The tar is a long-necked instrument, shaped like a double bowl. The traditional tar, used in many areasnear the Caucasus region, has 6 steel strings. The Azerbaijani tar differs significantly from the traditional tar in that it has 11 strings and is smaller in size. The instrument,invented by Shusha native Sadig Asadoglu in the late 19th century, came to symbolize Azerbaijani music itself in the 20th century.

The Saz
The saz is a long-necked lute, hailing from a family of plucked string instruments. It has a deep round back. The saz can be played with a pick or with a style of finger movements known as selpe. The shape of the saz was created in the 16th century C.E. In folk music, the saz is used generally as a solo instrument.

The Kamancha
Unlike the saz and the tar, which are played by hand, the kamancha is played using a bow. Originally a one- or two-stringed instrument, its design has changed over the years. Today, it is usually made out of walnut or the Caucasian walnut (Pterocarya fraxinifolia), with decorations made from ivory and pumpkin  and has three, four, or five strings. The surface of the body is usually covered in a thin leather skin to enrich the quality of the sound.

The oud is thought to have evolved from the same musical ancestor as the European lute. Potentially more than 5,000 years old, the oud is widely used in Greek, North African, and Middle Eastern music. The oud’s large, pear-shaped body rests on the performer’s knee, and strings are drawn up a bent neck. There are no frets. The oud is usually made out of several different kinds of wood, including sandalwood, walnut, pear wood, and pine.

The AZERBAIJANI Musical Tradition

A postage stamp from Soviet-era Azerbaijan, depicting a few of many traditional Azerbaijani musical instruments.Azerbaijan has a rich, varied musical tradition. Musicians draw upon an ancient selection of Near Eastern instruments, such as the balaban, the naghara, the tar, the saz, and the zurna, to create musical forms unique to Azerbaijan. Instruments can be played individually, in an improvisational manner, or in ensembles, during traditional ceremonies and folk dances.



Jeffrey Interview VideoAmerican Jeffrey Werbock began his love affair with Azerbaijan mugham, and Azerbaijan, in the 1970s, when he first witnessed the music performed. Fulfilling his ambition to master the complex form, Werbock went on to engage deeply with the Azerbaijani culture and Azerbaijani people. Jeffrey Werbock is highly regarded across continents as an expert mugham player and as an important bridge between Azerbaijanis and Americans.