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date: 22 November 2019

Zalzal [Manṣūr Zalzal al-Ḍārib ]locked

  • H.G. Farmer


[Manṣūr Zalzal al-Ḍārib ]

(d after 842). Arab musician . He was a famous instrumentalist (hence the name ‘al-Ḍārib’: ‘the player’) during the early Abbasid period. Isḥāq al-Mawṣilī testified that he had no equal as a lutenist, and in the ‘Iqd al-farīd (‘The unique necklace’) (10th century) it was stated that he was ‘the most pleasant of the string instrumentalists’. He is also known as the inventor of a ‘perfect lute’, the ‘ūd al-shabbūṭ, which superseded the Persian lute previously used. Its shape was probably like that of the Portuguese machete. Above all, his name is associated with the neutral 3rd fret (wusṭā Zalzal) placed midway between the major and minor 3rd frets, which recognizes for the first time the existence of the neutral intervals still characteristic of Arab and Persian music today.

See also Arab music §I 2., (iv).


H. von Helmholtz: Die Lehre von den Tonempfindung (Brunswick, 1863, 4/1877; Eng. trans., 1875, as ...

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