Arabic bamboo flute

The Arabic bamboo flute, also known as the ney, is a wind instrument that has been played for centuries in Middle Eastern and North African cultures. It is considered one of the oldest musical instruments in the world, with its origins dating back to ancient Persia and Mesopotamia.


The ney came into prominence during the Islamic Golden Age, where it was used in courtly and religious music. It was also used by traveling musicians who would entertain people in marketplaces and public spaces.

Over time, the ney became an important symbol of Islamic culture and is still used in Islamic religious ceremonies today. It has also been adopted by other cultures and has become a popular instrument in world music.

Arabic bamboo flute


The ney is made from a single hollow piece of bamboo or reed, with six finger holes and one thumb hole. It is typically between 30 and 60 centimeters long, with a diameter of 1 to 3 centimeters.

One end of the ney is left open, while the other end is partially closed by a small block of wood or wax. The player blows into the open end, creating a sound that is controlled by covering and uncovering the finger holes.

The ney is a difficult instrument to play, as it requires a great deal of breath control and precise finger placement. However, experienced players can create a wide range of sounds and tones.

See also: Middle Eastern bamboo flute

Playing Techniques

There are several techniques used to play the ney, including:

  • Vibrato: A technique used to create a wavering or pulsating effect.
  • Glissando: A technique used to smoothly slide from one note to another.
  • Staccato: A technique used to play short, sharp notes.
  • Trill: A technique used to alternate rapidly between two notes.

Music and Culture

The ney is often used in Middle Eastern and North African music, including classical, folk, and popular styles. It is also used in Sufi music, which is a mystical form of Islam that uses music and dance to achieve spiritual enlightenment.

In addition to its musical uses, the ney is also an important symbol of Arabic and Islamic culture. It has been used in poetry, literature, and art to represent love, longing, and spirituality.


The Arabic bamboo flute, or ney, is a unique and beautiful instrument with a rich history and cultural significance. Although it may be challenging to learn, the ney is a rewarding instrument to play and has captivated audiences for centuries.