The cobzã or folk lute, a cordophone instrument of the Eastern lute family, has existed in the southern and eastern provinces of Romania (Moldavia, Wallachia and southern Oltenia) for several hundred years. As early as the 16th century, it was depicted in church murals. Widespread in cities and towns up until the beginning of this century, it has gradually been replaced in traditional popular groups (tarafs) by the cimbalon (tambal) or Hungarian dulcimer.

There are very few cobzã or cobzã players today. They usually belong to large national folk groups who have taken over the instrument to "preserve" it for posterity. These groups are "customers" of a few stringed-instrument makers in northern Moldavia who still produce the instrument.

The cobzã is made from a fairly large pear-shaped soundbox that extends into a fairly short, wide, thick neck. The neck bends inwards almost at right angles. The cobzã’s eight strings are grouped in twos and tuned in a major tuning (usually D, F#, A). The player plucks the strings with a goose-feather plectrum or small comb using supple up-and-down movements of the right wrist.

Today, the cobzã is used as an harmonic accompanying instrument. Only a few good musicians (like Marin Cotoanþã from Wallachia, recorded here) can include two or three simple dance melodies in their repertoire. Two kinds of accompaniment have evolved for the cobzã , one in non-arpeggiated tuning and the other in figured tuning based on one of several melody-rhythm forms (tiituri).


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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