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Becoming Persian Music: A Poststructuralist Approach to Composition



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Samadi, Saman 


This research embarks upon an innovative exploration of poststructuralist compositional methodologies grounded in Persian musical and linguistic traditions. It undertakes this inquiry within the encompassing ambit of an interdisciplinary framework, intertwining (ethno)musicology, conceptual history, music theory, sociopolitical thought, semiotics, linguistics, and postmodern philosophy. The overarching objective is to meticulously scrutinise philosophical constructs, including the notions of difference, rhizome, becoming, complexity, and a panoply of cognate concepts, elucidating these through a poststructuralist prism, thereby articulating their pragmatic applications within the sphere of my compositional practice. Through the harmonious amalgamation of Persian musical modalities, the prosody inherent in Persian poetry, and Persian calligraphic forms, a complex sonic domain is conceived—a musical realm that transcends the static ontology of Being, instead embodying the continual process of Becoming Persian music. The Persian classical musical modal system, ensconced in a state of relative stasis for centuries, stands as a testament to tradition's resilience. This research, however, is driven by a fascination with the historical evolution of Western classical music from its medieval origins to the present day, and it prompts an introspective reevaluation of my own compositional praxis—an endeavour deeply enmeshed in the interwoven realms of Persian music, visual arts, and literary discourse. This introspection leads to critical inquiries: How can Persian music adapt within the ever-shifting contours of the postmodern world? How can Persian modalities be ingeniously harnessed to expand the horizons of timbral potentialities? How can the multifaceted web of tradition be reconceptualised through an integrative theoretical framework in practice, thereby fostering a novel approach to music composition, one that draws upon the indispensable attributes of Persian music? This research rigorously examines the persistent challenges of inequality afflicting societies, both domestically and internationally, with a particular focus on the complex dynamics between the East and the West. In the context of an increasingly pervasive wave of globalisation, I endeavour to propose a paradigm shift in the realm of Persian music composition, drawing from the principles of poststructuralism, with the aim of propelling it toward becoming glocal.





Causton, Richard


Augenmusik, Avazi music, Becoming, Complex music, Complexism, Complexity, Composition, Dastgah, Deleuze and Guattari, Difference, Microtonality, New Complexity, Persian Calligraphy, Persian classical music, Poststructuralism, Poststructuralist music composition, Prosodic composition, Radif, Rhizome, Semiotic


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge