Alternate Name(s): Saz
Geographic Region: West Asia
Country of origin: Turkey
SvH No.: 321.321
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The bağlama, or saz, is a long-necked lute prevalent in Turkey. The word saz originally referred to musical instruments in general, but has come to refer to a popular class of long-necked lute. The word bağlama comes from the Turkish verb "bağlamak," to tie, and is a reference to the frets, which are tied on (Picken 1975: 209). In the past, the number and placement of frets has varied, but in current practice the octave is usually divided into 17 tones, allowing for a chromatic scale plus several microtonal intervals (Stokes 1992: 51). There are three courses of strings, two of which are often doubled and one of which is often tripled, for a total of seven strings, although this can vary (see Picken 1975: 210). There are a variety of sizes of instruments in the saz family, ranging from the small cura to the very large divan sazı (Picken 1975: 209). This particular instrument is a medium-sized bağlama, and is 47.5 in. (120.7 cm) in length. The resonator is carved out of a single piece of wood, making it an oyma sazı. Many baglama resonators are fashioned out of a series of thin ribs of wood; such instruments are classified as "yapraklı saz" (Picken 1975: 217).
Tuning and technique
The bağlama is commonly tuned in fifths, but there are a variety of tunings in use. Typically the melody is played on the highest-pitched course of strings, while the other strings are played open as an accompanying drone; however, occasionally the melody can shift among strings, or multiple strings may be fingered simultaneously to create a polyphonic texture. The strings are commonly plucked with a wood or nylon plectrum, but some performers use their fingers. The player may also strike the soundboard with the second finger of the right hand to create a rhythmic pulse while playing.
History and context
As early as the 14th century, a predecessor to the modern bağlama, called the kopuz, was mentioned in Turkish writings (Picken 1975: 264). The word saz in the sense of "lute" and the word bağlama are more recent namings, the latter likely dating to the late 18th century (Picken 1975: 209). The instrument has become quite popular and widespread; regional styles, including distinct strumming patterns, abound; and the bağlama is central to a number of genres of music in Turkey. Among these genres are halk or folk music, music of Sufi rituals, and songs of aşık poet-singers, old and new; additionally, the bağlama often appears in modernized hybrid popular forms.
Morris, R. Conway. "Bağlama." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. 26 Jan. 2009 http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/52319.
Chichek, Ali Ekber. 1991. Turkish Sufi Music: Folk Lute of Anatolia. Lyrichord, LYRCD 7392.
Last Modified: 03-Jun-2010TOP