Carnegie Mellon Lecture II: 2014 'The Instruments', the influence of the Crusades upon Western Music
In addition to a plethora of cymbals, drums and other percussion instruments, our early European instruments are all derived from the following four Middle Eastern instruments:
The OUD, the QANUN, the SCHALMEI and the REBAB.
OUD (al'lud in Arab) The oud is a pear-shaped stringed instrument commonly used in Arabic, Greek, Turkish, Persian, Jewish, Byzantine, Armenian, North African (Chaabi, Classical, and Spanish Andalusian), Somali and Middle Eastern music. Construction of the oud is similar to that of the lute. The modern oud and the European lute both descend from a common ancestor via diverging paths. The oud is readily distinguished from the lute by its lack of frets and smaller neck.
LUTE Brought to Spain and Sicily by the Moors and Saracens, the lute and guitar featured frets which fixed notes on the finger-board. The lute became a favorite of European musicians and was taken north, but prior to Arab contact minstrels used only the harp for accompaniment.
Qanun: The qanun (Arabic: قانون, qānūn, pl. qawānīn; Greek: κανονάκι, kanonaki; Armenian: k’anon; Persian: قانون, qānūn; Azerbaijani: qanun; Turkish: kanun) is a string instrument played in much of the Middle East, Central Asia, and southeastern Europe. The name derives from the Arabic word kānun, which means "rule, norm, principle" itself from ancient Greek 'κανών' rule. Its traditional music is based on maqamat. It is a type of large zither with a narrow trapezoidal soundboard. Nylon or PVC strings are stretched over a single bridge poised on fish-skins on one end, attached to tuning pegs at the other end.
After the 11th or 12th century, when the Arabic qanun reached Europe, the term psaltery commonly referred to this instrument. Its 50 to 100 strings are strung over a shallow trapezoidal box and plucked or strummed. The psaltery fell out of use by the 15th century, but its principle features survive in the zither and dulcimer.
Shawm: A double-reed woodwind instrument used in Europe from the 13th to 17th centuries, the loud volume the shawm was capable of producing suited it for outdoor use.
Rebab: The rebab Arabic الربابة or ربابة also known as جوزه "joza" or "jawza" in Iraq also rebap, rabab, rebeb, rababa, rabeba, al-rabeba or al-rababa) is a type of a bowed string instrument so named no later than the 8th century and spread via Islamic trading routes over much of North Africa, the Middle East, parts of Europe, and the Far East. The bowed variety often has a spike at the bottom to rest on the ground, and is thus called a spike fiddle in certain areas. Furthermore, besides the spike fiddle variant, there also exists a variant with a pear-shaped body, quite similar to the Byzantine lyra and the Cretan lyra. This latter variant travelled to western Europe in the 11th century, and became the rebec.
REBEC: Derived from the Arab rabab, the rebec is a bowed instrument, commonly with three gut-strings tuned in fifths.
Sources of information about medieval instruments:
1. The Cantigas de Santa Maria : Two manuscripts from c.1270, a set of poems gathered (or composed) by Alfonso the X of Spain. Forty miniatures depicting people playing instruments. These instruments draw upon the Muslim world, almost without exception.
2. Medieval Psalters: the ‘Luttrell Psalter’, the ‘Gorleston Psalter', the ‘Lisle Psalter’, and the ‘Dutch Book of Hours’, are some of the other 13th & 14th C. manuscripts that contained depictions of instruments.
3. Relief carvings and statuary in medieval cathedrals throughout Europe.
4. Machaut’s poem listing instruments:
‘Remede de Fortune’ excerpt:
Line 3976 Et certeinnement, il me semble
Qu'onques mais tele mélodie
Ne fu veiie ne oie,
Car chascuns d'eaus, selonc l'acort
3980: De son instrument, sans descort,
Viéle, guiterne, citole,
Harpe, trompe, corne, flajule,
Pipe, souffle, muse, naquaire,
3984 Taboure, et quanque on puet faire
De dois, de penne et de l'archet
Oy j'et vi en ce parchet.
Quant fait eurent une estampie,
5. Maximillian I: Promotional Woodcuts