Kamancheh

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This article is about the Iranian kamancheh. For the related but different Pontian Greek, Turkish or Armenian instrument see Kemenche.
Kamancheh
Hasht-Behesht Palace kamancheh.jpg
Woman playing the kamancheh in a painting from the Hasht Behesht Palace in Isfahan Persia, 1669.
String instrument
Other names Kamancha, Kamanche, Kemancheh, Kamanjah, Kabak kemane
Classification Bowed Strings
Related instruments
Musicians
Builders

Kamancheh (also kamānche or kamāncha) (Persian: کمانچه‎‎),(Azerbaijani: kamança), is an Iranian bowed string instrument, used also in Armenian, Azerbaijani, Turkish, and Kurdish Music and related to the rebab, the historical ancestor of the kamancheh and also to the bowed Byzantine lyra, ancestor of the European violin family.[1] The strings are played with a variable-tension bow: the word "kamancheh" means "little bow" in Persian (kæman, bow, and -cheh, diminutive).[2] It is widely used in the classical music of Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kurdistan Regions with slight variations in the structure of the instrument.[3]

Traditionally kamanchehs had three silk strings, but modern instruments have four metal strings. Kamanchehs may have highly ornate inlays and elaborate carved ivory tuning pegs. The body has a long upper neck and a lower bowl-shaped resonating chamber made from a gourd or wood, usually covered with a membrane made from the skin of a lamb, goat or sometimes a fish, on which the bridge is set. From the bottom protrudes a spike to support the kamancheh while it is being played, hence in English the instrument is sometimes called the spiked fiddle. It is played sitting down held like a cello though it is about the length of a viola. The end-pin can rest on the knee or thigh while the player is seated in a chair.

A well known Armenian kamancha player is Sayat-Nova. Other well known players are Ali-Asghar Bahari, Ardeshir Kamkar and Kayhan Kalhor, all from Iran, and the Azeri player, Habil Aliev.

The Turkish kemençe is a bowed string instrument with a very similar or identical name, but it differs significantly in structure and sound from the Persian kamancheh. There is also an instrument called kabak kemane used in Turkish music which is only slightly different from the Persian kamancheh.[4]

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References[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to Kamancheh at Wikimedia Commons

Kamanche at The Metropolitan Museum of Art: