Instrument Glossary - Aga Khan Music Initiative - AKDN
Aga Khan Development Network

Instrument Glossary: Tengir-Too

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Bardic Divas
Badakhshan Ensemble
Alim and Fargana Qasimov
Homayun Sakhi
Invisible face of the Beloved

End-blown flute made from reed or wood with four or five holes. Under various names and in various sizes, end-blown flutes - e.g., tsuur (Mongolian), chuur (Tuvan), sybyzghy (Kazakh), kurai (Bashkir) - are widespread among Inner Asian pastoralists.

Chopo choor
A clay ocarina with three to six holes found in southern Kyrgyzstan and most commonly played by children. There is evidence that horse herders used ocarinas as signaling instruments in thick forests, where they would often graze their horses at night.

Jygach ooz komuz and temir komuz (wooden and metal jew's harps)
Jew's harps, called by a variety of local names, belong to the traditional instrumentarium of pastoralists throughout Inner Asia. The specifics of instrument construction and performance styles vary, but jew's harps in Inner Asia are made either from wood or metal, representing an early and sophisticated use of metallurgy by nomadic peoples. A magical or spiritual dimension has been attached to jew's harps in many cultures.

Kyl kiyak
The Kyrgyz variant of an upright bowl fiddle, with two horsehair strings. Kazakhs call an almost identical instrument qyl-qobyz. The deck is usually made from the hide of a camel or a cow, and the body is carved from a single piece of wood, typically apricot. The instrument's repertory is heavily programmatic; that is, melodies narrate stories and often imitate different sounds. In the past, the instrument had a strong connection to shamanism and the recitation of oral poetry.

The main folk instrument of the Kyrgyz-a three-stringed, fretless, long-necked lute, typically made from apricot wood, nut wood, or juniper. Playing techniques include plucking, strumming, and striking strings with the fingernails, as well as the use of stylized hand and arm gestures, which add an additional narrative component to the komuz's typically programmatic repertory.

Among the Kyrgyz, a side-blown flute, traditionally played by shepherds and horse herders, made from apricot wood or the wood of mountain bushes. The sybyzgy has its own repertory of solo pieces (k) that are distinguished by their lyrical style.

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