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The zurna (also called surnay, birbynė, lettish horn, surla, sornai, dili tuiduk, zournas, or zurma), is a multinational outdoor wind instrument, usually accompanied by a davul (bass drum) in Anatolian folk music. The name is derived from Persian سرنای surnāy,[1][2] composed of سورsūr “banquet, feast” and نایnāy “reed, pipe”. Turkish lore says that Adam, who was moulded from clay, had no soul. It is said only the melodious tuiduk-playing of Archangel Gabriel could breathe life into Adam. According to a Turkmen legend, the devil played the main role in tuiduk invention (note the term ″devil openings", şeytan delikleri, in Turkish for the small apertures on the bell). A ritual of inviting guests for a celebration has survived since ancient times: two tuiduk players stand in front of each other, point their instruments upwards and play in unison. During this act, they perform circular movements in a ritualistic fashion suggestive of shamanism.

Characteristics and history[edit]


The Zurna (pronounced zewer-na), like the duduk and Kaval, is a woodwind instrument used to play Anatolian, Middle Eastern and Central Asian folk music. The zurna is a conical oboe, made from the fruit tree Apricot (Prunus armeniaca), and uses a double reed which generates a sharp, piercing sound. Thus, it has historically been played outdoors during festive events such as weddings and holidays. It has 8 holes on the front, 7 of which are used while playing, and 1 thumbhole which provides a range of one octave.

It is similar to the Mizmar. Zurnas are also used in the folk music of the countries in the region, especially in Iran, Israel, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kurdistan, Assyria, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Greece, Bulgaria, Republic of Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia and the other Caucasian countries, and have now spread throughout China and Eastern Europe.

The Zurna is most likely the immediate predecessor of the European Shawm, and is related to the Chinese Suona still used today in weddings, temple and funeral music.[3] The Japanese charumera, or charamera, traditionally associated with itinerant noodle vendors is a small zurna, its name derived from the Portuguese chirimiya. Few, if any, noodle vendors continue this tradition, and those who do would use a loudspeaker playing a recorded charumera.

There are several different types of zurnas. They all share one and the same sound inductor - the so-called kalem - which is actually a very tight (and short) double reed, sometimes made out of wheat leaves. The longest (and lowest) is the Kaba zurna, used in northern Turkey and Bulgaria. As a rule of thumb, a zurna is conical and made of wood.

Etymology and terminology[edit]

Oldest Turkish records suruna in Codex Cumanicus(CCM fol. 45a) < Persian word that is combined of two parts:

  1. Sur = festival & red
  2. Nay / Na = Reed / Pipe ".[4]

Terminology in Anatolia[edit]

Turkish terminology

1. Head and reed

2. Pipe

Salmiej (Zalejka, hornpipe)[edit]

Reconstruction of the European reed instruments is known since the 11th century. The instrument is made by master Todar Kaskurevic. In Belarus, common people called these hornpipes zalejkas since the 11th century, while the dukes of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania called them salmiejs. (See also Google references to schalmei, some of which mention the shawm.)


Reed instrument—a folk oboe with a conical body made of wood or horn (ever buree = horn), widening towards the end. It has seven finger holes and one thumbhole. A metal staple carries the reed and a lip-disc in the shape of a funnel. The short form of the instrument is known as "haidi", meaning 'flute of the sea'.[vague]

Usage in modern music[edit]

  • Shulman (band), an Israeli psybient band, used a Zurna as an melodic and dominant lead instrument on their cover version of the song "Mia Nihta Mono Den Ftani", which since its release in 2007, has had over 100 000 views on YouTube.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]