Talk:Qanun (instrument)

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I added a reference to mandal, the levers used to re-tune strings on the fly, to the article. I found several credible references to this on the web, including this one. I've also seen kanun players and know that these things exist and that they are used during the course of performance. (If you don't like this because it's "original research", all I can say is *****. Kanun players are incredible enough if only for their lightning-fast plucking; adding in their constant manipulation of these levers without missing a beat is truly astounding.)

I have a few questions, though, which someone should clear up and fix if needed:

  • "Mandal" seems to be used as both singular and plural; is this true?
  • Are mandal only used on the Turkish version of the qanun/kanun, or on others as well?
  • I'm pretty sure that the mandal work on all strings in a course, but I'm not positive. The linked article confusingly says "for each note there are from four to twelve MANDAL". I'm not sure what to make of this.

I think this device is interesting enough to deserve its own article, but I don't have enough information yet to start one. (Could create a stub, but it's not that pressing.) Thanks for any explanations. --ILike2BeAnonymous 22:27, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

Unclear about what you mean (user Ozanyarman)[edit]

Your recent edit that added this

Some kanun makers choose to divide the semitone of the lower registers into 7 parts instead for want of microtonal subtlety at the expense of octave equivalances.

doesn't make sense to me. I changed it by removing the words "want of"; otherwise it doesn't make sense. Are you saying that the makers divide the semitone into 7 parts to increase microtonal sublety at the expense of octave equivalences? (And by the way, what are "octave equivalences", anyway?) ==ILike2BeAnonymous 00:51, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

ahem, I reside in the company of expert qanun performers in Istanbul, including those mentioned in the article. Being a musician myself in the possession of the one and only 79-tone Qanun thus far made and properly acclaimed, I feel entitled to have a say in such matters. The mandals do not serve to `re-tune` strings, for they change NOT string tensions, but rather serve to modify string lengths. Mandals are thus the equivalent of guitar frets for a qanun-performer. Just as a guitarist does not `re-tune` his instrument on the fly because he happens to glide his fingers on the fretboard, so does a Qanun-player not re-tune his instrument except by adjusting the pegs with the peg-key. The website you brought up as reference says little about how mandals are affixed, let alone professing a correct understanding of the qanun.

As for your questions.

1. `mandal` is singular, `mandals` is plural in Turkish. 2. Mandals are used on every qanun I have seen today. 3. There are flat-note mandals and sharp-note mandals for each course, where the natural note is +6 mandals from the nut.

You don't know octave equivalances? It means that all the tones designated by the same letter are assumed to be equivalent although spaced by the interval of an octave. Example: All the Cs of a piano, although differing by timbre and register, are considered equivalent tones. Playing by octaves is thus assumed to be similar to playing in unison.

With the qanun, the middle register semitones are divided according to 72-tone equal temperament, whereas the lower register semitones are sometimes divided according to 84-tone equal temperament. The reason for this is given as attaining narrower spaces between mandals! This causes octave discrepancies as you flip the mandals. Example: -1 mandals from c is not identical to -1 mandals from C. The first is -16.7 cents from the natural, the latter is -14.28 cents. The octave is thus 2.4 cents narrower at that position.—Preceding unsigned comment added by Ozanyarman (talk) • contribs) 02:45, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for your explanations. But it is still true that the mandals change the pitch of the string on the fly; that's their purpose.
Also, you put a term in one of your earlier edits that you later removed, "perdes". I'm curious about this, and wonder if it should be explained as part of the article. ==ILike2BeAnonymous 06:52, 9 June 2006 (UTC)
Of course mandals change the pitch of a course on the fly. But they still do NOT re-tune strings. Hence, they are not tuning devices, but the equivalent of frets.
Perde is probably synonymous with pitch where key transpositions play an important role. On the qanun, a perde and a mandal can occupy the same position, or a perde can be expressed anywhere through a stack of mandals. Perdes on the ney are related to the holes, and thus named. On a tanbur, they are synonymous with desatin (pl. of destan), hence frets.
Do quit defining the trapezoidal shape of the qanun as `long sides parallel`. This is not the case at all. The long sides form an angle of about 30 degrees, where the right side is perpendicular to the bottom.
Also, the references do not seem to work. How do we fix them?—Preceding unsigned comment added by Ozanyarman (talk) • contribs) 15:12, 9 June 2006 (UTC)
About your next-to-last point: According to every picture I've ever seen of the instrument, the long sides are parallel for all practical purposes; they're certainly not at 30° angles to each other. (For example, just use Google on "kanun" and search for images.) I'm changing the description to "more or less parallel", since as you point out they're not exactly parallel. And your description is confusing to non-players: you are obviously quite familiar with the instrument and how it's held, but the average reader here has no idea which is the "right side"—especially when there is no accompanying picture in the article (a picture would be nice, if you can find one somewhere). Since all trapezoids have two sides parallel, the description "long sides parallel" is better.
I'll check the references to see what's up with them.
Fixed the references; I only had half the equation. Didn't realize you have to put in a <references/> thingy.
I took out your reference because it was a zip file on your own web site. Two problems: first, you're not supposed to use what they call "original research" around here; although I have some quarrels with that policy, it's generally a good idea, unless you can establish your credentials as an expert. And posting a zip file in any case is just bad form. (What's in the archive? pictures? Microsoft Word documents? viruses?) Surely there must be some other reference to establish that these players are "masters" and endorse this system? ==ILike2BeAnonymous 18:48, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

What long sides are you talking about? The longest sides are the diagonal and bottom lines which form an angle of 30 or so degrees at the far left when viewed from the lap. The diagonal section houses the entire array of pegs as well as the mandal board. The only parallel lines are the top and the bottom, where the top side is smaller than half the length of the bottom side. Please replace my previous statement on this matter, because I'm tired of correcting your mistake.

As for directions, they are always defined from the perspective of the player with the instrument on his/her lap.

What kind of a picture do you require? I have an excellent 79-tone Qanun, and a horrible web-cam. If you will agree to two seperate pictures, pick one from google search, and one from showing my 79-tone qanun.

The zip file contained a powerpoint presentation delivered on Qanun-Circle 4, a gathering of pros and enthusiasts of the qanun that was organized in Yildiz Technical University.—Preceding unsigned comment added by Ozanyarman (talk) • contribs) 22:07, 10 June 2006 (UTC)

Concerning the shape of the instrument: one problem is that what you call the "top and bottom" are usually shown as the sides of the instrument, as almost all pictures show the instrument standing vertically (bridges at the bottom). You're thinking in terms of how the instrument looks when you're playing it. This is confusing to non-players and those not familiar with the instrument. Think of this when writing a description. According to all the pictures I've seen, the "top" is the most-slanted angled side. A picture would make it a lot clearer.
Regarding pictures: Unfortunately, because of this little detail known as copyright law, you can't just grab any image from Google Pictures and use it. Perhaps you could provide a half-decent picture, maybe of your own instrument? Use a digital camera, or a friend's. A picture would really help. (You need to upload it to Wikimedia; if you need help, I can point you to a page with instructions. It's pretty easy and painless.) ==ILike2BeAnonymous 22:25, 10 June 2006 (UTC)

How the instrument is photographed is surely irrelevant. You don't define the location of piano keys according to any orientation other than the player's, even though hundreds of concert pianos are photographed from oblique angles. Interested parties know the left and right of a piano keyboard (which is my instrument anyway), so it naturally follows that folks shall have to know how a qanun is played also. Besides, the article now contains sufficient instructions as to how the shape and orientation of the instrument ought to be.

Grab one of the pictures named qanun.jpg in the address I gave above. The one showing the mandals is probably the best.—Preceding unsigned comment added by Ozanyarman (talk) • contribs) 02:05, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

Sorry, neither one of those pictures is suitable. Can you just take one of the instrument straight on? The ones you have don't show the entire instrument and are confusing. (Nice looking qanun, though.) ==ILike2BeAnonymous 05:29, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

Please don't put ethnocentric templates on this page[edit]

I'm referring to the {{iranian musical instruments}} template that someone recently put here. To further explain my removal of it: while the qanun is indeed a Persian instrument, it is not solely or primarily so. Having such a listbox here is just an invitation to yet more ethnic sniping and fighting over authenticity, ownership, etc. (It would be just as wrong to put one up for Turkish musical instruments.) Just what we need: more fighting between Turks, Armenians and Persians. Give it a rest. Let's not get hung up on who has the racial right to call this instrument their own.

By the way, it seems to be that the article is currently a little Turko-centric in this regard. There's no mention at all of the qanun's use in Persian music, other than the newly-added category. Perhaps someone could add something in that regard. +ILike2BeAnonymous 20:04, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

Looks like we have an edit war on our hands. I don't know much about the ethnic conflicts involved, but I'd argue against the template for purely stylistic reasons: it takes up more space than the text! —Keenan Pepper 21:04, 16 September 2006 (UTC)
...of course, that's only after User:Zandweb removed most of the text. Zandweb, please explain yourself. —Keenan Pepper 21:06, 16 September 2006 (UTC)
Well, this is a real problem; they just vandalized (I don't use that word lightly) the page again. Unfortunately, I'm out of bullets here and could use some help. By the way, you don't have to be a seasoned ethnmusicologist or historian to understand what's going on here: apparently, this person, who's Persian, wants to "claim" the qanun as a Persian instrument. Maybe they don't like Turks, or maybe not; in any case, it's simple garden-variety ethnocentricity, the same ill force that perpetuates too many real-world conflicts (e.g., Turks vs. Armenians). We really don't need this bullshit here.
Plus, they refuse to respond in any way except by editing. I've left a message on their discussion page but haven't heard a peep. +ILike2BeAnonymous 21:42, 16 September 2006 (UTC)

Hi there, I have edited the page on Qanun in accordance with your notification. Far be it for me to Turkify the instrument. I only have knowledge on the Turkish version, that's why. Ozan—Preceding unsigned comment added by Ozanyarman (talk) • contribs) 10:53, 1 December 2006 (UTC)


I know that Qanun is widely used in Turkey and the Arab world, I am not sure about other places. radiant guy 04:15, 4 May 2007 (UTC)

kanonaki(kanun) a greek instrument?[edit] —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:40, 7 October 2008 (UTC)

Kanun was brought to Anatolia with Al-Farabi and it passed to Greek lands later under the Ottoman rule. So no, it has nothing to do with Greeks.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:54, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
if it had nothing to do wit the greeks when why did it pass to them? Enlil Ninlil (talk) 22:08, 4 October 2010 (UTC)

kanonaki = Byzantine psalterion[edit]

Check this out. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:37, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

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Needs a cleanup[edit]

This article was in pretty rough shape, so I'm doing some basic cleanup. I fixed the language templates in the lede, and gave some mention of distribution (a fact almost entirely skipped before). The article still has major issues in that it skips over the origin of the instrument (the History tab shows some past controversial attempts to trace it to Kazakhstan or something), something about its development and spread, etc.

Right now the article has way too much minutiae about tuning and temperament, and the obscure variants supported by various scholars, but very little about the normal course of the instrument. I'll dig into some references and see what I can find, and in the meantime I've added at least some basic attempt at sectioning, but overall the article needs work, and work that is clear to the layman and answers the most basic questions a reader would have rather than focus on minute details. MatthewVanitas (talk) 06:19, 3 June 2013 (UTC)

Removed uncited/redlinked names[edit]

The kanun is a descendant of the old Egyptian harp, and is related to the ancient Greek psaltery, dulcimer and zither. Among others, Ruhi Ayangil (*1953), Erol Deran (*1937), Halil Karaduman (*1959), Göksel Baktagir (*1966), Tahir Aydoğdu (*1959), Julien Jalâl Ed-Dine Weiss (*1953), and Begoña Olavide are present-day exponents of this instrument.

Removed today, had been hidden text for a long while. MatthewVanitas (talk) 07:35, 20 October 2014 (UTC)

Removing fringe section[edit]

Preserving here in case it turns out to be important. MatthewVanitas (talk) 22:29, 28 November 2014 (UTC)

French qānūn performer Julien Jalâl Ed-Dine Weiss (* 1953), critical of this deficiency in kanuns, is known to have conceived a number of prototypes that, apparently for the first time, are entirely based on low prime limit or simple integer ratio Pythagorean and harmonic intervals. Since 1990, nine such instruments have been built on instructions from Weiss, especially by the famous Turkish kanun-maker Ejder Güleç. The string courses of Weiss's kanuns are tuned to a strict Pythagorean heptatonic scale, whose steps are composed of two limmas of 256/243, and five major whole-tones of 9/8. Fifteen different mandals (from 0th up to 14th up) are uniquely positioned along twice the size of a Pythagorean apotome of 2187/2048 (113.69 cents) under every course. The high complexity of the resulting rational tuning system also forms the basis for the intonation practice of Weiss’ Al-Kindi Ensemble. The most recent two such kanuns by Weiss contain an additional octave in the bass register, extending the range of the instrument up to 33 string courses, or four octaves and a fifth. By combining theoretical and acoustical motivations with his personal experience, Weiss can perform together with musicians in many different regional contexts throughout the Middle-East.[1]


  1. ^ Pohlit, Stefan (2011). "Julien Jalâl Ed-Dine Weiss: A Novel Tuning System for the Middle-Eastern Qānūn. Ph.D. Thesis, 2011". Istanbul Technical University: Institute of Social Sciences. Retrieved 2011-09-08.

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