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Rubab or robab (Persian: رُباب rubāb, Tajik and Uzbek рубоб, Uyghur راواپ rawap, Azeri rübab) is a lute-like musical instrument from Afghanistan.[1] It derives its name from the Arab rebab which means "played with a bow" but the Central Asian instrument is plucked, and is distinctly different in construction. The rubab is mainly used by Tajik, Pashtun and Iranian Kurdish classical musicians. Bijan Kamkar is its most notable modern exponent.

The rubab is a short-necked lute whose body is carved out of a single piece of wood, with a membrane, covering the hollow bowl of the sound-chamber, upon which the bridge is positioned. It has three melody strings tuned in fourths, three drone strings and 11 or 12 sympathetic strings. The instrument is made from the trunk of a mulberry tree, the head from an animal skin such as a goat skin, and the strings either gut (from the intestines of young goats, brought to the size of thread) or nylon.

The rubab is known as "the lion of instruments", and is one of the two national instruments of Afghanistan (together with the Zerbaghali). Elsewhere it is known as the Kabuli rebab. It is the ancestor of the north Indian sarod though - unlike the sarod - it is a fretted instrument.[2][3] When the Muslim musician Mardana became the first disciple of Guru Nanak the plucked rabab became an essential component of Sikh music though, once again, though it derived its name from the rubab the Punjabi instrument adopts a different method of construction.

The rubab is attested from the 7th century CE. It is mentioned in old Persian books, and many Sufi poets mention it in their poems. It is the traditional instrument of Khorasan and today it is widely used in countries, such as Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Rubabs made in Iran slightly differ from those of Afghanistan.

In Tajikistan a similar but somewhat distinct rubab-i-pamir (Pamiri rubab) is played, having a shallower body and neck. The rubab of the Pamir area has six gut strings, one of which, rather than running from the head to the bridge, is attached partway down the neck, similar to the fifth string of the American banjo.[4]

See also

External links


  1. ^ David Courtney, Rabab, Chandra & David's Homepage, LINK
  2. ^ Simon Broughton, Tools of the Trade: Sarod, Published in Songlines-The World Music Magazine, LINK
  3. ^ Instruments of Afghanistan, afghanland.comLINK
  4. ^ Music and Poetry from the Pamir Mountains Musical instruments The Institute of Ismaili Studies.


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