The nay flute comes from a culture that is not my own; I approach my continued study of Arabic music with great appreciation for the teachers who have welcomed me to learn about their rich musical traditions: Dr. A.J. Racy, Simon Shaheen, Bassam Saba, Malcolm Barsamian, and Boujemaa Razgui.
Nay (plural: nayat)
"A reed flute with six finger holes along the top and one thumb hole on the bottom of the instrument. The instrument is open at both ends. The player rests his lips on one end of the reed and blows across the rim to produce the sound, a technique which contributes to the nay's characteristic breathy timbre. Extending downward from the player's mouth, the instrument is held obliquely on the right side of the body. A single player uses six or seven nays of different lengths in order to play at different pitch levels. An important aspect of physical construction is the fact that the reed of each instrument must contain nine segments; this is achieved by choosing a reed that contains eight nodes (natural joints). The nine segments are thought to have specific, yet unarticulated, acoustic and symbolic functions. Dating from a very early period (see, for example, the opening lines of Jalal al-Din Rumi's (d.1273) poem, Mathnawi), the nay has had philosophical/mystical associations according to which the hollow instrument is equated with the human body: both need the breadth of life to become active. According to these beliefs, the sound of the nay is thought to express man's yearning for union with God. On a more worldly plane, the nay also exists in Turkish and Persian musics where special mouthpieces are added to the instrument. In Turkey, the mouthpiece is of wood or horn, while in Iran it is of metal. In the Arab world the nay is generally restricted to urban settings where it is the only wind instrument of Arab art music."(http://www.music.ucsb.edu/mee/instruments.html)