SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Mirza, Raiomond (2004) The house of song : Musical structures in Zoroastrian prayer performance. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

PDF - Submitted Version
Download (15MB) | Preview


This thesis uncovers the presence of musical structures within Zoroastrian prayer performance and articulates the details of these structures and also the way in which they are manifested and are passed down through generations. Initial research included an amalgamation and examination of the few references to music in Zoroastrian prayer that there are to be found in existing literature. The bulk of the research involved travelling to different countries to make contemporary sound recordings of prayers and to conduct extensive interviews with priests. Archival recordings were also gathered as data for examination. The evolution of the status and role of priests within the Zoroastrian community from antiquity to the present day as well as the training they receive is presented in order to understand the social as well as religious context within which Zoroastrian prayer is performed and taught. A substantial body of evidence is provided in the form of musical notations of the prayers of over thirty men and boys as well as more than an hour of accompanying sound recordings. Interview data is also provided to illuminate the perspectives of the performers on their own material. The musical analysis of the notations uncovers musical structures in Zoroastrian prayer, and an examination of interview data first reveals the mechanism by which these structures are manifested and transmitted and then synthesises the conclusions into a model for music making which operates to shape the sound of Zoroastrian prayer. The final analysis explores the age of these musical structures from the most recent and provable point of existence to a possibly ancient origin.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:09

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item