The etchnic culture of Azerbaijan
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Sounding of instrument

The balaban is a wind instrument that is widely used in orchestras, ensembles, ashug and other folklore groups (photo 14). The name of the instrument (sometimes pronounced as "balaman") probably originates from the words "bala" (small) and "ban" (cock's cry).

The balaban, which has a soft, melancholic sound, is used in ensembles, orchestras and as a solo instrument, as well as to accompany groups of wind instruments and groups of ashugs. The balaban is usually hewn out of apricot, walnut, mulberry or pear wood.

Wooden balabans
The State Museum of Azerbaijani Musical Culture.

After that, it is soaked in vegetable oils and then dried at a particular temperature for a long time. Eight apertures are cut on the front side, and one is cut on the back. To play the instrument, the musician opens and closes the apertures with the fingers of both hands. A mouthpiece is attached at the head of the instrument. This mouthpiece is made of cane of a specific size that is flattened on one side. Because of this, sometimes the instrument is called the "yasti balaban" (flat balaban).

With the help of a clamp that is fitted to the mouthpiece, the musician can regulate the musical tone and pitch of the sound. To produce a tone, the player, deeply breathing, directs air into the mouthpiece, which is placed between the lips. By placing his fingers over the apertures, he achieves the desired pitch. The length of the instrument is 280-300 mm, and the diameter is 20-22 mm. The balaban's range goes from the "sol" of the small octave to the "do" of the second octave. The diapason can be expanded, depending upon the mastery of the performer.


        © Musigi Dunyasi