Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Stephen Blum

Committee Members

Jane Sugarman

Talayeh Razzaghi

Johanna Devaney

Subject Categories



radif, dastgāh, gushe, Iranian Music, Persian Music, Farabi, Maraghi, Alignment, Computational Ethnomusicology, MIR


This dissertation studies radif, the repertoire/system of Persian classical music, by developing a framework for computational research on vocal music performance. The radif consists of seven dastgāhs and five āvāzes (secondary dastgāhs). Each dastgāh consists of several pieces (gushes). Throughout this research, I draw on three areas of knowledge to study each subject: the historical aspects, the current theories, and the practice. When possible, I attempt to bridge the gap between theory and practice by extracting the relevant information from practice. To this end, I use and modify existing computational methods for analyzing audio and symbolic data. The main subjects of this dissertation are the intervals and tunings of Persian classical music, vocal techniques, and extracting the theoretical aspects of each gushe.

Intervals and tuning have been subjects of discussion among Persian musicians since the early twentieth century. Beginning with the process of Westernization during the twentieth century and then a cultural back to roots movement, there are still arguments among different groups of musicians on the appropriate tuning. To study the intervals, I focus on the audio histogram of the performance of each gushe by Karimi, one of the masters of the art, and then, using Dynamic Time Warping for the alignment of audio and transcription, I have collected the intervals used in the performance of each gushe. Since in this dissertation, I mainly focus on unaccompanied voice, I have also studied pitch drift in the course of each performance.

The other important aspect of the vocal performance of radif is tahrir, a vocal technique involving rapid jumps in frequency. I focus on three types of tahrirs through case studies of various performances by a few masters of the art. Finally, I study theories about the defining characteristics of gushes and compare them with what I have extracted from the practice using computational methods. I also provide a visual framework for the comparison of various theories with each other and with practice. One of the contributions of this dissertation is developing a set of computational tools and an annotated database consisting of audio, MIDI, and a large body of extracted theoretical and analytical data for every sentence of each piece for studying Persian classical music.