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Video demonstration by Antoine Harb
The qânûn (after the Greek kanwn meaning "rule" or "law") is a trapezoidal zither used in urban art and dance music, with 25 to 27 courses of nylon and silk-wound strings. Each course has three strings tuned in unison although the highest and lowest courses may have two strings each. The qânûn's range spans more than three octaves starting from G2. The strings are often plucked in octaves with two thin pieces of horn, held through a metal ring worn on each of the player's index fingers. Since the beginning of the 20th century, sets of small levers ('urab) have been fixed on the left-hand side of the instrument, which are raised or lowered to microtonally adjust each string course. Before the introduction of these levers, performers would produce accidental notes by pressing a left-hand finger on the strings.
The five feet of the qânûn's lengthy bridge rest on five taut rectangular pieces of fish skin set along the right side of its face, providing the instrument with a natural amplification system.