All About Kamancheh
Tips For Purchasing A Good Kamancheh
Searching for your ideal instrument is a thrilling and a rewarding journey. If you want to buy the right one, you need to love the process. Because finding the instrument that only feels right for you is not going to work. Buying a kamancheh is no difference. If you follow the right steps and focus on main characteristics the right kamancheh instrument will almost pick you.
What is a Kamancheh?
Kamancheh or Kamancha is a bowed string instrument with a spherical body. In Persian, the word kamancheh means “a small bow”.
It has reached many countries but commonly used in the classical music of Iran, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey. The structure of the instrument is slightly different in each country. It also has some different names such as Kamanche, Kamancheh, Kemanche or Kemancha. The instrument is played in both folk and classical music.
The “classic kamancheh” is a small fretless instrument with a length of 40-41 cm, a width of 14-15 cm, and played with fingernails. The half-pear-like body, the elliptical 'head', and the 'neck' of the stem are made by carving and carving from a single piece of wood.
The body of the kamancheh is completely hand-carved from mulberry, black mulberry, maple, juniper, spruce, or plum wood, and is made within 3-15 days, depending on its type and characteristics.
It has two large D-shaped holes on its chest, with rounded edges out. The instrument has a "back groove" on the back. The strings of the kamancheh are 7-10 mm higher than the key, while the tail wedge is placed on the left knee and the strings of the kamancheh are held in a vertical position by leaning against the chest or placed between the two knees. Because the sounds are obtained not by pressing the strings with the fingertips, as in most stringed instruments, but by gently pushing the strings from the side with the fingernails.
kamancheh models can also vary a lot. While some kamancheh lovers prefer a plain and unpretentious appearance, others prefer kamancheh that are produced by combining the art of decoration.
What is the difference between Iranian and Azeri Kamanche?
Although it is used in both countries for centuries, there are some minor differences between the Persian and Azeri version of Kamancheh. The first visible difference is the length of the neck. The neck of the Azeri version is 3 to 5 cm shorter than the Iranian Kamancheh.
The variety of the wood in use and the sound box of the instruments have some dissimilarities, too. The woods used in Persian model is mostly walnut and mulberry whereas Azeri models are carved from both walnut and mulberry. Azeri Kamancha is usually made from one piece of wood and its spherical structure is hand carved. Persian models are traditionally made from sliced woods. The sound box gets its round shape from compressed woods.
Length of the strings is 33 cm for Iranian and 29 cm for Azeri models. Formerly the silk strings were in use for the kamancheh but in modern versions, metal strings took place instead. Traditionally the bow of an Azeri kamancheh is made of slightly curved wood and horse hair. The hairs are not stretched tight and the player can adjust them to get softer or louder sounds.
How to play and tune a Kamancheh?
Its soft and easy to listen timbre makes kamancheh a suitable instrument for solo and ensemble. The player rests the Kamancheh on the knee and instead of using the guidance of the bow he turns the instrument to meet the bow. During the performance, player uses fingers by inserting them between bow hair and the wood part to get the desired sound.
Notes can be reached by touching the nails from the left to the strings. The curtains are pressed with the left hand, the bow is held with the right hand. It is played on the knee or between the knees. When played on the knee, the bow does not rise and fall according to the strings, on the contrary, the kamancheh is rotated to the bow without changing the angle of the bow, and contact is made with the string. When played between the knees, the kamancheh remains fixed and its bow angle is changed to ensure contact with the strings. It is very difficult to execute and requires many years of work.
Kamancheh can be tuned in a wide range and so it gains a technical advantage. Lowest could be : La – Re – La – Re until Re – Sol – Re – Sol. Some prefer to utilize the mid-tension strings. Less commonly some players prefer to tune Kamancheh like a violin. There are many versions for tuning and in the end, player's taste is the final for tuning pitch. Some players prefer to play on tense strings while the others prefer to play mostly on loose strings.
You can view our catalogue for both Persian and Azeri high quality kamancheh instrument models made by famous makers.
Kamancheh’s Influence on Different Cultures Over the Years
Kamancheh has influenced a number of different cultures throughout the history. Kamancheh is a Persian musical instrument which is inspired by rebab. Kamancheh has paved the path for so many Persian people to chase their dreams as artists over the years. Kamancheh constituted the majority of their lives. The instrument and the music you can produce with it have an aura that binds both the listeners and the artist.
Although Kamancheh has touched so many different lives from different parts of the world, it was mainly the Middle east where Kamancheh had the most cultural effect. Countries like Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan have seen the major impact of Kamancheh in their cultures.
Sentimental Value of Kamancheh In the Middle East
All the musical instruments have a sentimental value in terms of their influence on the mankind. They are the bridge between humanity and the very fine art known as music. People have shrines in their hearths for their musical instruments.
It has been the same story for Kamancheh throughout the history. The music produced by Kamancheh can be best described as rigid and sharp yet touches to heart. For Middle Eastern people, that description fits so much with their lives and their history. Middle East have seen so many wars and disputes throughout its history, which made the Middle Easterners thick skinned but kind at heart people they are nowadays. This resembles have made Kamancheh one of the best ways to tell their story for many Middle Easterners.
Worldwide Popularity of Kamancheh
Kamancheh’s influence is not limited to Middle East. It has caught the attention of many artist from Europe over the years. There are many stories about artists travelling to countries such as Turkey, Iran, and Armenia, just to learn how to play Kamancheh. Kamancheh has managed to gain love and interest from many different parts of the world and this love has been recognized with the instrument’s inclusion to UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.
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