Epistle on the Science of Music


Risālah dar ʻilm-i mūsīqī (Epistle on the science of music) is a short treatise on the music of India and Persia published in 1906. In his introduction, the author, Muhammad ʻUsman Qays, cites earlier sources, such as Tuḥfat al-Hind (The gift of India) by Mirza Khan (flourished in the 17th century), on this topic. After discussing such basic concepts as lahn (pitch) and iqa’ (rhythm), the author proceeds to trace the historical proliferation of the maqamat (modes) of Persian music. The discussion here is notable, among other things, for the way it highlights the affinities and differences within the currently canonized modal system known as dastgah. The second half of the work presents a short but dense examination of the ragas of Indian music. The six primary ragas of classical Indian music are presented, as are their associated ragini (wives) and putras (sons). The correspondences between the Indian and Persian modal systems are also listed. A poem by Badr-i Chach (died 1346) lists the appropriate times for the performance of each of the Persian modes, recalling the Indian system and the particular time or season associated with each raga. This lithographic book is the second edition of Qays’s work. It was published at the famed Newal Kishore Press in Lucknow, India, under the direction of Prag Narayan, the son and successor of the founder of the press, Munshi Newal Kishore (1836‒95).

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Newal Kishore Press, Lucknow


Title in Original Language

رساله در علم موسيقى

Type of Item

Physical Description

15 pages ; 25 centimeters


  1. Foundation for Iranian Studies, “Persian System of Modes.” http://fis-iran.org/en/resources/classicalpersian/modes.

Last updated: September 30, 2016