The Tanbura by Monica, Age 15

Night was already falling when we got to the top. In the calm of nature sleeping in the Alps, we heard only the rustling of the trees.

There were nine of us and we had set up tents and built a fire. Sitting around it, we began to sing. An old Bulgarian man took an instrument that looked like a guitar out of his bag and began to pluck the strings with a little feather. A gentle pleasant tune rang out into the night and the sound carried me off into a daydream. The soft tone was very familiar to me but I had never seen the instrument that produced it.

I listened as if I were hypnotized, having the strange feeling that this instrument was trying to send me a message. I took it tenderly in my hands as if I were holding a baby. The old man told me that it was called a tanbura. Its music enlivened celebrations in the Rhodope and Pirin mountains of Bulgaria.

All night long, I listened to the song of the tanbura. Why did its sound affect me this way? What did it want to tell me?

The first rays of the sun touched the tops of the mountains. I admired the beautiful countryside and that is when I understood the tanbura’s message: All mountains are beautiful and they all look more or less the same. But the song of the tanbura was carrying the beauty of the mountains of my country, the joys and sorrows of my people and the friendly waves of my friends, far from my home on its wings. This is what had filled my heart with so much love and gladness.

Canadian Heritage Information Network
Canadian Heritage Information Network, Centre des recherches et études andalouses, Centre des musiques arabes et méditerranéennes Ennejma Ezzahra, Musée de la musique, Laboratoire de recherche des musiques du monde, Musée acadien de l'Université de Moncton, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Musée d'art et d'archéologie de l'Université d'Antananarivo, Musée ethnographique Alexandre Sènou Adande, Musée national du Mali, St. Boniface Museum, Lycée de langues étrangères Alexandre Dumas, Museum of the Romanian Peasant

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