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Man in Kosovo playing a çifteli.

The çifteli (çiftelia, qifteli or qyfteli , Albanian: "doubled" or "double stringed") is a plucked string instrument, with only two strings, played mainly by the Gheg people of northern and central Albania, Southern Montenegro, parts of North Macedonia and Kosovo. [1]

The çifteli is frequently used by Albanians in weddings and at concerts, as well as by many musicians, such as Nikollë Nikprelaj. It is also used to accompany Albanian epics and ballads.[2]


Çifteli vary in size, but are most often tuned to B3 and E3 (comparable to the top two strings of a guitar, which is classically tuned as "E2 A2 D3 G3 B3 E4"). Usually the lower string is played as a drone, with the melody played on the higher string.[3] The çifteli is a fretted instrument, but unlike most, it is not fretted in a chromatic scale (one fret per semitone), but rather in a diatonic scale, with seven notes to the octave.[citation needed]


The term çifteli comes from Turkish: çift ("double"); and tel. This word is derived from Turkish "çift" ("double, pair") and "tel" ("wire, string"), so it takes the name from the number of the strings, the meaning is the same in Albanian. [1][4]


The çifteli originates from Albanian territories. The çifteli delivers a unique sound, melody and accompanied singing. [5] The çifteli has an origin distinct from that of the bağlama(saz) instrument.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Koço, Eno (2004). Albanian Urban Lyric Song in the 1930s. Europea: Ethnomusicologies and Modernities. 2. Scarecrow Press. p. 265. ISBN 9780810848900.
  2. ^ Sherer, Stan; Senechal, Marjorie (1997). Long Lif tyesto Your Children!: A Portrait of High Albania. University of Massachusetts Press. p. 19.
  3. ^ Broughton, Simon; Ellingham, Mark; Trillo, Richard (1999). World Music: Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Rough Guides. p. 2. ISBN 9781858286358.
  4. ^ Elsie, Robert (2010). Historical Dictionary of Albania (2nd ed.). Scarecrow Press. p. 83. ISBN 9780810873803.
  5. ^ Buchanan, Donna (2007). Balkan Popular Culture and the Ottoman Ecumene: Music, Image, and Regional Political Discourse. London: Scarecrow Press. pp. 194–224. ISBN 9780810860216.