Tips For Purchasing A Turkish Qanun

tips for purchasing a turkish qanun


The qanun instrument is a traditional Middle Eastern stringed instrument. Qanun instrument is played by plucking the strings either with the fingers or with flexible plectra attached to finger rings. Qanun instrument is placed flat on the knees of the musician or on a small table.When it comes to Turkish music, one of the first instruments that comes to mind is Qanun instrument. Having a soothing and a tranquil sound, Kanun can be played solo or as part of an ensemble. The name Kanun derives from the Arabic word Qanun which originally means “rule” or “law”. According to different sources, in the early periods of Islamic world, Kanun was used in a pedagogic manner, in order to instruct sound systems and acoustic rules, thus giving the instrument its current name.




After being invented in the middle Asia, Kanun is brought into Anatolia with the migration of Turks, then spread into different regions such as Armenia, Persia, Arabic world and even western countries such as Greece. Having a long history, one can encounter Kanun in different stories and ancient tales in various cultures. It was mainly played in Arabic regions of Ottoman Empire for a fair amount of time and also widely loved and played by women.





What are the features of a Kanun?

Kanun is a member of the stringed instruments and has the form of a trapezoid-shape. The shape serves the purpose of adjusting the length of the strings. On the left side, there are pegs also known as “burgu” which are used to tune the instrument. The Turkish qanun consists of 24, 25 or 26 sets of strings of two or three strings each (generally giving a total of 75).  Until the 20th century, animal intestines were used in the making of the strings. Contemporary Kanun designs use nylon strings since they are more durable and produce somewhat of a stronger sound. Also the qanun instrument has become increasingly important not just as part of an ensemble accompanying a singer, its traditional role, but also as a solo instrument in its own right.

The instrument also features special metallic levers called “mandal” on the left side. This features was not present until the 1870s. According to a famous Turkish musicologist Rauf Yekta, this feature was added to the instrument since there was no solution when the performer wanted to raise or lower the pitch of a particular course other than just tapping their fingers on the strings. The lack of ability to alter the pitch of strings created the need to add mandals to the instruments. On a contemporary Turkish qanun, there are six to fifteen mandals for every three strings that the performer can alter quickly when playing.

On the right end of the instrument, the strings are stretched over the bridge called “eşik” made of lamb or fish skin. The instrument is played on the lap while sitting by plucking the strings with two picks –one for each hand- made of tortoise shell.




Keys to purchase the perfect Kanun

Turkish qanun is one of the most important instruments of the Classical Turkish music and like any other instruments, a great deal of attention is required when picking and purchasing the perfect instrument. The heart of a Kanun is the mandals. They have to be very sturdy in order to get the perfect sound and also for the intonation and tuning. The way the bridge sits on the skin is also very important. If a sturdy method when producing the instrument is not achieved, the bridge will lose its original situation and thus cause skin to be damaged.




Where to get one?

If you are one of those people who are determined to play this beautiful instrument, the first place to look for it is our store. We only make hand-made, professional kanuns for you to get the unique joy of playing this instrument. No matter what your needs are, we provide you only with the best quality and the fine workmanship.



Turkish qanun, a member of the string instrument family, is actually known as a instrument. Let's look at some tips that are useful to know when purchasing qanun.

The descendant of the ancient Egyptian harp was primarily an integral part of Arab music. The body of the Turkish qanun consists of 24 treble wires, each of which consists of three strings, and a trapezoidal flat board in which 81 strings are stretched in groups of three. The instrument is placed on the musician's knees or on a table. The strings of Turkish qanun are separated by two plectra, a plectrum attached to the index finger of each hand. A long bridge on the right side of the device rests on windows covered with goats or fish skin, which carry the resonance into the box. On the left, each string of wire passes over a series of small brass arms that are used to make microtonal changes in the field.

types of a turkish qanun

Since the qanun contains only 8 notes per octave, the musician initially adjusts the arms to form the scale of the starting authority. When the musician needs to modulate in another makeover, they need to change some arms forward and back with the left hand. Rapid modulation can also be performed using the thumb of the left thumb to temporarily raise the adjustment of some strings.

Tips to know when purchasing a Turkish qanun are as follows.

  • It is very important from which material the Turkish qanun is made. Spruce, sycamore, beech, hornbeam or lime trees can be used. One of the biggest features of the qanun is that it is produced using different trees. For this reason, the construction phase is very detailed. At the same time, different materials can be used for decorations existing outside the qanun itself. While the tree used in the cover affects the sound, the trees used in the cage are for visual purposes only. There is a predominant use of spruce and beech in the motif parts. Linden use is common in the bottom cover and keyboard section. The important thing in this step is to examine the materials in detail before purchasing Turkish qanun. While qanuns made with spruce maintain a certain sound level, qanuns made with plane tree may sometimes not maintain balance.
  • Eye control is one of the factors to be considered while playing the Turkish qanun. The color of the qanun is of great importance to ensure eye control in a good way. The color of the qanun varies according to the color of the material used in making the qanun. What is important at this point is the color separation between the body of the qanun and the wires. The wires are quite difficult to follow because they are transparent. The biggest factor that makes tracking easier is that the body is one tone dark. The determinant of color is the material used on the basis. This situation may also vary depending on the sophistication of the musician. As the musician becomes master of the Turkish qanun, his gaze will shift to the keyboard rather than the strings. Here, the hand will begin to play the strings reflexively.




  • Another important step in the Turkish qanun is tuning. As with all other musical instruments, it is very important to correctly tune the qanun. It is not possible for a musical instrument whose tuning is not properly made to sound right. The important thing here is the compatibility of the auger used with the auger board. Recently, the use of plastic augers has increased steadily. Although it does not have any ideal material, the important thing here is that the augers and auger board are produced with the same workmanship. Wood augers are less durable than plastic augers because they release and lubricate themselves over time. However, this does not mean that every plastic auger has a long life. The point to be considered is what quality of augers are.
  • Another point to be considered when purchasing Turkish qanun is the choice of pegs. In general, 3 types of pegs are used. Although chrome pegs are frequently preferred, they also bring some difficulties with them. Chromium, which is a very hard material, can make traction difficult, and this can cause unwanted sizzling. Regardless of the latch material, no matter how soft the latch is softened, however, wire cutting may still occur. The important thing is to catch the workmanship that minimizes this.
  • Plectrum and ring choice is one of the issues that should be taken into consideration while taking the Turkish qanun. The important point here is also the quality workmanship of the equipment purchased. Even though the effects of these equipments are not very high, they are still an important factor to be considered.


playing a qanun

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1 comment

  • Jorge Bishara

    Queridos amigos.
    Tengo un kanun de 24 cuerdas. Con que nota comienza la afinación?, de abajo hacia arriba. El kanun arabe de 26 comienza en un sol y termina arriba en un re.

    Seria muy útil que me ayudaran.

    Saludos y gracias

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