Uzbek musical instruments

In the East the sages said: "Only knowing one’s roots, a person can know himself." This truth applies fully to the musical culture, a significant part of which are ancient instruments. So, playing drums our ancestors accompanied their dances and songs, because the rhythm was always the main component of Uzbek music. In miniatures of the beginning of the XVII century one can find an image of the national drum of nagora, without which no holiday in Uzbekistan is imaginable to this day. This unique instrument is made of burnt clay in the form of a pot, on the upper part of which a membrane of animal skin is stretched.

History of Uzbek musical instruments

The world of instrumental culture of Uzbekistan is extremely rich and diverse. The first data regarding musical instruments belongs to ancient times. Evidence of this is given by archaeological excavations in the territory of Uzbekistan. The first sample of a musical instrument was a longitudinal pipe-nay, found on the territory of Uzbekistan. It dates back to the 3.5 millennium.

Archaeological finds of wall paintings and terracotta figurines in the excavations of the ancient settlement Afrasiab near Samarkand, in ancient Khorezm and Surkhandarya testify to the spread of such instruments as the lute, the double flute-avlos, the cithara during the Hellenistic period in Sogdiana and Bactria. And on the famous frieze of the 1st-2nd century from Ayrtam, twenty kilometers from Termez, an unknown artist who lived at the court of the grandee of the Kushan Tsar, depicted musicians playing the harp, flute, four-stringed lute, cymbals and a double-sided drum resembling the Uzbek national drum rez-nagora.

The study of Uzbek folk instruments has been conducted since ancient times. In numerous treatises-works of scholars of Central Asia of the IX-XVII centuries, one can find a description of musical instruments, the names of outstanding musicians, the names of music works known in the past. Indirect evidence of the antiquity and wealth of the Uzbek instrumentation is the image of musicians with musical instruments on wall paintings of ancient buildings found during archeological excavations, as well as terracotta statuettes of musicians.

The collection and study of traditional Uzbek music has started quite widely from the last third of the 19th century. It is associated with the names of military bandmasters, who, in addition to their main work in orchestras, turn to ethnographic activities. They are, first of all, A. Eichhorn and F. Leisek. In particular, Eichhorn compiled a catalog that included thirty-six Uzbek folk instruments of various groups.

A notable trace in the collection and study of Uzbek musical instruments was left by an outstanding music and public figure, composer, ethnographer and teacher Viktor Uspensky. It was on his initiative and with the lively participation that the musical ethnographic section was opened in Tashkent in 1919. One of the first results of the section's work is the collection of a large collection of Uzbek folk instruments and a careful study of their performing abilities.

Uzbek folk instruments

Uzbek musical instruments

A wealth of Uzbek musical instruments is rich: stringed instruments, wind instruments and drums.

Uzbek national musical instruments in their present form have been existing for several centuries.

Uzbek musical instruments

Uzbek percussion musical instruments

Evidently, the most favorite Uzbek percussion instrument is doira. This instrument itself gives much fun and a lot of positive emotions. On doira people play in all areas of the republic. Doira is a wooden hoop, on which the skin is stretched. Metal rings, which give a melodic sound when doira is shaked, are attached to the inner side of the instrument.

Uzbek wind musical instruments

Along with the doira, one of the most popular musical instruments of Uzbekistan is karnay. This is a long (4.5-5 meters) pipe, which is wide on the base. In the narrow upper part a wooden tube is fixed. Inside the tube itself is another thin metal tube. Musicians press a small plate to their lips and blow into it.

Everyone knows that karnay is one of the oldest Uzbek musical instruments, but few remember that in the medieval worlds karnay was a military signaling tool. In one miniature of the year 1430, a battle is described. There are drummers and musicians trumpeting into long karnays in the same ranks with soldiers.

Music instruments of Uzbekistan

Surnay is a wind instrument of a smaller size than the karnay. The carcass of the surnay with a wide socket is skillfully carved from a single piece of apricot or mulberry tree, and its metal pin is made of silver. Its sound resembles the clarinet, but because of the extra holes it reproduces unique sounds.

Uzbek nay is one of the most widespread musical instruments. It is used both as a solo and ensemble, orchestral instrument. In its form it is a transversal flute with 6 playing holes. It is plaid like a regular flute. Nay instrument is made from bamboo, tin and brass.

Nay musical instrument makes a pleasant sound, which is compared with a whisper of a mountain brook.

Uzbek stringed instruments

Uzbek rubab is a wooden convex case with a leather deck, metal or silk strings. The sizes of the rubab can be very different, but the optimal size is 80-100 cm. Musicians play the rubab with a bow, and while playing they hold the instrument on their knees.

Uzbek musical instrument dutar appeared around the 15th century. At the beginning, as it was the shepherds’ instrument, strings for the dutar were made from the guts of animals. Later strings of twisted silk were made. Now nylon or silk strings are also used.

Sato is an oriental ancient string-bow musical instrument with a pear-shaped body. The natural materials for sato instrument are mulberry, pear and walnut.

Many scholars consider Central Asia to be the birthplace of bowed stringed instruments, among which are such widespread among the Asian peoples as sato and kobuz. But the oldest bow instrument that appeared on the Uzbek land was a gidjak. The round case of it, tightened with a leather membrane, was traditionally made from coconut. The sound of a gidjak resembles a violin. It is played with the aid of a special bow-kamon.

The sounds of old Uzbek musical instruments give rise to the exciting mysterious music of the East.

In Uzbekistan the production of national musical instruments is a very complex and delicate branch of contemporary art woodworking.

The largest cities of Uzbekistan - Bukhara, Khiva, Samarkand have long been famous for masters of making musical instruments. The names of masters who worked in the XIX - XX centuries went down in the history of national music. Instruments worked by their hands, have long found their place in museum exhibitions and private collections. Their traditions are continued by modern masters - B. Alimov, Mirzaev brothers. The unique instruments made by famous masters can be recognized not only by the exceptional timbre of the sound, but also by the exquisite form of the case, the love decoration with fine ornamental carvings on the precious wood, inlay from bone and nacre.

Along with traditional instrumental Uzbek music, in the late 30s of the last century a fundamentally new performing culture which had a European orientation with characteristic style, genre and performance features was formed.

To date, there is an intensive rise in Uzbekistan traditional instrumental music, which continues to reflect its way of Uzbek life. The traditions of ensemble performance have received the great development in Uzbekistan. Folk orchestras and ensembles, both traditional and a new type, many-voiced, exist now everywhere.

If you are eager to feel the atmosphere of the East in full, you should hurry up and book a tour to Uzbekistan. Visit this marvelous country with ancient cultural history and enjoy music of Uzbekistan. 

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