Komuz

Komuz ENGLISH CONTENT

The komuz is an ancient unfretted, stringed instrument of Turkic origin that has become a cherished symbol of the Kyrgyz people. Its earliest known use by Kyrgyz nomads dates from the fourth century although imprints of a similar three-stringed instrument have appeared in 8,000-year-old archaeological relics found in modern Azerbaijan. Not quite a meter in length, the komuz is lightweight and portable, ideal for nomadic life in the mountains and jailoos (mountain meadows) of Kyrgyzstan.

Typically, a komuz is made of a single piece of juniper or apricot wood, both found in abundance throughout Kyrgyzstan. The Kyrgyz words for the parts of the komuz relate to parts of the body or symbols dear to the Kyrgyz people. In addition to the instrument's long, narrow moyun (neek), its tuning pegs are called qu/aq (ears), while its strings, qyl, were originally made of the dried intestines of sheep or goats. The name komuz is believed to have been derived from the ancient Turkic words gop (height) and uz (voice) or a magic, musical sound.

Myths abound about the origin of the komuz. One reveals that a hunter, named Kambar, was wandering in the forest when he heard the breathtakingly beautiful music. He sought its source and found that it was produced by the intestine of a squirrel tied between two tree branches, which he then fashioned into a musical instrument. Legend also suggests that the nightingale learned to sing by imitating the sound of the komuz. To the Kyrgyz, the notes of the komuz truly capture the most beautiful sounds of nature echoing through the mountains and valleys of Kyrgyzstan.

The komuz is played as a lead instrument or as an accompaniment to the recitation of Iyric poetry by an akyn, an ancient bard of the Kyrgyz people. Akyns played a vital role in maintaining the oral traditions of nomadic life. The komuz is generally strummed or plucked and held horizontally while seated, but many musicians demonstrate their skill by playing the instrument upside down or over the shoulder, the komuz may be tuned in different ways according to various styles of music although the middle string is generally the highest in pitch. The komuz is an enduring symbol of Kyrgyz national pride. During the spectacular World Nomad Games 2016, a concert of one-thousand komuz players enthralled the audience with the traditional melodies of Kyrgyz Nomadic life.

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