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Intertextual perspectives on interpretation: a study of three Iranian composers’ piano works in the context of Persian music

Shafiei, Kiana (2018) Intertextual perspectives on interpretation: a study of three Iranian composers’ piano works in the context of Persian music. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University and The Royal Northern College of Music.

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Abstract

This research focuses on the performance and interpretation of piano solo and concertante works by three Iranian composers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries who explore the potential of Persian music in a ‘Western’ paradigm. The lack of analytical and performance studies on this repertoire raised two immediate questions: what musical links with Persian music can be drawn out in this repertoire, and to what extent can this study influence its performance? The methods used to answer the questions, which can potentially inform the study of other folk-inspired compositions, examined how these composers imitated Persian vocal/instrumental characteristics and derived knowledge from performing styles, melodic or rhythmic patterns, folk tunes and improvisational principles without literally imitating specific genres or idioms of Persian music. This research also explores the reader-oriented principles of intertextuality for their conceptual relevance when informed intuition and subjective associations become part of the performer’s interpretation. Although intertextuality has yet to be applied in a performance context, its application has significant potential as it enables the performer to include various ideas or associations in the decision-making processes involving misreading as a creative strategy and consider the opposing forces of imitation and originality. Part One consists of critical discussions on the limits of authenticity and the werktreue concept, the incommensurability between theoretical analysis and performance, the decentralisation of score and composer-centred perspectives, the various intertextuality principles explored in this research, the reader’s role (that is, the performer) in creating meaning, and the interpretation of musical signs (for example, rhythms, melodies, textures) based on references outside the score in ways the author/composer might not have considered. In Part Two I deconstruct the process and rationale behind my artistic decision-making. In this section, various conscious and unconscious decisions in both live performances and studio recordings between 2014 and 2017 are compared and subject to tempo analyses with Sonic Visualiser to discern significant interpretational divergences. The recording analysis investigates further with a comparative study in the context of other pianists’ recordings.

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