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Ancient wind-instruments of the Kazakhs

11 October 2017
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Ancient wind-instruments of the Kazakhs
National Digital History Portal presents to readers ancient musical instruments of the Kazakhs, which people have already forgotten - now they are rarely used

Previously we already wrote about the ancient musical instruments of the Kazakhs. Today we also decided to tell a little about them. After all, literally yesterday, in the harsh Soviet period, we even cannot revive our national values – and it was difficult even to collect any information about them. Valuable research on Kazakh musical instruments is written in other languages. Therefore, the names of traditional musical instruments have changed. Our ancestors, who led a nomadic way of life, had a large number of musical instruments. They all contributed to the spiritual, cultural development of the people. Musical instruments were used everywhere: during the wandering, during the celebration of national holidays, and during military campaigns. Let's once again focus on these instruments.

Wind-instruments include all musical instruments that produce sounds by injecting a stream of air. From time immemorial our ancestors used wind-instruments. They were made of wood, bones, horns, iron, and clay. The Kazakh wind-instruments include Sybyzgy, Sazsyrnai, Kernei, Uzkirik, Borgui, Zhilikshik, Tastauyk, Bugishik, Muyuz Syrnai and others.

Kernei is an ancient wind-instrument of the Kazakh people. It is widely used among the Turkic-speaking peoples. Today this musical instrument is in the Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Tajiks, and Mongols. A well-known ethnographer, historian Bikumar Kamalashuly: "Kernei is a long wind-instrument, "ker" means "build, formation", and "nei, nai" means "sybyzgy (flute)". The length of the ancient instrument reaches 3 meters. Sometimes they put a stand and then blow."

In ancient times, kernei was used for military purposes. People beat the drums and trumpeted into long kernei during the enemy raids. Thus, the entire district was notified of the disaster that had occurred. Also they trumpeted into kernei during the celebration of the Batyrs, military commanders, as well as during the reception of foreign ambassadors and during the gala evening at the Khan's palace. When they played kernei, they do not stand still; they turned in different directions and blew. The instrument has different sizes, and the strength of the sound is also diverse. Making a kernei is similar to making a sybyzgy. The outer side of the instrument is covered with the camel's esophagus. This method does not allow the wooden case to crack. Kernei was made from two hollowed and scorched halves of a wooden trunk and glued together. The finished instrument was decorated with a fringe of horsehair. The kernei has a narrow opening for blowing. If the people of Central Asia used kernei as a military musical instrument, then the Eastern peoples used it during religious customs. The well-known instrument expert, composer Bolat Sarybayev has scientifically proved that the kernei is an ancient musical instrument and that it has been widely used by the people. And composer Nurgissa Tlendiyev used kernei in the film "Kyz Zhibek".

Kussayrauyk is one of the oldest musical instruments. The history of the wind instrument, which is made by burning clay, goes back centuries. About this instrument is not much written and saved. This instrument, accidentally found at the end of the last century at the ancient sites of the city of Turkestan, refers to the ancient Turkic period. Now, according to our research, its range of sound, system of expression, ways of playing, characteristics are defined. The instrument was made from clay and fine sand by means of a dense, solid batch. There were blowing holes and two more holes at the sides. The structure of the blown hole is not found in previously opened national wind instruments. The appearance of the instrument is uneven, bumpy, unpainted. Frozen in a natural way without roasting, this instrument is made of blue clay. It is not used today; this musical instrument took its place in the historical museum of local lore. I believe that the modernization of this instrument which history goes back centuries is a responsible mission for today's instrument experts.

Zhilinshik is an ancient musical instrument belonging to the kernei family. Our ancestors, who led a nomadic way of life, from the shins of animals and birds made a musical instrument zhilinshik kernei. According to the well-known ethnographer, historian Bikumar Kamalashuly, for the production of the instrument femur was more comfortable. "The thick side of the femur was turned outward and was blown out from the thin side, holes were made in the center of the bone," Bikumar Kamalashuly says. Ancient musical instrument "Zhilinshik" produced slow, beautiful tunes, pleasant for hearing. To make it, even a cannon-bone, the legs of long-legged birds, small cloven-hoofed animals were used. And this instrument can be modernized in the spirit of the times and included in the national music orchestra.

Kalgan is an ancient musical instrument of the Kazakhs. It is a wind-instrument that looks like kernei. The history of the Kalgan begins from ancient times. It is possible that this instrument existed even at the time of the Saka, because, in ancient times, our ancestors used gold during the manufacture of Kalgan. The sounds of Kalgan served as a sign for forming an army. Also Kalgan was used and during solemn ceremonies. The history of this ancient instrument requires further study. There is a full basis to modernize this instrument for using it in today's army.

Sazsyrnai is an ancient wind-instrument of the Kazakhs. It looks like a goose egg. It was completely prepared from clay. The instrument made of high-quality clay had sound holes in 3-4 places. It’s unpainted, raw clay. The sound series, structure, and methods of manufacturing the instrument were studied by research scientists B. Sarybayev and K. Karabdalov. To date, among the performers in demand is its advanced model with a total length of 10-12 cm, a circle of 16-18 cm, with 5-6 sound holes. For experienced artisans who are engaged in the manufacture of clay and ceramic products, it will not be difficult to make this musical instrument. The instrument is prepared from quality clay, by shaping, and then dried. After that, it is fired in a special oven at a certain temperature. Now the masters put on its surface different patterns and cover it with glaze.

 

Translated by Raushan MAKHMETZHANOVA

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