Music in Ancient Arabia and Spain

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Unlike much western music, Arabic music includes quarter tones halfway between notes, often through the use of stringed instruments like the oud or the human voice. Further distinguishing characteristics of Middle Eastern and North African music include very complex rhythmic structures, generally tense vocal tone, and a monophonic texture. Traditional Middle Eastern music does not use chords , or harmony in the Western sense.

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Many instruments originate in the Middle East region. Most popular of the stringed instruments is the oud , a pear-shaped lute that traditionally had four strings, although current instruments have up to six courses consisting of one or two strings each. Legend has it that the oud was invented by Lamech , the sixth grandson of Adam.

This is stated by Al-Farabi , and it is part of the Iraqi folklore relating to the instrument.

Legend goes on to suggest that the first oud was inspired by the shape of his son's bleached skeleton. Historically, the oldest pictorial record of the oud dates back to the Uruk period in Southern Mesopotamia over years ago. It is on a cylinder seal currently housed at the British Museum and acquired by Dr. Used mostly in court music for royals and the rich, the harp also comes from ancient Egypt c. The widespread use of the oud led to many variations on the instrument, including the saz , a Turkish long-necked lute that remains very popular in Turkey.

Another popular string instrument is the qanoun , developed by Farabi during the Abbasids era. Legend has it that Farabi played qanoun in court and alternately made people laugh, cry, or fall asleep. The qanoun developed out of string instruments described in inscriptions that date to the Assyrian period. The musician has the freedom to alter the pitch of individual courses from a quarter to a whole step by adjusting metal levers.

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Middle Eastern music also makes use of the violin , which is European in origin. The violin was adopted into Middle Eastern music in the 19th century, and it is able to produce non-Western scales that include quarter-tones because it is fretless. The complex rhythms of this music are often played on many simple percussion instruments. An instrument native to Egypt , Israel , Palestine , and Lebanon , the doumbek or tombak , is a drum made of ceramic clay, with a goatskin head glued to the body.

The Armenian duduk is a very popular double reeded, oboe-like instrument made out of Apricot tree wood. The Moroccan oboe, also called the rhaita , has a double-reed mouthpiece that echoes sound down its long and narrow body. A similar instrument is called the sorna.

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Equivalent to the mizmar and zurna , it is used more for festivals and loud celebrations. A Turkish influence comes from the mey , which has a large double reed.

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Bamboo reed pipes are the most common background to belly dancing and music from Egypt. Flutes are also a common woodwind instrument in ensembles. A kaval is a three-part flute that is blown in one end, whereas the ney is a long cane flute, played by blowing across the sharp edge while pursing the lips. What makes Biblio different?

Music in Ancient Arabia and Spain

Facebook Instagram Twitter. Sign In Register Help Cart 0. Cart 0 items. Toggle navigation. Stanford: Stanford University Press, First edition in English.

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Contains musical texts transcribed in modern notation. Translated and abridged by Eleanor Hague and Marion Leffingwell.

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