Hi all. I've come in contact with an iranian cultural association, and the president of this association asked me to compose some music (a crossover between Occidental music and Iranian (persian) folk songs) for a cd for the association, and now I'm looking to find some texts (I already have some Iranian devotional and classical music cds, mostly Santoor players or rythms,but also some violin music and other) regarding the theory and the development of this music. Can anyone here point me in the right direction? I've found many things about musical instruments. but very little about music theory, so...
Two classic texts on Iranian music:
Classical Persian Music by Ella Zonis Mahler, published 1973 by Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Sorry, I don't have the Library of Congress catalogue information. This is a very thorough work on Iranian musical history and gives good examples of the gusheh-ha (motifs) within each dastgah (primary mode) in western notation. This was one of the first major works outside Iran regarding the music. There are some dubious statements throughout (e.g., "all Persian music is sad," "the dastgah 'Mahur' is the basic scale for all melodies," etc.) but overall it's a very good work.
The Radif of Persian Music - Studies of Structure and Cultural Context in the Classical Music of Iran by Bruno Nettl, published 1992 by Elephant & Cat, Champaign, Illinois. Another very systematic ethnomusicological investigation of Iranian music, somewhat more of an academic read than Ms. Zonis Mahler's. It too contains many examples of the Radif (overall musical system) of Iranian music, and gives particular comparisons between the radif-s established by various masters.
Another work is The Art of Persian Music by Jean During and Zia Mirabdolbaghi with Dariush Safvat, published 1991 by Mage Publishers, Washington, D.C. ISBN #0-934211-22-1. http://www.mage.com/
This is a bit less scholarly than the works listed above. In fact, it's more of a "coffee table" book with excellent illustrations as well as a very good accompanying CD. I just received a notice from the publisher that this is currently on sale for US$ 52.00, which is about half of the original price.
Jean During is a French ethnomusicologist who has learned Iranian classic music and has written widely on the subject. I believe he has many publications on Iranian music in French, which may be more available to you in Europe than the books I mentioned (for example, the Zonis Mahler work is long out of print, and the Nettl work is published by a very small press - really almost a private release).
Good luck with the project! Please contact me if I can be of any further assistance.