INSTRUMENTS – Tanbur family

Tanburs have been present in Mesopotamia since the Akkadian era, 4000+ years ago. Wikipedia sez “The term Tanbur (Persian: تنبور‎, pronounced [t̪ʰænˈbuːɾ, t̪ʰæmˈbuːɾ])[a] can refer to various long-necked, string instruments originating in Mesopotamia, Southern or Central Asia.[1] According to the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, “terminology presents a complicated situation. The term tanbur (or tambur) is applied to a variety of distinct and related long-necked string instruments used in art and folk traditions in Iran, India, Iraqi Kurdistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, Tajikestan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan.[2][3] Similar or identical instruments are also known by other terms.”[1]

We’re talking about the ancestor of the bouzouki, saz, sitar, tambura, domra, baglama, pipa, and tamburica orchestras. The oud/lute is a first cousin (more strings, short neck). What all of these instruments have in common is they’re plucked-stringed instruments with a pear-shaped body. Most of them (oud/lute excepted) have long necks and (lute and sitar excepted) few strings. They can be plucked with plectrums or bare fingers. Their range is from Europe to Japan, they come in a variety of sizes, and they have VERY MANY different names. Some instruments called tanburs are bowed rather than plucked, but that’s a different tanbura. A complicated situation for sure!

Kurdish Tanbur, sacred instrument of the Yarsan (“Friends of God”) or Ahl-e Haqq religion. Wikipdia says: Nowadays Kermanshahan tanbur (or Kurdish tanbur or tembûr or tanboor or tanbour) is played all over Iran, and that is what is called just “tanbur” in Iran nowadays.
Yarsan – Tanbur Celebration in (Baba Yadgar) Temple. Yarsanism is a blend of Zoroastrian, Yazidism and even Christianity. It’s rejection of class, caste & rank is a major difference from Yezidis and Zoroastrians.
Turkish tanbur
Another sacred use of the tanbur.
Uzbek tanbur
Kazakh dombra
Chinese pipa
Japanese biwa
Russian domra
Here’s the chonguri accompanying the Trio Mandili from Georgia.
YouTube suggested by John Uhlemann
tanpura – sitar without frets, India
sitar, India
Turkish saz
Greek saz or tambouras
Another Greek tambouras
Albanian Çifteli
Greek bouzouki
Turkish bağlama
Greek baglamas is a version of the bouzouki pitched an octave higher (nominally D-A-D), with unison pairs on the four highest strings and an octave pair on the lower D.
Bulgarian tambura
Bosnian Muslim
tamburica, Banja Luka, Serbian Bosnia. Though not typical, the tango music played in the beginning shows the tamburica orchestra’s versatility. At 1:43 the performing group is singing “pevaj mi, pevaj” while dancing Ličko Kolo, from Lika, Croatia
Oud The oud is the most important musical instrument in Middle Eastern music: it is called the ‘sultan of the instruments’. Its name derives from the Arabic for ‘wood’, and this refers to the strips of wood used to make its rounded body. The neck of the ud, which is short in comparison to the body, has no frets and this contributes to its unique sound.
Armenian Oud
cobza – Romanian lute
Renaissance lute – frets added. The iconographical evidence suggests that western lutes were without frets until around 1400.

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