The following section presents examples that demonstrate how the qanun can be used to create dynamic soundscapes with vocal and ambiance elements, as well as a harmonic orientation that explores the instrument's various possibilities. This experiment features layering techniques and incorporates harmonic sounds using repeated patterns to evoke an "atmospheric" quality.

Borrowing from jazz harmony

Driven by my curiosity and fascination with jazz harmony, I chose to explore the harmonic capabilities of the qanun. This employs a variety of voicings to play subtle harmonies. I approached this by adopting different chord shapes and notes and imitating the shape and sequence of corresponding notes on the next octave of the qanun to create a smooth transition among the chords while adding a touch of the instrument's embellishments. I performed this experiment by playing a short excerpt from John Coltrane's Giant Steps chords progression to hear how the chord intervals would sound on the qanun. The goal is to attempt to transform the qanun into a new environment.

This experience has broadened my perspective on the qanun and assisted me in discovering new ways to use the instrument's capabilities. The method entailed exploring a wider range of sounds outside of the instruments' modal tradition by playing different voicing chords. This, I assume, will pave the way for further experiments in the future.

The qanun can be played in a variety of ways. However, in the video below, I will go through my personal approach. As with most instruments, all players have different styles of playing, so it is important to note that this is just one approach to playing this instrument. Yet, the challenge of switching from a modal to a tonal perspective is difficult and requires me to spend more time developing new hand positions and fingerings to adapt to the change in a musical perspective.

The qanun is traditionally played with two fingers. To allow for a broader range of possibilities, I created a ten-finger playing method. This enables me to experiment with more possibilities and construct a multi-layered variety of sounds and colors, enabling for more fingering and tonal variation.

Adjusting the levers on the module to the next chord is primarily the key challenge.  I expect that the more I get into this approach, the more complicated it will be to find new playing techniques and fingerings. It is an area that will require deeper engagement for new skills. With further experience, the development of a more efficient or systematic approach to jazz harmony could allow for the adaptation of existing knowledge to this specific harmonic style.

While the qanun has traditionally been thought of as a melodic or gestural instrument, my theory shows that viewing it as a harmonic and rhythmic instrument allows for a wider range of sounds. This conclusion is based on my observations, which can be found in this section.

Searching for sounds (Exploration of extended qanun techniques)

I started my search to create soundscapes by challenging myself to imitate ambient noises. I experimented with a new exploratory space to better understand the sound of the qanun. For this reason, I abandoned traditional approaches in favor of concentrating on sound modulation. Muted notes, air sounds, unorthodox plucking techniques, multi-layering, and percussive sounds were all part of the experimentation. (See the images and videos below)

Detuning a string while playing using the Qanun levers:

Resonance effects using the ring and the plectrum:

String scraping with the finger, nail, or tuning key:

Percussive effect using the muting technique:

Tapping or rubbing the strings and soundboard:

Bowing on the strings and on the bridge:

An exploratory study of space and harmony

Sound exploration



Exaggerated vibrato:

String harmonics:

Atonal chords:

An experiment inspired by Jazz Harmony (V. 1)

Index fingers strumming technique (Traditional)

An experiment inspired by Jazz Harmony (V. 2)

Giant steps (excerpt)

Harmonic approach (Non-traditional)

Searching for sounds