The etchnic culture of Azerbaijan
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Sounding of instrument

Golcha qopuz
Maker - M.Kerimov.
Baku. 1999

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 of Peoples).

Two kinds of gopuz were especially widespread:
1. The two-stringed instrument known as the "gil gopuz" or "iklyg" was mainly performed among
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.

The "gurulcha 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).

The ancient 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.


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