Jablonski, Marek (Michael)



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3. Musical instruments.


The most common instrument in Bedouin society is the rabāba, a monochord bowed instrument played in a vertical position (see Arab music, fig.6). It has a rectangular frame (20 cm × 35 cm × 6 cm) covered on both sides with skin. The neck is about 35 cm long, with a single peg at the upper end.

In towns and villages three types of bamboo aerophones are played: shibbāba, mijwez and yarghūl. Shibbāba is a short oblique flute 35 cm in length, with six finger-holes but no thumb-hole. Mijwez is a double clarinet with bamboo pipes of equal length (about 30 cm) and six finger-holes (see Arab music, fig.4). Yarghūl is a double clarinet with pipes of unequal length, found in varying sizes according to the tuning of different maqāmāt. The short pipe has five finger-holes, and the long one provides a drone. Both mijwez and yarghūl are played with a continuous breathing technique. Plucked instruments are sometimes available, such as ‘ūd (short-necked lute) and buzuq (long-necked lute), usually imported from Egypt, Syria or Iraq. The buzuq was especially played by Gypsies; Jamīl al-As is a very good mulahhin (composer of melodies for songs) and buzuq player of Gypsy origin.

The most common percussion instruments are duff (frame drum) and tabla (goblet drum). In the month of Ramadan a large tabla or a naqqāra (small kettledrum) announces the beginning and end of the daily fast. When they dance at home, women occasionally use a sort of jingle (khilkhāl) and small finger cymbals (faqqāshāt). The mihbāsh is a beautifully carved wooden mortar and pestle originally used to grind coffee and now also used to accompany some folksongs. Rhythms are created by striking the base and walls of the hollow body with the long stick inserted through the small opening at the top.

In contemporary Jordan all the instruments of the Western orchestra, of military bands and of modern popular groups are available. The bagpipe (qirba) has become especially popular among peasants and Bedouins.



Jordan (i)


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