that attested in much earlier collections, even if the repertoire is now quite diferent, whereas the mid-century sources reflective of court taste, Ali Ufuki on the Ottoman side, Āqā Mo’men on the Safavid, fail to provide corroborative testimony: they suggest, rather, an impatience with the longer forms. Āqā Mo’men’s record of his own output, which consists of pieces labelled generically taṣnif (‘composition’), is ordered, broadly speaking, from longer to shorter. Even the longest pieces have a quite simple alternating structure of a verse section (termed sarḫāna) followed by a refrain (ḏayl). That he may have been familiar with the kâr form is suggested by Gorji’s attribution of one to him,63 but if so it is all the more striking that none should appear among his own notations. During the same mid-century period, Ali Ufuki likewise ignores the kâr, and although this might be read as indicating that as an instrumentalist he was not sufficiently familiar with a dificult area of the vocal repertoire to have memorised and recorded examples of it, it is rather more likely that he was simply not called upon to learn it in order to provide an accompaniment. He gives a prominent place to the popular folk-song forms, including the strophic semai with its characteristic ternary rhythm, but otherwise, surely again reflecting Ottoman court taste, the secular repertoire represented consists mainly of the simpler examples of murabba’. It would follow that the survival and eventually restored prestige of the more complex forms—those that also used the longer and more dificult rhythmic cycles—was ensured by the involvement of musicians active outside the court, a prominent Ottoman example being Koca Osman, the teacher of Hafız Post.64 Yet although this model of periodic court indiference and neglect compensated for by connoisseurship maintained in other circles has, as elsewhere, an attractive neatness, it may be an oversimplification, with the contrast in distribution and taste being in reality not quite so stark. Knowledge of some of the longer rhythmic cycles, for example, was ensured among Ottoman court musicians by exposure to the repertoire of the mehter, the Janissary military and ceremonial band, and the rhythmic cycles used by the corresponding Safavid ṭablḫāna are referred to in Persian texts alongside those of the court musicians.65 Nor is it the case that musicians beyond the court were indiferent to the more popular genres: it is true that towards the end (p.188) of the 17th century Gorji restricts himself to recording the longer forms, pointing to a shift in Safavid court taste towards the acceptance of a more challenging repertoire, but Hafız Post’s collection is much more catholic, a major part of it being made up of the strophic semai and of the murabba’-like songs favouring the shorter cycles and without terennüm sections. The question then is whether they were still characterised by the rather basic melodic outlines and rudimentary modal expositions of much of Ali Ufuki’s murabba’ repertoire, of which Music example 9.2 is representative, or whether they were stylistically more akin in melodic texture and density to Ali Ufuki’s nakış examples and, perhaps more pertinently, to a murabba’66 that represents a rather more extended style of text setting, yielding a melodic surface comparable to that found in the instrumental repertoire. What distinguishes this murabba’, the beginning of which is given in Music example 9.3, from the previous one, is not so much an increase in modal complexity per se as a change in the relationship between text and rhythmic articulation: in Music example 9.2 we have 27 text syllables spread over 28 time units, while in Music example 9.3 the average for each syllable jumps from one time unit to two, the corresponding figures being 17 and 36. Music example 9.3 juxtaposes this murabba’, in the rhythmic cycle nim devir, one restricted to the vocal repertoire, with the beginning of an instrumental peşrev also notated by Ali Ufuki,67 in the same makam, uşşak, and in the related rhythmic cycle devr-i kebir (also used in Music example 9.2), which consists of 2x (3 + 2 + 2) as against the (3 + 2 + 2) + 2 of nim devir.

Bridging the Safavid–Ottoman Divide

Music example 9.3. The beginnings of a murabba’ (above) and a peşrev (below).

(p.189) This peşrev remained part of the instrumental repertoire at least until the time of Cantemir, who also notated it, and it is in such pieces, perhaps, that we catch a glimpse of the modal aesthetic that predominated towards the latter part of the 17th century and may therefore have characterised the vocal pieces making up the joint Safavid and Ottoman repertoire. We see in both a very similar, but in relation to later norms still rather abbreviated, exposition of uşşak, emphasis being place on the area A—c within the range G—d or e before reaching finalis A. In the murabba’ the third cycle varies this by repeating the opening a third higher and then rising to a, only to descend again immediately to lead into a repeat of the second cycle, so that there is a very clear abcb structure, echoed by the virtually equal distribution over the four cycles of the four verse feet (each of the form / ᴗ ‒ ‒ ‒ /). Whereas the much larger span of the peşrev (which has, without repeats, 14 cycles of 14 time units each) allows for expected areas of modulation, in the murabba’ (which has, without repeats, eight cycles of nine time units each) there is no modulation and only a modest degree of contrast provided by registral expansion, section B of the AABA structure twice rising to a. It is clear, though, from Gorji’s headings, that modulation was integral to some of the longer Safavid vocal compositions,68 and this was doubtless also the case in their Ottoman counterparts.

Unfortunately, neither the murabba’ presented in Music example 9.3 nor the few nakış with terennüm material that Ali Ufuki notated re-emerge in the later Ottoman corpora of notation, but as these represent the state of affairs two centuries later their potential as indicators of the compositional strategies employed in this common area of 17th-century repertoire would in any case be limited.69 Accordingly, for further illumination of its aesthetic norms we need to look primarily at the 16th- and 17th-century theoretical literature, although by contrast with earlier texts the verbal articulation of judgments is scanty. Particular technical skills may be commended, for example the ability to play two rhythmic cycles at the same time, or to play one at different tempi concurrently,70 but the two essential notions that have resonance are those of proportion and appropriateness. The former, again, tends to be made explicit in the earlier literature, being applied to the interlocking areas of consonance, as it applies to intervallic relationships and scale structure, and cosmology, where musical harmony reflects that of the spheres. The latter yields categorisations that might serve therapeutic purposes, but in the Safavid literature it is rather a question of curt indications continuing a tradition of pragmatic choices regarding the nature of the performance situation, the kind of audience, its mood or (p.190) response, and the text to be sung.71 Such topics are, though, not developed, and for further clues we need to look at the ordering of material, chiefly modal.

A significant feature of a number of texts is the listing of sets of modes that constitute modulatory sequences or areas.72 There are two types. One consists of conventional triads that combine modes from two diferent categories, two of which are held (however fancifully) to stand in a derivational relationship to the third, followed by a number of further modes deemed to be appropriate ones to continue the modulatory process. The other is a sometimes larger-scale modulatory block, of which there are usually four. As listed in the resāla-ye karāmiya the shortest (and least diferentiated) of these illustrates, using the modal definitions in the taqsīm al-naġamāt, the main principles with exemplary clarity, one being to return at the end to the initial mode. Unfortunately, this particular block begins and closes with moḫālef, a mode not described in the taqsīm al-naġamāt, but it is likely that it aligned itself with all the others except one, their various basic pitch sets being drawn from the main-note scale (1 2 3- 4 5 6 7- 1′). The sequence that moḫālef encloses contains further repetitions, and is displayed in Figure 9.8, where the initial note is identified in italic, and the finalis in bold.

Bridging the Safavid–Ottoman Divide

Figure 9.8. A 16th-century modulation sequence.

Typically, we have a concentration on a particular pitch-set, frequently, as here, the main-note one consisting of whole tones and neutral seconds, with ḥejāz the only exception; a general avoidance of abrupt jumps (with just the move from ḥejāz to gardāniya being out of the ordinary); and a surely conscious patterning of finalis and initial notes, in particular the alternation of 7- and 3-): transitions, as a result, are predominantly smooth. The other three blocks are more extensive and contain (p.191) further pitch-set changes, but cohere in similar ways and evidently conform to an aesthetic that favours gradual transitions. The same principles are observable in the lists that had been supplied earlier by Širazi, around 1300,73 and a century after him by Marāġi,74 and they are also maintained later, around 1700, in Cantemir’s notations of külliyat pieces,75 displays of compositional craft that traverse a large number of modes. The most extensive of these begins with the sequence of seven modes shown in Figure 9.9, and although this does not repeat the first, as in Figure 9.8, the pitch-set of the last mode, like that of the first, is drawn exclusively from the main-note scale. Those in between introduce pitch changes, but not in any dramatically contrastive way: şiraz, for example, sticks to the main-note scale for much of its length, indeed repeating part of the exposition of hüseyni, and only identifies itself as diferent at time unit 15 (out of a total of 20) by introducing 4# and 3. Also to be noted in Figure 9.9 is the gradual nature of the changing flow of initial and finalis notes, with 2 providing the most important link.

Bridging the Safavid–Ottoman Divide

Figure 9.9. A modulation sequence within an Ottoman composition.

Even if the modal corpora involved might be significantly diferent, such sequences point, in short, to processes of linkage common to both Safavid and Ottoman practice. They are ones governed by an aesthetic that involves not merely a preference for smooth transitions but also delayed disclosure, deception and surprise, and hence one expecting its listeners to have the expertise to identify and appreciate subtle distinctions.

Such principles of sequencing seem, indeed, to remain stable over long periods and in various places. But it is clear that other parameters do not, and it would seem that for at least parts of the Ottoman repertoire the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th was a period of stylistic change, evident from the juxtaposition in Music example 9.4 of the beginnings of an acemler piece, still, presumably,

Bridging the Safavid–Ottoman Divide

(p.192) Music example 9.4. The beginnings of a ‘Persianate’ peşrev (above) and one by Cantemir (below).

thought to have a Persianate and perhaps slightly old-fashioned flavour, with a more recent composition by Cantemir himself.

It demonstrates some of the shifts involved, which can be summarised as an increase in the amount of melodic business contained within each rhythmic cycle and greater variation in the way it is conducted, with significant contrasts of duration. One may note, further, that the mode chosen by Cantemir, sultani ırak, was a new and still rather unusual one.

Unfortunately, we cannot tell whether similar developments were taking place in the Safavid tradition. The additional and possibly slightly later ‘Persian’ pieces that appear in the 18th-century Kevseri collection fail to reveal any comparable style shift,76 and nor is there any indication of the emergence on the Safavid side of a formalisation of large-scale performance conventions analogous to the various fasıl structures described by Cantemir, with their standardised sequences of taksim, peşrev, kâr and beste forms, and their consequent implications for the maintenance of style and associated repertoire.

(p.193) Set against more recent contrasts and, especially, the earlier evidence for regional diferentiation, there was nothing predictable, and certainly nothing inevitable, about the seemingly close rapprochement between the renewed repertoires and associated idioms employed in Safavid and Ottoman art music as they evolved during the second half of the 17th century. The career of Arutin, an Armenian Ottoman musician who accompanied Nadir Shah (1736–47) on his Indian campaigns, provides a pointer to there being compatibility of idiom still in the mid-18th century.77 Yet the elements of common repertoire that have so far been identified do not appear to have survived in either tradition, and it is clear that as the fissures between the two grow wider,78 the bridges across them begin to crumble.


(1) See Gabriela Currie’s Chapter 3 and Ciro Lo Muzio’s Chapter 4, this volume.

(2) See Walter Puchner’s Chapter 14 and Avra Xepapadakou’s Chapter 16, this volume.

(3) See Henry George Farmer, A History of Arabian Music to the XIIIth Century (London: Luzac, 1929, repr. 1973), especially chapters 3 and 4; Amnon Shiloah, Music in the World of Islam (Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1995).

(4) See, e.g., Ḥasan Mašḥun, tāriḫ-e musiqi-ye irān (Tehran: našr-e simorġ, 1373š/1995), pp. 77–129.

(5) Owen Wright (ed. and trans.), Epistles of the Brethren of Purity. On Music: An Arabic Critical Edition and English Translation of EPISTLE 5 (Oxford: Oxford University Press in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2010), pp. 97–8.

(6) For a typical example, see the resāle-ye karāmiya, in Mehrdad Fallahzade (ed., trans. and annotations), Two Treatises – Two Streams: Treatises from the Post-Scholastic Era of Persian Writings on Music Theory (Bethesda, MD: Ibex Publishers, 2009), pp. 78–80, 105–8.

(7) For biographical details, see Eckhard Neubauer, ‘Ṣafī al-Dīn al-Urmawī’, in Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd edn, ed. by Peri J. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C. E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W. Heinrichs (Leiden: Brill, 1954–2005), vol. 8, pp. 805b–807b; Gabrielle Braune, ‘Ṣafī al-Dīn, ‘Abd al-Mu’min ibn Yūsuf ibn Fāḫir al-Urmawī al-Baġdādī’, in Ludwig Finscher (ed.), Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 2nd edn, Personenteil, vol. 14 (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1999–2005), col. 781–5. The revisions suggested in Owen Wright, ‘A Preliminary Version of the kitāb al-adwār’, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 58:3 (1995), 455–78, based upon a falsified date, are to be disregarded.

(8) Eckhard Neubauer, ‘Zur Bedeutung der Begriffe Komponist und Komposition in der Musikgeschichte der islamischen Welt’, Zeitschrift für Geschichte der arabisch-islamischen Wissenschaften, 11 (1997), 307–63 at 323–4.

(9) Ibn al-Ṭaḥḥān al-Mūsīqī (d. after 1057), ḥāwī al-funūn wa-salwat al-maḥzūn, facsimile edn (Frankfurt am Main: Publications of the Institute for the History of Arabic-Islamic Science, 1990; series C, 52), pp. 175, 204; Aḥmad al-Tīfāšī, mut‘at al-asmā‘ fī ‘ilm al-samāᶜ, chs 10 and 11 in M. b. T. al-Ṭanjī, ‘al-ṭarā’iq wa-’l-alḥān al-mūsīqiyya fī ifrīqiya wa-’l-andalus’, al-abḥāt: Quarterly Journal of the American University of Beirut, 21/2: 3–4 (1968), 93–116.

(10) See, e.g., Basil Gray, Persian Painting (Geneva: Editions d’Art Albert Skira S.A., 1995; first published 1961).

(11) For biographical details, see Murat Bardakçı, Maragalı Abdülkadir (Istanbul: Pan Yayıncılık, 1986); Gabrielle Braune, ‘ʿAbd al-Qādir ibn Ġaibī, al-Ḥāfiż al-Marāġī’, in Ludwig Finscher (ed.), Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 2nd edn, Personenteil, vol. 1 (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1999–2005), col. 20–22.

(12) See Maria E. Subtelny, ‘Scenes from the Literary Life of Tīmūrid Herāt’, in Roger M. Savory and Dionisius Agius (eds), Logos islamikos: Studia islamica in honorem Georgii Michaelis Wickens (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1984; Papers in Medieval Studies, 6), pp. 137–55.

(13) Awbahi, ‘ Ališāh b. Buka, moqaddema-ye oṣul (Istanbul: İstanbul Üniversitesi Kütüphanesi, MS F 1079).

(14) Jāmi, ‘Abd al-Raḥmān, resāla-ye musiqi, facsimile edn, trans. A. N. Boldirev (Tashkent, 1960).

(15) Banā’i, ‘Ali b. Moḥammad, resāla dar musiqi, facsimile edn (Tehran: Markaz-i Nashr-i Dānishgāhī, 1368š/1989).

(16) According to Yılmaz Öztuna, ‘Abdülkadir Merâğî’, in Yılmaz Öztuna, Türk musikisi ansiklopedisi, vol. 1 (Istanbul: Milli Eğitim Basımevi, 1969), they total no fewer than 30.

(17) Walter Feldman, Music of the Ottoman Court: Makam, Composition and the Early Ottoman Instrumental Repertoire (Berlin: Verlag für Wissenschaft und Bildung, 1996; Intercultural Music Studies, 10), pp. 65–7.

(18) For Iran, evidence of provincial activity and patronage is explored in Amir Hoseyn Pourjavady, ‘The Musical Codex of Amir Khān Gorji (c.1108–1697)’, Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles, 2005, 50–94.

(19) According to Ogier Ghiselin de Buzbecq, the Habsburg ambassador from 1554 to 1562, present therefore in Istanbul during the last years of Süleyman’s reign. See A. Gislenii Busbequii omnia quae extant (Leiden: Oficina Elzeviriana, 1633), p. 294.

(20) It had been received with delight by Mehmet III. See Stanley Mayes, An Organ for the Sultan (London: Putnam, 1956) for the gift. The description of its destruction, by the historian Mustafa b. Ibrahim Safi, is translated in the Prologue of Gerald M. MacLean, The Rise of Oriental Travel: English Visitors to the Ottoman Empire, 1580–1720 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), pp. xi–xii.

(21) Documentation of music at court is scanty: see Ismail Hakkı Uzunçarsılı, ‘Osmanlılar zamanında saraylarda musiki hayatı’, Belleten, 41 (1977), 79–114. Cantemir, writing at the turn of the 18th century, can report only hazy snippets of oral history from which he constructs a narrative of loss and restitution; see Feldman, Music of the Ottoman Court, 45, and Walter Feldman, ‘The Musical “Renaissance” of Late Seventeenth-Century Ottoman Turkey: Reflections on the Musical Materials of Ali Ukfî Bey (ca. 1610–1675), Hâfız Post (d. 1694) and the “Marâghî” Repertoire’, in Martin Greve (ed.), Writing the History of Ottoman Music (Würzburg: Ergon Verlag, 2015; Istanbuler Texte und Studien 33), pp. 87–138 at 95.

(22) Some of these complexities are explored in Amnon Shiloah, The Theory of Music in Arabic Writings (c. 900–1900) (Munich: Henle, vol. 1, 1979, vol. 2, 2003; RISM B/X and B/Xa, respectively) and investigated further in Salah Eddin Maraqa, Die traditionelle Kunstmusik in Syrien und ägypten von 1500 bis 1800. Eine Untersuchung der musiktheoretischen und historisch-biographischen Quellen (Tutzing: Schneider, 2015).

(23) Representative are the treatises of Awbahi, moqaddema-ye oṣul, and Banā’i, resāla dar musiqi. Probably somewhat earlier is a text, referred to below as ‘Judaeo-Persian’ (as it contains a few mode names in Hebrew script), that is important for the regional variety it reveals. It is analysed, and published in facsimile, in Eckhard Neubauer, ‘Eine Griffnotation für Laute und Kamānǧe und eine “Lautentablatur” in persischer und judäo-persischer Überlieferung aus dem 15. (?) Jahrhundert’, Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Arabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften, 19 (2010–2011), 257–351.

(24) Representative is the treatise of Seydī, Seydī’s Book on Music. A 15th-century Turkish Discourse, ed., trans. and annotated by Eugenia Popescu-Judetz in collaboration with Eckhard Neubauer (Frankfurt am Main: Institute for the History of Arabic-Islamic Science at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, 2004; The Science of Music in Islam, 6).

(25) Representative are the treatises of Muḥammad b. ‘Abd al-Ḥamīd al-Lādiqī (d. 1495), al-risāla al-fatḥiyya (British Library, MS Or. 6629), trans. in Rodolphe D’Erlanger, La musique arabe, vol. 4 (Paris: Geuthner, 1939), pp. 259–498, zayn al-alḥān fī ‘ilm al-ta’līf wa-’l-awzān (Nuruosmaniye MS 3655); ‘Alī b. ‘Ubayd Allāh al-Saylakūnī (Gotha, MS Orient. A 39); and al-šajara ḏāt al-akmām (British Library, MS Or. 15350, ed. Ġaṭṭās ‘Abd al-Malik Ḫašaba and Īzīs Fatḥ Allāh (Cairo: al-hay’a al-miṣriyya al-‘āmma li-l-kitāb, 1983).

(26) Ibn Kurr, ġāyat al-maṭlūb fī ‘ilm al-anġām wa-’l-ḍurūb (British Library, MS Or. 9247), edited in Owen Wright, Music Theory in Mamluk Cairo (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014).

(27) For suggestions as to how a composition by al-Urmawī might have been received by a knowledgeable audience in early 14th-century Cairo, see Wright, Music Theory, pp. 230–4.

(28) In Širāzi’s account, which probably conformed more closely to practice, it appears, rather, from the 3B fourth, as 1 2- 3 4. For both versions see Owen Wright, The Modal System of Arab and Persian Music, A.D.1250–1300 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978; London Oriental Series, 28), pp. 75–6.

(29) The full title of this anonymous treatise is taqsīm al-naġamāt wa-bayān al-daraj wa-’l-šu‘ab wa-’l-maqāmāt: G. L. Flügel, Die arabischen, persischen und türkischen Handschriften der kaiserlich-königlichen Hofbibliothek zu Wien, vol. 1, no. 1516 (Vienna: Verlag der k.k. Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, 1865).

(30) For an illustration, see Demetrius Cantemir, The Collection of Notations, vol. 1: Text, transcribed and annotated by Owen Wright (London: School of Oriental and African Studies, 1992; SOAS Musicology Series, 1), compositions 277 and 278.

(31) The inclusion of 4♯ is made clear by the remarks on identity confusion. See Wright, Modal System, p. 172.

(32) See Amer Didi, ‘Système modal arabe levantin du XIVe au XVIIIe siècle (Étude historique, systémique et sémiotique, éditions critiques et traductions des manuscrits)’, Ph.D. thesis, Université Paris-Sorbonne/Paris IV, 2015, 271 (where he is identified as al-Ḥiṣnī).

(33) See discussion in Owen Wright, Demetrius Cantemir: The Collection of Notations, vol. 2: Commentary (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000; SOAS Musicology Series), pp. 283–6. The first piece in Ali Ufuki’s Mecmû’a-i saz ü söz, which opens the hüseyni section, is stated to be in hüseyni-dügâh, possibly indicative of a process of absorption. Facsimile, hazırlayan Şükrü Elçin (Ankara: T.C. Kültür Bakanlığı, 2nd impr. 2000), p. 19.

(34) For an analysis, see İsmail Hakkı Özkan, Türk mûsikîsi nazariyatı ve usûlleri (Istanbul, Ötüken Neşriyat, 1984), pp. 347–9.

(35) One is anonymous: Dār al-Kutub MS Mūsīqā Taymūr 13/1, 1–36 (ed. Didi, ‘Système modal’, 455–63, trans. 95–106); the other has been given a mistaken attribution: [Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn al-Ṣafadī], ‘Abd al-Majīd Diyāb and Ġaṭās ‘Abd al-Malik Ḫašaba (eds), risāla fī ‘ilm al-mūsīqā (Cairo: al-hay’a al-miṣriyya al-‘āmma li-l-kitāb, 1991), based on a copy in Berlin. The edition by Didi (‘Système modal’, 465–73, trans. 107–16) is based on copies in Cairo, Dār al-Kutub MS Majāmī‘ Taymūr 14/1, 10–28, and Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, MS Arabe 6014, f. 3r–14v. See also Maraqa, Die traditionelle Kunstmusik.

(36) It is extended by al-Urmawī and his acolytes to 1 2- 3- 4 5- 6B 7B 1′, in which, however, the nucleus fails to appear in its original form, thus provoking the suspicion that the octave scale formulation is the 6B 7B 6B 7B result of cosmetic surgery, 4 5- 6 [1′] being adjusted to 4 5- 1′ to fit a theoretical matrix. Such is the power of authority, however, that the survival of this expedient is demonstrated by its presence, shorn only of 1′, in the Judaeo-Persian version.

(37) Evliya Çelebi praised the beautiful voices of the Vienna Cathedral choirboys singing in what for him was rahāvi, while Cantemir’s contemporaries made a connection with Western trumpet fanfares: see Wright, Cantemir, vol. 2, p. 257.

(38) Istanbul, MS Topkapı Revan 1724.

(39) See Owen Wright, Words without Songs: A Musicological Study of an Ottoman Anthology and its Precursors (London: School of Oriental and African Studies, 1992; SOAS Musicology Series, 3), pp. 195 and 247.

(40) The main body of cycles described in the kitāb al-adwār, ed. Hāšim Muḥammad al-Rajab (Baghdad: dār al-rašīd li-l-našr, 1980) is explicitly related to Arab practice (143).

(41) The various repertoires and definitions of the rhythmic cycles are tabulated in Eckhard Neubauer, ‘Glimpses of Arab Music in Ottoman Times from Syrian and Egyptian Sources’, Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Arabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften, 13 (1999–2000), 317–65 at 346–51.

(42) A typical narrative is that in the taqsīm al-naġamāt: the first stage is the calling into being of a proto-rhythm derived from the pulse, followed at undefined intervals by the addition of successive groups of cycles.

(43) See Neubauer, ‘Glimpses’, 346–7.

(44) Nasimi, nasim-e ṭarab, ed. Amir Ḥosayn Purjavādi (Tehran: entešārāt-e farhangestān-e honar, 1385/2007). Its date is uncertain. Purjavady tentatively points to a possible connection with a local ruler in Gilan, Muẓafar Sulṭān (1515–37).

(46) The anonymous treatise and that by Gorji, together with a further treatise by Āqā Mo’men, are published in Pourjavady, ‘The Musical Codex’. The bahjat al-ruḥ (see al-Jorjāni, ‘Abd al-Mo’men b. Ṣafi al-Din, resāla-ye musiqi-ye bahjat al-ruḥ, ed. H. L. Rabino de Borgomale (Tehran, 1346š/1967)) contains a mix of materials, some probably older than the second half of the 17th century, but also some possibly later.

(47) For these correspondences, see Sa‘id Kordmāfi, ‘bar rasi-ye barḫi janbahā-ye ‘amali-ye iqā‘ dar resālāt-e qadim-e musiqi-ye ḥ awza-ye eslāmi (qorun-e haftom tā davāzdahom-e hejri-ye qamari)’, faṣlnāma-ye musiqi-ye māhur 60 (2013), 167–98.

(48) This correspondence is also noted in Kordmāfi, ‘bar rasi-ye barḫi janbahā’. An earlier Ottoman example of similar mnemonics that fail to specify duration is given by Evliya Çelebi (1611–82), using variously the syllables ta, tır, tak, tan, na and ka to represent the hammering patterns of various tradesmen in which he claims to detect three rhythmic cycles: see Martin van Bruinessen and Hendrik Breschouten (ed. and trans.), Evliya çelebi in Diyarbakir: the relevant section of the Seyahatname (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1988), pp. 156–7. Thus sofyāna is given as tan tana tan tana, presumably to be understood as two cycles of tan Ø ta na. Apart from a gap in the middle a close correspondence can also be discerned between his account of sakil and Cantemir’s more specific one displayed above it:

  • düm . te ke düm . te ke te ke düm . te ke düm . tek . tek .
  • tır Ø ta ka tır Ø ta ka ta ka tır Ø ta ka tır Ø tır Ø tak Ø
  • düm . düm . tek . düm . tek . tek . düm . te ke düm düm
  • tır Ø tak Ø tak Ø [tır Ø tak Ø tak Ø ] tır Ø ta ka tır tır
  • tek teke düm tek teke düm tek . teke teke
  • tak Ø tır tak Ø tır tır Ø tak Ø

The third cycle outlined in this way Evliya calls çifte düyek, a name that re-emerges in 18th-century accounts. The sequence given is tır taka tır tak tır tır tak.

(49) For a survey of the remaining cycles, see Owen Wright, ‘Amīr Ḫān Gurjī and Safavid-Ottoman usul parallels’, in Zeynep Helvacı, Jacob Olley and Ralf Martin Jaeger (eds), Rhythmic Cycles and Structures in the Art Music of the Middle East (Istanbul: Orient Institut, 2016), pp. 49–68.

(50) By the time of Gorji the even longer me’atayn, of 200 time units, had long been forgotten. (The reference to it in the bahjat al-ruḥ (38) may consequently be regarded as antiquarian.)

(51) The gap between 49 (or 50) and 88 is such that Yalçın Tura concludes that they are unrelated and separate inventions (‘Darb-i fetih usûlü ve bu usûlle yapılmış peşrevler’, Türk mûsıkîsinin mes’eleleri (Istanbul: Pan Yayıncılık, 1988), pp. 87–103).

(52) For the former, see the tabulation of structures in Pourjavady, ‘The Musical Codex’, 155.

(53) A feature noted by Neubauer, ‘Zur Bedeutung der Begrife Komponist’, 343–5, with further details, and the conjecture that such titles might become modal designations.

(54) On the history of these, and the related terminology, see Eckhard Neubauer, ‘Tarannum und terennüm in Poesie und Musik’, Mélanges de l’Université Saint-Joseph, 48 (1973–4), 139–53; on their use in song-text anthologies, see also Wright, Words without Songs.

(55) Such strings are built up of formulaic blocks (although one can only speculate whether these might relate to particular features of rhythmic and/or melodic organisation), but beyond a certain point they differ sufficiently to establish which composition they belong to. Thus a quite similar string begins the initial section of another kâr (entitiled suznāk) attributed to Marāġi (Pourjavady, ‘The Musical Codex’, 326): ter de lā nā der der tan der nā ter delā nā tel lel lender nā, but it continues with further and diferent material. It is true that the same bāzgu string appears in the preceding piece in Gorji’s collection as well (Pourjavady, ‘The Musical Codex’, 290), but as it is in the same mode and also has the same extra text that a bāzgu can contain, we are clearly dealing in this case with either a wholesale borrowing of material or a repeat due to a copying lapse.

(56) The most detailed examination of this corpus is in Feldman, Music of the Ottoman Court, pp. 392–407, and Feldman, ‘The Musical “Renaissance”’.

(57) The collection is published along with the treatise in Pourjavady, ‘The Musical Codex’. The pieces notated by Cantemir are nos 128, 163, 168 and 199 in Cantemir, The Collection of Notations. None of them, though, was recorded by Ali Ufuki, which suggests that they may have been transmitted well into the second half of the century, whereas most of Āqā Mo’men’s compositions date from before 1650 (for the scanty biographical material on him, see Pourjavady, ‘The Musical Codex’, 129–31).

(58) Nayi Osman Dede, in his verse treatise rabt-ı tâbirât-ı mûsıkî, ed. Onur Akdoğu (Izmir, 1991).

(59) Ali Ufuki (Lwów, 1609—Istanbul, 1675) left two collections, one, fuller and more methodical, being the Mecmûa-i sâz ü söz (British Library, MS Sloane 3114), facsimile in Şükrü Elçin, Ali Ufkî: hayatı, eserleri ve mecmûa-i sâz ü söz (Istanbul, 1976), transcription in Ali Ufkî, Hâzâ mecmûa-i sâz ü söz (çeviriyazım—inceleme), ed. M. Hakan Cevher (Izmir: 2003). For the other, see Cem Behar, Saklı mecmua. Ali Ufkî’nin Bibliothèque Nationale de France’taki [Turc 292] yazması (Istanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 2008).

(60) On the origins and ramifications of semai, see Feldman, Music of the Ottoman Court, pp. 460–3, and Mehmet Uğur Ekinci, ‘Not Just Any Usul: Semai in Pre-Nineteenth-Century Performance Practice’, in Rachel Harris and Martin Stokes (eds), Theory and Practice in the Music of the Islamic World (Abingdon: Routledge, 2018; SOAS Musicology Series), pp. 42–72.

(61) Transcribed in Wright, Modal System, pp. 233–44.

(62) Of a nakış (Elçin, Ali Ufkî, 134).

(63) Item 4 in his collection (Pourjavady, ‘The Musical Codex’, 269–70).

(64) For a more extended discussion, see Feldman, Music of the Ottoman Court, pp. 120–6; and on Koca Osman, see also Cem Behar, şeyhülislâm’ın müziği. 18. yüzyılda Osmanlı/Türk musıkisi ve şeyhülislâm Es’ad Efendi’nin Atrabü’l-âsâr’ı (Istanbul: Yapı Kredi yayınları, 2010).

(65) For example in the nasim-e ṭarab.

(66) Elçin, Ali Ufkî, 310. It is probably a late addition to his collection and therefore possibly a composition of no earlier than 1660.

(67) Elçin, Ali Ufkî, 134 = Cantemir, vol. 1, no. 201, by Solakzade, a prominent composer of the first half of the 17th century. Not all attributions to him are reliable, but as Ali Ufuki was a contemporary this one may be trusted.

(68) For example item 6, where the mode changes in later sections (Pourjavady, ‘The Musical Codex’, 273–5). In other cases the heading has ‘in mode x and others’. There are also instances of changes of rhythmic cycle.

(69) Pace Tolga Bektaş, ‘Relationships between Prosodic and Musical Meters in the Beste Form of Classical Turkish Music’, Asian Music, 36:1 (2005), 1–26, who argues (8) for continuity and absence of change on the grounds that, for example, (the modern notated form of) a composition by Itri (d. 1712) resembles one by Zekâi Dede (d. 1897).

(70) Discussed in some detail in taqsīm al-naġamāt.

(71) See, for example, bahjat al-ruḥ, ed. de Borgomale, pp. 57–60, 81–3, 86–7.

(72) Including the Safavid resāla-ye karāmiya, ed. Mehrdad Fallahzade, 2009, on which see Owen Wright, Music Theory in the Safavid Era: the taqsīm al-naġamāt (London: Routledge, 2018), p. 25, and the related Arabic text al-šajara ḏāt al-akmām, ed. by G. al-M. Ḫašaba and I. Fatḥ Allāh (Cairo, 1983).

(73) Wright, Modal System, pp. 180–93.

(74) jāmi‘ al-alḥān, ed. Taqi Bineš (Tehran: mo’assasa-ye moṭāla‘āt o-taḥqiqāt-e farhangi, 1987), pp. 163–4.

(75) Cantemir, vol. 1, nos 22, 23 and 296.

(76) Mehmet Uğur Ekinci, Kevserî mecmuası. 18. yüzyıl saz müziği külliyatı (Istanbul: Pan Yayıncılık, 2015).

(77) See Eugenia Popescu-Judetz, Tanburî Küçük Artin: A Musical Treatise of the Eighteenth Century (Istanbul: Pan Yayıncılık, 2002), pp. 11–16.

(78) The major lines of divergence are summarised in Feldman, Music of the Ottoman Court, pp. 496–7.