Winter 2001 (9.4)
Recently we had the incredible experience of seeing the famous
cellist Yo-Yo Ma on his Silk Road tour with musicians playing
traditional instruments from Central Asia. I have seen many performances
in my life but this was truly exceptional. And one of the musicians
[Firangiz Alizade] was in fact from Azerbaijan and had written
what I thought was the most beautiful piece of the evening.
After that concert, my wife gave me an instrument. Purportedly,
it's a "Turkish violin-like" instrument. I'm wondering
what it is?
Let me describe it to the best of my ability: It's about 16"
tall, made of a light wood (perhaps pine). It has three strings
with a grooved cylindrical head tightened by brown pegs. The
bow is about 14 inches long, with no tensioner, some type of
hair (maybe horsehair).
Does this instrument sound familiar to you? If so, what can you
tell me about it, please? How is it tuned and played? If this
is not something you're familiar with, can you refer me to another
source? Thanks, in advance, for your kindness.
Robert Alberts, Executive Director
Big Brothers Big Sisters, Texas
Editor: This sounds like a kamancha
to us. This instrument is traditionally played in Azerbaijan,
Iran and neighboring regions, and yes, its sound closely resembles
that of a violin. In Azerbaijan the kamancha is traditionally
played by a trio of performers along with another stringed instrument,
the tar, and someone who sings mugham (modal music), who sets
the rhythm with a gaval (a tambourine-like instrument). But in
Azerbaijan, a concerto has been composed for the kamancha and
orchestra by Haji Khanmammadov (1917- ). To our knowledge, it's
the only symphonic concerto in the world written for kamancha.
For sound samples, visit AZER.com and click on MUSIC.
For more about Haji Khanmammadov and Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project,
(9.4) Winter 2001.
© Azerbaijan International 2002. All rights reserved.
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