Music of Uzbekistan

The music of Uzbekistan remains exotic and untained, still remotely related to the droning melodies of the Middle East and Persia. For over five centuries the courts of Bukhara, Khiva and Khokand experienced a brilliant musical life. Musicians in the Khan’s service provided music for festivals and ceremonies or entertainment (toy) for weddings. The Maqam repertoire was associated with the great courts.
The instruments used are similar to those used in the Arab world; long-necked lutes, reedy flutes, tambourines and small drums. In the past music was closely connected to the art of the bards, storytellers who would travel from town to town giving dramatic recitals of epics and poems. These days traditions are continued by ensembles of musicians performing at weddings and festivals.

A study of the range styles of performance of many key instruments has been a key reason for musicologists visiting the area over the last few decades. In playing the dutar (2 stringed long necked lute), the Uzbek musician uses glissando and vibrato effects as well as snapping the fingers on the soundboard. The ghijak (with 4 steel strings) is played to produce trembling, whining sounds. Ensembles in Uzbekistan consist of tanbur or tar (plucked lutes), ghijak, chang (struck zither), naj (transverse flute) and daira (tambourine). Uzbek singing is throaty and nasal.

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