Musical instruments of the Arab and Ottoman world
It’s said there are two schools of music in the Arab and Ottoman world: Ottoman is ornamented “by delicate glissandos of the fingers and slight vibratos”; Egyptian is amplified “by firm strokes of the plectrum, which makes the strings resonate”. (From Christian Poché)
The rich musical traditions of North Africa and the Middle East reflect historical interactions with Africa and Europe and distinct preferences for rhythm and melody over harmony. The range of instruments, many of which were adopted by Europeans from those produced by Spanish Muslims, includes several forms of lute (‘ud), flute or reed pipe, drums, and other stringed instruments suitable for small groups of musicians rather than orchestras. In the mid-19th century European instruments such as the violin were introduced, and somewhat later an organ was produced in Tunis with an international audience in mind. The Ottomans brought their own brand of military music to the Empire including kettle drums, cymbals and trumpets, but in 1826 when the Janissary corps was disbanded, military bands fell out of favour.

19th century

Museum of Costume, Ethnographical Heritage Research Centre, Madrid, Spain

Wood, bone, metal, nacre, gut, silver; lutherie, marquetry

The lute was introduced to Europe from the Arab world. While lutes were first played in Spain in the 9th century, their popularity grew from the 13th century through to the Renaissance. Changes in the design of the lute and the greater prevalence of violins led to the eclipse and near-extinction of the lute in nineteenth-century Europe.

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In this Exhibition
About the Exhibition
Dance and entertainment