The main instruments of Uzbek traditional music, their types and history are reviewed in this article. Abo the role of those instruments and their
functions in rituals and daily life are described.
Music in Uzbekistan has a long history of many centuries. Original and diverse Uzbek music culture had a great influence on the life of
the people of the Central Asia. Uzbek nation has variety of musical instruments that represent all the major groups of instruments. String
instruments, wind and drums. Within these groups one can find many kinds of instruments. For example, string instrument group. These are
stringed-bow and string-plucking instruments; in wind instrument - there are wooden wind and brass wind; in drum instrument group you can see
even more varieties, starting from simple ones such as two stones (qayroq) or wooden spoons (qoshuq) to more complex ones such as Nagora (kettle-drum),
This instrument is also known as Dap, Childirma, and Chirmanda and has a shape of a big wooden ring covered with leather membrane on one side.
The diameter of the instrument is usually 40 cm. Small metal
rings are attached along the inner part of the wooden ring. The number of small
metal rings can vary from 40 to 100, but it makes swishing sound when the doira is shaken. In the mountains of Ferghana valley one can see a
picture of a woman, dated 2000 B.C., playing on doira accompanying other female dancers. Also a statue found by archeolo-gist dating 2000 B.C.
depicts a woman playing on a tambourine, which is similar to doira.
Before, doira was a woman's instrument, because it was related to female rituals. This instrument was used in palaces as chamber instrument in
ensemble with Chin, Rubob and Dutar.
Any music played in ensemble, with human sound or without, accompanied with rhythms of drum instruments. This order of the rhythm in Uzbek music
is called Usuley. The rhythmic formation of Usuls has 2 sounds, "bum" which is created by banging the doira in the middle. The second sound is
comparatively high "bak" which is produced by banging the doira along the edges of membrane.
All different types of Bum and Bak sounds are produced by musicians primarily with four right hand fingers four fingers of their right hand).
The left hand of the musician holds the doira and when needed produces "bak" sounds only by banging the edges of the instrument. Phonetic
meanings of "bum" and "bak" as well as "bakko", and "bakka" are widely used by musicians to remember these usuls, and starting the nineteenth
century the first note of usuls were put on a paper.
Like pot shape instrument covered with goat leather or deer leather on the top. The diameter of the instrument can vary from 60 to 600 mm.
Nagora exists in different sizes and forms, but there are only three most common ones.
• Dol-Nagora: a big nogora with low and resonant loud kinds.
• Rez-Nogora: a small Nagora that has high and resonant sound.
• Kos-Nagora: a middle sized Nagora that has relatively low sound.
You play with two sticks on Kos and Rez Nagoras, but only with one but comparatively thick stick on Dol-Nagora. Dol Nagora often used as an instrument
that gives warning signals.
Another type of Nagora is Kush-Nagora, which is widely used in practice. Kush-Nagora a pair of Nagoras. which are attached to each other, are Kos
and Rez Nagoras. In Kush-Nagora the sounds, "Turn and Tak" are produced in many different ways.
For the most part Nagora is played with wind instruments. For example Tabla, a type of Kush-Nagora, was played every night, usually from midnight
to 5 in the morning in specific usul rhythm during the month of Ramadan.
It was also used as a solo instrument during military campaigns, when soldiers were marching into the battle. Nogora was hanged on camel from
both sides. And sometimes Nogora was played to invite people to a certain house where puppeteer show took place. Nogora, in contrast to doira,
is rarely used as a solo instrument. Only in some kind of rituals Nogora is used as a solo instrument. But for the most part Nogora is played in
an ensemble with Karnay and Surnay. This is usually a celebration ceremony, such as wedding ceremonies. As an example I would like to show you
part of the composition from "Shodiyona", which means Celebration. This composition starts with the sounds of Nogora that draws people into celebration.
It is a wooden tube. Its length is about 450-550 mm. And as you go to the bottom it gets wider. Its 7 wholes in the front part of the tube and 1 in
the back, which falls between the first 2 wholes in the front.
In a narrow upper part of the instrument a small wooden tube is inserted that holds a thin metal tube inside. This small metal tube has a string made
of bamboo plates encircled with a metal ring. Over the metal tube under the string there is a small plate called sadat. The musicians firmly presses
his lips to this small plate.
Double reed of this instrument produces sounds only if the musician puts a lot of efforts to blow the instrument. This produces more definite sounds,
which cannot be produced in Clarinet. This happens primarily due to holes design. The location of these holes influences not only the expansion of the
sound diapason of the instrument, but also produces more clear sounds.
Surnay, because of its rare and strong sound, became one of the main outdoor instruments. It was and is widely used in an ensemble with Karnay and
Nogora in different national celebrations. Surnay is used with Nogora as a messenger for a specific family event, for example wedding ceremony, a
birth of a child in a family. It's also used with Karnay, Nogora or Doira for puppet performances and ropewalker shows. The wide repertoire of this
instrument can be explained by wide variety of its uses. Surnay as a singing instrument can also perform continuous legato.
Techniques that are used to play Surnay include a lot of melismathics and frequent forschlags with jumps with relatively wide intervals. These
jumps are used in Surnay compositions not only at the beginning of melodic orders but also in the middle. As an example we can use Sarbozcha
composition, often called as Persian March.
Among all the Uzbek music instruments a special place is taken by Karnay, which is a mouthpiece brass-wind instrument with many original and
It is a brass tube about 2 meters length with a conical mouth in the end. Karnay tubes are of two types -straight and cranked. The first are
most widely used. Karnay is played in a standing pose. Regular Karnay tube consists of three conjoined parts, which are devised for ease of
Karnay is one of the most venerable instruments which havn't changed much since ancient times. The age of this instrument can be proved
by the famous excavations of Tutanhamon grave 1320 B.C. Among numerous things found there was a trumpet with wooden inserts left from a
music instrument which was almost like a modern Karnay.
Karnay has a mouthpiece with a 97 cm length tube soldered to it, its diameter gradually increases from 5 to 36 mm. The mouthpiece diameter
is 37 mm and the trumpet diameter is 23.3 cm. The sizes of Karnays vary depending on the region of origin. This explains the diversity of
the key of the main tone of Karnays.
The diapason of Karnays is not huge and doesn't exceed an octave. Karnay is mostly used for fanfares and various signals. When played by
veteran musicians, Karnay becomes a very expressive instrument. In past ages Karnay has been serving as a military instrument - a herald
of war and victory.
This instrument as described by famous music history researcher Eichgorn is one of those trumpets, which sounds used to accompany the
hordes of Nodir-shah, Darius, Chenghiz-khan and Tamerlain, used to lead the warriors into the battles to the victory. This description
is proven by many miniatures of different ages depicting scenes of battles and military campaigns, as well as by many other sources.
Karnay also widely used at ceremonies. In the people's daily life, it was used as a signal instrument announcing disasters like fire or
war. In the present time Karnay is used across whole Uzbekistan as a herald of celebration and entertainment, accompanying folk and
circus shows, horse races and other sport games.'"Karnay usually % played with Surnay and Nogora. In this ensemble it can perform small
fanfare composition rhythmical - 4y conjoined with Nogora's usuli.
Uzbek music is still progressing. Through the twentieth century numerous attempts were made by a bunch of outstanding musicians
and music professors to arrange and categorize our huge heritage. This has resulted in rediscovery of many styles and instrument
once being lost. The growing attention of Uzbek people to their culture roots give us hope to see the revival of Uzbek traditional
music in the nearest future.