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Cultures Around the World: Nepal, Syria, Portugal, and America

Syrian Music

Early Arab musicians borrowed many styles, methods, and theories from the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Sumerians. It has a very complicated rhythm and model that focuses more on the percussion and melody than the harmony. Arab classical music is famous for its singers who sing long melancholy tunes that can last over an hour. These singers were often slaves in the days before Islam. But what makes Arab music really unique is the instruments:

The Lute (right): a six-stringed pear-shaped instrument, played with a pick that is often a trimmed eagle's feather. It makes a deep sound, causing Arabs to dub it "The King of all Instruments.
The Tablah: a small hand drum with a head made of goat or fish skin. It is used to play sharp, in-between beats.
The Quanun: a direct descendant of the Egyptian harp. Also called the psaltery or zither, it has 81 strings in groups of 3. It has begun to be replaced by the considerably less complex piano.
The Nay: any simple open-ended reed instrument that usually has seven holes. Unexpectedly, the nay is very versatile.
The Mijwiz: a double reed clarinet that looks like two flutes.
The Buzuq: a long necked guitar that is usually associated with the gypsies of Syria and Lebanon.
The Daff or Rikk: the Middle Eastern version of a tambourine. It is the major percussionist in most Arab music.