Ostarrichislam - Kanun

Catalogue: Ostarrichislam - Fragmente achthundertjähriger gemeinsamer Geschichte. Amena Shakir / Gernot Galib Stanfel / Martin M. Weinberger 2012 Vienna: Al Hamra

The Kanun is descended from small harps such as the Turkish and Persian Cenk or Cang but is essentially a zither. It consists of a wooden frame and board over which strings are stretched in groups of three. On the right hand side of the instrument a long bridge connects the strings to a skin-covered sound box. Apart from the tuning pegs the strings are attached to, they also pass over a series of small metal levers which enable the musician to make microtonal changes in pitch while playing. The strings are plucked with two short plectrums, one on each hand, which are attached to the fingers by a broad ring.

In the 14th century, a mechanism was attached to the end of the kanun's strings performing the plucking for the player. This made it possible to pluck a string by pressing a key on a keyboard. Thus, the harpsichord, the piano´s ancestor was born.