The etchnic culture of Azerbaijan
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String instruments have three main parts:

1) the body, where the sound's resonance is produced, shaped and intensified;

2) the neck, which has stretched strings that pass over the resonant body-these strings are pressed down with the fingers of the left hand in order to produce sounds of various pitches; and

3) the head, which has pegs that hold the ends of the strings and are used for tuning the instrument.

1.Body. 2.Pivot. 3.Stand. 4. String holder. 5. Big stand. 6. Back
7. Strings. 8.Neck. 9.Small stand. 10. Pins. 11.Head.

1.Body. 2.String holde. 3. Bi stand. 4. Back. 5.Pivot. 6.Frest.
7. Neck. 8.Small stand. 9.Head. 10. Pins. 11. Strings


There are two types of technology for making the body of a string instrument:

1) A method of assembly in which the various parts of the instrument are made separately and then put together. The ud, saz, barbat, choghur, chagane, santur and ganun are made in this way.

2) A method of hollowing out a tree stump from the inside and polishing it from the outside to create the required form. The tar, kamancha, rud, rubab, tanbur, gopuz and chang are made in this way.

For the first method, first a special form is made. An element called a "kup" is placed on the upper part, and another called a "dabanjig" is placed on the bottom of the form. Dried wood is cut into five-mm-thick lags of the appropriate sizes. These lags are soaked in hot water (70-90 C) for 20-25 minutes, bent in the form and installed on the kup and dabanjig.

The lags are fixed with the help of metal clips. The number of lags is usually odd (9 or 1 1).

Next, the neck is fixed to the finished body. It is important to make sure that the body corresponds to the neck. There should be a five-mm gap at the juncture of the body and neck. This gap is left to fix the neck in position after straining the strings. A special rule is used to be exact in defining this space.

After fixing the body and neck together, the sounding board is added. The sounding board is made of mulberry or nut wood. The thickness of the sounding board is five mm. It is greased with linseed oil or another vegetable oil and left for several days. Once the wood absorbs the oil completely, it is dried on the fire. Several days later, this procedure is repeated again. The finished sounding board is attached to the body using special wood glue made from cod liver oil. Separate pieces are polished and cleaned. Then a hot glue is placed on them. The parts are assembled and tightly pressed together. Next, pegs and frets are fixed to the instrument.

For the second method, the artisan has to take into account the season in order to determine when the tree should be cut down. The trees' level of gumminess usually goes down in January and February. The tree has to be cut down at this time, since a body made of wood with a high gum level always chaps or warps after drying. After the body is hewed out, it should be allowed to dry.

In order to make the body of the instrument, the tree trunk that is cut out should be bisected and the core should be taken out. The surfaces of the two pieces are polished. Then, the contours of the instrument are drawn on the pieces so that they can be hollowed out along these contours. The mulberry tree should be hollowed out when the wood is still wet. Practice shows that an old and cored tree is not good for making the body of a music instrument.

The sounding of the instrument depends greatly on how it has been assembled. After the body is dried, the inner and outer parts are hewed and polished again. Then the neck, head and other parts of the instrument are fixed to the body. A film made from bull heart or fish skin is stretched over the body. A large bridge situated inside the body receives the vibration of the strings and transfers it to the inner cavity of the body. The acoustic waves that are generated in this cavity flow out again. The sound becomes louder and longer as this process repeats, giving the sound a nice full timbre.

It is necessary to draw special attention to the solidity of the wood used to make the neck, because this area may bend under pressure while the instrument is being tuned. The pear tree is the best for making pegs. Pear wood pegs sustain the atmospheric pressure better and stay in tune.

The strings are made of metal, kapron, silk or animal gut. Metal strings produce the strongest and clearest sound. However, they are much more difficult to press with the fingers than silk or gut strings are. The thickness of the strings depends on the individual instrument. The loops on the ends of these strings (photo) are inserted into the tailpiece on the lower lateral part of the body. The tailpiece is made of metal, ebonite or another firm wood.

The instrument-making traditions established in Azerbaijan by talented craftsmen in olden times are still alive today and are followed by dozens of contemporary professional and skillful instrument makers.


        © Musigi Dunyasi