1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Arghoul

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ARGHOUL, Arghool, or Arghul (in the Egyptian hieroglyphs, As or As-it),[1] an ancient and modern Egyptian and Arab wood-wind instrument, with cylindrical bore and single reed mouthpiece of the clarinet type. The arghoul consists of two reed pipes of unequal lengths bound together by means of waxed thread, so that the two mouthpieces lie side by side, and can be taken by the performer into his mouth at the same time. The mouthpiece consists of a reed having a small tongue detached by means of a longitudinal slit which forms the beating reed, as in the clarinet mouthpiece. The shorter pipe has six holes on which the melody is played; the three upper holes being covered by the fingers of the right hand, and the lower by those of the left hand. The longer pipe has no lateral holes; it is a drone pipe with one note only, which, however, can be varied by the addition of extra lengths of reed.


Britannica Arghoul.jpg
(From Edward William Lane's An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians.)
Modern Arghoul, 3 ft. 2½ in. long.


In the illustration all three lengths are shown in use. An arghoul belonging to the collection of the Conservatoire Royal at Brussels, described by Victor Mahillon in his catalogue[2] (No. 113), gives the following scale:—


Short Pipe. Drone Pipe.
Britannica Arghoul Short Pipe Scale.jpg Britannica Arghoul Drone Pipe Scale.jpg
Holes uncovered.
Without additional joint. With shortest additional joint. With shortest and medium additional joints. With longest additional joint.


The total length of the shorter pipe, including the mouthpiece, is 0.435 m.; of the longer pipe, without additional joints, 0.555 m. An Egyptian arghoul,[3] presented by the khedive to the Victoria and Albert Museum, measures 4 ft. 8½ in.

For further information see Victor Loret, L’Egypte au temps des Pharaons (Paris, 1889), 8vo, pp. 139, 143, 144; G. A. Villoteau, Description historique technique et littéraire des instruments de musique des orientaux (Description de l’Egypte, Paris, 1823, tome xiii, pp. 456-473). (K. S.)

  1. See Victor Loret. “Les flûtes égyptiennes antiques,” Journal Asiatique, 8ème série, tome xiv., Paris, 1889, pp. 129, 130 and 132.
  2. Catalogue descriptif et analytique du musée du Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles (Ghent, 1880), p. 141.
  3. A Descriptive Catalogue of the Musical Instruments in the South Kensington Museum, by Carl Engel (London, 1874), p. 143.