Loyola University Chicago

Modern Languages and Literatures


Arabic Music and STEAM

Arabic Music and STEAM


On March 1st, the LLRC and Arabic Language and Culture Minor welcomed Mr. Majed Abu Ajameyeh to immerse students in a traditional Arabic music ensemble. Using the traditional Arab instruments, the oud, qanoon and ney, Mr. Majed Abu Ajameyeh presented a dazzling one-man-show and discussed the origins of each instrument while Loyola students enjoyed an authentic Arab lunch. 

The oud, which dates back to about 315-415 A.D., shares resemblance with a folk-guitar and was used to play music following rhymes to Arabic poetry. Distinct from the guitar, though, the oud does not have any frets, which are the thin metal strips on the neck of a guitar. The absence of frets allows musicians to play music fluidly between different keys, according to Mr. Majed Abu Ajameyeh. He said the flexibility of the oud’s keys invokes themes of majesty and spirituality.

Mr. Majed Abu Ajameyeh said he has played the oud for about 35 years but began learning about the qanoon 10 years ago. 

The qanoon is another traditional Arab stringed instrument, but its use of math sets it apart from any other instrument. Mr. Majed Abu Ajameyeh said 12th century Muslim scientists studying music theory developed an intricate system to move strings up and down while the instrument is played. The qanoon has 13 switch-like mechanisms, which are flipped to control the music while creating a metallic sound. This event exemplifies not only the aesthetic and sensory enrichment components of the Arabic program, but also the unique nexus of connections across Arts, Humanities, and Sciences, a major foundational tenet of the language and culture(s) of the Arab World!

The LLRC and Loyola community thanks Mr. Majed Abu Ajameyeh for his thorough and melodious presentation.