Alternate Name(s): Saz
Geographic Region: West Asia
Country of origin: Iran
SvH No.: 321.321
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The Azeri çoğur (“chogur” in English orthography, pronounced cho-GOOR) is perhaps more often referred to locally as the “saz,” and is closely related to the instrument known in Turkey as saz or bağlama. Like the bağlama, it has a deep, pear-shaped bowl resonator and a long neck with frets tied on. The resonator is carvel-built out of light, thin strips of mulberry wood, and the soundboard is also of mulberry; most çoğur necks are made from walnut (During 1990: 25). While the strings on the çoğur often number nine, the number can vary, and this example has only seven. The strings are arranged in three courses; on a nine-stringed çoğur, the strings would be trebled, but here two of the courses are only doubled. The total length of this çoğur is 42 in. (106.7 cm).
Tuning and technique
The courses of strings are tuned as follows: the first course is tuned to C, the third course to B-flat, and the second course changes tuning according to the mode of the song being performed. The strings are strummed rapidly by the plectrum in a rhythmically diverse and ornamented way. The melody is played on the highest-pitched (first) course of strings, although the others may be fingered as well to create a limited polyphony (During 1990: 25).
History and context
The çoğur is the primary instrument of Azeri folk music, which is performed by bards called ashiqs (pronounced ash-UG). Ashiqs sing a variety of genres of song, including both lyric poems and long narrative ballads. The ashiq may use the çoğur to play instrumental music, but more importantly he accompanies himself with it as he sings. Becoming an ashiq requires lengthy apprenticeship under an established musician, and there are also a variety of popular stories regarding the ashiq receiving a gift, symbolizing the ability to make music, in a dream or vision as a young man (see Albright 1976: 221-222). Ashiqs perform professionally at coffeehouses and parties, and format may vary regionally. Some ashiqs are accompanied by players of hand drums called def and balaban (Başgöz 1970: 396).
Albright, Charlotte F. 1976. “The Azerbaijani Ashiq and His Performance of a Dastan.” Iranian Studies: 9(4):220-47.
Ashiq Hasan, Emran Hedari, Alim Qasimov. 1989.Azerbaidjan: Musique et chants des ashiq. Archive Internationales de Musique Populaire, VDE CD-613.
Last Modified: 18-May-2010TOP