The Nay Maker - Daily News Egypt

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The Nay Maker

Hussein Darweesh, famous among Egyptian musicians as the crafter of an ancient woodwind instrument called the nay, takes Daily News Egypt inside his workshop.


Photo by Bishoy Beshara
Photo by Bishoy Beshara

 

Hussien Darweesh is a farmer, an engineer, a craftsman and a musician –  of sorts.

Darweesh is famous among Egyptian musicians for crafting the nay, an ancient woodwind instrument made from dried, hollowed-out reeds.Making a nay, he said, requires him to draw on knowledge from all those disciplines.

“Knowing the musician is essential to make an exceptional nay,” he said. “Each player has his distinguished breath and preferred range.”

Traces of the nay, estimated to be between 4,500 and 5,000 years old, linger in drawings on Pharaoh’s temple walls.

Darweesh has been perfecting his craft for 12 years.

His one room workshop in the heart of Cairo is filled with hundreds – maybe thousands – of nays in different sizes. He knows them as a father knows his children, easily recalling where each reed was plucked and the date each instrument was born.

 

 

Darweesh developed his own theory for Nay manufacturing over the past 12 years, which is captured in a board of measurements that help him craft the Nay so it can achieve the desired musical scales and pitches   (Photo by Bishoy Beshara)
Darweesh developed his own theory for Nay manufacturing over the past 12 years, which is captured in a board of measurements that help him craft the Nay so it can achieve the desired musical scales and pitches
(Photo by Bishoy Beshara)

 

After the reed plants have been picked and left to dry for around 18 months, Darweesh begins the manufacturing process by trimming off all the dried leaves and small branches. The reed is then straightened by applying flame heat, pressure and water cooling, a process that must be done carefully so as not to break the dried plant or cause damaging fissures. (Photo by Bishoy Beshara)
After the reed plants have been picked and left to dry for around 18 months, Darweesh begins the manufacturing process by trimming off all the dried leaves and small branches. The reed is then straightened by applying flame heat, pressure and water cooling, a process that must be done carefully so as not to break the dried plant or cause damaging fissures.
(Photo by Bishoy Beshara)

 

 

Darweesh selects the most perfect nine knuckles on the reed, the standard for nay, and does some preliminary cutting to fit the nay length and diameter into a "Sol - G scale" nay. Darweesh then hollows out the reed using a metal tool he manufactured himself.  (Photo by Bishoy Beshara)
Darweesh selects the most perfect nine knuckles on the reed, the standard for nay, and does some preliminary cutting to fit the nay length and diameter into a “Sol – G scale” nay. Darweesh then hollows out the reed using a metal tool he manufactured himself.
(Photo by Bishoy Beshara)

 

Accurate measures are taken to mark the exact desired length and placing of the holes on the nay (Photo by Bishoy Beshara)
Accurate measures are taken to mark the exact desired length and placing of the holes on the nay
(Photo by Bishoy Beshara)

 

Photo by Bishoy Beshara
Photo by Bishoy Beshara

 

 

 

 

Darweesh drills holes through the body of the instrument in accuracy to the millimetre (Photo by Bishoy Beshara)
Darweesh drills holes through the body of the instrument in accuracy to the millimetre
(Photo by Bishoy Beshara)

 

Photo by Bishoy Beshara
Photo by Bishoy Beshara

 

The new nay's tonality is tested against an electronic tuner, then smoothed, oiled and proudly signed.  (Photo by Bishoy Beshara)
The new nay’s tonality is tested against an electronic tuner, then smoothed, oiled and proudly signed.
(Photo by Bishoy Beshara)

 

Photo by Bishoy Beshara
Photo by Bishoy Beshara

 

Et Voila! (Photo by Bishoy Beshara)
Et Voila!
(Photo by Bishoy Beshara)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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