The gopuz is
the most ancient Azerbaijani string instrument. Archeological
excavations conducted in the 1960s by prominent American
archeologists working in Southern Azerbaijan on the
Shushdagh mountain slope, in the ancient city of Jygamysh,
uncovered rare objects that dated back to the 6th
millennium B.C.10 The most interesting of these findings
was a clay plate that depicted musicians at a majlis,
complete with an ozan pressing a gopuz to his chest.
The gopuz was widely known throughout the areas inhabited
by Turkic peoples. Certain kinds of gopuz were also
spread to several European countries (Ukraine, Poland
and Hungary) under the names of "kobuz",
"kobza", "komuz" and "komza".
This probably occurred in the 4th-5th centuries of
A.D., during the Huns' march into Europe (Great Migration
Two kinds of
gopuz were especially widespread:
1. The two-stringed instrument known as the "gil
gopuz" or "iklyg" was mainly performed
Central Asia, particularly in Kazakhstan, where it
is still widely used.
2. The three-stringed "golcha gopuz", considered
to be an ancestor of the modern ashug's saz, is the
most ancient string instrument used by Azerbaijani
Turks. The golcha gopuz, mentioned in the epic "Kitabi
Dada Gorgud" (The Book of Dada Gorgud), is presented
there under several names.
gopuz" and "alcha gopuz" mentioned
in "Kitabi Dada Gorgud" are not two different
instruments but rather two names for the same instrument."
There is also
information about the "gopuz rumi" and "ozan
gopuz"-two kinds of gopuz-in "Kitabi al
Advar", a treatise by the outstanding Azerbaijani
musician Abdulgadir Maraghayi (12th-14th centuries).
The word "gopuz"
probably comes from the ancient Turkic words "gop"
(height) and "uz" (voice, magic music sound).
Turkic gopuz usually had two or three strings. The
two-stringed gopuz was spread throughout Altai, Siberia,
Turkmenistan and the area in China inhabited by Uigurs.
The three-stringed gopuz was spread among Anatolia
and the Azerbaijani Turks. The body of a golcha gopuz
is like the body of an ud, but much smaller. Two-thirds
of its surface is covered with leather, and the other
part is covered with thin wood. The other part of
its sounding board has a thin wooden covering.
There are no
frets on the neck of the gopuz. The total length of
the instrument is 810 mm. The length of the body is
410 mm, the width is 240 mm and the height is 20 mm.
Its range goes from the "si" I of the great
octave to the "la" of the first octave.