Қандастар Ассамблея

Uyghur Musical Instruments

25.11.2014 3648
Uyghur Musical Instruments

The speech in which Head of State Nazarbayev addressed the people of Kazakhstan to instruct them for the New Year was as follows: “Representatives of many nationalities were destined to come to the Kazakh Land. We welcomed them with our traditional hospitality. They have come to be our brothers. Today, we make one multiethnic country. The globalization era is the era of multiethnic states. It is a process happening worldwide. Every community of our country has contributes to its culture.” The Uyghur community of Kazakhstan is no exception. The Uyghurs living in the Kazakh Land have not only become one with the Kazakhs but also preserved their authentic culture, which they have been passing from generation to generation. The culture of Kazakhstani Uyghur music is remarkably sophisticated. It is hard to imagine an event not accompanied with Uyghur musical instruments. Some Kazakhstani Uyghurs are merited artists who glorify and promote the national music art. They not only promote national folk music but also have preserved the art of musical performance.  It is safe to say that Uyghur songs present a unique vision of the ethnic group’s collective mentality, for the art of music is tightly connected with everyday life as well as innate spirituality. Remarkably, Uyghurs dance to express what cannot be expressed with music. Uyghur music compositions can be classified into two groups. The first group contains songs sung in a choir with no accompaniment, while the second contains those accompanied with individual instruments or a Uyghur orchestra. Such instruments as the ravap, the gidzhak, the dutar, and the tambir are used for accompaniment. Tambir is widely popular in our country. Music scholars classify instruments into the following 4 groups:

1.Idiophones. Sapay, dzhuptash, chackcha, koshuk, chauchak.

2. Membranophones. Dan, nagra, dumbak, tevilvaz.

3.Chordophones. Dutar, tambir, ravap, kalun, kashkar ravap, dolan ravap, bass ravap, gyrzhak, satar, khushtar, bass khushtar, chang

4. Aerophones. Nay, koshnay, sunray, kornay.

The dutar is the most popular of the list.

This is a pear-shaped instrument with a long fingerboard that has 13-20 frets. It has two strings. It chiefly uses the 4th, sometimes also the 5th interval. The prima, alt, bass, and contra dutars have been created on its basis and introduced to the folk orchestra.

The tambir is an instrument with frets along its fingerboard; its breast plate consists of two parts. It is chiefly made of mulberry wood.

The girdzhak is a thin-necked semisphere instrument. It used to have two strings, but the type was replaced by the four-string girdzhak.  

The satar is not very common. To play requires a special skill. The instrument has 9-13 strings.

The chang has a trapezoid shape, a flat body and wire strings. The instrument is made of mulberry wood.

The instruments described above are used individually as well as in ensembles.

The kalun is an ancient Uyghur instrument. Experts believe it to have been invented by the world’s second teacher Al-Farabi. The instrument is made of mulberry wood; it has wire strings; it is 45 wide and 15 cm high. It was mostly used by Central Asian and Xinyang  Uyghurs. Most of Uyghur instruments belong to the chordophone group. They boast a stunning diversity of shape and unique speech.  

To sum up, Turkic-speaking communities, though sharing roots, do have ethnic-specific features, which can be found in literature, arts, traditions, and cuisine. It is our belief that the values will never tarnish and will be passed from generation to generation to enter the humanity’s historical record.


Gulmira Yerubayeva

Images by Vos-bazar.ru; data from “Keruen”, 2012, Almaty.