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date: 24 February 2020

Quṭb al-Dīn [Maḥmūd ibn Mas‘ūd al-Shīrāzī]locked

  • Owen Wright


[Maḥmūd ibn Mas‘ūd al-Shīrāzī]

(b Shiraz, 1236; d Tabriz, 1311). Persian physician and scientist. The most outstanding pupil of the mathematician Naṣīr al-Dīn Ṭūsī, he is particularly known for his work in medicine, optics and astronomy. His encyclopedia, Durrat al-tāj (‘Pearl of the crown’) demonstrates his mastery of the whole range of traditional medieval scholarship, and contains within its treatment of the mathematical sciences (quadrivium) a lengthy section on music. This is mainly a restatement of the musical theory developed by Ṣafī al-Dīn, but is important for its attention to musical practice, particularly in its codification and description of modes and rhythmic cycles. In both areas it points to the existence of a wider range of structures than is apparent from the works of Ṣafī al-Dīn; its treatment of the modes in particular is far fuller, and is less restricted by purely theoretical concerns. It ends with the most extended, complex and precise example of notation to be found in the works of the medieval Arab and Persian theorists, a unique document which allows some insight into the nature of the compositional practice of the period with regard not only to formal, modal and rhythmic strategies but also to techniques of text setting....

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