Instruments of Classical Arabic Music
Historically, the traditional Arabic music ensemble was known as the takht. You can see one such ensemble depicted in the image above. The takht was traditionally (but not always) a five piece ensemble consisting of the following instruments: the qanun, the oud, the riqq, the nay, and a type of spike fiddle called a kamanjah. In the late 1800’s the kamanjah was replaced by with the Western violin, which was known in the Arab world as the rababah.
After World War One, the takht (the traditional Arabic music ensemble) was gradually expanded into a full Arabic-style orchestra. The Arabic music orchestra included all the traditional Arabic instruments, plus other instruments borrowed from the West, particularly other members of the violin family.
This sort of expanded traditional orchestra was popularized by a handful of now-legendary Arabic singers of the mid-twentieth century.
It is a rich, moving style of music that is utterly unique and instantly recognizable. No discussion about Arabic music would be complete without mentioning the contribution of these musical greats, and we have detailed pages about the great Arabic musicians on this website.