The qanun is a string instrument played either solo, or more often as part of an ensemble, in much of the Middle East, Maghreb, West Africa, Central Asia, and southeastern regions of Europe. The name derives from the Arabic word qanun, meaning "rule, law, norm, principle", which is itself a phonetic borrowing of the ancient Greek word 'κανών' (rule) or Latin equivalent canon (not to be confused with the European polyphonic musical style and composition technique known by the same name). Traditional and Classical musics executed on the qanun are based on Maqamat or Makamlar. As the historical relative of santur from the same geography, qanun is thought to trace its origins back to Assyria, where an ancestral homologue might have been used in Mesopotamian royal courts and religious ceremonies. The instrument today is a type of largezither with a thin trapezoidal soundboard that is famous for its unique melodramatic sound.