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 mount Read More

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.


© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Tanbura

Tanbura

Gabrovo

The "Alexandre Dumas" School of Foreign Language, Bulgaria

Pear wood
Length: 32 cm Width: 22 cm Length: 53 cm
© The "Alexandre Dumas" School of Foreign Language, Bulgaria


A folk instrument of the chordophone family of supposedly Turkish or Persian-Arab origin, the tanbura is found mainly in the south east of Bulgaria and in the mountainous Pirin region.

The tanbura is a piriform lute with a body made of sycamore or pear wood. The soundboard has two or more sound holes. The instrument has a long neck with a straight fingerboard and keys to adjust the string tension. The strings pass over the bridge and are held in place by a piece of beech wood called a "button". The number of frets can vary between 12 and 18, depending on the dimensions and type of tanbura. They are placed all along the keyboard and are made of metal, string, sheep gut or linen thread. The tanbura strings are metal, wrapped with copper thread that makes the tone soft and tender. The strings are plucked with a small cherry bark plectrum to produce the sound.

Bulgarian tanbura come in different sizes, with different numbers of strings, in different tunings and are played in various positions. Today, the best known tanbura has 8 strings, 18 frets, chromatic tuning and a wide range.

In the past, only men played the tanbura to accompany thei Read More

A folk instrument of the chordophone family of supposedly Turkish or Persian-Arab origin, the tanbura is found mainly in the south east of Bulgaria and in the mountainous Pirin region.

The tanbura is a piriform lute with a body made of sycamore or pear wood. The soundboard has two or more sound holes. The instrument has a long neck with a straight fingerboard and keys to adjust the string tension. The strings pass over the bridge and are held in place by a piece of beech wood called a "button". The number of frets can vary between 12 and 18, depending on the dimensions and type of tanbura. They are placed all along the keyboard and are made of metal, string, sheep gut or linen thread. The tanbura strings are metal, wrapped with copper thread that makes the tone soft and tender. The strings are plucked with a small cherry bark plectrum to produce the sound.

Bulgarian tanbura come in different sizes, with different numbers of strings, in different tunings and are played in various positions. Today, the best known tanbura has 8 strings, 18 frets, chromatic tuning and a wide range.

In the past, only men played the tanbura to accompany their songs. In modern orchestras and groups, the tanbura most often plays harmony or rhythm. Nonetheless, accomplished musicians can play solos of remarkable technique and virtuosity.


© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Tanbura: Audio

Tanbura: Audio

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

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:

  • Understand that music is an expression in all cultures
  • Understand that the relationship between personal feelings and music transcends borders and cultures
  • Develop respect for music from a variety of cultural contexts
  • Examine traditional music practices in selected Francophone countries
  • Demonstrate geographical awareness by identifying Francophone countries
  • Be aware of the musical contributions of various cultural groups in their own community
  • Understand that all world music can be organized within a standard classification system

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