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11 Famous Turkish And Persian Instruments That Are Best For a Guitar Player

Legends say that music has a language of its own that unites different countries together. But, did you know that musical instruments, such as a Guitar can connect one culture from another? 

 

Much before the modern Guitar got introduced to the western music world, several stringed, percussion and wind instruments have known to be existed in the Turkish and Persian traditional music history, which often claim to pose an influence on the evolution of a guitar. 

 

Some say that the ancestors of the guitar traveled to Europe from Mesopotamia and Egypt. This is why the term ‘guitar’ is derived from the term ‘chartar’ in Persian, meaning four strings. Some also believe that the guitar (as Tambur) was played in Iran from ancient times in the praise of the Lord. 

 

The historical background of a guitar, is thus, a very deep one. What’s exciting for modern-day guitar players is that they have the opportunity to learn different types of Turkish and Persian musical instruments. Listed below are some popular ethnic musical instruments that you can play or learn easily, being a guitar player. 

 

 

   1. Oud 

 

Known as the grandfather of modern-day guitar, oud is a perfect musical instrument for guitarists, who wish to learn middle-eastern music or gain expertise in microtonal and quarter tonal intervals. It is a lute-type stringed instrument with a short neck and 11 or 13 strings in groups of 5 or 6 courses. Being easy to learn, you, as a guitarist, will start playing one or two songs (using the oud) in just a few days. 

 

    2. Saz

 

Saz or Bağlama is a popular Persian instrument, which belongs to the family of long-necked lutes, and plucked string instruments, used in Iranian music, Turkish folk music, Ottoman classical music, Armenian music, Kurdish music, Assyrian music, and Azerbaijani music. One thing that connects guitar players with Saz is that just like a guitar, you can play this instrument while singing songs, like Türkü as sung by the Saz players. The Saz family consists of different instruments, like Bozuk saz, Çöğür saz, Cura, Tambura, Divan sazı, Bas sazı, Üçtelli saz, Meydan sazı, and Aşik sazı. 

 

    3. Setar 

 

This Persian instrument is a popular member of the lute family, played with the right hand’s index finger. Earlier the moveable frets (25 to 28 in number) in Setar were made of silk. However, they began to be made of animal intestines afterward. Also, when it was originated, it had a close root to the Tanbur, which, as mentioned above, was played as guitar in Iran. Maybe this is the reason why it is said to be ideal for guitarists to learn. 

 

    4. Kabak Kemane

 

This is a popular Turkish folk instrument that shows variations in its forms, from one region to another. It is also known by different names, for example, Iklig, KemanÁa, Hegit, Rubaba, Rabab, etc. Its body is made from vegetable marrow. However, the wooden ones are more common. It produces all types of chromatic sounds, and thus, is suitable to be played by the guitarists. Also, it is used in long plays, Staccato, Legato, and Pizzicato paces. 

 

    5. Kaval

 

A famous Turkish folk instrument in the wind instrument family is Kaval or Guval. it is widely used in folk music groups and sounds amazing when used with a guitar, especially when played as part of the rhythm section of the music composition. 

 

    6. Dohol 

 

Dohol is a cylindrical drum with two skinheads, just like a Dhol, which is quite popular in traditional Indian, Pakistani and Egyptian music. It can be played using your bare hands or with a stick. In Kurdistan, Dohol is a popular percussion instrument, which is played along with a Zurna (wind instrument). Its pairing with a wind instrument makes it an ideal instrument for guitarists who love ‘rhythm guitar technique’ or want to try it in the future.

 

    7. Ney 

 

Ney is the oldest Persian musical instrument, consisting of five or six finger holes and one thumb hole. For acoustic guitar players, Ney is certainly a must-try musical instrument as it also features a hollow cylinder for creating acoustic sound. To protect the wood against damage, a mouthpiece made of horn, brass, or plastic is placed at the top. This, in turn, provides a sharper edge to blow at. Depending on the finger arrangement, the pitch of the Ney may vary and can reach up to more than three octaves. 

 

    8. Daf 

 

It is a large frame drum, popularly used in the Indian subcontinent, Greater Iran, Central Asia, the Arab world, and Kurdistan. The frame is made of hardwood and the membrane is usually made of the skin of the horse, fish, goat, and cow. At several musical events, you may often find Daf to be accompanied by players of Oud, Tanbur, Saz, Violin and various other Middle Eastern instruments. This is another example of a rhythm guitar technique, wherein the guitarists support the melodic lines and solos played on daf and other percussion instruments.

 

    9. Qanun

 

Qanun is a popular string instrument, which can either be played solo or as part of an ensemble. It produces a unique melodramatic sound and is often considered to be a type of Zither, featuring a thin trapezoidal soundboard. Guitar players find it very easy to learn because there are no awkward hand positions, no fretting of the strings, no pick-offs, no hammer-ons, and no chord chart is required. 

 

So, do try out these instruments if you are a guitar player. You will surely have a fun time exploring what connects a guitar with these different Turkish or Persian musical instruments.

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