This music season Moussem and BOZAR are honouring leading qanun virtuosos from Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Zanzibar. Whether played solo or part of a duo or an ensemble, the sounds of “the piano of Arab music” will be heard throughout the Centre for Fine Arts.
قانون ن (Qanun) means ‘law’ or ’rule’ in Arabic. The wood, trapezoidal instrument was given its name for two reasons: because in the takht – the classical Arabian ensemble – it is the only instrument that can play all the notes on the Arab scales on open strings, and because the other instruments use it to set their pitch. The qanun is first mentioned in the centuries-old tales of A Thousand and One Nights and originates in the Middle East, although it is also played in the Maghreb, West Africa, Central Asia and Southeast Europe. With its 78 strings it is an instrument that permits great virtuosity.