Qanun is a plucked string instrument in the form of a right trapezoid. The musician places it on the table or on his/her lap and plays it by two plectrums attached to the index fingers of the right and left hands. The components of the Qanun include sound box, strings, tuning pegs, tone-converters, bridge, tailpiece and nut. The tuning pegs, the tone-converters and the nut are located on the left side of the soundboard and the bridge is located on its right side. Under the bridge, there is a surface of skin instead of wood. The tailpiece is located on the left side of the sound box.
The tone-converters are small metal tools that are located across the left side of the instrument after the nut and before the tuning pegs. Through each tone-converter, a number of strings that have the same tuning and sound pass and go to the tuning pegs. By moving the tone-converters, musician can change the tuning of the strings during performance.
The Qanun usually has 81 strings (in triple, double and single groups), 27 tone-converters and 27 sounds. This instrument is usually made of walnut wood. The skin on the soundboard is from the skin of camel, calf or fish and the strings are made of gut, covered silk or nylon.
The Qanun is one of the old instruments used in Iranian music. Some believe that it was created by Farabi, an Iranian scientist and musician, about a thousand years ago. This instrument is also used in some other countries such as Egypt, Turkey, Armenia, etc. in different sizes and with different sound ranges.