Baglama Saz Page 1 of 2. The Baglama Saz is a chordophone and is a member of the long necked Lute family. Such long necked Lutes have an ancestry that can be traced as far back as the ancient cultures of Babylon and Sumeria. The Saz of Anatolia, likely descended from the Kopuz. The term Kopuz is used to refer to any number of long necked stringed instruments used by Turkish tribes at the turn of the last millennium. Like other ancestral long necked Lutes, the Kopuz had strings of hair and leather bodies. Through the years several new forms of long necked Lutes evolved from these earlier Kopuz. In the 15th century the use of metal strings marked the emergence of the Cogur. The Cogur is believed to be transitional between the Kopuz and the Saz. The addition of metal strings added greater stress to the body. This required that the weaker leather body be replaced by a body constructed of wood. Today the Saz is generally larger than the Cugur. The Saz shares the metal strings and wooden body, but has a longer neck with frets.
In ancient times the Kopuz was believed to have had mystical powers strong enough to protect a warrior if carried into battle. In the 17th century the Alevi and Bektasi dervishes, religious practitioners, traveled the century country side of Anatolia. They commonly carried the smallest the Saz, the Cura to accompany them in their religious hymns. Today the Saz is used in a number of religious ceremonies.
Today the Saz is the most important instrument of the Turkish folk. The Saz may even define the poetic heart of the Turkish people. It would be impossible to find a region, in Anatolia which did not know this string instrument.
Its general shape of the saz is similar to the Bouzouki and Oud. The differences are in the dimensions of the peg box and resonator. The Saz resonator-body is deeper than is it wide. Traditionally the body is carved of mulberry wood, juniper, beech, spruce or walnut; these bodies are called oyma (one block of wood). Today the body is also made of other woods in stave construction, yaprakli (leaves) in Turkish. The 6 to 8 metal strings are tied to a block (the tekne) mounted at the base of the soundboard. From there they run over a bridge on the soundboard (göğüs). They continue over neck (sap) with its 10-19 or more, low tied nylon frets to the tuning pegs (burgu). The long narrow neck is usually made of fir. It terminates in a narrow peg box that is at a slight angle to the neck. The 6 to 8 strings are tuned by pegs, which are set at 90 degrees to one another. Half the pegs are on the side of the peg box and the other half project up from the top of the peg box. The metal strings may be steel or brass. They usually have 3 courses of 2 strings each, though this can vary. Traditionally the strings were plucked by long oblong cherry bark plectrums (Mızrap or Tezene in Turkish). Today the plectrums are plastic. Sound holes are varied in number, position and style. They may be absent, or appear on the soundboard, or caved in the sides of the body. Some sound holes have decorative rosettes, others are plain openings.
Within the Saz family there are several classes. These classes are usually distinguished based on the size of the instrument. The Smallest, highest pitched, of the Saz family is called the Cura. Since it is easy to travel with a smaller instrument, the Cura is favored by street musicians. It has a small body and short fingerboard and has 6 strings in 3 courses.
The Baglama, or Tambura is the middle sized Saz. The Baglama comes in two style: the short fingerboard, regarded as sacred by the Alevi and Bektasi sects, and the long fingerboard with more frets known as the bozuk. Both types have seven strings in three courses.
The largest Saz with the deepest sound are known as Divan or Meydan Saz. Today the plain, unornamented, Divan is the commonly used in Turkey. It is the largest in both body size and fingerboard length.
Turkish players sometimes make distinctions based on the number of strings per course or the total number of strings. The rare Oniktelli Saz has 4 courses of double strings. The more common string arrangement is 3 courses of 2 strings. This is seen in the Altitelli. In the Bozuk and Yeditelli the lowest first course has 3 strings and the second and third courses each have 2 strings.
A common tuning for the cura saz is A D G high to low pitch (thin to thick string, or bottom to top string) one octave above the baglama (bozuk duzen).
Also see our Baglama Saz Accessories.
SPECIAL NOTE - No Warranty on Strings: Whether you purchase an instrument on-line or in a neighborhood store, manufacturers recommend that you change the strings on your instrument as soon as you receive it. Your instrument has completed a long journey to your home. During this time the strings WILL oxidize and this may shorten their life expectancy and may reduce their sound quality. On occasion instruments may arrive with a broken string, therefore, it is recommended that you purchase a replacement set of strings and consider changing your strings as soon as it arrives. Learning to change strings should be the first lesson learned when embarking on the journey of playing a new instrument.
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