Name: Rubab.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Tuning: C# F# B
Country: Many.
Region: Central Asia & South Asia.

Description: The Rubab, robab or rabab [Urdu: رباب‎, Hindi: रुबाब, Azerbaijani: Rübab, Turkish: Rübab, Persian: رُباب‎ rubāb, Tajik and Uzbek рубоб] is a double chested short-necked lute originating from central Afghanistan. Notably in India, the sarode is directly influenced from the basic design of the rubab although lacking frets.

Etymology: The etymology of the name rubab comes from the Rbab [in Arabic: رباب] is an Arabic word according to the Arabic diacritics, vowels between the consonants apart from the alif [aleph] are not written but articulates. Harakat or movement = inflection of vowels with Fatḥah similar to Acute accent Rabab [in Arabic: رَباب‎, with Kasrah Rebab [in Arabic: رِباب‎] and with Ḍammah Rubab or Robab [in Arabic: رُباب‎ . Henry George Farmer [1931: 104] distinguished the difference between the spellings of the name rabab and rubab. The first being a generic term for a variety of bowed lutes, while the latter covers a variety of plucked lutes.

History: The rubab is considered one of the two national instruments of Afghanistan the second instrument being the zerbaghali [goblet drum]. This instrument was disseminated during 18th Century; throughout the area that makes up the sub-continent namely India, Pakistan, Kashmir & Rajasthan. Although evidence of short necked lutes having barbed or double chested bodies was depicted since two millennia ago.

Construction: The rubab a plucked lute having a short neck and deep wedge shaped body this part is called the bowl or shell [in Persian: اسه] it is usually hand carved from mulberry wood [Morus L.] from the same piece of wood. An animal membrane usually goat, camel, etc. is stretched over the body completing the resonator. The bridge is usually made of bone having a set of very thin diameter holes to allow for the sympathetic strings to travel from the tail through the bridge. Three frets are tied onto the neck giving a chromatic scale.

This provides assistance in keeping the bridge upright. The playing strings also travel in parallel among the the sympathetic strings from tail to the friction tuning pegs located at the head stock. The head stock is carved from the same piece of wood as the body or badaneh [in Persian: بدنه]. Traditionally strings made from goat intestines were used although nylon is in common use. The tuning pegs or goshi [in Persian: گوشی‌‎] are carved separately during the manufacturing process of the rubab near the end of the assembly. They are affixed before the instrument is strung.

The components of the rubab are listed by their Persian names as follows.

Rubab Components
Romanized in Persian Description
1. Kassah اسه Chamber
2. Badaneh بدنه Body
3. Safeh سیده Side
4. Desteh دسته Neck
5. Seemgeer سیم گیر Wirecapture 
6. Tar تار Strings
7. Shah Tar شاه تار Drone String
8. Bam بم Bass
9. Gushak گوشک Tuning Peg
10.  Sar-e rubab سر-ا رباب  Peg Box
11. Pust پست Membrane
12. Kharak خرک Bridge
13. Mezrab مضراب‎ Plectrum
15. Sim-e barchak Shortest String

Citations: Bibliography: Alastair Dick, Stanley Sadie – New Grove Dictionary of Music Vol. 3 Book P to Z Page 182 ; Abu’l Fazl: A’ in-i-akhbari [c. 1590] trans to English. by H. Blochmann ~ in The Imperial Musicians – Calcutta, 1873 2 /1927 ; Henry George Farmer [1931: 104] ; Allyn, Miner – Sitar and Sarod in the 18th and 19th Centuries 2004 Motilal Banarsidass Publications. p. 61. ISBN 9788120814936 ; Websites: Online Rubab ;

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