Tarab is an Arabic word often translated as “musical ecstasy.” Any listener or performer can find any music ecstatic, but in Arabic and other Middle Eastern music, Tarab is produced not only in the individual listener or performer, but also among the performers and in the  connections between performers and audiences as they follow the twists and turns of the melodies and rhythms. The Tarab Trio is a group of Maine musicians who perform a variety of Middle Eastern music from the canonical repertory of that region, and who hope to communicate its depth and beauty to both new and old audiences. 

The qanun, played by Duncan Hardy, is an 81 stringed zither that can be tuned to the microtones of Arabic music. It is the heart of the group: the name qanun translating to “canon” or “law.” The riqq and darbouka (played by Eric LaPerna) not only provide the rhythm, but they also produce a wide range of sounds, and control the dynamics of the music. Riqq players are similar to conductors in the Arabic music tradition. Arabic music has long had bowed string instruments, but the Western violin (played by Mary Hunter) was introduced more than 200 years ago. It is tuned DGDG rather than the usual Western GDAE, which makes it sound especially resonant. It offers a continuity of sound that complements the more articulated sounds of the drums and qanun.