Published on 17 May 2015 | about 1 year ago
Rubab is a lute-like musical instrument originating from central Afghanistan. It derives its name from the Arab rebab which means "played with a bow" but in Central Asia the instrument is plucked and is distinctly different in construction. The rubab is mainly used by Pashtun, Tajik, Kashmiri, Baluch and Iranian Kurdish classical musicians. Rabab is a national music instrument of Afghanistan.
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 goat, 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 (with the zerbaghali). Classical Afghan music often features this instrument as a key component. Elsewhere it is known as the Kabuli rebab. It is the ancestor of the South Asian sarod, though — unlike the sarod — it is a fretted instrument. When the Muslim musician Mardana became the first disciple of Guru Nanak the plucked rabab became an essential component of Panjabi hymns 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, Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, India and Uzbekistan.
The rubab holds as the first instrument used by Sikhism; it was used by Bhai Mardana the companion of Guru Nanak. Whenever a shabad was revealed to Guru Nanak he would sing it and Bhai Mardana would play it on his rubab; he was known as a rubabi. The rubab playing tradition is carried on by some Sikhs such as Namdharis is understood as Sikh music.
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.