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Saz / Chogur / Baglama / Tanbur:

The saz is the most important folk instrument in Turkey and is widely popular. A descendant of the ancient tanbur-e-Khorsan, the saz has the additional frets needed to play the correct intervals used in Middle Eastern music, sometimes called “1/4 tones”. These frets are tied on and can be moved for different modes if needed. Played with a small pick, the saz is a melodic instrument and comes in several sizes. The smallest is the cura, and the most common size is the baglama, which is much larger than the tiny Greek baglama. Indeed, the saz is one of the ancestors of the modern Greek bouzouki. Saz bodies are either carved from one piece of wood, or are built of staves like a mandolin or oud. Sazes are usually tuned in 5ths, and the music is written as if the tuning is GDA; many other tunings are used, but EDA, F#DA and a few others are most common. The actual pitch may be somewhat higher depending on the neck, so that the actual tuning may be AEB, BbFC, etc. If the neck is short enough, CGD is common. There are also options of stringing, the most common having the G and A strings set up with octave courses. Any saz with 7 pegs can be set up for this tuning. Some sazes are set up with single strings; the set-up is the choice of the player.

The Saz is a chordophone and is a member of the long necked Lute family. Such long necked Lutes have an ancestry that can be traced as far back as the ancient cultures of Babylon and Sumeria. The Saz of Anatolia, likely descended from the Kopuz. The term Kopuz is used to refer to any number of long necked stringed instruments used by Turkish tribes at the turn of the last millennium. Like other ancestral long necked Lutes, the Kopuz had strings of hair and leather bodies. Through the years several new forms of long necked Lutes evolved from these earlier Kopuz. In the 15th century the use of metal strings marked the emergence of the Cogur. The Cogur is believed to be transitional between the Kopuz and the Saz. The addition of metal strings added greater stress to the body. This required that the weaker leather body be replaced by a body constructed of wood. Today the Saz is generally larger than the Cugur. The Saz shares the metal strings and wooden body, but has a longer neck with frets. In ancient times the Kopuz was believed to have had mystical powers strong enough to protect a warrior if carried into battle. In the 17th century the Alevi and Bektasi dervishes, religious practitioners, traveled the century country side of Anatolia. They commonly carried the smallest the Saz, the Cura to accompany them in their religious hymns. Today the Saz is used in a number of religious ceremonies. Today the Saz is the most important instrument of the Turkish folk. The Saz may even define the poetic heart of the Turkish people. It would be impossible to find a region, in Anatolia which did not know this string instrument.


The chogur or choghur dates back to the 12th to 16th centuries, the period between the gopuz and the saz. In the Caucasus, Iran and Anatolia, and in Sufi traditions, darvishes and ashugs used an instrument called the "chaghyr" /"chagur"/ "chugur" / "choghur". Presumably, the name "choghur" means "the musical instrument used to appeal to God and truth". [In Azerbaijani the word "chaghir" means "to call", "to appeal"] It may be assumed that the name of the instrument originates from the expression "chal-chaghyr" (festivity or celebration), which was later changed to "choghur". Various historical sources indicate that the choghur was used to create a high battle spirit among the soldiers of the medieval Safavid state's army.

In the "Jahanarai Shah Ismayil Safavi" annals, describing the situation at the beginning of the 16th century, several lines are devoted to such an occasion: "At the head of the victoriously striding army, chukurs played and Turks-Varsakgs sang in order to raise the battle spirit of the warriors."

In his work "Turkmen Times in the South", Ali Reza Yalchin tells about the nine strings, 15 frets and perfect timbre of the choghur.16 It is possible to conclude from historical facts that in the 12th-1 3th centuries, the choghur replaced the ozan gopuz, and in the 15th-16th centuries, the choghur was replaced by the saz. But some versions of the choghur that were spread throughout the Caucasus and among the Iraqi Turkmens have survived until the present.

The 19th-century choghur stored in the Azerbaijan History Museum has three pairs of strings and 22 frets on its neck. The body of this instrument is made of mulberry wood.. The top of the body has a wooden covering that is four mm thick. The neck and head of the instrument are made of nut wood, the pegs of pear wood.

The total length of the instrument is 880 mm. The body is 400 mm long, 225 mm wide and 140 mm tall. Two resonator apertures are drilled on each side of the body, and several apertures are made on top of the sounding board. Its scale goes from the "do" of the small octave to the "sol" of the second octave.


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