State Museum of Azerbaijani Musical Culture
The saz is
a string instrument that is played with a plectrum
. It is an integral part of the ashug art, rooted
in the tradition of the great ozans. Moreover, the
saz is one of the symbols of the Turkic world and
art of ashugs, which combines playing an instrument,
reciting poetry, singing, telling epics as well as
acting and dancing (plastic art) is, along with mugham
art, is connected with the most ancient layers of
Azerbaijan's national culture. The predecessor of
today's ashug was considered to be very creative and
was known among ancient Turkic peoples as "shaman",
"oyun", "bakhshi", "yanshag",
"varsag" and "ozan".
Just as the
ozan's art has been passed down throughout thousands
of years of evolution to the art of the ashugs, the
gopuz has developed to become the ashug saz. The modern
Azerbaijani saz is considered to be the perfect descendant
of the gopuz. Its modern shape was already formed
by Shah Ismail Khatai's epoch. There are some beautiful
lines about the saz in one of the poems by Shah Ismayil
Khatai (16th century):
Today I have
not taken my saz in my hands, Therefore my voice is
disappearing away into the sky. There are four important
things that everybody needs: Science, words, singing
Azerbaijani saz differs from the saz that is widespread
among other Turkic peoples in terms of its technical
performance and acoustic features, with considerable
decorated with mother-of-pearl
- B.Balabeyov. Baku. 1999.
The body of
the saz is made of specific kinds of mulberry wood.
The neck is made of nut wood. The trunk of the body
is assembled from wooden pieces in an odd number (usually
nine). These lags are assembled on a small part called
the "kup". which connects the body with
the neck. The neck is attached to the "kup".
The top of the body is covered with a thin wooden
sounding board, and 16-17 frets are fastened to the
saz", or "ana saz", has nine, sometimes
eight strings. The smaller "orta" or "goltug"
saz has six, sometimes seven strings. The "jura
saz", which is the smallest, has four to six
strings. In former times, the strings were made of
high-quality steel that had been dipped in a silver
solution; such strings never rusted and broke only
in very rare cases.
In an orchestra
of national instruments, the saz is used as a solo
instrument. Usually, the "goltug" or "jura"
saz is used for this purpose. The sound of the saz
is produced with the help of a plectrum, made as a
rule from cherry bark. Quite often the neck and lateral
parts of the instrument are decorated with mother-of-pearl.
The basic "Tavar"
saz has a total length of 1,200 mm. The depth of the
body is 200 mm. The tavar saz's range goes from the
"do" of the first octave to the "sol"
of the second octave.