Arabic Ney

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    Ney is a very valuable and important flute in Arabic music. It is the only wind instrument used in some of these musical traditions. The ney has been played continuously for 4,500-5,000 years in ancient Egypt, making it one of the oldest musical instruments still in use.

    Egyptian ney consists of a hollow cylinder with finger holes. Sometimes a brass, horn or plastic nozzle is placed on top to protect the wood from damage and provide a sharper and more durable edge for blowing. The ney consists of a hollow piece of reed or giant reed with five or six finger holes and a thumb hole. Modern neys can instead be made of metal or plastic pipes. The pitch of the ney varies according to the region and finger alignment. A very skilled neyzen called a neyzen can reach more than three octaves, but it is more common to have several "auxiliary" neys that cover different pitch ranges or to make it easier to play technically difficult passages in other dastgahs or makams.

    The typical Iranian ney has six holes, one at the back. Egyptian and ney normally have seven holes, six in the front and one in the back.

    The spacing between holes is a halftone, but microtones (and more widely spaced folds) are achieved through partial hole closure, nozzle changes or positioning and blow angle. Microtonal intonation is common and very important in various taqsim traditions (improvisation of the same scale before a piece is played).