World Instruments

Read about the instruments used by Primary Music’s artists:



The qanún or kanun (Arabic قانون qânûn, from Greek κανων ‘measuring rod; rule’ akin to καννα ‘cane’) is a string instrument found in Near Eastern traditional music based on Maqamat. It is basically a zither with a narrow trapezoidal soundboard. Nylon or PVC strings are stretched over a single bridge poised on fish-skins on one end, attached to tuning pegs at the other end.
Kanuns used in Turkey have 26 courses of strings, with three strings per course. It is played on the lap by plucking the strings with two tortoise-shell picks, one in each hand, or by the fingernails, and has a range of three and a half octaves, from A2 to E6. The dimensions of Turkish kanuns are typically 95 to 100 cm (37-39″) long, 38 to 40 cm (15-16″) wide and 4 to 6 cm (1.5-2.3″) high.

The instrument also has special latches for each course, called mandals. These small levers, which can be raised or lowered quickly by the performer while the instrument is being played, serve to change the pitch of a particular course slightly by altering the string lengths.

While Armenian kanuns employ half-tones and Arabic qanuns quarter-tones, typical Turkish kanuns divide the equal-tempered semitone of 100 cents into 6 equal parts, yielding 72 equal divisions (or commas) of the octave. Not all pitches of 72-tone equal temperament are available on the Turkish kanun, however, since kanun makers only affix mandals for intervals that are demanded by performers. Some kanun makers choose to divide the semitone of the lower registers into 7 parts instead for microtonal subtlety at the expense of octave equivalences. Hundreds of mandal configurations are at the player’s disposal when performing on an ordinary Turkish kanun.

The kanun is a descendant of the old Egyptian harp, and is related to the psaltery, dulcimer and zither. Among others, Ruhi Ayangil, Erol Deran, Halil Karaduman, and Begoña Olavide are present-day exponents of this instrument.



A kemenche (Turkish: kemençe, Greek: κεμεντζές) is a kind of rebec or fiddle from the Black Sea region of Asia Minor also known as the “Kementche of Laz” in Turkey. In Greece and the Pontian Greek diaspora it is known as the “Pontian lyra”. It is the main instrument used in Pontian music. It is a bottle-shaped, 3-stringed fiddle played in the upright position. It is sometimes played by resting it on the knee when sitting, and sometimes it is held out in front. A kemenche is a bowed instrument, the bow is called doksar.
Its small light weight design allows it to be held up for a long time and in some cases the musician would follow the first dancer around (even dance as well). This is mainly due to the not-so-loud sound of the lyra.

Pontic kemenche

Many folk fiddles ranging from Southeastern Europe to the Indian sub-continent are played by the lateral pressure of the finger nails of the player’s hand against the strings with the instrument generally being held facing outwards. This would include the Indian sarangi and the Bulgarian gadulka. Other fiddles played by pressure of the pads of the fingers upon the strings as is also done with some lyras which have the third or even the second string positioned in such a way so as not to allow the easy insertion of the finger between the strings and the spike fiddles, and there are those lyras whose strings are depressed onto the neck of the instrument by the player’s finger pads in the way violin strings are pressed such as an unusual type of Dodecanesian lyra with four strings, the large Cappadocian kemanes, and the kemenche. It may be that the old dancing master’s kit or pochette fiddle one form of which outwardly resembles the Pontic lyra, was adapted and developed later in isolation in Pontos led to the present form of kemenche. On the other hand, the kemenche may be result of the natural development of an instrument which had, at once time, an elongated water gourd for its body. Compare the from south Afghina with the kemenche/Pontic lyra.

The center of lyra playing activity seems to have been the district of Trabzon and the contiguous areas of the districts to the west and east of it as well as to the south, Giresun, Rize, and Gümüşhane whose main town was Arghyrόpolis. As one moves west past Tirebolu towards Kerasounta/Giresun, the number of lyra players begins to decrease and the lute as well as the violin (keman) and tambourine (tef) begin playing a more important role in Pontic music. Further west into the districts of the Kotyora/Ordu and before reaching the town of Samsun the lyra has virtually disappeared so that Bafra, whose inhabitants were Turkish speaking Pontics, one finds the violin (kemane), the clarinet(gırnata), lute (Ud), and bass drum (davul) as the main musical instruments, Sinope/Sinop and its environs is not usually considered in recent tradition.

Moving east of Trabzon, the picture is much the same. After Rize, the kemenche being facing competition from the bagpipes (Pontic dankiyo/tulum)).


The lyra usually has three strings which have several tunings. Common tunings include: a-a-d, e-a-d, and many others in 4ths (the strings are of 2 octaves … La, Mi, Ci). Since the instrument was often played alone, the tuning was often done according to the preference of the musician and his voice’s range.

The musicians usually play two or all three strings at the same time, utilizing the open string(s) as a sort of drone to the melody. Sometimes they play the melody on two strings at once, giving a primitive harmony in fourths. They tend to play with many trills and embellishments, and with the unusual harmonies. Old strings were made from dried entrails but now metal strings are used (guitar and violin)


The term lyra seems to correspond to the name given, during the Byzantine era, to the same instrument which is common today, in all its variations, throughout a vast area of the Mediterranean and the Balkans. The lyra is very similar to that made and played in Crete, except that in Crete, instrument-making has been influenced by that of the violin. The “primitive” lyra of Karpathos, and specifically that of Olympos, is made from a single block of wood, sculpted into a pear-shaped body. The slightly rounded body of lyra is prolonged by a neck ending on the top in a block which is also pear-shaped or spherical. In that, are set the pegs facing and extending forward.

Currently, numerous models tend to integrate, for decorative reasons, the shape of the scroll, the finger board and other morphology of some secondary characteristics of the violin. However, one can still see that the lyra played in Olymbos maintains the “primitive” lyra design, playing, and sound characteristics. This version preserves the proportions of the box and a type of bow-making which give it a sound quite distinct from that of the Cretan lyra. From the organologic point of view, it is in fact an instrument belonging to the family of bowed lutes (like the rebab from the Middle east), but the designation lyra may constitute a terminological survival relating to the performing method of an ancient Greek instrument. An interesting detail concerns the playing technique: The strings are never pressed from above with the flesh of the finger such as in the violin but touched by the nails laterally.

The lyra is played held in vertical position with the base set on the left knee. The short bow, whose horsetail hair is somewhat slack, is covered with small bells which provide an additional rhythmic interest, particularly if the instrument is played alone. And that is the reason why bells were installed on the bow. The laouto accompanying in Karpathos didn’t take place until the beginning of the century. Up to that time, lyra played alone or along with the tsambouna during the dancing portions of an event, therefore the lyra player provided some additional means of rhythm by adding those bells on the bow.

There are three strings which are tuned to the notes LA-RE-SOL (or A3-D3-G3), but the tuning is variable and generally higher. The central chord, serves mostly as a drone but not in all cases. The first is touched to produce the highest five notes, and the third is played empty, so as to complete the basic hexachord. Thus, along with the tsambouna(Gaida), it shares a certain conceptual analogy, but in its case, it is possible to distinguish between three modal scales which alternate in accordance with different blocks of melodic phases. It suffices to note that with the lyra, the “neutral” third of the tsambouna subdivides into two distinct thirds (minor and major), and that, if the first two scales can be used in a concomitant way with the tsambouna, the last, which allows for the augmentation of the fourth degree excludes this possibility.

The performance of the dance Sousta, which is more complex, also includes the inversion of roles between strings in the playing of the drone and melodic line, as well as the addition of a melodic seventh degree of the scale, thus making it impossible to perform on the tsambouna

Kabak Kemane (Gourd violin)

Kabak Kemane is a bowed Turkish folk instrument. Shows variation according to regions and its form. It is known that instruments known as Kabak, Kemane, Iklıg, Rabab, Hegit at Hatay province, Rubaba in Southeastern Turkey, Kamancha in Azerbaijan and Gicak, Giccek or Gijek,Ghaychak among the central Asian Turks all come from the same origin.

Its body or the tekne part is generally made from vegetable marrow but wooden ones are also common. The sap is from hard woods. There is a thin wooden or metal rod underneath the body which is placed on the knee and enables the instrument to move to the left and right. The bow is made by tying horse hair on two ends of a stick. Previously strings made from gut called Kiriş were used which were replaced by metal ones at the present.

Kabak kemane is an instrument without pitches and produces all types of chromatic sounds easily. Its sound sis suitable for long plays and can be used for legato, Staccato and Pizzicato paces.
Kemençe is a much loved musical instrument of classical Ottoman-Turkish music with its characteristic timbre, which is quite different from that of the Western violin. The present disks gather together a considerable number of kemençe recordings. The purpose of this anthology is to give an idea of the past performance on the kemençe.

Turkish music has two different kemençes: the present one, which has a pearlike shape, and the Black Sea kemençe, which is used in the eastern Black Sea region as a local folk musical instrument.

The pearlike kemençe is a three-stringed bowed instrument. The strings are tuned to yegâh, rast and neva tones, or in Western terms (A), (d) and (a) respectively. It is a rather difficult musical intrument to play. The main difficulty comes from its characteristic manner of playing it, a manner which is not practised in other bowed musical instruments. The musician does not touch his fingers on the strings as on the violin but his fingernails by placing the fingers between the strings. The two strings are of equal length but the middle one is longer, a peculiarity which makes it necessary to use asymmetrical positions. Another difficulty is in that the performer needs great practice and experience to be able to produce the tones in the third, that is the highest octave.

As a matter of fact, the pearlike kemençe was originally, too, a folk musical instrument until the end of the late nineteenth century. It was used in İstanbul, Thrace, and also in the Aegean islands, especially in Crete in urban folk music.

We know that the kemençe was a very popular instrument in İstanbul in the eighteenth century. It was possible to hear kemençe music in the public taverns of Galata during this century. Prior to the twentieth century the kemençe was played together with the lavta, Turkish version of the European lute. Kemençe was used as a melody instrument, the lavta being the rhythmic element of the duo.

Kemençe and lavta were the chief musical instruments of köçek and tavşan takımları, that is, urban folk dance groups of old İstanbul. Towards the end of the nineteenth century the kemençe was introduced into the fasıl music, classical or urban Ottoman music. The first musician to have played the kemençe in a fasıl ensemble is Vasil (1845-1907), an Ottoman Greek musician who played the kemençe with great artistic skill as it has been referred to in the sources of those days. However, Vasil did not make music for records. He played only for cylinders, but nobody has so far been able to procure any of his cylinder recordings. The first performer of the kemençe after Vasil is Tanburî Cemil, who made many records for the Orfeon Company in which he used the kemençe apart from the tanbur, lavta, violoncello and bowed tanbur.

The earliest kemençe recordings of Cemil Bey begin to appear at the very beginning of the twentieth century, which means that the kemençe as a member of fasıl ensembles has a history of one century only.

History of Kemenche

The kemençe of Turkish classical music is a small instrument, from 40-41 cm in length, and 14-15 cm wide. Its body, reminiscent of half a pear, ıts ellptical pegbox (‘kafa’ or head), and its neck (‘boyun’) are carved and shaped from a single piece of wood. On its face are two large (4×3 cm) D-shaped soundholes, with the rounded sides facing out. The holes are approximately 25 mm apart. The bridge is placed between these holes, one side of it resting on the face of the instrument, and the other on the sound post. On the back side of the instrument there is a ‘back channel’ (‘sırt oluğu’). This channel begins from a triangular raised area (‘mihrap’) which is an extension of the neck and extends to the middle of the head, widens in the middle, and ends in a point near the tailpiece (“kuyruk takozu”). Each of the gut or metal strings, attached to the tailpiece, passes over the bridge and is wound onto its own peg. There is no nut to equalize the vibrating lengths of the strings. The three strings are tuned to yegâh (low re), rast (sol) and neva (high re). All the strings are of gut, but the yegâh string is silver-wound. Today there are players who use synthetic raquet strings, aluminum-wound gut or synthetic silk strings, or chrome-wound steel violin strings. The pegs, which are from 14-15 cm long and rest on the chest during playing, form the points of a triangle on the head. Thus the middle string is 37-40 mm longer than the strings to either side of it. The vibrating lengths (that is, the portion between the bridge and the tuning pegs) of the short strings are from 25.5-26 cm. The sound post, which transmits the vibration of the strings to the back of the instrument -located under the neva string- is placed between the bridge and the back. A small hole 3-4 mm in diameter is bored in the back, directly below the bridge.

Earlier, the head, neck and back channel were generally made of ivory, mother-of-pearl or tortoise shell inlay. Some kemençes made for the palace or mansions by great masters such as Büyük İzmitli or Baron, had backs, and even the edges of the sound holes, completely covered by mother-of-pearl, ivory or tortoiseshell inlay, or engraved and inlaid motifs.

It can be said that the kemençe is the most heavily decorated of the Turkish instruments.

The kemençe is played either with the tailpiece on the left knee and the tuning pegs supported on the chest, or held between the knees. The strings are seven to ten millimeters above the fingerboard, and thus the different notes are played not by pressing the fingertips on the strings as in most string instruments, but rather by pushing lightly from the side with the fingernails. Because in the fourth position (muhayyer) the pitches are very close together, the likelihood of hitting a wrong note is very high. The bow is approximately sixty centimeters long, and the tension of the bowhairs can be increased or decreased during playing with the middle finger of the right hand.

The word ‘kemençe’, which means ‘small bow’ or ‘small bowed instrument’ in Persian, was used for the spike fiddle known today as the rebab (the term ‘spike fiddle’ in organology is the common name for bowed instruments with a body generally in the shape of a cut globe, and a long cylindrical neck that passes through the body, which are played upright). The kemânçe, also kalled kemân, was the only bowed instrument used in Turkish classical music up until the eighteenth century. The kemânçe was replaced by the European viola d’amore (known in Turkish as sinekemanı, or ‘breast fiddle’), and later by the European violin. The pear-shaped kemençe entered the classical ensemble towards the middle of the nineteenth century.

Before it entered the classical ensemble, the name of the pear-shaped kemençe was ‘lyra’ (in Greece, where it has become very popular in recent years, it is known as the the ‘politiki lyra’, which means ‘City lyra’, that is, the Istanbul lyra). The lira was already in use by the Byzantines in the tenth century. A definite proof of this is that the Arab historian El-Mes’udî (- app. 957) wrote “The Byzantine lyra is the Arab rebab.” Also, in the Glossarium Latino-Arabicum, an Arabic-Latin dictionary written in the eleventh century, the definition for ‘rebab’ is ‘lyra’. In addition, when El-Mes’udî’s words are added to İbn Hurdazbih’s statement to the effect that “the counterpart to the rebab is pear-shaped,” the conclusion must be that the pear-shaped kemençe was in use among the Arabs during the early eleventh century at the very latest. The fact that Abdülkadir Merâgî called the bowed instrument resembling the rebab the ‘kemançe-i oğuz’, (Oğuz kemançe, the Oğuz being a Turkish tribe) and the pear-shaped kemençe the ‘kemânçe-i rumî’ (Greek/Roman kemançe), would make us think that the lyra was used not only by the Arabs but also by the Iranians and the Turks up until the beginning of the fifteenth century at the earliest. However no instrument resembling the kemençe appears in either Ottoman, Arab or Iranian miniatures. Neither do any written sources from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries make any mention of the pear-shaped kemençe. The oldest known illustration of the instrument is in Hızır Ağa’s book, Tefhîmu’l-Makamât fî tevlîdi’n-nagamât (1760?). The caption under this illustration is ‘kemân-i kıptî’ (gypsy violin). It is not surprising that Hızır Ağa gives the name ‘keman’ to this instrument, because the term ‘keman’ was the general name for bowed instruments in Ottoman Turkish; and the adjective ‘kıptî’ is a sign that the instrument had not yet entered the classical ensemble. The picture in Blainville’s book (1767) with the caption ‘three-stringed lyra’ does not appear as realistic as that depicted by Niebuhr in 1774. The lyra in this picture, which Laborde depicts in the same way as Niebuhr, with its small holes in the face and long neck, is identical to folk instruments encountered in the present day in the south of Italy (Calabria), on the Aegean islands (especially in Crete), in the Balkans and in some towns and villages of Turkey.

Instruments resembling the pear-shaped kemençe were used from the tenth century on in Europe as well. Organologists consider these instruments, which are known generically as rebecs, to have developed from either the Byzantine lyra or the Moroccan rebab (the root of the word ‘rebec’ is ‘rebab’). No light has yet been shed on the relationship between the lyra and the Moroccan rebab.

Like its name, the shape, dimensions and number of strings of the ‘rebecs’ did not change throughout the middle ages. Though the number of strings is generally three, single-string, as well as 2, 4, 5 and even 6-string rebecs have been used, as well as some with double courses of strings. Even before the year 1300, rebecs were made that included pegs along the side of the neck for sympathetic strings. It seems that rebecs resembling the Moroccan rebab generally had two strings. Since the beginning, instruments in the rebec family in both southern Europe and north Africa were played on the knee and the bow held with the palm facing upward. In northern Europe, the instrument was mostly played supported on the chest or shoulder. Naturally, with the upright position the strings were stopped from the side with the fingernails; when played supported on the chest, they were stopped by pressing down with the fingertips. The rebecs, which in the middle ages and the Renaissance were only used in the palaces and in the homes of noblemen, survived in western and northern Europe as village instruments until the 18th century. Today, they continue to be used, known as lira in southern Italy, as liyera or liyeritsa in Yugoslavia (especially in Dalmatia), gusla or gadulka in Bulgaria (especially in the Rhodopes), as lyra in Thrace (thrakiotiki lyra) and in the Aegean islands (especially Crete). In Turkey, it is known as kemane in Kastamonu, tırnak kemanesi (fingernal kemane) in Azdavay, or tırnak kemençesi (fingernail kemençe) in Fethiye. A picture in Enderunî Fazıl’s Hubanname and Zenanname, written in 1793, is sound evidince that before it was brought into the classical ensemble by Vasil (1845-1907), it was played together with another Byzantine instrument, the lavta, especially in the tavernas in Pera. It is clear that the kemence achieved its present refined shape towards the middle of the nineteenth century at the latest. The picture in the catalog published in 1869 by Carl Engel of kemençe that was sold from the Ottoman pavillion at the 1867 Paris Exhibition to the South Kensington Museum in London shows this. The kemence in this picture, with inlay and fine ornamentation, must have been made for an amateur in the royal family or for a professional musician playing in the palace. Tanburî Cemil Bey (1873-1916), who learned kemençe from Vasil and quickly became a virtuoso, turned this instrument into an indispensible element in the classical ensemble, so much so that the kemençe, used in wine houses and taverns just one hundred years earlier, had before the middle of the twentieth century come to be considered, along with the tanbur and ney, one of the most ‘noble’ of the Turkish musical instruments. No doubt a significant factor in this was the fact that its sound was more compatible with the entirely more emotional and sad style that Turkish music had taken on in the beginning of the twentieth century.

Masters of Kemenche

Kemençeci Vasil (Vasilaki)

A Greek, was born in Silivri in 1845, and died in Istanbul in 1907. His first musical instrument was clarinet; later he learned to play kemençe from a musician named Yorgi. He performed on the local music scene for many years, playing kemençe along with Nikolaki in Andon, Civan and Hristo’s instrumental group. Vasil, who played kemençe extraordinarily well in the folk groups, brought this instrument to a mature enough level to be able to play in classical music, and it was he who introduced the instrument to the classical ensemble. Tanburî Cemil brough him much love and respect, and remembered him as a ‘master without equal’. In various written sources, those who listened to him say that Vasil performed beautiful taksims, and played his peşrevs and semais with an unusual beauty. They also mention that he was very successful in köçekçe performance, and used a long bow with the kemençe. He also experimented with adding a fourth string to the kemençe. Vasil made no records; he only recorded on wax cylinder. However, as none of his cylinder recordings have been located, it has not yet been possible to hear any of his performances. Location of his cylinders would remove Vasil’s musicianship from the darkness of history, even if in a limited way.

Tanburî Cemil Bey

Cemil Bey was an extraordinary musician, who was able to play any instrument he picked up. He played lavta, cello, yaylı tanbur, zurna and several other instruments with great skill. His taksim and instrumental works that he recorded on tanbur, kemençe, lavta, cello and yaylı tanbur left a deep influence on generations of musicians following him. The peşrevs and saz semais that he composed are pieces of great taste, requiring a developed performance technique. Cemil Bey was also a master of the kemençe. After Vasil, Cemil reached a difficult-to-achieve level of technique in his playing of the kemençe. According to the observation of his close friend Mahmut Demirhan, “he bowed his way with unheard-of confidence, comfort and calmness among the very dense and close-together notes of high gerdaniye, high muhayyer, and even high çargâh, playing melodies clearly and crisply, without being the least out of tune, never even a wrong finger placement, and without the slightest sign of discomfort on his face.”


Date of birth is unknown; he is believed to have died in Istanbul around 1940. He was Greek, and is the maternal uncle of the brothers Aleko and Yorgo Bacanos. One of the best kemençe players of his era, he performed on the music scene for years, and made recordings. He also played kemençe at the old Istanbul Radio in Sirkeci. His recordings have survived to our day; the recordings on these disks display his mastery, as well as the influence of Tanburî Cemil Bey.


Sotiri’s date of birth is unknown; he died in Istanbul in 1939. The nephew of kemençeci Anastas, and a cousin of Aleko and Yorgo Bacanos’, he was one of the well-known kemençe players of his time. Desipte all our efforts, we were able to locate only two recordings of Sotiri, but we are convinced that the performances included here will give ample proof of his virtuosity. A few things can be said about his kemençe style: In these two taksims, especially in the hicaz taksim, Sotiri is seen to resemble Aleko Bacanos in his style. One gets the feeling that Aleko Bacanos was influenced more by his cousin Sotiri than by his uncle Anastas.

Kemal Niyazi Seyhun

According to his student Cüneyd Orhon, Sehyun had listened to Vasil and been incluenced by his playing, and so can be called a performer in the ‘Vasil tradition’.

Aleko Bacanos

Aleko Bacanos was born in 1888 in Silivri, and died in 1950 in Istanbul. He was Greek, and was the son of Lambro the lavta player and brother of udî Yorgo Bacanos. Bacanos was raised in a family with many musicians; kemençeci Anastas was his uncle, and Sotiri and Todori were his cousins. Like many kemençe players, he started with violin and switched to kemençe later on. Playing in the nighclubs for years, he accompanied many well-known singers on the stage and in recordings; and also worked at Istanbul Radio. He was a master of his instrument, with fine technique, with his own unique style on the kemençe; the very warm, moving tone that he coaxed from his instrument, and the deep melodies, are immediately recognizable.

Fahire Fersan

Fahire Fersan was born in Istanbul in 1900, and died in the same city on January 3, 1997. She was the sister of Tanburî Faize Ergin, and the wife of composer and tanburî Refik Fersan. She began learning music at a very young age, taking lessons from Tanburî Cemil Bey. When she married Refik Fersan and went to Switzerland, she was forced to interrupt her study for a time, but upon her return home she continued taking lessons from her teacher Cemil Bey until his death. Fahire Fersan played kemençe for many years with Istanbul and Ankara Radios, and made recordings with Refik Fersan. She accompanied Münir Nurettin Selçuk in many concerts and recordings, and was one of the fine kemençe players of her time.

Ruşen Ferit Kam

Ruşen Ferit Kam was born in Istanbul in 1902, where he died on July 28, 1981. He graduated from the Turkish Language and Literature Department of Istanbul University, and taught literature at various schools. He began learning music at a young age, starting with violin, and later, with the encouragement of Tanburî Cemil Bey’s student Kadı Fuat Efendi, he switched to Kemençe. He was self-taught, developing his technique by listening to Tanburî Cemil’s records; and quickly became a recognized kemençe player. He also served as an instructor at the Dârülelhan (later known as the Istanbul Municipal Conservatory) and the Ankara State Conservatory. He played kemençe at Istanbul and Ankara Radios from the time of their founding, and for many years served in various administrative positions at the radio stations. At Ankara Radio, he directed the Classical Turkish Music Chorus. He also published several articles and studies. Kam was one of the foremost masters of kemençe among the generation following Tanburî Cemil. He put great emphasis on technique, and played his instrument with a very well-developed, mature technique. He worked with and successfully performed several pieces that were quite difficult on the kemençe, and even some that none had previously been able to play on the kemençe. According to several observers, he explored positions on the kemençe for years, and his technique never became frozen at one level. Although Kam was an admirer of Tanburî Cemil, he did not imitate him, and played his instrument with a style entirely his own. Ruşen Kam’s instrumental works, which he played in duets, trios and quartets, mostly with Vecihe Daryal, as well as with Mesut Cemil and Cevdet Kozanoğlu, are extremely beautiful examples of Turkish instrumental music.

Mesut Cemil

Mesut Cemil, son of Tanburî Cemil Bey, was born in 1902 in Istanbul, and died in the same city on October 31, 1963. Like his father, Mesut Cemil played masterfully any music he picked up. Playing cello, tanbur and lavta with unequalled beauty, he also was an accomplished player of instruments such as the violin, ud and def; and also played kemençe. Although kemençe was not his chief instrument, we couldn’t ignore the short but difficult-to-find recording on this disk.

Hadiye Ötügen

We were unable to determine Hadiye Ötügen’s date and place of birth; she died on April 14, 1963, in Istanbu. She began learning kemençe from Ruşen Ferit Kam at the music school of the blind kanunî Nâzım. She entered the Dârülelhan, where she was the student of teachers such as Muallim İsmail Hakkı Bey, Zekâizade Ahmet Efendi (Irsoy) and Rauf Yekta Bey. After completing her education in Turkish music at the Dârülelhan, she began studying cello in the western music department. One of the first graduates of the Istanbul Conservatory, she served as a music teacher in this establishment for ten years, and played cello in many concerts of western music. When Hüseyin Sadettin Arel was the chairman of the Istanbul Conservatory, she began playing kemençe again at his encouragement, and played in the performing ensemble of the Conservatory, as well as at Istanbul Radio. As Hadiye Ötügen knew the various playing positions used on cello, she played kemençe with an advanced technique, and successfully performed pieces difficult on this instrument. Unfortunately, there are very few recordings of this great musician, and thus the ones we present here are especially valuable. We believe that the taksim in the makam ferahfeza in particular gives a good idea of Ötügen’s performance.

Haluk Recai

Haluk Recai was born in Istanbul in 19812, where he died on November 11, 1972. His real name was Haldun Menemencioğlu; Haluk Recai was his musical stage name. He graduated from the Business Academy, and worked for banks and private companies. He began music with the violin, and later, taking no lessons from anyone, learned to play the kemençe. In 1938, he entered Ankara Radio as a vocalist, and participated for a time in Radio broadcasts. In 1950, he entered Istanbul Radio as a player of kemençe, where he played for many years, and was best known as a radio perfomer. With his fine technique and highly ornamented agile style, full of surprises, he was one of the fine kemençe players of the second half of the 20th century, playing his instrument sensitivly and expressively. In his taksims, passing from makam to makam, he created beautiful musical phrases. At the same time, Haluk Recai was a fine luthier, and made excellent kemençes, tanburs and uds. He also made miniature models of these instruments. Besides being a performer, he also composed tasteful, beautiful works.

Paraşko Leondarides

Paraşko Leondarides was born in Istanbul in 1912, and died in the same city on April 13, 1974. He was the son of kemençeci Anastas and brother of kemençeci Lambros. After graduating from Feriköy Greek elementary school, he started studying music. He took his first music lessons from his father, and shortly thereafter was thrown into a life of music, playing kemençe in the nightclubs. He played on the music scene for many years. In 1950, he entered Istanbul Radio, where he played on radio programs until his death. He was a good player with a sound technique. According to Cüneyd Orhon, he used a thimble-like cap on his little finger in order to be able to hit the high notes more easily.

Lambros Leondarides

Lambros Leondarides was born in Istanbul in 1912; we were not able to determing the date of his death. He was the son of kemençeci Anastas, and brother of kemençeci Paraşko. He settled in Greece, where he played kemençe in rembetiko music, accompanying rembetika singers on a great many recordings. He also recorded some taksims.

Vedia Tunççekiç

Vedia Tunççekiç was born in Istanbul in 1914, and died in Ankara in 1983. She took music lessons from the Üsküdar teacher Bestenigâr Ziya Bey, and learned kemençe from Hasan Fehmi Mutel. She worked with the Dârüttalim-i Musıki Ensemble and the Eastern Music Ensemble, and entered Ankara Radio in 1943, where she played for many years. She was known as a successful accompanist, with solid intonation.

Ekrem Erdoğru

Ekrem Erdoğru was born on January 1, 1926 in Istanbul, where he died on January 19, 1985. He graduated from Haydarpaşa Lyceum. In 1949, he entered Istanbul Radio, and for many years he played kemençe both at the Radio as well as in the Municipal Conservatory Performing Ensemble under the direction of Münir Nurettin Selçuk. His brother Kâmuran Erdoğru was also a teacher of kemençe at the State Conservatory for Turkish Music.

Cüneyd Orhon

Cüneyd Orhon was born on June 25, 1926 in Istanbul. In 1949, he graduated from the Interior Architecture department of the Academy of Fine Arts. He began his study of music at the Üsküdar Musical Society, where he learned makam, usûl and repertoire from Emin Ongan. He took kemençe lessons for two years (1946-1948) from Kemal Niyazi Seyhun. He played kemençe with the University Chorus, at Ankara and Istanbul Radios, and in the Conservatory Performing Ensemble under the direction of Münir Nurettin Selçuk; whom he also accompanied in solo performances. He served as a director of music broadcasts at Istanbul and Izmir Radios, as well as in various directorial positions. He was a founding member of the Turkish Radion and Television (TRT) Management Committee. When the State Conservatory for Turkish Music opened in 1975, he added a fourth string to the traditional three-stringed kemençe, and began playing the four-stringed kemençe; which he also taught to his students. He continues to serve as a teacher of kemençe at the State Conservatory of Turkish Music, of which he is a founding member, and has published a kemençe method. For these disks, we have chosen two of Cüneyd Orhon’s pieces, one played on three-stringed, and the other on four-stringed kemençe.

Nihat Doğu

Nihat Doğu was born in Kuşadası in 1930. He took kemençe lessons for six months from Aleko Bacanos, and upon his death in 1950, he cintinued with Kemal Niyazi Seyhun. In 1950, he entered the Üsküdar Musical Society, and took part in the society’s radio programs. He entered Istanbul Radio as a permanent staff member in 1955. From 1961-1969 he worked at Izmir Radio, and returned to Istanbul in 1969. In 1976, he entered the Istanbul State Classical Turkish Music Chorus under the direction of Nevzat Atlığ. During this period he also founded the ‘Classical Turkish Instrument Quintet’ together with Cüneyd Kosal, Doğan Ergin, Abdi Coşkun and Vahit Anadolu; and performed with them on radio and television, and at Istanbul Festivals, as well as concerts abroad. He is one of the successful performers of our time.

İhsan Özgen

İhsan Özgen was born in Urfa in 1942. His mother was an amateur ud player. With his great talent, he learned to play tanbur and kemençe without taking any lessons. He developed his musical knowledge and taste by listening to recordings of Tanburî Cemil Bey. He played kemençe at Ankara Radio in the classical Turkish music choruses directed by Ruşen Ferit Kam and İsmail Baha Sürelsan, and at Istanbul Radio. When the State Conservatory for Turkish Music opened, he was appointed there as a teacher of kemençe. During the late 1970s, the radio and television concerts he played in a trio together with neyzen Niyazi Sayın and tanburî Necdet Yaşar attracted widespread interest beyond the usual music circles. Later on, Özgen founded and directed the Bosphorus and Anatolia ensembles, with whom he gave successful concerts both at home and in several other countries. Ihsan Özgen is one of the most skillful and creative performers of kemençe in recent years. His taksims and his improvization performance in general are extrordinary. In his improvization, he avoids hackneyed melodies; he plays original phrases. He is also a successful performer of tanbur and lavta. Özgen has also brought up fine students. Of the kemençe players of the younger generation, Derya Türkan and Hasan Esen are his students.

Neva Özen

Born Ankara, Turkey, 1977; daughter of İhsan Özgen (above). Peformances include Turkey, Europe, Balkans, Russia, USA. Recordings on Golden Horn Records.



The oud (Arabic: عود ʿūd; Somali: Kaban; Persian: بربط barbat; Turkish: ud or ut; Greek: ούτι; Armenian: ուդ, Azeri: ud) is a pear-shaped, stringed instrument similar to a lute used in traditional Middle Eastern music and East African music. Name

The words “lute” and “oud” are both derived from Arabic العود (al-ʿūd, literally “the wood”).Gianfranco Lotti suggests that the “wood” appellation originally carried derogatory connotations, because of proscriptions of all instrumental music in early Islam.
The prefix al- (meaning “the”) in al-ʿūd was discarded by the Turks who then transformed the word ʿūd (consisting of the Arabic letters ʿayn-wāw-dāl) into ud because the sound represented by the Arabic letter ʿayn is not present in the Turkish language.

The oud was most likely introduced to Western Europe by the Arabs who established the Umayyad Caliphate of Al-Andalus on the Iberian Peninsula beginning in the year 711 AD. Oud-like instruments such as the Ancient Greek Pandoura and the Roman Pandura likely made their way to the Iberian Peninsula much earlier than the oud. However, it was the royal houses of Al-Andalus that cultivated the environment which raised the level of oud playing to greater heights and boosted the popularity of the instrument. The most famous oud player of Al-Andalus was Zyriab. He established the first music conservatory in Spain, enhanced playing technique and added a fifth course to the instrument. The European version of this instrument came to be known as the lute – luth in French, laute in German, liuto in Italian, luit in Dutch, (all beginning with the letter “L”) and alaud in Spanish. The word “luthier” meaning stringed instrument maker is also derived from the French luth. Unlike the oud the Europen lute utilized frets (usually tied gut).


According to Farabi, the oud was invented by Lamech, the sixth grandson of Adam. The legend tells that the grieving Lamech hung the body of his dead son from a tree. The first oud was inspired by the shape of his son’s bleached skeleton.

The oldest pictorial record of a lute dates back to the Uruk period in Southern Mesopotamia – Iraq -Nasria city nowadays, over 5000 years ago on a cylinder seal acquired by Dr. Dominique Collon and currently housed at the British Museum. The image depicts a female crouching with her instruments upon a boat, playing right-handed. This instrument appears many times throughout Mesopotamian history and again in ancient Egypt from the 18th dynasty onwards in long and short-neck varieties. One may see such examples at the Metropolitan Museums of New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and the British Museum on clay tablets and papyrus paper. This instrument and its close relatives have been a part of the music of each of the ancient civilizations that have existed in the Mediterranean and the Middle East regions, including the Sumerians, Akkadians, Persians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Armenians, Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans.

The ancient Turkic peoples had a similar instrument called the kopuz. This instrument was thought to have magical powers and was brought to wars and used in military bands. This is noted in the Göktürk monument inscriptions, the military band was later used by other Turkic state’s armies and later by Europeans. According to Musicolog Çinuçen Tanrıkorur today’s oud was derived from the kopuz by Turks near Central Asia and additional strings were added by them. Today’s oud is totally different than the old proto-types and the Turkish oud is different than Arabic oud in playing style and shape. In Greece and Armenia musicians especially use the Turkish ouds and tunings.

This oud is made by the famous Syrian luthier the late Abdo Naht born in 1863, (Abdo George Nahat was the second of the (Akhwan al Nahat, or Nahat brothers) who sepecialsed in oud making and between them they have made the most valued ouds ever for their quality and sound. (information accuired from where more information in relation to the Nahat brothers and their work can be found.)

Also the writing on the rossette is the names of the Arabic maqams not the Turkish keys (its very important to point this one out), and in the middle section of the rossette called shamsa or gmaria in Arabic, it reads “Abdo Nahat & Son Elias” other information such as the owner of the oud are undesputed.

Defining features

* Lack of Frets: The oud, unlike many other plucked stringed instruments, does not have a fretted neck. This allows the player to be more expressive by using slides and vibrato. It also makes it possible to play the microtones of the Maqam System. This development is relatively recent, as ouds still had frets ca. AD 1100, and they gradually lost them by AD 1300, mirroring the general development of Near-Eastern music which abandoned harmony in favor of melismatics.
* Strings: With some exceptions, the modern oud has eleven strings. Ten of these strings are paired together in courses of two. The eleventh, lowest string remains single. There are many different tuning systems for the oud which are outlined below. The ancient oud had only four courses – five by the 9th century. The strings are generally lighter to play than the modern classical guitar.
* Pegbox: The pegbox of the oud is bent back at a 45-90° angle from the neck of the instrument.
* Body: The oud’s body has a staved, bowl-like back resembling the outside of half a watermelon, unlike the flat back of a guitar. This bowl allows the oud to resonate and have a more complex tone.
* Sound-holes: The oud generally has one to three sound-holes.

Regional types

The following are the general regional characteristics of oud types in which both the shape and the tuning most commonly differ:

* Arabic ouds:

* Syrian ouds: Slightly larger, slightly longer neck, lower in pitch.
* Iraqi (Munir Bashir type) ouds: Generally similar in size to the Syrian oud but with a floating bridge which focuses the mid-range frequencies and gives the instrument a more guitar-like sound. This kind of oud was developed by the Iraqi oud virtuoso Munir Bechir.
* Egyptian ouds: Similar to Syrian and Iraqi ouds but with a more pear shaped body. Slightly different tone. Egyptians commonly string only the lower courses up to ‘g’. Egyptian Ouds tend to be very ornate and highly decorated.

* Turkish| Greek style ouds (“ud,ούτι”) (Includes instruments found in Armenia and Greece): Slightly smaller in size, slightly shorter neck, higher in pitch, brighter timbre. It’s known as outi in Greece and was used by early Greek musicians.
* Barbat (Persian Oud): smaller than Arabic ouds with different tuning and higher tone. Similar to Turkish ouds but slightly smaller.
* Oud Qadim: an archaic type of oud from North Africa, now out of use.

Although the Greek instruments Laouto and Lavta appear to look much like an oud, they are very different in playing style and origin, deriving from Byzantine lutes. The laouto is mainly a chordal instrument, with occasional melodic use in Cretan music. Both are always fretted (unlike the oud).

Plectrum (pick)

The plectrum (pick) for the oud is usually a little more than the length of an index-finger. Arabic players refer to it as a reeshe or risha, while Turkish players refer to it as a mızrap. Traditionally it is made from an eagle’s feather or tortoise shell, however, plastic picks are much more commonly found today, and are considered just as effective and much cheaper. Oud players take the quality of their plectrums very seriously, often making their own out of other plastic objects, and taking great care to sand down any sharp edges in order to achieve the best sound possible.

Oud tunings

There are many different tuning options for the oud. All tunings are presented from the lowest course/single string to the highest course. The following tunings are from Lark in the Morning and Oud Cafe:

Arabic oud tunings

* E A D G C ,Five Strings (Syria and Lebanon) – by Eduardo Haddad Ribeiro
* G A D G C F
* D G A D G C
* C F A D G C ,This is the most commonly used tuning.
* C E A D G C
* F A D G C F
* B E A D G C F ,Seven strings oud tuning.

Turkish oud (“ud”) and Cümbüş tunings

* Old Turkish Classical Tuning: E A B E A D or D A B E A D
* Turkish\Armenian\Greek Style Tuning Variant: C# F# B E A D or B F# B E A D
* Greek\Armenian Style Tuning: E A B E A D or D A B E A D
* Standard Cümbüş Tuning: D E A D G C

List of famous oud players

In Iran:

* Hossein Behroozinia (1962-)
* Arsalan Kamkar (1960-)
* Mansour Nariman (1938-)
* Mohammad Delnavazi (1954-)
* Mohammad Firoozi (1957-)
* Ahad Goharzadeh (1958-?)
* Jamal Jahanshad (1948-)
* Yousef Kamoosi (1902-1987)
* Mohammad Khansarian (1948-)
* Hasan Manoochehri (1934-)
* Shahram Mirjalali (1959-)
* Akbar Mohseni (1911-1995)
* Abdulvahab Shahidi (1921-)
* Nasrollah Zarrinpanjeh (1906-1982)

In United States

* Ahmed Abdul-Malik (United States/Sudan)
* Sandy Bull (United States)
* Rachid Halihal (United States/Morocco)
* Naji Hilal (United States/Lebanon)
* Basil Samara (United States/Lebanon)
* George Wakim (United States)
* Scott Wilson (United States)

of Armenian descent:

* John Berberian
* Richard Hagopian
* Roupen Altiparmakian (United States/Greece) (born in Adana, Turkey)
* John Bilezikjian
* Ara Dinkjian
* Charles “Chick” Ganimian
* Marty Kentigian
* George Mgrdichian
* Marko Melkon (Melkon Alemsharian) (born in Izmir, Turkey)
* Harry Minassian

In Turkey:

* Udi Hrant Kenkulian (1901-1978) (ethnic Armenian)
* Coşkun Sabah
* Cinuçen Tanrıkorur (1938-2000)
* Serif Muhiddin Targan (1892-1967)
* Yorgo Bacanos (1900-1977) (ethnic Greek)
* Münir Nurettin Beken
* Ûdi Nevres Bey (1873-1937)
* Necati Çelik
* Mısır’lı İbrahim Efendi (1872-1933)
* Udi Bogos Kireciyan (ethnic Armenian)
* Yurdal Tokcan
* Mutlu Torun

In Iraq:

* Rahim Al Haj
* Jamil Bashir
* Munir Bashir (Iraq/Hungary)
* Ahmed Mukhtar
* Naseer Shamma

In Morocco:’

* Tarik Banzi
* Ahmed El Bidaoui
* Said Chraybi
* Driss El Maloumi
* Armand Sabach

In Palestine:

* Samir Joubran
* Simon Shaheen
* Nizar Rohana
* Samer Totah

In Tunisia:

* Anouar Brahem
* Amine-Hamza M’RAIHI
* Ali Es-Sriti
* Khmaies Tarnen

In Lebanon:

* Rabih Abou-Khalil
* Marcel Khalife
* Charbel Rouhana
* Wadih Saffi

In Israel:

* Yair Dalal (Israel/Iraq)
* Taiseer Alias
* Armond Sabah (Israel/Morocco)

In Syria:

* Farid Al Attrach (Syria/Egypt)
* Alsiadi (Syria/USA)
* Afif Taian

In Greece:

* Alekos K. Vretos (Greece)
* Haig Yazdjian (Greece, of Armenian descent)

In Kuwait:

* Yousif Al Mutrif (Kuwait)
* Rashid Al Hameli (Kuwait)

In United Kingdom

* Robin Williamson (1943-)

In Canada

* Dikran Richard Sarookanian (of Armenian descent)


* Gordon Grdina (Canada)
* Hamza El Din (Egypt)
* Ahmad Firdaus Baragbah (Jambi/Indonesia)
* Zulkarnain Yusof (Johor/Malaysia)
* Samir Zaki (Jordan)
* Abadi Al Johar (Saudi Arabia)
* Ali Bin Rogha (United Arab Emirates)
* Ahmed Fathi (Yemen)
* Joseph Tawadros (Australia)
* Fouad Al-Kebsi (Yemen)

List of famous oud makers

* Manol (Manolis Venios)(Greek, living in Constantinople – 19th cen.)
* Maurice Shehata (Egypt)
* Gawharet el Fan (Egypt)
* Salmeen (Kuwait)
* Nahat family (Syria)
* Necati Gurbuz (Izmir, Turkey)
* Nahat & Sons (Syria)
* Tasos Theodorakis (Greece)
* Hadi Usta (Turkey)
* Jafar Abedini (Iran)
* Nariman Abnoosi (Iran)
* Mohsen Ajdari (Iran)
* Mohammad Taghi Arafti(Iran)
* Mohammad Ashari (Iran)
* Fathi Amin (Egypt)
* Abdelrahman Darwish (Egypt)
* Gamil Girges (Egypt)
* Dimitris Rapakousios (Greek,
* Mohammed Fadehl (Iraq)
* Yaroub Fadhel (Iraq, making ouds in Tunisia)
* Nazih Ghadban (Lebanon)
* Hasan Manoochehri (Iran)
* Fawzi Manshad (Iraq-Basra)
* Ebrahim Ghanbari Mehr (Iran)
* Mohammadi Brothers (Iran)
* Khalil Mousavi (Iran)
* Viken Najarian (California)
* Ebrahim Suker (Syria)
* Bahram Taherian (Iran)
* Faruk Turunz (Turkey)
* Mario Epstein (Idaho)
* Onnik Karibyan (Turkey, of Armenian descent)
* Faisal Alawy (Yemen)


Saz (Baglama)

Baglama Saz

The bağlama is a stringed musical instrument shared by various cultures in the Eastern Mediterranean. In Turkish bağlamak means ‘to tie,’ a reference to the tied-on frets of the instrument. Like most stringed instruments, it can either be played with a plectrum (i.e., pick), or with a fingerpicking style known as şelpe.

Turkish bağlama

The bağlama, sometimes referred to as saz or a member of saz family, is a Turkish instrument and the fundamental instrument in Turkish folk music. Its name literally translates to “something that is tied up”.

The bağlama is a string instrument consisting of 7 strings divided into groups of 2, 2 and 3. These groups of strings can be tuned to different combinations, each corresponding to a different system.

The bağlama is believed to be a synthesis of historical musical instruments in Central Asia and pre-Turkish Anatolia. Bağlama is the most commonly used string folk instrument in Turkey. It takes different names according to the regions and according to its size such as Bağlama, Divan Sazı, Bozuk, Çöğür, Kopuz Irızva, Cura, Tambura, etc.

The cura is the smallest member of the bağlama family with the highest pitched sound. One size larger than the cura is the tambura, which is tuned an octave lower than the cura. The Divan sazı is the largest instrument in the bağlama family, and is tuned one octave lower than the tambura. The bağlama has three main parts called Tekne(the bowl), Göğüs(sounding board) and Sap(neck). The tekne is generally made from mulberry wood, but may also be made of juniper, beech, spruce or walnut. The göğüs is made from spruce and the sap section from beech or juniper. The tuning pegs are known as burgu (literally screw). Frets are tied to the tekne with fishing line, which allows them to be adjusted. The bağlama is usually played with a Tezene, which is similar to a Guitar pick) and is made from cherry wood bark or plastic. In some regions, it is played with the fingers in a style known as Şelpe or Şerpe. There are three string groups, or courses, on the bağlama, with strings double or tripled. These string groups can be tuned in a variety of ways, known asDüzen. For the Bağlama Düzeni, the most common tuning, the courses are tuned, from top downward, A-G-D . Some other düzens are Kara Düzen (C-G-D), Misket Düzeni (A-D-F), Müstezat (A-D-F), Abdal Düzeni, Rast Düzeni. There are also electric baglamas which can be connected to an amplifier. These can have either single or double pickups.

The kopuz and the baglama

The kopuz or komuz differs from the baglama in having a leather covered body, a fingerboard without frets, and two or three strings made either of horsehair, or of sheep or wolf gut. It is played by beating with the fingers, rather than being plucked with a plectrum.

The Turkish settlement of Anatolia from the late 10th century onwards saw the introduction of a two-string Turkmen dutar, which was still being played in some areas of Turkey until recent times. According to the historian Hammer, metal strings were first used on a type of kopuz with a long fingerboard known as the kolca kopuz in 15th century Anatolia. This marked the first step in the emergence of the çöğür (cogur), a transitional instrument between the kopuz and the baglama. According to the 17th century writer Evliya Celebi, the cogur was first made in the city of Kütahya in western Turkey. To take the strain of the metal strings the leather body was replaced by wood, the fingerboard lengthened and frets introduced. Instead of five hair strings there were now twelve metal strings arranged in four groups of three. Today the cogur is smaller than a medium sized baglama.

Meanwhile the five string kopuz is thought to have been transformed into the six string instrument known as the sestar or seshane by the 13th century mystic Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi. The word sestar is also mentioned in the poems of the 14th century poet Yunus Emre. Evliya Celebi describes the kopuz as a smaller version of the seshane.

The word baglama is first used in 18th century texts. The French traveler Jean Benjamin de Laborde, who visited Turkey during that century, recorded that “the baglama or tambura is in form exactly like the cogur but smaller”. He was probably referring to the smallest of the baglama family, the cura.



The tar is a long-necked, waisted lute found in Azerbaijan, Iran, Armenia, Georgia, and other areas near the Caucasus region. The word تار tar itself means “string” in Persian. This is claimed to be the root of the names of the Persian setar and the guitar as well as less widespread instruments such as the dutar and the Indian sitar.

The exact place of origin of the tar cannot be confirmed. However Tar was invented in the territories of, or influenced by, the Persian Empire: Persia (Iran), Afghanistan, parts of the former Soviet republics, such as , Georgia.

The tar appeared in its present form in the middle of the eighteenth century. The body is a double-bowl shape carved from mulberry wood, with a thin membrane of stretched lamb-skin covering the top. The long fingerboard has twenty-six to twenty-eight adjustable gut frets, and there are three double courses of strings. Its range is about two and one-half octaves, and is played with a small brass plectrum.

The Persian tar used to have five strings. The sixth string was added to the tar by Darvish Khan. This string is today’s fifth string of the Iranian tar.

Tar is one of the most important classical Persian musical instruments. The formation, compilation, edition, and inheritance of the most authentic and most comprehensive versions of radif are all worked on tar. The general trends of Persian classical music have been deeply influenced by tar players. The melodies performed on tar were considered useful for headache, insomnia and melancholy, as well as for eliminating nervous and muscle spasms. Listening to this instrument was believed to induce a quiet and philosophical mood, compelling the listener to reflect upon life. Its solemn melodies were thought to cause a person to relax and fall asleep.

The author of “Gabusname” (11th century) recommends that when selecting musical tones (perde) to take into account the temperament of the listener. He suggested that lower pitched tones (bem) were effective for sanguine and phlegmatic persons, while higher pitched tones (zil) were helpful for those who were identified with a choleric temperament or melancholic temperament.

Some Contemporary Tar Players

* Hossein Alizadeh
* Parham Nassehpoor
* Majid Derakhshani
* Mohammad Reza Lotfi



The Zurna (also called Surnay, birbynė, lettish horn, surla, sornai, zournas, zurma) is an Anatolian woodwind instrument. It is similar to the Mizmar. The Zurna had often been featured in the Ottoman military bands. Zurnas are also used in the folk music of the countries in the region, especially Republic of Macedonia, Greece, Armenia, Iran and the other Caucasian countries. It has origins in ancient Egypt, and has now spread throughout the Islamic world, China, and Eastern Europe. In Russian folk music, it is used in sad folk songs. It is often used in the music of Lithuania and Belarus, where bands such as Sutaras and Stary Olsa use them in traditional music. Use of zurna can be heard in the t.A.T.u. song “Stars”.

Zurna The Zurna is most likely the immediate predecessor of the European Shawm as well as the Chinese Suona still used today in temple and funeral music. The Japanese charumera used by itinerant noodle vendors is a small zurna, its name deriving from the Portuguese chirimiya.

There are several types of zurnas. They all share one and the same sound inductor – the so called kalem – which is actually a very tight (and short) double reed, sometimes made out of wheat leaves. The Armenian zurna is the shortest type reaching only 15cm, and respectively it is has the highest pitch of all the zurna family. The longest (and lowest) is the Kaba zurna, used in northern Turkey and Bulgaria. As a rule of thumb, a zurna is conical and made of wood.

Etymology and terminology

Oldest Turkish records suruna in Codex Cumanicus(CCM fol. 45a) < Persian word that is combined of two parts:

1. Sur = festival & red
2. Nay / Na = Reed / Pipe “.
Terminology in Anatolia

Turkish terminology

1. Head and reed

* zaynak Ankara
* nazik Abdal
* ula Uludağ
* çatal Çankırı
* zinak Diyarbakır – Kurdish
* nezik Gaziantep
* fasla Kırklareli
* zaynak – Kurdish

2. Pipe

* metef Ankara
* metem Abdal
* çığırdan Uludağ
* demir Çankırı
* bülbülük Diyarbakır
* kanel Kırklareli
* metef – Kurdish
* lüle Sivas