The ney is an end-blown flute that figures prominently in Middle Eastern music. In some of these musical traditions, it is the only wind instrument used. It is a very ancient instrument, with depictions of ney players appearing in wall paintings in the Egyptian pyramids and actual neys being found in the excavations at Ur. This indicates that the ney has been played continuously for 4,500–5,000 years, making it one of the oldest musical instruments still in use. It is a forerunner of the modern flute.
The ney consists of a piece of hollow cane or reed with five or six finger holes and one thumb hole. Ney is a Middle Persian word word meaning reed. Modern neys may be made of metal or plastic tubing instead. The pitch of the ney varies depending on the region and the finger arrangement. A highly skilled ney player can reach more than three octaves, though it is more common to have several "helper" neys to cover different pitch ranges or to facilitate playing technical passages in other maqamat.