What Is Tanbur? How to Play Tanbur?

What Is Tanbur_ How to Play Tanbur


Tanbur (also known as tambur) is one of the most important instrument in the Turkish maqam. It is a stringed instrument that is played with a plectrum or a bow and a tanbur player is called a “tanburi”. It constitues as one of the four instrument of the basic quartet of Turkish classical music. It has been used in different shapes and sizes in the history of music. During the 17th century in Ottoman Empire, it got its final form and became a lot more popular in music. Around that time, mostly musicians who resided in Istanbul used the tanbur instrument in their music and it slowly became a huge part of Turkish music and culture.

There are many theories regarding the origins of the tanbur instrument but as it shows more similarities with instruments based in Anatolia and Asia that are mostly used by Turks. It is assumed that the instrument descends from another Turkish instrument, the kopuz. Some believe it descended from Sumerian instrument “pantur.” However there is no way to prove or deny these origin stories, as there is no historic evidence of them.




Now that we have talked about the origins of the tanbur instrument, also often referred to as tambur, let us talk more about the instrument itself.

What Is Tanbur?

As we have already explained above, Tanbur (or tambur) is one of the oldest Turkish instruments to date and it has a very important role in Turkish music, mostly classical music. It is believed that the name “Tanbur” comes from the Arabic word “tunbur”. The origins of the tanbur instrument is unclear as it has been around in ages. It is known that the Tanbur instrument has taken many different shapes and sizes, making its way through Asia and birthing similar instruments such as tambura and dombra, but it became the instrument we know today during the seventeenth century in Ottoman Empire. With more and more people showing interest in the instrument and becoming “tanburi”s, which is the name for musicians who can play the tambur instrument, it slowly became one of the most popular and recognizable instruments in Turkey.


tanbur instrument


You can also like: Turkish Professional Tanbur HST-142

Types Of Tanbur

There are 2 types of the tanbur instrument. And those are listed below:

  • Yayli tanbur
  • Stringed (telli) tanbur

You can also like: Professional Persian Tanbur By Sokhtedal SOT-403


How To Play Tanbur?


tanbur history


Playing the tanbur is actually similar to playing a baglama or saz. If you have experience with saz, it may be much easier for you to play the tanbur instrument. First, to learn how to play the tanbur instrument, you have to learn how to hold the tanbur. There are a few ways to hold the tanbur but one of the most used positions is the position where you put the tanburs circular head between your legs and squeeze it. To get a sound out of your tanbur, you’re going to have to press one of the six strings in the tanbur and use your dominant hand to move the bow that will be used to get a certain note out of your tanbur. Try to not press the strings too hard as that will harm the bow and the strings which later on might cause trouble. We recommend you get lessons to learn how to play the tanbur instrument professionally.

You can also like: https://salamuzik.com/blogs/news/all-about-yayli-tanbur

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.