The Art of the Early Egyptian Qanun. 2008. Ontario Arts Council / Conseil des Arts de l'Ontario. ISBN 978-0-9809661-0-7. Distributed by http://www. georgedimitrisawa.com. Performed by the Traditional Arabic Music Ensemble. Annotated by George Dimitri Sawa. 15 pp. of notes in English. 10 colour photographs, 11 rhythmic notations. 8-item bibliography. 1 compact disc, 10 tracks (51:26).
A mainstay of eastern Arab ensembles, the qanun was transformed around the beginning of the twentieth century by the addition of flap bridges to facilitate changes of mode. On this CD George Sawa, well known to musicologists for his important publications on Abbasid sources, performs on a restored nineteenm-century qanun, so that we hear once more the distinctive sound produced by the older technique of changing pitch by stopping the string with the left thumb (although whether the resonant tone of the nylon harp strings he has chosen is akin to what a nineteenth-century listener would have heard is moot). Accompanied by Raymond Sarweh (riqq) and Suzanne Meyers Sawa (darbukka and frame-drums), he presents an interesting selection of late nineteenth- to early twentieth-century pieces in a variety of rhythmic cycles, predominantly secular dances but also including Sufi material. …