State Museum of
Shirvan tanbur has a pear-shaped form and belongs
to the same family of instruments as the saz (photo
30-31). This two-stringed, sometimes three-stringed,
musical instrument of a very simple design was very
popular in the Oriental world for centuries and is
now widespread in the East, particularly among Central
Asian peoples. The tanbur has a very ancient history.
Al Farabi emphasizes its pre-lslamic origin. A lot
of information on the tanbur that was popular in the
medieval era among both palace and national musicians
can be found in classical poetry and medieval miniatures.
"Haft-Jam" by Fuzuli, the tanbur is described
in the following manner:
show heartfelt affection to the tanbur,
Open a door for it with a key of respect.
Through opened door will inspiration come,
And souls will flourish in happiness.
instrument was widespread in the Middle Ages in Azerbaijan
and was known as the "Shirvan tanbur". Later,
it was named the "Shirvan Tabriz tanbur"
due to the popularity of this instrument among Tabriz's
Beginning in the second half of the 19th century,
the tanbur gradually began to decline in Azerbaijan.
There used to be various kinds of tanbur; for instance,
its Baghdad, Khorasan, Indian, Shirvan and Afghan
versions are mentioned in literature. Some kinds of
tanbur were played with a bow and called "ney-tanbur".
The Shirvan tanbur has a small body and a long neck.
Its body is made of mulberry wood and pear wood, and
the neck and head are made of walnut. The face of
the instrument has a thin wooden plate made of pine
or mulberry wood. A total of 14-17 frets are tied
to the finger-board of the instrument. Another three
to four frets are tied to the face of the instrument.
They are called "khas parda" (special frets).
There are two strings in the instrument.
The tuning of the Shirvan tanbur is similar to that
of the saz. The first string is used for performing
the melody, and the second string is tuned in various
ways, depending on the character of the music. The
tanbur is unique in that it is played with the thumb
and middle finger of the right hand. Sometimes it's
also played with the help of a plectrum, which is
laid under a thimble held on the forefinger of the
right hand. The total length of the tanbur is 940
mm. The length of the body is 385 mm, the width is
200 mm and the height is 135 mm. The length of the
neck is 340 mm, and the length of the head is 120
mm. The Shirvan tanbur ranges from the "do"
of the first octave to the "mi" of the second