How To Tune A Persian Tanboor



The term tanboor is applied to a variety of long-necked string musical instrument used in art and folk traditions in Iran, India, Kurdistan, Armenia, Afghanistan, Turkey, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan.

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All About Persian Tanboor

Tanboor is the ancestor to most long-necked, plucked stringed musical instrument. It has a pear shaped belly which is normally carved out of one piece of mulberry wood with a long neck and fourteen gut frets. Some modern tanboors are made of bent ribs of mulberry wood. The sound board is also made of mulberry wood and 3-4 millimeters thick. It has several small holes for better resonance on the board.

The ancient tanboors used to have two silk or gut strings tuned in 4th or 5th, similar to the dotar (meaning two stringed), its widely used in Eastern Iran. It has also been regarded as the tanbur of Khorasan in literary texts. The present tanboor has three strings and covers the range of one octave and two notes. The lower pair of strings, made of steel, are tuned in unison normally anywhere from a (flat) to (b) and are fingered together functioning as the melody strings. The top string made of copper or brass, slightly thicker, tuned in lower fourth or fifth, functions as a sympathetic string with occasional fingering by the thumb.

tanbur-by-hormoz tanboor-by-hormoz

Tanboor is one of the few Iranian musical instrument, which is sacred. It’s associated with the Kurdish Sufi music of Western Iran and in the zikr gatherings of Ahl-e-haq tanboor is the only musical instrument, which can be brought to these meetings. It is also believed that its repertoire is based on ancient Persian music. This instrument at present is used most often in the Kermanshah province.

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The player of tanboor sits on his two knees of squats on the ground and places the bows on his leg so that the facing stands vertical. On the other he places the handle in little forward and high and the right hand embraces nearly the back and face of the bow and plays the instrument by beating the strings by his hand. 

Pro-tanboor-by-gahvare tanboor-by-gahvare

The melody is played on the double strings with a unique playing technique with three fingers of the right hand.  The strings are strummed with the fingers of the right hand to produce a very full and even tremolo called shorr (literally meaning the pouring of water). This technique along with various kinds of plucking, usually with the index and pinky fingers, enables the musicians to produce different effects and various rhythmic accentuations which imitate the natural sounds of their environment such as a running stream, a water fall, a bird chirping or a horses' gallop, all translated into musical rhythms and sounds.

Persian-tanboor iranian-tanboor

How to Tune a Persian Tanboor?

In the Persian Tanboor, the bottom string is Do and tuned in C. The middle (second) string is Sol and tuned in G, the third string is also Do and tuned in C.  

Please see our recommendation on how to tune a Persian Tanboor in the youtube video below.

For further information please see our Tanboor Collection

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