Mehdiqoli Khan Hedayat was also a great music lover. Apart from a book about musical theory, the Majmaʿ al-adwār (Tehran, 1938), we owe him one of the earliest complete notations of the repertoire of Persian music (radifs), which he wrote down by listening to one of the most famous pupils of Mirzā ʿAbd-Allāh (d. 1917; see ʿABDALLĀH, MIRZĀ), the physician and setār player Mehdi Ṣolḥi (Montaẓem-al-Ḥokamāʾ). He presented the manuscript, dated 1928, to the Conservatory of National Music (Honarestān-e musiqi-e melli) in Tehran (Ḵāleqi, II, p. 84).

The treatise Majmaʿ al-adwār, dawra-ye kāmel-e musiqi az Abd-al-Moʾmen tā Helmholtz is one of the first three books on musical theory from the early 20th century (the two others being those of Waziri, and Ḵāleqi), which contain a description of the dastgāhs (q.v.). Published in Tehran in a lithographic edition, it was probably written seventeen years earlier (Hedayat, 1938, p. 10).

Hedayat explains that he referred to the following old treatises: the Ketāb al-adwār of Ṣafi-al-Din Ormavi (d. 1435), the Maqāṣed al-alḥān and Šarḥ-e adwār of ʿAbd-al-Qāder Marāḡi (d. 1435), the Dorrat al-tāj of Qoṭb-al-Din Širāzi (d. 1311), and the works of Abu Naṣr Fārābi (q.v.). He also took advantage of his knowledge of Western music and, since he knew German, read the works of Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894), probably Die Lehre von den Tonempfindungen als physiologische Grundlage für die Theorie der Musik, one of the foundations of musical acoustics. He summed up his work as follows: “It is a theoretical work, based on old and new sources, and on what nowadays lies in the hands of the masters” (Hedayat, 1950, p. 289).

The first part of the treastise Ahwāl al-maqām (the state of melodies) is essentially devoted, after a brief introduction about the very term music and about its effects (more than a quarter of the book, i.e., 192 pages) to musical acoustics (sounds and sound waves: their nature, production, propagation, and reception); it describes the larynx and the sense of hearing and presents the appearance and development of musical cycles (adwār).

The second part, Taʾlif al-maqān (composition of melodies; 139 pages) studies the musical cycles as such. It presents the abʿād (a term corresponding, in today’s musical vocabulary, with intervals). The most important of these are the ḏu’l-arbaʿ (perfect fourth); ḏu’l-ḵams (perfect fifth), and ḏu’l-koll (octave; see Setāyešgar, I, pp. 489-91), to which Fārābi, Ṣafi-al-Din, and ʿAbd-al-Qāder had devoted a considerable part of their works. They follow the twelve maqāms, the six āvāzes (see ĀVĀZ), and their twenty-four derivatives in light of the sources. Also described are the lute and rhythm (iqāʿ), followed by a reference to European scales, harmony, etc. The third part (a study of the present situation, 137 pages) deals with the seven dastgāhs, as defined by the masters of the period, as well as the various genres of existing compositions. It is here that the names of the dastgāhs and their units of melody (gušas, q.v.) are mentioned.

In his Dastur-e abjadi, which is published separately and also appended to the Majmaʿ al-adwār, Hedayat presents a system of notation by letters, like those that can be found in old treatises.



ʿAbdu’l-Qāder Marāḡi, Jāmeʿ al-alḥān, ed. Moḥammad-Taqi Bineš, Tehran, 1945.

Moḥammad-Taqi Bineš, Šenāḵt-e musiqi-e Irān, Tehran, 1997.

ʿAli-Naqi Waziri, Musiqi-e naẓari, Tehran, 1934.

Mehdiqoli Hedayat, “Az ketāb-e Ḵolāṣa-ye Majmaʿ al-adwār,” in Majalla-ye musīqī 2/10, 1938, pp. 1-10.

Idem, Dastur-e abjadi dar ketābat-e musiqi, Tehran, 1938.

Idem, Ḵāṭerāt o ḵaṭarāt, Tehran, 1950.

Idem, Majmaʿ al-adwār, dawra-ye kāmel-e musiqi az ʿAbd-al Moʾmen tā Helmholtz, Tehran, 1938.

Ruḥ-Allāh Ḵāleqī, Sargoḏašt-e musiqi-e Irān, 2nd ed., Tehran, 1954-56.

Qoṭb-al-Dīn Moḥammad Dorrat al-tāj le-ḡorrat al Dabbāj, Tehran, 1945.

Mehdi Setāyešgar, Vāža-nāma-ye musiqi-e Irān zamin, 2 vols., Tehran, 1995-96.

(Ameneh Yousefzadeh)

Originally Published: December 15, 2003

Last Updated: March 20, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. XII, Fasc. 2, pp. 118-119

Cite this entry:

Ameneh Yousefzadeh, “HEDĀYAT, MOḴBER-AL-SALṬANA ii. AS MUSICIAN,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, XII/2, pp. 118-119, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/hedayat-mokber-al-saltana-ii (accessed on 30 December 2012).